Animals, Empathy, and Other Stuff

Thinking out loud about unspoken connections, empathy and quantum entanglement.


So a really cool thing happened in my midst today. As I was on my way home from my afternoon run, bobbing and weaving through new-old parts of  campus, I encountered a curious four legged friend. Two actually, the curious one was named was Lily, the pacing impatient one was nameless, for the purpose of this post I will refer to her as Cocoa– because that is what her silky brown coat reminded me of.


Anyway, as I was saying, Lily was on a walk with her owner who so politely introduced us as I think she noticed that Lily and I shared a common curiosity with Cocoa.  It must’ve been pretty obvious that I, like her tenacious little puppy, was entranced by Cocoa’s graceful back and forth and craved a sort of unspoken connection to this beautiful, helpless creature.

For starters, as a kid growing up in a concrete jungle, farm animals were not something I came into close contact with on a regular basis. Or ever, really. So it was intrigue that told me that I had to stop. And I’m glad that I did.

I saw a billboard the other day, it read “It only takes a moment, to make a moment”. This is true. And I had my moment with Cocoa, although her mind was somewhere else. I am not sure that she was able to feel my presence, as she seemed to be lost in a frenzy of fear and uncertainty. I get like that too, sometimes.  Caught up in my own anxiety.

As I continued to quietly observe, fingers entangled in the fence, my heart ached a little for Cocoa the brown-haired beautiful horse because something was telling me that she was feeling trapped, or abandoned. What are you waiting for lovely? Where did your friend go? Where did you come from? Do you know where you are going? The questions came flooding. And literally she was trapped, like animals at the zoo. You could see the panic in her eyes, it was fresh.  Figuratively thinking though, as you know I have a tendency to do, I contemplated the situation further. In a metaphorical sense Cocoa’s dilemma– I thought to myself,  has to be just as, if not more suffocating.  I cannot imagine anything more mentally taxing, than for one to find themselves, alone and surrounded by carefully encroaching walls, slowly drawing nearer– closing in.  To wind up on a triangular plot of land enclosed by a rusty barbed wire fence towering to heights that are much to high for a hop, skip and jump right over.

[Me to me: o.k. SNAP OUT OF IT ASH]

Out of selfishness, I turned away and decided to continue on. But a few paces later, the heart strings were pulling too hard and I couldn’t help but look back. Luckily, Lily had stuck around to keep our new friend company. From afar I watched closely, as Lily had caught the eye of Cocoa. Lily was speaking a language of animal kingdom empathy, she was able to meet Cocoa’s worried eyes where they were and for that moment, Lily’s eyes, which I’m sure were open wide with enchantment, seemed to be just enough to bring Cocoa out of her pacing panic.

Sometimes that is all one needs, a little nodding reminder–that you are not alone. In fact, you are exactly where you are meant to be.

That unspoken intimate connection that I witnessed between my two four legged friends reminded me of one that I too have felt in a moment or few of my being. That language that Lily was able to speak through her smeyes, easing Cocoa’s heart and mind reminded me of the kind of friendly intimacy I too have found in nature and happened upon elsewhere once or twice. But most importantly, it is in these moments of intimacy that I feel and have felt closest to my Creator. That is what, I have reasoned, has made these moments seem magic-like, in hindsight.

Alright so, that being said, and for the sake of midterms encroaching in on me–this is where I am going to have to leave you.

But know that Lily and Cocoa will be living happily ever after too, under the watchful eye of their Creator. They will both get to where they are going, and maybe even cross paths again one day. Let’s place our faith in that.

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