Face to Face with a Moose
Article orginally published on The Shambhala Times
It’s the season for mask wearing and unveiling. Today is Halloween. The gates between the worlds are said to be thin at this time. Our truths are known to emerge: messy, visceral, real, gritty and beautiful. It’s the same with the slow unpeeling of leaves from the trees who are revealed in their naked forms again. In this season, the mask of leaves fall and the flesh of the woods is revealed beneathe.
We might put masks on for the day, trying to hide our true nature, attempting to camouflage our wild yearning, only to find out that the masks illuminate us instead. We are revealed in all our naked glory to be the messy, vulnerable selves that we are. We become charactures of ourselves, our limps exaggerated, our blemishes on display, our secret delights revealed.
Can we not revel in this?
I had an encounter this morning. There’s been a yearling moose in my neighborhood for the last few weeks, seemingly abandoned by her parents. Turns out it’s the time of year when the adolescent moose are kicked out of the family unit and set to fend for themselves for the first time.
She’s been hanging around in our woods and fields and looking very, very lonely. This morning she ambled slowly, awkwardly up to my kitchen window. She looked in at me, and we locked eyes for the longest time. She hung around eating leaves off of an apple tree. I could feel that she was lonely and sad. I could feel that she wanted something from me that I probably couldn’t give. I wanted to invite her in to sit by the fire and warm up and dry off and eat a plate of salad, but I couldn’t do that of course, no matter how many children’s books talk about that happening.
I came face to face with a moose, and what did I see? I saw her broken heart in my own broken heart. We shared in the moment, for a long, long time. In this wild, yearning creature, I saw my own wild yearning. She longed to be seen perhaps, and I know that longing. She was hungry and cold and confused, lost in the wilds of that question: why am I alone? She saw in me, perhaps, a recognition of her solitude, and we communed in that space of vulnerability.
Why not revel in that wild yearning? Recognizing that yearning in us to be free, to exist beyond the confines of our habitual tendency, this is what drives me to the cushion, again and again. In the quiet, in the stillness, I can be as wild and as free as a broken-hearted moose. Because I can recognize that yearning in her, I can recognize it in you, and we can dance together in the windy, raw journey of society.