I watched The Sleeping Dictionary the other night, or at least as much of it as I have on tape. My life mate/soul mate recorded movies that he liked and often ended them before things got ugly, turning a painful movie into a touching one, so in my version, the story ends when John and Selima profess their love. (I had become so tuned to death and disappointment during his last years that I could not bear stories with unhappy endings or characters who fought instead of appreciating what they had. Watching his movies, I now understand he’d developed that same sensitivity. His version of Braveheart, for example, ends before William Wallace is tortured and killed.)
But I digress.
When the young headhunter first appeared on the scene in The Sleeping Dictionary, I was struck by his savagery. I don’t mean his cruelty — though today “savage” is synonymous with brutality, it originally came from a word that means “woods.” I’m referring to his elemental nature, his primal being, his untameness.
I am a highly civilized person. For the most part, I am considerate of others. I am never intentionally rude or bad mannered or insulting. I am not uncouth. I don’t make scenes in public (or private, for that matter). I seldom raise my voice. I listen more than I talk. I dress modestly. I use correct English and am not given to crudeties or foul language. If it’s in my power and nature, I almost always do what others ask. I try to be helpful. In other words, I am tame.
As I watched the movie, I wondered if the time had come to untame me, to embrace my inner primitive. I don’t know what or how to do that, but it’s something worth thinking about. I know your first thought — tattoos. Nope. Today tattoos are not a matter of primalness but of fad, and fad is the epitome of civilization.
It would be interesting to have totems, rituals, amulets that meant something to me and my life, that would help me connect to life or at least remind me of that connection. To find or develop such primal symbols, however, I would first need to know who I am, to know what meaning life has for me, but the death of my life mate/soul mate so devastated me that I no longer know who I am or how I connect to anything.
Now, as I write this, I realize that I don’t need to start a search for my inner primitive. I am already on that quest.
I walk in the desert (as primeval a place as there is around here) and pay attention to how my body and mind join to the earth. I feel how my feet connect with the ground (well, how my shoes connect. I am not so savage as to be willing to walk in rattlesnake country unshod). I feel the air coursing through my lungs, and the breezes touching my skin. I feel the heat of the sun and the coolness of my evaporating perspiration. I open my mind and feel new ideas flowing in and old ideas flowing out.
Maybe someday I will untame me — find out who I am at rock bottom and live according to my truth. And maybe I am living that way now.