Staying true to my commitment to memorize a poem every month, I have chosen this one from my collection of Cabin Poems 2011.
Blue Lynx at Caribou Creek
It was stupid of me to leave on impulse
knowing the light would soon fade
I know this stretch
no guard rails, a long steep slope
Behind a curtain of blowing snow.
Alone in the darkness on this narrow mountain road
its lines buried in drifts
I chant to calm myself, stiffly
gripping the wheel
Then on the bridge crossing the creek
your muscular softness,
silver hair shining blue in the headlights,
those staring yellow eyes
Do you know how strange it is seeing a cat in the snow?
the silent padding of snowshoe-like paws
Moving fast, faster than I
in this white-out and I think
Had I waited until daylight,
you in a hollow tree or under a rocky crevice
Would have remained, invisible.
The surprising encounter in this poem happened to me a couple of weeks ago when I headed out to our cabin, 150 miles east through a spectacular mountain range that I’ve traveled countless times. It got me thinking about the mythology of this beautiful animal in many cultures around the world and how those leanings might apply to my own life. Ted Andrews, the author of Animal Speak, writes about how animals, by their appearance, behaviors and characteristic patterns speak to us everyday, if we know what to look for. I found many parallels.
The lynx is often called the wild cat, a very solitary animal. Lynx totem people generally choose to be solitary and must constantly balance their desire to be alone with their desire to be social. Learning to be alone without being lonely has always been relatively easy for me, and it is over long periods of aloneness that I find higher states of perception and joy. It’s like a dormant fire being stoked, when creativity and concentration are heightened.
It is also noted that if a lynx has shown up in your life, it is wise to look for that which is hidden for it has been associated with the ability to see error and falsehoods. Most importantly, it is advised not to confuse these errors with an individual’s true inner state of clarity and original goodness that is often hidden behind the “clouds”, or ignorances and mistakes we make in life. The lynx is gray, like the clouds, but hidden behind the clouds is blue sky. This coincides with the eastern yogic philosophy of the “ground of being” where the sky is likened to the all-pervading light of Consciousness often obscured by clouds. But rain does not wet the sky, and lightening does not burn the sky; the spark of Divinity is always present and waiting for our unfolding.
The lynx’s tail in eastern mythology is likened to the kundalini energy that is thought to originate at the level of the tailbone in humans. Prana, or the “life force” is manifested through breathing and yogic exercises to bring love and compassion into one’s awareness in everyday life. In Chinese philosophy, this vital life force is referred to as “chi” and is thought to originate in the same general anatomical area…two inches below the navel. The practice of Tai Chi and Qigong share a focus on this area of the body, teaching the practitioner how to attain a state of relaxed attention through calming the nervous system and bringing vitality to the mind and body.
A lynx has shown up in my life, and the parallels are clear as I question my desire to be solitary, while at the same time looking for new opportunities to learn collectively through the practice of eastern arts. The observance of aging helps bump this process along (it is rarely a smooth ride) and continues to inform me to trust my inner sensing and be aware of what the world has to teach if I simply remain open to it.