He loved going for walks on a lead, answered to his name and loved belly rubs. He would patiently listen to me for hours on end, never interrupting save the gentle rub of his nose against my leg. He was my muse, my confidant, my best friend. For those who know me well, you will know I am talking about my beloved Edgar Alan Pig, and for those who don’t, you could well think I was talking about my favorite pet dog.
Edgar trotted into my life almost ten years ago, and together we embarked on a mission to change to world. At first I had no idea where this humble pig would lead me but today I know that he has guided me to my life’s calling.
It was in those early months when we were cuddled up in the stable together, me rubbing his fat jovial belly and he offering poignantly guiding grunts to just the right spot that I finally heard, crystal clear, that little voice that had been tugging at my conscience for many a year. And I knew above all else what I had to do.
I had heard this voice before on only a few occasions. Once was in my school locker room many moons ago. A fellow student and I had this playful little ritual we would engage in as we both attempted to access our lockers – mine was on top of hers. The lack of room meant patience had to prevail, something which pubescent girls seemed to have in short supply even back in the good old days, so a dual would ensue.
Standing face to face we would grasp the other’s elbows in a school girl equivalent of arm wrestling, except rather than attempt to topple the others forearm to the table we would attempt to make the other step back, whoever forced the yield proving the victor and would be rewarded with first access to their locker.
I was always strong for my years but would never go in with force ten, however for some reason one day I did and back she hurled. Had it not been for a carelessly placed school bag my victory would have been swift and full. Instead it was crunch and ouch and my nemesis hit the floor. While she felt pain, I felt ill. Sickened by the thought that I had harmed another I wished for nothing more than to take her pain and make things right again.
A chipped elbow later and I was grief stricken. The recognition that I had wronged another was instantaneous. Offers to do her homework, carry her books and exercise her pony, while in some official sense may have offered a level of compensation for my careless act, it did little to assuage my guilt. Years later the memory of that fateful day still haunts me.
Sadly, oft times the recognition of one’s wrong doing is not always as rapid or as visual as my schoolyard faux par, for the transgression may not necessarily be a conscious or deliberate one our part.
Many of the practices, beliefs and preferences we have, hold and do are not necessarily ours by design. Rather they are ones we have inherited from our parents, care givers and peers – ones we have never really thought that much about, thereby bypassing our ethical radar.
Righting one’s wrongs stands as the hallmark of a brave and courageous person but also an equally compassionate and honest one. Denial on the other hand, ‘Hey she deserved it’ or ‘Who put the stupid bag there’, and even, ‘It’s always been done that way’, may offer some murky facade of nonculpability to the outside world, it can never dampen that little voice who pleads ‘This is wrong!’
And so it was during those tender hours spent with Edgar in the stable, staring at his blissfully peaceful sleeping form, tracing my finger over his snoring mouth and gently holding his trotter in my hand, that it hit me with lightning bolt clarity. ‘How could I? How on earth could I have ever caused harm to your kind’.
It was such a grounding moment that I knew right then and there I had to do all I could, in the most profound and meaningful way to right those wrongs I had done so long ago. I wanted more than anything to be able to guide people by the hand to that stable to spend just a moment with a humble pig like Edgar, so they too could have just such an experience. And so the seed for Edgar’s Mission was planted.
Alas we can never change history and I will remain responsible forever for cracking the elbow of my friend and for causing harm to gentle animals like Edgar. However, one of the most wonderful things in life is that there is never a point when you cannot say, ‘I am sorry’ and begin to right your wrongs. For me it has meant carrying books, doing homework and even creating a not for profit sanctuary for rescued animals.