Sometimes I think of myself more as an animal than a human being. No particular animal. It changes. As a kid, a pair of tights on my head would instantly become floppy rabbit ears and a yard of toilet paper tucked into the back of my pants would transform me into a ferocious feline. Though to the untrained eye, the first costume might suggest a half-committed bank robber, and the latter a victim of unfortunate restroom proceedings. Nonetheless, I’ve always found it easier – even more natural – to just not be human sometimes.
In fact, I tend to see most beings beyond their mere species – or rather, I see in them all they are besides their obvious appearance. Take my dog, Delilah, for example. She is everything but a dog. Seriously. I never look at her and think, “dog.” When she’s curled up into a tight ball in the corner of the couch? Mouse. When she lets out that strange bark as someone cautiously approaches the guarded pink chew toy in her mouth? Chicken. When she purrs and claws at me to continue rubbing her tummy within one second of stopping? Lion cub. When she prances through the living room as if springs are attached to the soles of her feet? Deer. When she is perched statuesquely with her front paws outstretched? Sphinx. Heck, Delilah even transcends the animal kingdom… I’ve been known to call her “Jumping Bean,” “Pumpernickel,” and “Stick of Butter.” That’s besides the point.
Nothing has really changed since my youthful days of “playing pretend.” I still tend to fold my knees into my chest and crouch atop a chair like a jaguar as I write at my desk. I flow fluidly through sun salutations on my yoga mat to feed my addiction of feeling supported by all four limbs rather than just the boring two. I collect and guard my nut stash more fanatically than a squirrel. Maybe the most obvious of all my animalistic qualities: I migrate. However, I don’t know if that makes me an African Swallow or a tumbleweed. Do I actively decide to globe-trot as often as I do? Or do I simply let the wind toss me, a rootless thing, around and about? I don’t know.
I do know that I love it. I love traveling. I love the way in which it makes me feel impossibly both fearless and fearful at the exact same time. With more of the unknown facing me, terror begins to nest and whisper in the corners of me, while the autonomy that accompanies the terror reminds me that I am the hero of my own story.
How often we forget that we are the protagonists of our own lives.
Once I’ve spent too much time stationary, the air begins to taste stale and I itch to meet my mysterious friend, The Unfamiliar, once again. This time when we meet, it will be more terrifying and more fortifying than ever. My destination will not be simply the other side of the country. It will be the other side of the ocean. I got a gig in London! I could not be more excited. Or scared. Or breathlessly eager. Or nervously timorous. Mostly excited.
Now is probably one of those times when not being human would come in handy. Animals don’t intellectualize or analyze. Their minds do not entertain the “what ifs” or the “hows.” They just do. They just are. They live. They be.
I am going to London. And I plan on leaving behind a piece of human.
Don’t worry, I’ll replace it with some hippogriff as soon as I step on UK soil. And as a semi-hippogriff, it won’t be long before I stop “stepping” and start flying! I wonder if coloring outside the lines of our humanness may mean overcoming our greatest limitation. Hippogriff or not, what if we all can soar?
Our bodies are our own personal zoos. Have you explored your own yet?
Toasty Sesame Chard
*I submitted this recipe to Diet, Dessert and Dogs’ Wellness Weekend
1 bunch Swiss Chard, Red Chard, or Rainbow Chard
2 Tbsp filtered water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp sesame oil (I used cold-pressed and raw!)
Himalayan pink salt, to taste
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
1) Chop chard, remove tough stems.
2) Place in sauce pan with water and garlic. Heat over medium heat, covered, just until the chard turns bright green and begins to wilt.
3) Stir in sesame oil, lemon juice, salt, and sesame seeds. Be sure to coat leaves evenly.
4) Serve as a side dish, snack, or meal in itself!