..Victoria Barkley..

Animal Nature

"You have a very special bond with nature and animals," Mrs. J. revealed, holding both of my hands, palms up, with a spooky look in her eyes. I could relate to that, although I became unnerved by her stare and was plotting a quick escape. To throw her off the scent of my intent, I flashed a hint of a smile in her direction. Otherwise, I tried to look dignified, patient and calm — almost normal, really.

"In a past life, you have been...something like a llama." Her weighty pronouncement caught me off guard. "I actually think you had several lifetimes in similar settings. I see a very hilly mountain...and you, gathering some grassy leaves..." There was a tone of victory in her voice.

What could I say? I was impressed. Ever since I was a child, I loved New World camelids and mountaintops. Thanking her, I promised to think about a private session delving further into my soul's four-legged ancestry. For now, exploring a more direct source seemed a better option.

Before this incidence, I had not been that interested in past lives. There were already parts of this current lifetime I could no longer recall, so why would I explore any further? Now, with my curiosity peaked, I thought I'd go have a look see. So, immediately after this freebie session under a Central Park big umbrella, I headed for the petting zoo down the road, just beyond the wooden benches.

Finding the entrance on the far side of the path, I reached into my pocket for the price of admission. This was exciting. I was not just another human, armed with a small bag of peanuts and a banana, after all. I was family, coming to visit one of my own. It was an adventure.

This part of the Central Park Zoo is a small place. It was not hard to find the llama. Communication, however, was a bit more problematic. How could I convey that I looked to her for insights about what skills from the distant past I needed to incorporate into my present circumstances? Psychic impressions between us seemed a remote possibility.

She was aloof. I wanted to make friends with her. Unfamiliar with the nutritional preferences of my former life's breed, I extended a hand wanting to feed her a small piece of banana. She didn't even sniff at it, putting her nose up in the air.

"Here, puppy" I called out — drawing upon a limited interspecies experience with dogs in my background — reaching out toward her again. She stretched her neck above me, let out an unfamiliar sound and spit. I was shocked. Was this any way to treat a well-meaning relative from another lifetime?

Perhaps she didn't recognize a long lost cousin, in human form, I reasoned with myself. I knew what it felt like to have an off day. Deciding to forgive, I offered a few shelled peanuts (with skin removed) in the other hand. She stomped, frowned, screamed and spit again. I was no longer feeling so understanding. Sensitive to rejection — facing such an unfriendly reception — sadly, I had to walk away.

On the way home, looking disheveled by the encounter, I slumped past Mrs. J's outdoor palmistry practice.

"What happened to you?" she asked. Too uncomfortable to say, I just shook my head and kept on walking.
"By the way, the Dalai Lama is coming to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine next week," she shouted over her shoulder. "With your past lives, you might find him interesting."
I paid no attention. She had caused me enough grief with her exotic beliefs for one day.

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