Thursday, July 9, 2009
Thoughts about Attachment
I’ve been thinking about how people say that animals can only live in the moment, and that they don’t miss the past or worry about their future. Yet, I know that some of my animals do miss me when I’m not here and appear to be upset if things change. So, in that sense, they do miss their past experiences or they miss their past routines if I am not present to continue to do what they have come to expect me to do with them. And they also miss my presence and the attention I have given to them.
I could clearly tell that Pepper, our dear departed dog, was always extremely sad when my husband would take out his suitcase and when I would leave with him to drive him to the airport. She was visibly relieved to see me return, but still pined for him until he came home. When I go off to work on a video production, Silk usually spends a lot of her day when I am gone standing at the gate, watching for me to pull into the driveway. When my husband feeds the horses and does the evening chores, putting them in their stalls and locking up the barn, Silk is anxious because I’m not there. Is she worrying about the future and whether she will see me again?
I know that there are a lot of people who think it’s wrong to compare animals to children or give them human attributes. But how can someone not believe that we share similar emotions with animals? My animals and I both feel jealousy and sadness and loneliness and grief, and of course, happiness and love. It makes me realize how difficult it is to not become too attached to another being -- human or animal -- since many of the things that hurt when they are gone are the things that you love when you are with them. What’s different is that people are able to rationalize about how you need to let go and trust that the one you love will return, but an animal can’t. Silk will learn from the repetition of my coming and going that I will eventually be back, but she has no way of knowing when that will be and that causes her anxiety.
So, as I go off to shoot a video for the next couple of days, I will carry with me a touch of sadness. I will know that my horse is spending a lot of her time waiting for me at the gate, no matter how many times my husband reassures her that I will be back by Saturday morning. And I don’t know which one of us will be happier when I come home and see her eager face light up as my car pulls in the driveway.