Resist the urge to send me a message telling me that I forgot to put spaces between Life and Death in the title of this post. It’s intentional because life and death go together. We can’t have one without the other, and despite our behavior to the contrary, we do not have a clue which comes first. Both are mysterious, although we walk around pretending we know everything about the one and that the other won’t ever occur (at least not until we are good and old).
My Native American teacher (from the Methow and the Squaxin tribes) says that “life and death walk together” and he usually illustrates this by putting his index and middle fingers together. A Zen teacher (I don’t have a direct quote from my Zen teacher so I won’t pretend to quote him) might say that life and death are “not one, not two.”
One of our Nigerian dwarf does (female) gave birth to three absolutely adorable goat kids. One female and two male. Their colors and patterns were surprising given that the doe is mostly black with just a touch of white on her forehead and the tip of her tail. We have had a lot of cute animals born on this farm and yet….and yet these are the cutest animals yet. Tiny, long legged and quickly bouncing around on ungainly legs. Holding them is like taking a happiness pill (whatever that might be, it doesn’t actually exist so don’t go looking for it), so sweet and lovely.
The weather in the Pacific Northwest, including us on the dry side of the North Cascades, got hot recently. Real hot. So hot that a 100 degree day started to feel reasonable. Wowza! Shade and water are the only things that have kept our animals, including human animals, alive. I was worried about the goats and wanted to make sure they had shade so I dragged a piece of plywood to their shelter and leaned it against it for added shade. This seemed necessary for keeping them alive and yet. And yet….
The world of dew is the world of dew. And yet, and yet... ― Issa Kobayashi,
One evening the kids who live on our farm and some visiting kids went over to see the newly born goats and came running back with the terrible news that two had gotten caught beneath the plywood and were dead. My heart immediately sank and it began to ache. It aches still, writing these words or whenever I see the goats.
I wish that they were alive and I want to simply undo what happened, but I can’t and I just need to face up to the fact that things like this will happen. No matter how thoughtful or careful I am, I cannot death. It comes along with life.
And then, just yesterday on the Fourth of July, our other Nigerian Dwarf doe went into labor and gave birth to three more delightful little goat kids. We were around and paying attention so we actually got to watch the entire process. It was amazing. We have videos but I imagine that most of you don’t want to see them so I will just share the cute, fuzzy (post-cleaning) goat pictures.
My Zen teacher did say to me recently, quoting someone else, and that was “Don’t argue with reality.” I am trying that. Not arguing with their death, not arguing with my heartache. Not arguing with the lesson learned, not arguing with the fact that I cannot control everything or anything for that matter. Not arguing with reality, that life and death walk together, in hooves and feet, barefoot and in our very own shoes.
by David LaFever