For our Better Endings Life Maps Activity this week, you can start by listing all of the pet friends who have shared their life with you. Using your own intuitive guidance, list your pets’ names, the years they have been in your life, and something unique or characteristic about each pet and about the time frames they shared with you. You might use an adjective or a phrase describing each one. Then create a Mapping that shows in a way that is meaningful to you an arrangement of how these pets have ‘patterned’ in your life journey. The Bubbles chart shown here is my own mapping of individual or groups of my pet friends who have been in my life in different time frames. As an example for your own creative mapping–which might take another form for you–let me describe my mapping:
The first time frame shown in the orange bubble to the right represents Special Animal Friends from my Childhood, from about 8 years old til 18. Reviewing the list of some of my favorite animal friends from that time, I see some patterns. I befriended a wide variety of animals, both wild and domestic. I was always bringing animals home: frogs, white mice, a pigeon who flew into my garage and stayed for a year. I rode wild colts with my neighbor friends at local horse farms. I had a parakeet, Petesy, who was a close friend to talk to for many years. There were many cats…most of which I also brought home and only a few of which my father let me keep; and Queenie, a great companion beagle-poodle, who was ubiquitous as my special friend until and even after I left home at 18 for college. These childhood friends exposed me to my own wildness and unconditional love. Animals were my special family, my Friends.
Reading my Pets Lifemap from East to South to West to North (yes, like a Medicine Wheel!), next came my heart throb of 11 years, my first solo pet away from home in college: Chela. I described her in my pet ‘reincarnation’ story Wednesday. What a great friend and constant companion Chela was. She accompanied me on my Big Move, from East to West; from Buffalo to Phoenix, Arizona. I would say she was a lifeline for me. CONTINUITY has always been one of my most valued and important values in relationships, and Chela was there for me–and I for her–as a thread of continuity linking my Childhood to my later life Journey in graduate school, dissertation research at Zuni,and beyond.
After Chela left, Ariel, shown here, moved into my Heart. She was a dear Soul companion (absolutely I believe that Animals are Soul, Too), for 20 years! Reflecting on her qualities that were a big part of my journey with her and other pets we also had while she was with me, I see attributes of their special characters that mirror archetypal character aspects of myself: Intelligent/ Artistic Ariel; Freedom loving Skyway (a brindle dog who was an escape artist and loved to run!); Quiet/ Timid Ellie (an orange boxer/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix who was Skyway’s life companion and mine but who was very timid; a one person dog); and Expressive Loki (still in my life; a beautiful, all-white cat who is very communicative; he was quite the mischievous kitty and is such a SOLID friend!).
All but Loki passed–by their own life stories–before the next Ensemble Set arrived. I now live with Loki-Emily-Arthur (3 cats) and Sophia (Sophie, my Shorkie buddie; shown above with my mother, Elizabeth). All of them are always there and I am there for them. They are my refuge, the Family I return to daily and spend the nights with between having to be out in the world. As a most naturally quiet and introspective sort of person myself, my pets are my touchstones. I am entirely humbled by their magnificent unconditional love and companionship. They are constant and true, whatever hardships or complexities have come into and gone out of my life among other Humans.
So try mapping your animal friends in relation to your life history. When did which of them enter and exit? What QUALITIES did they exhibit for you; what relationships did you learn about through them? People say we tend to resemble our pets. I would say there are no accidents and each of our special friends has had a special affinity with us; an archetypal synchronicity. Take some time if you would then to pause and APPRECIATE the wonderful LIFE GIFTS each of your animal–and human too, of course!–friends have shared!