(I wrote this in February 2014:)
I’ve been waiting for the right time, the right mood…. to write this story and I think today is it. I’ve just spent the last month ‘melting’, feeling as though I’m becoming slightly unhinged in my rawness while all the time knowing that a deep transformational and vital shift is occurring inside me. I’m surrendering.
In surrendering, it feels good to revisit those other ‘moments’ in my life when all I could do was surrender. Those other turning points where I came apart at the seams in a very unsettling way. When I think back to those moments, they have all enriched my life by stripping back layers of crap that weren’t really me. The Zebra-Fish story was one of those moments.
A few years ago, I was on some exercise equipment in the loungeroom, with the TV on in the background. There I was, peacefully minding my own business when a lady on the television said something about the work she is doing in Africa to support zebras, because they are in danger of going extinct. Those words were like a knife in my heart. I felt a sudden searing pain in my chest and my heart chakra exploded, while I crumpled.
It was a very confusing to be feeling this way, because I had no idea zebras were so important to me. Was this some kind of childhood love affair I had forgotten about? I simply couldn’t bear the idea of living in a world without zebras.
I spent the next 16 hours alternating between tears and almost hysterical laughter. I would test myself by thinking for a few moments about deeply moving things that were happening in my world and in the word around me. Nope. None of them made me cry. Then I would think about zebras going extinct and it felt like the world was ending. The tears would flow and then I would start laughing because it seemed ridiculous to be getting so upset about zebras.
Luckily I was booked in for a healing session with a friend. I still to this day, wonder what on earth she thought of me turning up on her doorstep crying and laughing all at once. I must have seemed a little crazy!
She got me on the table and I went into my inner world. I realised my heart was opening and my inner child was wanting to surface. Many years prior, I had gradually, over a period of time, shut my heart down and tucked my sensitive inner child away inside me where I couldn’t feel her so much, because I was finding the world too difficult a place to live in. I needed to function, and I couldn’t do it with my empathic self wrenching my heart about all over the place.
I understand why I needed to do this… the necessity of it, and how this action benefited my life and the lives of other around me. But it was also a betrayal- a betrayal of self, a rejection of self and my deeper values. If my childhood self could see who I had become as an adult, there would probably be parts of me she didn’t like very much. I had compromised my values in order to survive living in a world that was never going to ‘play ball’, so to speak.
Laying on my friends table, with tears streaming down my face and my heart aching with a vengeance, I realised enough was enough. It was time to let me inner child back out, with all her sensitivity and her love of animals. I needed to honour my inner child and make my external world a safer place for her to inhabit. But what did that mean exactly? The desire to uproot my life and throw my family into chaos by going overseas to support the lady on TV with her zebra quest wasn’t really a viable option for me. But if I wasn’t going to do that, I had to find some other fairly powerful way to honour this new feeling in me. There was no way I was going to turn my back on my inner child when she was reaching out and telling me so clearly how she felt about this.
It was in that moment that I realised I was going to stop eating fish. This was my way to honour my love of nature and the environment. In a strange way, I was doing it for the zebras.
What on earth do fish have to do with zebras, you might ask? It does seem like a bit of a reach, but to be honest, the biggest difference I was already making to the planet as an individual, was in choosing to not eat meat. Zebras are going extinct because of US and our impact on the planet. I might not be able to help the zebras directly, but I could take more responsibility for my personal impact on nature as a whole. And when you have vegan cousins reading you facts and statistics about the effect of fishing on the ocean and our weather patterns, it’s hard to keep pretending that eating fish is okay.
The decision to stop eating fish seemed to mollify my inner child and I was able to get on with my life without any more hysterical crying-laughing, much to my relief. I’m not sure what my friends thought though. One of the reasons I had kept fish on my menu was because I didn’t want to be a food hassle. When you don’t eat meat or dairy, going out to dinner can be a challenge. They took it in their stride though, becoming even more creative with food at our shared gatherings, and I felt loved.
I didn’t eat fish again until last year. It was another of those strange moments. It started with a vision or a dream of a sea eagle. The sea eagle brought me a fish and stripped bits off it, and fed it to me. I accepted, with some part of me knowing it was just a metaphor for being fed knowledge (it was salmon, which features heavily in tales to do with magical knowledge).
A few days later, I came down with a fever. We were meant to be going out to dinner and I would have pulled out, but I didn’t have the energy to feed myself so I went anyway. Salmon was on the menu and somehow… perhaps because of the fever and the dream… perhaps because I was holding on to some last vestige of wanting to be a ‘flexible, adaptable, feedable, reasonable non-hassle’…. I decided to eat it. (I’m rolling my eyes at my own ego)
And you know what? It wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be. I’m sure I remembered it tasting better than that. I didn’t like the texture, the feeling of it in my mouth. It’s very bland.
After that, I kept wondering, ‘am I going to start eating fish again?’. I watched myself carefully and kept checking in with myself, but the desire never came back again. In fact, I’ve gone further in the other direction. I absolutely never want to eat fish again. Or eggs. Or honey.
Something has shifted in me over the past few months. I feel as though a fog has been lifted from my mind, a veil from me eyes. I finally, finally understand why my cousins are vegan activists. I finally understand why eating meat really isn’t okay. I finally understand what speciesism is. And I can’t understand why I couldn’t see any of that clearly before. I feel like someone who has been rescued from a cult and deprogrammed. It’s liberating but at the same time, overwhelming. I’m looking around at my silk and the little bits of other animal parts I have in my house and feeling a bit yukky. I watched a David Attenborough the other night about silk spinners and fell in love all over again with them. Spider is my power animal and I am in awe of spinners….
So why oh why, do I have silk in my house!!???? In my healing room. On my healing table, of all places!???
I hope I can survive this reawakening of my heart!
Life was definitely easier when I was playing dumb, deaf and blind.
Blessings and Love
Mass-produced silk is made from domesticated silkworms raised on farms. Silkworms are in the caterpillar stage of the silk moth. They are fed mulberry leaves until they are ready to spin cocoons and enter their pupal stage. Then the cocoons are placed in boiling water, which kills the silkworms so we can unravel the cocoons and produce silk thread.
They do it this before the silkworms turn into moths and chew their way out of the cocoons to escape because the chewed silk strands are shorter and less valuable than the whole cocoons. Approximately 15 silkworms are killed to make a gram of silk thread, and 10,000 are killed to make a silk sari.
While there are more ethical (and expensive) ways to produce silk, for a person who is no longer speciesist, this is still an issue because it involves the domestication, breeding and exploitation of animals.
Adult silk moths can no longer fly because of the way we have bred them, with their bodies too large for their wings to carry. Frankenstein lives on! As with cows who have been bred for maximum meat or milk production, silkworms have been bred to maximize silk production, with no regard for their well-being.
COMMUNICATING WITH SPIRIT
Since this first event unfolded with being fed fish, I have had repeated experiences of spirit birds bringing me fish to eat. For a while I was confused and politely accepted their offerings. After all, it was only my inner world. But one day a bird spirit offered me fish at the wrong moment and I cracked it and had a good yell at all of them. “I don’t eat fish!”, I hollered, immediately feeling rather rude for speaking to Spirit in this way. There was silence for a moment. Then the bird went away with its fish. A moment later it returned with a friendship offering of leaves and berries! Hilarious! You mean all I had to do was communicate?! Since then, not one bird has brought me a fish and now I have started making a bird-spirit card and book set with my father, who loved birds.