How We Do On The Farm


There comes a time when you have to kill something, dead.

I remember when I was about 9 or 10, we had a bunch of farm cats around. Occasionally, one of the little ones would come into trouble--it would suffer as a result. My dad's approach? Take it in the back and pummel it with a shovel. I cried ceaselessly when this would happen--until I was dizzy with confusion and ultimately exhausted.

Now, as an adult, I just think of my Dad---his vision, the strength he would muster, to get right in there on the edge of life and death of a small soul---guarding his heart and lifting that shovel. I know my dad believes in the soul of all life--to him, even an ant is worth saving from a drown in a puddle or a glass of water. The point is, there's no difference between saving a drowning animal and killing a suffering body, dead--either way, the soul is again set to live again, in one form or the next.

I wonder if he looked at the kitten, because today, I didn't look at my ex when I told him it was over. I just picked up the phone when it rang---as if grabbing firmly the handle of a shovel---and as he asked me when we'd meet, I swung the answer over the place in his heart where I once seemed to reside. A witness to two months of experiment slamming to a close: the words "no, no thanks," rolled from my tongue, transferred through the phone and vibrated his ear drum--silence, then a completely emotionless "Hmm, okay, well, I'll just use my hand then."

The sophomoric innuendo barely made me flinch--and this reaction on my part, in itself, had me realizing how on the edge I was--far, far away from the standards I hold a man to. Another rebound after divorce, wrote my chalk on the sidewalk of reason. He made it easy with those crass, haphazard words, for I felt almost nothing--as if I decided so cleanly that watching something, like a relationship between two people with a wildly different set of standards, suffer like that is far more a travesty than killing it.

And now we are free, the love we felt is unbound by the stunted, suffering relationship. A sense of vitality is returning to my body and mind.

This is how we do on the farm--kill it dead, set it free.