Pronghorn Leaps Away or Into?
“Trying to run away is never the answer to being a fully human. Running away from the immediacy of our experience is like preferring death to life.”
― Pema Chödrön
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
This photograph of two juvenile pronghorn antelopes was taken somewhere along the road that leads to Pie Town in central New Mexico*. It was just as the pandemic was starting to take hold in March, and less than a lunar cycle before we all started wearing masks and the world as we knew it started spinning apart.
If given a chance, most animals run in fear away from us. Come to think of it, maybe this has something to do with the way we run away from ourselves? Even we don’t want to stand too close and feel the uncomfortable sensation of being fully and vulnerably right here, right now.
We just can’t seem to help ourselves, especially now.
And what does that mean, not being able to help ourselves? The statement implies a lack of control, yes? But where does our lack of control come from? Is it just part and parcel of being a member of the strange and often dangerous human family? Are we just wired to be destructive, or are we afraid to look at the wiring and end up short-circuiting ourselves?
Pema Chödrön, the American Buddhist nun quoted above, asserts we prefer death to being alive – that staying present with the truth of our individual experience in any given moment is perceived as being so scary or uncomfortable, we must leap away from it. There’s a problem with that. If we run away from our experience, we abandon ourselves as well as the people and things we care most about. Just acknowledging this process is painful in and of itself. It isn’t easy being alive with a nervous system that knows as many pains as it does pleasures. And as much as our systems of defense are miraculously constructed, sometimes we armor ourselves too much. This is why it’s so important to be kind and care-filled toward ourselves.
Here’s a couple of questions to meditate on:
How can I know which side of the fence I’m on? Is the pronghorn jumping into a prison, or clearing an obstruction?
And what specifically am I defending when running away from my experience?
What exactly is the barbed wire standing between myself and true self-aware freedom?
I’m saddened to report that the tiny stretch along Route 60 referred to as “Pie Town” has passed away in this Age of Covid. This whimsical delight, which was comprised of two shoulder-to-shoulder food establishments specializing in the handcrafting of pies of all sorts went out of business. I count myself lucky to have made it there just in time to nibble my way through a pot pie in the company of a passing fancy.
Photo Credits: Leaping the Barbed Wire by Susan J. Preston, Somewhere on the Road to Pie Town © 2020, all rights reserved
Technical: Fuji XT-3 | XF 100-400mm