The loneliest experience
When I spent a year confined against my will on a rural property, I had to work through the nights pulling out huge tree stumps. It was an excuse my then roommate-turned-sociopath used to keep me outside and at a distance away from him.
I would be laying in the dirt on a warm summer’s night working to dig out tree roots using only a flashlight, spoon and manual hand saw to accomplish the task. I was hungry, lonely and tired. The house was a good distance away but I could see it very clearly. I would watch the lit window of the kitchen and hope beyond all hopes for a glimpse of the man inside. I was praying to the Universe with all my will that he would come out to get me and tell me I could come in the house for the night.
I was obsessed with watching the one lighted window looking for a sign that I was going to get to return to the house. I would watch the neighbor’s windows as well and see movement there. I would fantasize about them coming over, seeing me working, and invite me into their home and feed me. I actually thought it was a possibility that someone, anyone, would care enough to acknowledge me and show me some kindness. My hopes were deflated when all the lights of all the houses around me went off for the night. It was such a sinking hopeless feeling.
At the time, as desperate as I was, there was a reflective part of myself using this experience to instill greater truth into me. As I was figuratively tethered to digging out the tree stumps, I a surreal sense of the experience being like what family dogs tethered in the back yard experience all the time. Their owners keep them in their back yard suffering with no concern to the level of depravity their dogs are experiencing. Perhaps all over the world, there are dogs starving for some basic kindness and a little regard.
As gut wrenching as that experience was, I am so thankful to have this reference point. It occurs to me that if everyone knew how excruciating the experience was of being left alone with little regard, they would not inflict it on another.
The dog’s howl at night
A couple of decades later, I was trying to sleep one night when I heard the howl of different dogs in the neighborhood that were isolated in their own back yards. It was so painful to listen to that I couldn’t sleep. In the dog’s cries, I was reminded of my own experience in the back yard that was buried in my psyche.
In that moment, I wondered what other painful experiences are laying dormant in the collective of the human psyche. Perhaps the mass denial of the existence of past lives is an effort to prevent the pain from the past to be afflicted on the present self. For myself, I am glad to have the reference point to other’s suffering. It isn’t easy but perhaps acknowledging and addressing past trauma will prevent me from ever inadvertently inflicting deep suffering onto another.
The poem from the experience
Here is the poem I wrote the night I was triggered by the neighbor dog’s cries to remember my own isolation in the back yard.
There is no chill in the air
It’s too still and hard
As if it is angry at its lover.
The night is resentful
Not enough to kill
But merely punish with its silence.
Is cocooned against the night
In its trifle warmth, light and indifference.
This self is curled in a restless ball
Under a duvet of para-amnesia
Going through the motions of conventional sleep.
Nothing can penetrate this fortress
Buried in the white noise of the neighborhood’s indifference
Except the beckoning rhythmic bark of a desperate dog.
To other humans it’s an agitation
Something to rebuke as a nuisance
But for me it screams pain, desperation, and hopelessness.
The cries ride up and down my spine like a memory
Weaving loneliness and sadness in an intricate mosaic
Of perpetually foreboding real time suffering.
Chains rattling off angry spirits
Banshees screaming from afar
Bones brined on dungeon floors where time left them.
The darkest depths of despair are invoked
By one lonely dog
Crying in the night to be loved and belong.
The desperation for comfort
The panic of isolation is wasted on the indifference of humans
Like unassuming tears obscured by an ocean.
Only one who knows what its like to be left for dead
Will pull back the curtain of indifference
To acknowledge the depth of despair as more than background noise.
How can so many hear the same cries and do nothing?
Why is this self, paralyzed to do nothing?
How do we live in this world that breeds so much suffering?
The night has become threateningly cold
The connection to others and Source more than strained
Is humanity mutilated and contorted beyond repair?
Pools of creativity have dried
Dreams have become sluggish
As if they coagulate into a stupor.
Spiritual attainment is trapped
Under the black foreboding ice of conspiracy theories
Someone needs to wake the F@#k up!
Wake the F@#k up and tend to your dog
No one can come into your yard and do it for you
No one can help him but you.
We all suffer in the night with him
We hear his cries too
You need to do what we can only support you in doing.
Wake the f@#K up humanity and tend to your dog.