Never smile at a crocodile
It’s Boxing Day. I’ve worn a groove in the floor of the kitchen moving in and out of the endless stream of chopping, dicing, simmering, sautéing, garnishing, mixing, gathering, hunting, blessing and cursing. My eyes are on the groove and they are not smiling.
We always go to the movies on Boxing Day. It’s a ritual. Satisfying and certain. A small constellation of moments when we overlap with each other without regret or expectation. Just once a year, together and present. Today I’m getting anxious. Trying to lasso all the necessary ingredients together for the ritual and get them to work. I’m off my game.
I look up and see my youngest son. About to speak. Beckoning. I can’t get to him. Only my eyes move. And I watch as he collides with his own version of himself, shattering painfully on impact.
We call the ambulance. In the waiting I have time to see him stop breathing, go grey and choke on his broken teeth. I also have time to look closely at the groove in the floor. I sit in it. I lay in it. I wear it further down.
When they ask him if he knows what day it was yesterday he can’t remember. ‘It was a special day’, they cajole. Impatient, they are busy, preoccupied, beating a path back out the door. He has had a seizure they confirm. And yeah, he will need to see a dentist. ‘But you’re OK, aren’t you?’ And they are already rolling off their gloves and tipping their hats. They leave. I notice they have worn the groove down even more.
In the hours and days that follow everything shatters. And I keep wearing in the groove, ignoring the splinters and not looking at the blood. Broken is a temporary state, isn’t it? No matter how fearful the wreckage, you just stick the pieces back together. Fixed, usable, formed, again.
To overcome their prey, crocodiles take to the water and spin. Using their strength to outlast their captives in the thrash and agitation of the swirling dance, the spinning is a ballet of fearsome power. Popular culture has an insatiable appetite for this type of offering and I have watched this scene enough times to recoil in horror before the inevitable ending. I’ve never wanted to meet that power.
The brokenness persists. I’ve lost the groove. And I’m spinning. I’m in the murky depths with the fearsome reptile. And I can’t recoil before the inevitable ending.
Then I remember Akhilandeshvari, the never-not-broken Goddess. Riding her crocodile mount, spinning, constantly breaking apart and reforming. And smiling. She has a secret. And now she beckons. About to speak. And I gather all the broken pieces into another shape.And I move closer to hear her above the push of the water.
Her crocodile rolls his eyes, ready to take her into the spin, and she steadies herself, atop of her fear, and turns. Eyes alive.
Learn to break, Lisa.
And she smiles. At her crocodile.