Approaching Plankendael ZOO on a clear, hot day of this year midsummer. Only later will we realize how strong the sun comes down on us. We are about to revisit childhood: all adults, or verging adulthood, we enter the ZOO with the anticipation of infants. Blue sky, white clouds, storks flying high above, many of them. Their nests are on all possible elevated platforms of ZOO constructions. The energy of procreating, the nests, the families, remarkably like visitors here.
Under huge domes less lucky birds: vultures, pecking on mice bodies. They get enough food, they do not get the freedom to hunt, to fly, to follow their instincts. Are they aware of repulsion they stir in human visitors? In nature, the cleaners are vital, noble, essential. In our human-illusionist-manipulating world, they are despised. They remind us of death we want to shut off, not aware that with death, we are shutting off life, too.
Vultures should not be here; they should fly and find their own food.
Primate sector gets the most attention, of course. Breast-feeding, flea-searching, monkey summersaulting, it resembles a playground on a Sunday afternoon. Only, these guys cannot leave anywhere.
Plankendael is a dreamy place, a botanical success. Some hundred years ago, similarly, they brought a group of native people of Congo to Belgium to show them around. Some of them died, of distress, confusion, cold, sadness. This year, the King of Belgians apologized to the Congo people for the first time.
ZOO´s are remnants of colonial past. Even though they have been progressively transformed into more liveable, acceptable places. Even though they do a job of preserving close to extinct species. Mind-ego-bound elitist society conquered, penetrated, exploited, destroyed their habitats. Now, we would so much love not to deal with consequences.
The world wisdom traditions, all of them, warn us what happens when ego goes untamed. They provide the tools to harness, to yoke, to master ourselves, so that transformation is allowed. Love is a binding force, not a sentiment. We are all different aspects of oneness. We mirror each other.
Then, in hands of religions, dogmas develop, and it all gets f-up. Good/bad, virtuous/villain, pretty/ugly.
The present moment is always an opportunity to glimpse beyond – to dive deep. Dive, descend, travel to the caves, and then rise high. Only to dive deep again.
The duality is here: lost and found. Known and unknown. We are capable to unite them, and thus to become whole.
A cold beer under thick trees. C-19 rules are still there, disinfectants and masks.
Some ZOO inmates look happy, and I believe there will be less and less of those really unhappy ones here. Only because they simply do not hold on. Cage is no place to an animal that roams hundreds and thousands of kilometres.
The storks are flying high, above the Flemish countryside, they are free. We are the storks. We are also the imprisoned vultures.
We leave when the ZOO is about to close for the day, evening still far away on midsummer. We are sun-stroked, despite the fact we moved in a shade for a good part of the afternoon.
I dream of cool, deep lake swim.
Plankendael ZOO: https://www.zooplanckendael.be/en/
Rosa Montero: Lágrimas en la Lluvia. The original is Spanish, translation might be available, or I hope so. It is a crime story in futurist technology-overrun society. A real shaker. Tears in the rain, a quote taken from the Blade Runner. Tears are water. Tears are Love.