I crossed paths with this little guy along Sparks Lane in the Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, USA, as he continued in his evening raid of a persimmon tree.
I’m not a fan of persimmons. My experience of this particular fruit has been one of bitterness and regret and an aftertaste that lingers. It may be that my harvest attempts were naïve…poorly informed, dooming me to nothing more than I got. And judging by this little raccoon’s single-mindedness of purpose in accessing that last persimmon, presently just out of reach, the possibility arises for me of a new and different perspective. Watching him labor toward the consummation of his passion left me saddened at the absence of such an all consuming force in me. I noticed the sadness and thought it peculiar and misplaced because this moment was glorious. This wild creature had suspended all wariness of my presence, embracing his vulnerability and seemingly exalting in it, allowing me audience to a moment of audacity – there would be no pretenses, no masks, no distractions afforded by survival dramas – only a pure state of authenticity, as if I were not even present at all. The honey-golden light of the evening’s final hour filtered through the leaves casting this masked bandit in the hues of innocence. Outdoor photographers speak fondly of this ‘magic hour’ when the color spectrum of the sun shifts to a ‘warm’ extreme – like a Midas’ touch – translating everything into copper and gold. My gift in this moment came not in the form of precious metals, and as I felt it enfolding me, I might have stopped short in its complete reception, explaining away its depths and simply basking in the sentimentality of a cute scene bathed in lovely lighting.
This temptation for denial glittered its allure in the same promise held in past choices to persist in ignorance, remaining safe in relative numbness, safe in a perception that did not penetrate beneath the obvious into the essence of the gift….to feel the wonder, the treasure-trove buried beneath the smoldering sadness that I now chose to acknowledge…sadness at something missing in my awareness of me – now a tiny flame lighting a new way – embracing uncertainty. A lasting difference beckoning along a path of unfamiliarity….and resistance coming up in me that I have thus far refused to see, even as I relented to its warning, its negative conviction that I could not access the strength I required to walk this way of authentic change by facing into the resistance instead. There was something other-worldly in these raccoon antics there in the persimmon branches gently writhing in those golden rays. “I’m in the throes of love,” I whispered aloud, as if sharing a secret with a knowing confidant. He turned his shrouded eyes in my direction, this little raccoon, in a brief acknowledgment of the obvious before resuming his chosen task. “Can I become again as you are…innocent? Can I release the beliefs that have clothed me with a jaded perspective within a reality that lets me fit in and feel accepted by a world of others numbed to their emptiness?” I turned in every direction, searching for the source, as if expecting to see the air charged with fairy dust, as if expecting to see some agent of loss, some grim reaper step from behind the persimmon tree, scythe in hand; because I felt uplifted even as I felt afraid; the fear in me was screaming that love wasn’t supposed to be like this, so confrontational, so unflinching in its desire to accomplish something new in me. There was no doubt, no fluffy reservations in the intention of innocence as I bowed my head in surrender to the upliftment I felt inside. The love-light of my heart’s core swept over and through the part of me now screaming fearfully for its life; wielding a golden blade through fields of self deception, I reaped my crop of denied feeling. How long have I imprisoned you here? The courage was here in me now, borne of truth, weaned on wisdom, I allowed the knowledge of the process of letting go to unfold though I knew not how this would happen nor where it would take me. What I had judged as unacceptable in past moments was transformed by a new perspective that neither condoned nor condemned, a perspective that embraced gratitude for the learning being accessed, that sensed how I would feel just as soon as I reached completion – a different sort of promise, a promise that actually delivered the experience that it forecasted – a full bodied experience, one of heightened enduring feeling….aliveness. I was learning how to live in the moment, embracing the moment, feeling all that was in it to be felt, walking through doors to open up closed down parts of me, setting free the jailor and the jailed, restoring the two into the one in me. And the peace, the inner harmony that resulted brought me a gift of its own. The separation seemingly substantiated by what my eyes beheld, what seemed apparent to my ears, indicating that everything was out there in the distance apart from me…that view changed when the numbness passed. Yes, it’s true that everything continued to appear separate, but now I could feel across that apparent chasm. Now I possessed the feeling confirmation of what my heart was telling me. I was in tune with an expanded awareness now encompassing the raccoon, his persimmon tree, the space surrounding us, the light of the sun – in a manner that felt so different, somehow restored, so much more whole. Love had me in its throes, having transformed the fear, having walked me through an inner experience that I had believed I could not bear, in a way I had not tried before, a way that released my identification with a persona I had created for myself.
I want more of the experience of ‘the me’ that came out of this. I want to see this self deepen. As the raccoon dangled precariously in the light, munching heartily in passionate embrace of a quarry bitter-sweet, it occurred to me that there are others masks obscuring other pain within me. It will continue to be challenging to allow love greater access in me, but not so much as it was. I see what can come of it. I choose to permit no doubt to stand in the way. ©Miles A Moody All Rights Reserved
Nikon F5, 200 mm, F/2.8, 1/200 sec, Fuji Velvia 50, Gitzo tripod, Wemberley head