People are often upset with me if I change my mind. I change my mind all of the time and have never understood the idea that it is a hypocritical or troubling thing. The great thinkers I know and have read and have met change their minds all the time. Hannah Arendt, a moral philosopher I respect – her work has affected my life – believed it is unethical to cling to the same ideas and never change them. That, she wrote, is how ideas and minds calcify and die. That is the living mind, not angry and unyielding but open and searching. Curious and listening. When I listen to politicians talk in Washington, I see dead minds everywhere, and it gives me chills as they set the tone of the other world.
My mind is always looking for new information and new ways to think about things, that is what the living mind is for me. People who confuse rigidity with conviction have always puzzled me. In our civic and political culture, we are supposed to put on our few and tiny labels – liberal and conservative, left and right – and keep them for life. I hope that never happens to me.
I have been thinking a lot about the notion of Rocky as a spirit animal, an idea that has evolved for me over time. I have worked with shamans and communicators and I respect them, they have done some amazing work with me, but that is not where I am now. I am working on doing my own communicating. Today, I took Red out in the pasture where Rocky always grazed and I closed my eyes and tried to listen, and I had this image of Rocky inhabiting another space, another barn, the life of another human. He was in a barn, he was a younger pony, he was being brushed. He seemed content.
I asked him if he had any messages for me, and he did not have words for me, but I felt the same strong feeling from him I always had, that I felt from the first: I am not yours, I was not Florence’s, I am my own spirit, in my own life, my own mission. I come and I go. I accept my life, and embrace it and let it go. I am a part of your life, but independent of you. I always come in peace and leave in peace, there is no guilt or regret or misunderstanding in my consciousness. Those are human ailments. There is no mourning or lament for the past. That is my message for you, that is my meaning for you. Accept life and love it, and then accept it and love it some more.
And when I opened my eyes, Red had gone off in pursuit of the sheep. Was I communicating with Rocky? I have no idea, really, how does one separate the message we want to hear from the one that is meant for us? Rocky has changed my mind, about spirits and death, as did Orson, as did Rose, as did Izzy. I believe in animals as magical helpers, as spirits. They do not belong to us, and we do not control them. I hope in a year or so people will be asking me why I changed it again. I cherish the living and changing mind, not the stiff and angry one.