- Bonnie Sallans
Ground Control to Major Tom: TESTING 123, Hello?
Updated: Jan 22, 2022
Malamute Mountain's Flake for Nordiclight WPD WLD WTD WTDA (GER)
Photo Credit: Nathalie Roy
This is "Flake", an Alaskan Malamute owned by Nathalie Roy and Pierre Thibault of Nordiclight Kennels. I chose this image as my cover for many reasons, but primarily because Malamutes don't just howl, they sing.
To howl is to utter a long, loud cry that is so doleful as to be thought mournful. Singing implies something more joyous, even when it is expressing deep, inconsolable sadness. I say this because to sing involves a shaping of the expression, therefore an awareness of audience. It intends to be heard. It requires a conscious gesture towards being if not understood, at least, acknowledged. What makes that joyous is that in the act of reaching out we become part of the world write large, and the world write large is a joyous thing. If you doubt me step outside on a star ridden night and look up. I defy you to not find your heart swell in that instant; if you're lucky, you will catch a falling star, or even better, hear a wolf-howl.
Malamutes, and their wild cousins howl for the same reason people sing, to reach out, to find others like themselves, and to tell the world they are here. A lifelong writer, I manage being in the world by writing. It is how I communicate best with others; it is how I tell myself I am here. It is me, howling, not into the wind, but singing, to the world, to you.
Writing, verbal communication doesn't work so well with animals. If the Lion could speak, I do not believe he would bother. That is why I need animals in my life. They are ground control to a high intellectualism that at its best brings clarity, solves problems and is aesthetically resplendent, delightful, and delighting! But at its worst, at its most intense, exclusive and excluding, that kind of thinking detaches the thinker from the very things that make life sustainable, much less meaningful. What follows is disengagement, inaction, or worse, action that does not take into account reality or hold itself responsible for its impact on others. Dogs, horses, the creatures of the forest: being with and around them, connecting with them each in their own way, is important, essential even, to my equilibrium.
Perhaps the same is true for you, that you need animals in your life? Perhaps it is not. Not everyone finds a meaningful connection with animals, not everyone finds it easy to establish meaningful connection with other people. But if you're reading this, you are "human", are gifted with both the capacity to communicate in words, and an awareness of self and others that makes you want to. Animals communicate too, but so far as we can tell, only about their immediate needs, not their ideas about the past, their hopes for the future, nor the means by which they hope to get there. If the lion could speak, he probably wouldn't bother. Humans, on the other hand, do.
Conversation, the sharing of experience through language, is the very essence of human the human condition. In my experience even the most asocial among us wants to speak even if only to announce the desire to disconnect. Often the preference to be left alone is rooted in some sort of bad personal experience, or trouble in making the connection, and not an absolute disinterest in connecting with others at all.
I could be wrong about that. I can be wrong about a lot of things! That much my life has taught me! The only way to find out, though, is to speak the thought and see what others say in response. I am starting this blog as a place where I can share what goes on in my head with anyone interested in whatever the topic under consideration. If you like, you can answer back. If you don't then it remains a monologue, and that is fine too.
A monologue is a guided tour around the museum of an individual's mind, or at least, whatever is on exhibit at the time of speaking. There is, in my experience, much to be gained from the view. I hope that proves true for all who read here.
There is also much to be gained from dialogue. Conversation turns exhibition into adventure with all the dynamic possibilities that word evokes. So, I look forward to hearing from those of you who choose to take up my invitation, to respond, whether it is in words, in pictures or by way of those now omnipresent icons or emojis, the shorthand of our time.
This post, as the title suggests, is a "Test", I am working on the technological interface here, but also and equally if not more essentially, my interface with you, the reader, Ground Control, to my Major Tom. For unlike my other controllers, the unspeaking creatures of the earth, you can talk back, and even if you don't, thinking about you holds me accountable to being intelligible, to doing the work of rendering chaotic emotion and scattered thoughts into reality, whether that reality is a fiction, a poem, or an argument that might become a plan and the precursor to action.
I'm ready, if you are. Took my protein pill, have my helmet on. Commencing countdown, engines on.... And now I'm stepping through the door.
Are you there?