Animal Friends and Strangers

At Nicky’s Sunday morning Nia dance class there is a dance she does every once in a while that involves a series of moves which she performs as if she is both a hunter and a bird – several steps take her over to the right where she draws one arm back as if drawing an arrow in a bow, then several steps to the left are taken as the bird flapping its wings, flying away.  I’d always thought it was the nature of the dance that drew out this bird and hunter characterization.

But in this Sunday morning’s class, during a totally different routine, she tried to get us to do a chicken flap of the wings while carrying out some steps, and it occurred to me, no it’s not the dance.  The thing is, Nicky IS a bird.

What kind of bird?  I don’t know, I don’t know all the different birds that well or I can’t see it that clearly, I don’t have that kind of shamanic sight, but something slender, with quite a long neck I think – perhaps a heron.

And her husband is just so obviously a bear – big and bumbly and sweet and generous but with a surprising sudden temper – all around larger than life.  As a couple they are quite an interesting combination.

My animal is described in one book I read as “short and stocky”.  Oh well.  I still love her.

I was thinking about this whole animal spirits idea on the plane coming back from Santa Fe and Ohki’s teachings.  My first flight was from Albuquerque to Atlanta, where I had a changeover to a flight that would take me up to Buffalo.  But looking at my itinerary on the first plane I realized I only had half an hour to get off one plane and onto the next, and I knew from the flight down that Atlanta is quite a large airport.

First I tried speaking to one of the stewardesses to see if they might help me out – make an announcement to the other passengers to let me out first given the tight time frame.   As I told her my plight, her face remained unmoved – no help forthcoming there.

My seat was just behind first class and beyond them was the front door of the plane where we had boarded, so when the plane came to a stop in Atlanta, I grabbed my purse and shot forward into first class, hoping to get close to that front door when it opened.

The passengers in first class were already getting to their feet, so I was stuck in the midst of them and could feel the hostility instantly.   I made noises about having a very tight changeover time, explaining my presence.  One man on my right looked at me with a sour face and said, “In Atlanta they usually use the middle doors of the plane”.   I thanked him for this information and together we stood watching out the window to see where the accordion corridor contraption would go – front or middle.  When it became clear that it was moving towards the center doors and I was therefor even worse off than I had been, his look was a triumphant smirk.

I turned towards the back, to see if I might be able to push my way through the crowd somewhat, improving my time, but the man directly behind me had risen to his feet and stood towering over me.  He was maybe 6’5″ and wearing a tall cowboy hat and sharp nosed cowboy boots.  He had a bit of bloodied kleenex stuck in one nostril and as I gazed up at him with a mixture of amusement at the kleenex and the stress of my hurry and the decades of training in Canadian feminine politeness, he looked down at me with a cold glare that clearly said, “I do not move for you”.

We stood for a minute, feeling each other out for size, attitude, power, and I wondered, where does this man derive all his self-confidence, superiority and entitlement.  Clearly physical size and class are a big part of what was going on there, but it did also cross my mind….What animal is that?

5 thoughts on “Animal Friends and Strangers”

  1. I don’t know what was on that man’s mind, but I go to craft fairs and farmer’s markets to sell the wooden spoons I make, and there are 2 kinds of people who try to talk me down on price. One is Asian immigrant women, who are used to haggling over everything where they come from. The other is American men who are the boss of something. They seem to assume they have a right to get a deal on everything because they are rich and important or something. In first class you probably landed in the middle of a bunch of that sort of guys. There seem to be quite a few who really do believe that the amount of money they have determines the worth of a person. If someone doesn’t have a lot of money, they can’t be worth much.
    But how did your transfer from one flight to the next work out?

  2. Hi Terron, Yes, it did feel like a crowd of that kind of American men for whom human worth = financial worth – absolutely correct.
    Thanks for asking about the end of the story! I meant to include it then forgot. Once off the plane, I ran and ran. Atlanta is huge but also has a subway that takes you between terminals, a very efficient system. So I made it to my next flight just in time only to find that it was delayed….phew! Such relief – I was also starving so it gave me a few minutes to grab some food before we boarded, and I was on my way.
    🙂 Ka

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