It’s a long road but I’ve got music and good, very good, coffee. There’s a low place off the road where someone has cows and this is a site that floods on a regular basis. Mostly it’s a good place to keep cows because there is always water and because it’s wet the grass grows thick. A few years back it turned into a vast inland sea after heavy rains. I wondered then what happened to the cows. Were they herded away and taken care of? Did they remain there and ride it out? Were they swept away downstream to drown and be forgotten, perhaps buried in silt to be fossilized in a hundred million years? I have always wondered what will remain of all of this in a hundred million years.
So as I passed this area, right off of State Route Seventy-six, past the railroad tracks, and near where the road where the animal shelter is. Aside, I have never known why some of these places are called Animal Shelters. It’s like calling Dachau a religious retreat. Don’t get me wrong here; some of the people who volunteer at high kill shelters are doing all they can with all they have but in poor rural areas people just do not care about their pets the way some of us do. I know people who work their asses off at adoption events knowing that some of these dogs aren’t going to make it to the next one unless they can find more fosters. It’s a very strange world they live in where they try to save as many as they can but they know they can’t save them all. I think the shelter in Valdosta sees six thousand animals a year come into it. That’s more than fifteen a day. That is a lot of pets to find homes for. It gets really weird in there people.
Maybe that’s what kicked off my thoughts about the cow. There was one cow out of the herd in the water. It was down deep, with only its head showing out of the water, and that’s not something you see every day with cows. I wondered why this one cow decided to get submerged and get away from the rest of the others. We humans tend of believe that no other species is capable of abstract thought but what if this is what the cow was doing, other than cooling off and getting relief from the biting insects? Had the cow suddenly wondered where all the water came from and where it went? Was there a sudden thought in the mind bovine that postulated that there might be, must be, some place where water went, and that place might be filled with all the water that she had seen all her life? Why shouldn’t they wonder about these things?
Of course, if this cow decided to make her journey to find where all the water went she would very likely come to a sudden and bad end. Domesticated cows are top heavy and their legs are not built for treks through the woods, down hills, and over rocks. She could, of course, stick to the river which would lead to another, and finally the sea, but the alligators get much larger as the water runs South.
We’re not so different from this cow, you know. We’re safer, infinitely safer, with the herd, crammed into our muddy little communities where we can find food and water so easily, and to some that’s what we ought to be doing. To others, they try to find a hole in the fence, to brave the waters and to show no fear of what lurks underneath and to try the unknown, to see where it leads.
It goes a little further, too. Most people would like to try the waters and see where it took them, but at the same time, they have others around them who tell them not to do this and how dangerous it is, so they too become the Keepers of the Kept. Do not dive too deeply, do not swim too far, do not try the wild berries, do not talk to strangers, do not express yourself any loudly than a murmuring lo. The herd continues to grow.
Back when I first started to write I didn’t see it as any sort of act of rebellion but since then I have come to realize that is what it can be, sometimes. All human beings have in them latent creativity. Every human mind is geared towards, built for, and ought to be used for, the creative. Yet creativity is not a calm mill pond that knows only serenity and glass surfaces, no. It can be a roiling river with rocks and falls and cows, sometimes.
Coloring books and paint by number scenes are all as masturbatory as art classes that teach students there is but one path to painting. Writing workshops are concentration camps for words. The whole idea that creativity can be taught is similar to teaching someone how to have an orgasm. The process of getting there can be refined but the actual end result has to come from the soul.
In this lifetime I have spent more time being told I could not write than being told I am a writer. More people have condemned me for being unable to conform to what is “normal” than people have praised me for originality. Yet each year brings new ideas and new places and new things to write about. Those who I knew that followed the herd are still there, still behind the fence, still waiting for the comfort and restfulness of surety to lead them back to the barn where they can be safe from all fears.
There may be an ocean from which all ideas flow and where all ideas flow into. I think that I like that idea and I hope I follow the river of thought down to where this may be. Perhaps I am wrong and I will do little more than crash against some hidden rocks are be devoured by whatever monsters that lurk in the deep. But the sound of the herd is getting more frantic and fainter each day.