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By: Cheryl Greear - 27 October 1998 -
I once paid a visit to a local pet store. Near the back of the
store a monkey sat alone in a cage. He was a small breed with a very long
tail. I approached the cage to see him sitting on a branch holding a banana.
He glanced at me once or twice while I stood watching. As I continued to gaze
he looked me in the eye, bowed his head and turned his back to me. I then
realized that he felt uncomfortable with me staring at him so he turned and
started eating the banana in the only privacy he could muster. I was ashamed
that it was another like me, a human, who had put him in a cage.
I know that monkeys are highly intelligent and communicative. Well, enough of
him thinking I don't appreciate him for who and what he is I thought to
myself. I could feel his loneliness and see how bored he was. The worst pain
I know of for any living thing is to have a breaking or broken spirit.
I then took a mirror out of my purse. I called to him to come and look at
what I had. The moment he saw the mirror he was curious as to what tricks it
performed or what it felt like. I could see that this little bit of amusement
meant the world to this beautiful creature whose world had been reduced to
this cage--he felt the mirror and then looked at me and I held the mirror up
so he could see himself. He thought this was magnificent! In that instant he
was no longer bored--he was alive and happy. Why? Because someone had taken
the time to share not stare. It felt so good to see him happy and not just
sitting there like a empty being. I knew I had fed his spirit in just that
short space of time. Of course, we had to go through everything else in my
purse too because ALL of it was new and exciting and fun. He also especially
liked the way the lipstick rolled up and back down again. How precious it was
to watch his face with sudden surprise each time I performed this "trick".
As it was time to leave, I put my fingers through the cage--he reached for
them and held them with his own. As we held hands, I told him with my eyes
that I was sorry for my kind and what we did to him. I then said goodbye. I
will never forget the feeling of my spirit being one with his.
I took the time to share -- not just stare. It was this animal who told me
with his eyes that he was fully aware that he was on display day
after day--being stared at as a helpless object in a place he could never call
home. He also had made it obvious that it was uncomfortable.
I still thank him in my heart for the
enlightenment he gave me----not with words----with much more----his spirit.
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