Some time ago, I put on my side bar that small icon with the raven that says B.W.O. It stands for “blogging without obligation,” which I believe to be a great concept. Too often, I hear the tale of a blogger who began writing as an exploration of self, and continues as a need to please the reading audience. Blogs have a way of taking on a life of their own, morphing and becoming unrecognizable to the writer. I wanted to state my intention to not fall prey to that phenomenon.
However, I then signed up for NaBloPoMo , during which the goal is to post every day for a month. I signed up with the best of intentions, hoping that I would be inspired to communicate more frequently. Instead, I began to immediately feel the pressing weight of obligation. Quantity over quality seemed the result and I found myself resenting showing up at the blog. That was not my intention, and so I let myself off the hook and gave myself the permission to post as needed.
It didn’t hurt/help that November was a crazed month, filled with stress at work and then a wonderful vacation far away from computers. Hell, far away from cell phone reception or most of society. Tag and I spent the week of Thanksgiving volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah.
If you’ve never been to Southern Utah, I highly recommend the trip. Zion and Bryce National Parks are some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever hiked. There is magic in their deep red rock formations, and a quiet thrum of vibrational energy that affects me body and soul. Not far north, there is both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. 100 miles to the south is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. In short, if you like being outside, awestruck by Mother Nature’s talent for architecture, Southern Utah is Paradise.
Angel Canyon and Kanab are in what is called the Golden Circle, a centrally located resting point between Zion, Bryce, North Rim and Lake Powell. Best Friends owns 3,800 acres in the canyon, and leases several more from the Bureau of Land Management. On this chunk of land, they run the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the country. Housing literally thousands of dogs, cats, bunnies, horses, burros, pigs and birds, they are sure to tug at the heart strings of any animal lover. The volunteer program starts with a heart-warming video and orientation, wherein you set up your schedule for each day you are available. We chose to spend each morning session (8:15 – Noon) working with Dogs, starting with Puppy Socialization class for the first 30 min. Our afternoons were mostly spent working in Cat Town, except for Wednesday which was spent in the Triple R Rabbit Retreat.
Duties can range from dog walking, pet grooming, playing and petting, to kennel cleaning and poop scooping. As much as I love animals, I did wonder whether or not I could spend my day off covered in feces and dirt and still feel like I was on vacation. Answer: Hell yes, I can! So much so that I’ve applied for a job at Best Friends and am seriously considering moving myself to that tiny town.
Animals never cease to amaze me, with their ability to forgive and forget. Particularly these animals, so many of which have been abused or abandoned. Sure, there are a few like Filly and Tobie (rescues from Hurricane Katrina) who walk on leash as far from you as they can… but even they are learning to take food from their caregiver’s hands. The process of recovering trust can be slow going, but these sweet creatures have not given up completely.
Words fail me when I try to capture what I experienced there. I can only say that I was happy. Happier than I’ve been in a while. It felt like a part of me that has been missing for a few years now was able to make a fleeting appearance. Best Friends is not only healing for the animals. It’s healing for the people who spend time there too. And as a butterfly sends a wind around the world, so does that little bit of focused healing cause a shift in the energies of Earth and all her children. It is Best Friends' philosophy that kindness towards animals is one step towards healing our planet, and I agree. And if you are not, in some portion of your life, creating a more positive tomorrow…what are you doing?
The desk job weighs even more heavily on me now than it did before. My soul, which felt leaden, has now darkened to numb. Add to that the fact that office politics and fragile egos have stirred up a mess of drama which left me broken and sobbing last Thursday night. I wake each morning with that sense of dread, that heavy weight of obligation rattling like ball & chain around my ankle.
There is a line in Parenthood, in which Steve Martin’s character says, “My whole life is HAVE TO.” I don’t want to wake up one day and find that is my life. Or perhaps, I’ve already had that waking moment. This LA life does not feed my soul. Its cluttered streets and angry people tear at my already tattered edges. In the quiet of Angel Canyon, I found a lightness of being that I have not felt in a long while. Although there were tasks to do, some unpleasant and challenging, there was never that foreboding sense of “have to.” There was choice and there was joy and there was a vibration of healing in each soft muzzle. Each time this office job pulls me to tears, I open up these pictures and remind myself of the great souls that I have had the pleasure to meet and to love.