Here’s a great story of what happens when a want or not want battle it out. Let the head games begin.
I was just coming out of meditation on the edge of the river at the Hawaiian Village on the beautiful island of Kauai, when I felt someone coming towards me. It was Josh, a young Hawaiian beauty with high cheekbones, stick straight shiny dark hair warn in a kind of modern Beatles haircut from the sixties and a pair of slightly tilting smiling chocolate brown eyes.
In short order, he’d illustrate to what extent we humans will go to make sure we don’t ‘let go’ of what we already know. When that happens, the want or not want dance their own kind of emotional tango.
If you don’t let go of what you already know, your want or not want dance their own kind of emotional tango
I expected Josh to tell me the village was closing and it was time for me to go. Instead he sat down and said conversationally, “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”
We chatted for about thirty or forty minutes about this and that. He told me how the area was once only for the Ali’i, the royalty, because fresh water was considered the most precious commodity on island so it was forbidden for anyone not of the royal family to come into that area. He gave me a few lessons on the Hawaiian language and then we got to some more personal things about his life and being Hawaiian.
He told me his dream was to go on a walkabout. For someone from Kauai, that means to ‘go off island’. He wanted to go to Italy and to Europe. He wanted to see the history, the art, the architecture and the people. He asked about the foods we eat in Italy and I had a marvelous time reliving some of my favorite pasta dishes in the retelling.
“Why don’t you go?” I asked at one point. “You’re young. This is the time.”
He said he’d already started taking steps to realize his dream when he put his things into storage. In fact, he was ready at least to go visit his mom on another island when a pig came into his life and everything got put on hold. I would have thought I had heard wrong, but he had the pig with him, nestled in his lap quiet as sleeping baby.
“How did the pig get into the picture?” I had to ask. I mean, how many times do you meet someone who lets a wild pig come into his life and take on the role of a child? It was a tiny little thing at that point, about the size of a small puppy with wiry hair, a long snout and perky pointed ears. It was wearing a miniature red dog collar and matching red extendable leash. As we talked, the pig wandered down towards the water and rooted around in the dirt.
The way the story goes, Josh was up walking towards the waterfall one day with his dog when he heard the sound of a pig squealing in distress. His dog was a hunting dog that he had rescued from the pound when it was already four years old and was next in line to be put asleep. When Josh went in search of the squealing, he discovered his dog happily wagging his tail and proudly offering up a small baby pig struggling away in the clenches of its mouth. When Josh extracted the pig from his dog’s jaw, he saw it was injured so he took it home to nurse it back to health with the idea of returning it back to the wild when it was through healing.
He hadn’t planned on falling in love with the pig. In his words, “It’s like having a baby.”
It squealed so much that first night that Josh let it sleep in his bed. The pig happily burrowed up next to his new ‘Dad’ and fell into blissful sleep. From there, Josh discovered that the pig preferred the food right off his own dinner plate to any other feed he could offer. The pig followed him around wherever he went, happy with its new situation. It didn’t take much to see the light of pleasure in Josh’s eyes when he talked about his new pet; it took even less to understand that it was difficult for Josh to think about letting the pig go, much less actually do it. Yet, there he was at the Hawaiian village with the idea of taking the pig back up to the waterfall to reunite with his pig brothers and sisters.
Okay, so Josh said that the thing holding him back from living out his dream of going ‘off island’ was the pig. For every want, there’s a not want when we try to intellectually reason out the feelings and desires of our heart.
When your intellectual reasoning does the talking… for every want, there’s a not want
I said as such to Josh and asked, “So you want to go off island, right?”
“What’s the not-want?”
He thought for a minute. “I am afraid I can’t come back.”
We talked about that fear and he kept coming back to his attachment to the pig. In effect, his affection for the pig was protecting him from working through to the other side of his fear and realize his dream.
On one level, the story was incredibly cute and quirky. On the other hand, that cute little pig was male so, by the nature of his species, he was going to become very aggressive with age. (No fair accusing me of being a ‘female chauvinist pig’ – that wouldn’t be nice since I’m only talking about species behavior of the pig. Besides, that would be a really bad pun). Not only that, when all is said and done, that pig would probably weigh about 300 pounds at his full adult size. Not to mention the huge tusks he’d have growing on either side of his snout to insure maximum damage when he wanted to express the aggressiveness inherent to his species. In short, this was not exactly the best animal to try to domesticate in an apartment setting.
The writing was already on the wall that Josh was going to have to release that pig back to the wild at one time or another. I wondered if Josh was able to read that writing yet.
Then again, perhaps it was me who was thinking way too small.
“What are you going to do when the pig gets big?” I asked. “You can’t very well keep him in your friend’s house, can you?”
“I’ll have to find a farmer somewhere who can keep him.”
“Oh, that could work,” I agreed. “I didn’t think about that option.”
“Except that I don’t want them to kill him for food.”
“Ouch.” I grimaced. “They probably would, wouldn’t they?”
I was considering how barbecued pork is a favorite for many Hawaiians. In fact, a main savory attraction of any luau is pig cooked under ground over hot coals so his pet was the potential main attraction for any birthday, anniversary, wedding, engagement, graduation or any other Hawaiian celebration you could imagine where food would enhance the party.
“I think so.”
“So, what are you going to do?” I asked.
“Today, I am going to go to the falls and see if the pig will go.”
“Can you let him go?”
“I don’t know,” he admitted.
“Have you given the pig a name?”
Josh smiled and sheepishly said, “Yes.”
“Oh, man, you’re busted! He’s become family if you’ve given him a name.” I smiled at his rueful expression and to soften it a bit, I asked, “What’s his name?”
A fleeting parade of different emotions marched across his face before he decided to tell me. “Smoked Meat.”
I rolled over laughing and he joined in. I loved the irony of that name! Still do. He called him ‘Smoky’ for short.
Through a series of events generated by the owner of the Hawaiian Fishing Village who showed up to check on things, I was able to rent a canoe for $20.00 and Josh accompanied me to the falls. Actually, since Josh was going anyway, it was probably the owner who decided they could recuperate some cash out of the deal. I know it wasn’t Josh since he was still out on the point talking to me.
No matter how it came down, I was quite happy to go. It was coming up on 4:30pm and the sunset was around 6:30pm, but Josh assured me it was still very doable if we rushed.
Of course, I wasn’t dressed for the occasion. But, hey, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from taking advantage of an opportunity. My pretty little black and white skirt that had worked so well for my previous luncheon engagement got hiked up and I hopped onto a kayak.
I was rather pleased with my rowing skills. There were only two spoken rules and one unspoken.
The spoken rules were:
1. I row in my own rhythm to set the pace and Josh would work with that and
2. Don’t stand up and tip the kayak.
The unspoken rule was: don’t splash Josh behind me.
After about five minutes, I asked, “How am I doing? Any pointers?”
“You’re doing fine,” he assured me. “I’m still dry.”
I laughed. Now that I knew the real measure of success by my new teacher’s standards, I knew where to focus my attention.
It wasn’t long before we got to where we parked the kayak and had to cross a thinner part of the river twice.
“This is the part I didn’t tell you about,” he said offhandedly. “You might get wet.”
Oh, man, he wasn’t kidding. As I was crossing the river, hanging on to the rope that was strung across the two banks so I wouldn’t get swept down current, I was up to my bottom (literally) in water. That was my next lesson on Hawaii: you just have to know that getting wet is going to happen more likely than not in whatever you do. If you’re not in the water then it’s coming down from above.
After an easy hike of about thirty minutes squishing in my ballerina Sketchers and offering my blood up as a veritable smorgasbord to the mosquitoes at large, we got to the waterfall. It was time for Josh to let go of Smoky, the wild pet pig.
I smiled and quietly watched the drama of the want or not-want unfold. He pet Smoky goodbye. Smoky snuggled up for more.
Josh saw three other small wild pigs up the hill so he carried Smoky up towards them, took off his leash and collar and… petted Smoky goodbye again… for a good two minutes.
Okay, now it was time.
He put Smoky in the direction of the pigs. But, by that time, the three wild pigs had moved further up the hill and Smoky didn’t see them. He certainly couldn’t smell them since they’d always been out of his smelling range. He rooted in the dirt instead while Josh petted him some more.
Being a good Dad, ready (almost) to do the right thing by his adopted child, Josh picked up his young charge once again and moved towards the other pigs. He whispered to Smoky, petting him all the while, for another minute or so. With a sigh, he placed Smoky in the direction of the pigs.
Smoky, on the other hand, was more attracted to his activities of nosing around in the dirt than anything else. Life was good. He had his adopted ‘Dad’ and a plenty to keep him busy.
Josh was still petting him as the wild pigs moved completely out of sight over the top of the hill.
It was obvious that Josh was not going to let that pig go, so I let my attention wander to take in the setting around me. Once again, Kauai gave me a slice of beauty enough to take my breath away. The falls weren’t running fast and furious; rather, they were more like a strong driving mist into the pool of clear dark water below. Way up high, a slice of late afternoon blue sky peeked its way through the forest ceiling. Large rocks and boulders of various shapes and sizes surrounded the pool so I decided to pick my way over them to the other side where I could comfortably sit down to absorb the sights and sounds of nature.
In the meantime, Josh outfitted himself with his snorkeling gear. He invited me into the water with him, but there was no way I was going to get into that cold water so late in the afternoon knowing the sun was going to go down shortly. I was chilled anyway sitting there in the forest shade by the pool. My imagination had the free rein of filling in all the temperature gaps of what it would be like coming back out of the water, on the wild chance that I ever did decide to take a quick dip. The subconscious number I came up with was well below my comfort zone. It fell somewhere around the temperature that the hell my grandmother used to talk about would be if it ever did freeze over.
I’m glad I didn’t because…
The real show began when the pig’s ‘want or not want’ came to the dance floor.
When Josh went into the water and Smoky discovered that his new-found father had disappeared, he squealed in protest and fear of abandonment. Where was his ‘Dad’? His frantic search sent him running in circles until he saw Josh floating flat out in the water, head down with a breathing tube shooting straight towards the sky.
He made a bee line towards Josh. Running. Sliding. Stumbling down the hill until he got to the boulder’s edge. There was a good eight foot drop to the water below. Fear and hesitation sent his squeals into whole new decibels of panic. Two tight circles of chasing his tail apparently helped him make his decision. He took a valiant leap into the water to save his ‘Dad’ from certain death and swam straight for Josh just as hard as his little four-inch legs could move him along.
Somewhere around the six foot mark towards the center of the pool, though, his animal instincts told him he’d be better off hitting the shore line once again. He took a sharp left turn and pumped his way back to dry land.
It took him a few tries to scale a smaller boulder that was closer to the waterfall but, eventually, he could call victory his own. He celebrated with more frantic squealing and an equal frenzy of energy to battle his way around the edge of the pool to get to an entry point closer to Josh. But the deep spaces between the rocks and boulders along the edge of the water were too much for him.
The only way to get to his target was to go straight back up the hill until he hit dirt, take a right and go back down the hill closer to the waterfall. He was going great guns, squealing all the way, until he hit some soft wet dirt and all bets were off. It was just too enticing to turn down and his attention suddenly and completely focused on whatever it is pigs root for in the dirt.
The little pig’s desperate want suddenly morphed into a not want. It’d been replaced by a wonderfully seductive want-something-more.
If a pig wasn’t the subject, it would’ve made a great Country Western song about how love can be so valiant one moment and so self absorbed the next.
By the time Josh had finished his swim, he’d made his decision: couldn’t I see how the pig was so attached to him that it would be cruel for him to let it go? That was Josh’s reasoning, at any rate, and he was sticking to it.
I like this story because we’ve all had things we wanted to do and we’ve all had metaphorical wild pigs that are just “too attached to us” to let them go. In the end, we often let the ‘pigs’ give us what we really want, which is the ‘not want’.
Me? I can look back and see examples in my emotional & spiritual growth spiral where I’ve been both Josh AND the pig.