“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
― Anatole France
Who is your Octopus Teacher?
Maybe you have watched it and if you haven’t yet, please have a little treat and adventure into the beautiful story about interspecies resonance of the documentary film “My Octopus Teacher” by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed that won Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2021.
The story follows the development of a relationship between a man and an octopus under the sea in her habitat when he intrigued by seeing her while free-diving one day, decided to discover who she was so he continued to dive every day for a year. What follows is far beyond your expectation and I won’t discover much detail to save it for your own discovery. What touched me the most and is impossible to describe, is the first physical contact between two of them when I, sitting in the living room, felt as if I was the man and the octopus, there witnessing and here living it, now and then, birth and death, beginning and end, all in one, but indescribable. It is as if I was merged with that person the human and the person the octopus and was feeling as if I had met my first person and for a moment to call, of my own. Now, while I am writing it triggers again such deeply profound and layered understanding of Life, its course, beauty and rigidness, making me cry again. It is the magical and the majestical greatness of Life, so beautiful in its creation, with some distortions that we all experience. I admire the human Craig Foster for his empathy and perseverance, for sharing their heartwarming story and the Octopus, for allowing us and teaching us all who she was/ is and introduce us to her magnificence.
Photo: Ivana Filip, 2021.
While I have never had an Octopus Teacher, I often say that my first Teacher was my cat Ixxo even though I had had a few Teachers before him while Ixxo might be the one who is the most influential. Our very first meeting was in the street while I was with a friend. I heard a kitten meowing and I didn’t want to leave until I found out who it was. He ran into my arms and I carried him to the shelter where I volunteered at the time. When a lady wanted to adopt him, I agreed with the coordinator of the shelter, but my friend amiably reminded me that it was he who chose me and it was I who chose him, and that I should follow my heart impulse. So Ixxo and I ended up together for many years now to learn from each other, although it is me being a slower student.
When I first took him into my arms it felt as if I met someone of my own, someone who was waiting for me. I was his Human and he was my Tomcat. Finally! If you have never experienced something similarly warm, epiphanic and touching as the first look into the animal eyes, first touching connection, that honest deeper look into each other’s eyes, that you know how it feels once it travelled through your body mind and soul, then this might seem unrealistic or even pathetic. Everyone is capable experiencing such, except of a dozen. The more you practice, the more you feel, with meditation, prayer, slow movement, consciousness practice, coming closer to yourself and the Other, ourselves, one and many at the same time but the same.
There are many ways in which animals are teachers unintentional. They are our mirrors in the same way we are to each other, reflecting what is in us or what is missing, may be physical, emotional or mental. If we look into our animal companions, they will show us for sure and we need to be ready to see, feel and understand the range of emotions and behaviours or appearances, as well as tenderly tuned in and turned on to that witnessing. If you wish to know more about your companion, make a commitment for yourself and observe them every day for 10 minutes or longer, as long as for an hour, and take notes on how they behave, what they do, how they run, what they like to do with you, their favourite sleeping poses and place, and so on. The inspiration is never ending. And so, in a week’s time, you will see them with deeper eyes and warmer heart. Place your hand over their heart and thank them for embracing you and being your soul guides. Namaste.
Love and thanks for reading,