What Important Secrets Can We Learn From Animals About Relationships?
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PHIL: A dear friend has been badly shaken by the loss of her cat of 15 years. I had a cat called Bert who died unexpectedly, and I was in grief for months.
This is something I have heard time and time again; how deeply the loss of a pet is felt. There is a purity to the bond we have that comes from the fact that our human relationships are verbal, emotional and physical (and perhaps you would add spiritual), and words, the world of ideas, can predominate and obscure the others. With a pet, the language is much more basic, and the connection is much more emotional and physical. The loss of such a companion is like losing an emotional part of ourselves that takes time to heal and scab over, just as losing part of our flesh would do.
I’ve written elsewhere about how language gave us a new and different way to understand and respond in the world, and so we have these two different “voices” of language and emotions that can have disparate opinions on how we respond. Neither voice speaks the other’s language, and our great challenge as humans is to hear both voices and find agreement between them. The mythos of human rationality is so strong that when there is a disagreement, our feelings are often dismissed as irrational, as not making sense, even though that word also describes how we are aware of our feelings.
As already mentioned, our relationships with each other are verbal, emotional and physical, but we don’t usually pay full attention to the emotional. Maude and I have had events – Maude had a TIA, I had acute food poisoning – that suddenly revealed the intensity of our emotional connection, and by knowing that this deep river runs alongside our daily interactions, we can rest in trust at the strength of our relationship. Look for it in your relationships, too. When you are with someone, be silent and take it in. Hear that other voice that speaks without words.Animals offer a complete and unfettered loving presence #quote #pets Click To Tweet
MAUDE: The passing of loved ones and the grief and deep sense of loss that accompanies that experience is very profound for all of us, regardless of our spiritual beliefs. For those that remain, there is a loss of the presence and the direct experience of what we share in that relationship.
Recently, the longtime cat companion of a dear friend passed, causing me to reflect on the relationships with our animal friends and what we share with them. At core, all relationships have certain areas of exchange that fulfill deep and important needs that we have.
With companion animals we receive a form of exchange that takes place on a mindal, emotional and physical level. An important characteristic of these exchanges is they are non-verbal and as such have a purity of connection often not found in our human interchanges, allowing them to reach us on such a meaningful level.
Animals sense our emotions and respond with love, comfort and acceptance. We receive a profound sense of being seen, felt, heard and even clearly acknowledged. They offer physical reassurance and freely given love, as well as the chance to care for them and to receive uncomplicated loyalty.
To say it directly, they offer complete and unfettered loving presence.
It is these aspects that have led me to want to write about this in our blog on peaceful harmonious relationships. We too can offer these things in all our relationships: love, comfort and acceptance, as well as hearing, seeing and acknowledging each other.
Most of all we can give the gift of our presence; a presence that asks nothing and seeks nothing but the chance to be there for each other. We can offer the warmth of our physical presence, a silent shared witnessing of what each of us is experiencing and the willingness to be there with our full selves. In this, as in in many other areas, we can learn much from our animal friends.
Photo credit: Elisabeth Callahan
Photo note: Beau on kitchen counter
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Dear Maude and Phil, thank you as always for your profound articles. We have experienced several cats and a couple of dogs die. It is painful, because they are such loving and loyal companions. With much gratitude for your pure inspiring and insightful words. Much Aloha Roswitha
I am strangely surprised by how deeply the words spoken here have affected me. I read it a couple of times and each time I remembered more feelings about the 15 years I spent with my dog Tess. And then all the deaths that have left me breathless and in a form of shock! It was always my authentic unabridged self that showed up with Tess. Perhaps she was a teacher for being present and no matter what was happening she brought me home to “true north” in my spirit and soul. Yes, I think we give ourselves permission to have pure fun and receive adoration thus giving ourselves intimate time we might have spent elsewhere. Yes, this being present and aware that there is a fleeting sense as time passing goes along with these painful losses.
Yes, I an becoming more and more aware of the hidden world that flows beneath our thoughts and appears from time to time with such intensity.
That was lovely concerning our pet friends. I appreciated thinking about the “silent communication” that goes on between us and our pets and all the unspoken love & comfort. We could easily translate that to our speaking loved ones by being fully present when we’re together. Great blog!
Thank you Cheryl,
You go right to the point of the blog “We could easily translate that to our speaking loved ones by being fully present when we’re together.”
We hope others will feel it and apply it, thus working toward spreading peace one relationship at a time.
Both of you are highly gifted writers. In reading your blog articles, I am continually struck by your mastery of words and the clear, creative, and beautiful way that you use the English language to convey the complexities and dynamics of human relationships and communications. And today’s blog on the wondrous, nonverbal alchemy we enjoy with our animal friends is a case in point. You each wrote astutely and feelingly on the emotional and physical bonds that we experience with our animal companions, which are far less complicated than those we have with our human relations.
Maude, I appreciated your statement about the “complete and unfettered loving presence” that our pets offer us. Yes, there is a purity, directness, totality, and simplicity in the attention they pay to us when we are in a loving, trusting relationship with them that is sometimes unattainable in some of our human relationships where fear and mistrust often obscure or get in the way of pure presence.”
You are right when you say “Yes, there is a purity, directness, totality, and simplicity in the attention they pay to us when we are in a loving, trusting relationship with them that is sometimes unattainable in some of our human relationships where fear and mistrust often obscure or get in the way of pure presence.”
We are hopeful that our readers will see the parallels possible in our relations with pets and our relations with each other, and will be reminded to try setting aside that fear and mistrust and applying some of the purity of presence we all experience so easily with our animal relationships.
Love your this post.
Very insightful and beautiful.