I think I love animals because they keep me from being as much of a grouch as I usually am.
I stuck the link to this in a comment on Cheri’s blog because the subject of cougars came up. Then I had to watch it over a couple of times. The cougar playing “drown the stick” in his sanctuary pond is fourteen, declawed, kept for most of his life in an anchor-fence enclosure, and half-starved when he was finally rescued after the death of his owners.
He still has Beginner’s Mind, or perhaps it is Cub Heart, even if he does not have a sure foot.
Thirty-five or forty years ago I clipped this poem, the first of Roethke’s I ever read, from a magazine that had reprinted it:
By Theodore Roethke
Is that dance slowing in the mind of man
That made him think the universe could hum?
The great wheel turns its axle when it can;
I need a place to sing, and dancing-room,
And I have made a promise to my ears
I’ll sing and whistle romping with the bears.
For they are all my friends: I saw one slide
Down a steep hillside on a cake of ice, —
Or was that in a book? I think with pride:
A caged bear rarely does the same thing twice
In the same way: O watch his body sway! —
This animal remembering to be gay.
I tried to fling my shadow at the moon,
The while my blood leaped with a wordless song.
Though dancing needs a master, I had none
To teach my toes to listen to my tongue.
But what I learned there, dancing all alone,
Was not the joyless motion of a stone.
I take this cadence from a man named Yeats;
I take it, and I give it back again:
For other tunes and other wanton beats
Have tossed my heart and fiddled through my brain.
Yes, I was dancing-mad, and how
That came to be the bears and Yeats would know.