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Kindred Spirits
By: Cheryl Greear - 27 October 1998 - nmlpoet@gmail.com

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.

Cheryl

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