The Musk Deer
In the late summer of 1963 Tokyo was feverously preparing to host the 1964 Summer Olympics. Streets were torn up; scaffolding was everywhere and the sounds of heavy construction split the air as bright lights lit the city all the way to dawn for the crews that were working around the clock.
This was an amazing time in my young life. I was just nineteen years old and a member of a band that was entertaining thousands of US troops around the Pacific Rim. It was during this time that I came to understand why God designed our bottom jawbone to be hinged to the upper one. It is because if He hadn’t, mine would have fallen completely off on this incredible trip to some of the most exotic and breathtaking places on earth.
It was high times for sure. Playing two or three shows a day was a grinding schedule, but it also was exhilarating and self-reveling in ways that wouldn’t become self evident until I was quite a bit older.
During a three-day break three of us visited some of Japan’s most historic and revered sites and unexpectedly this brought up feelings in me that I didn’t understand. Gazing on the largest bronze Buddha in the world with its attending monks burning incense and chanting, touched something so deep in me it that my heart felt like it had fallen into an abyss of loneliness. It was if I had been here before and somehow all that I had cherished had been ripped away. These were disconcerting and confusing feelings for a young person who knew nothing of reincarnation and the deeper journeys that life would soon be offering.
Wandering through sacred temple gardens in the ancient city of Nara tame deer nuzzled at my pockets in search of the little crackers. My pockets were full, but my heart was empty. I was desperately yearning for the love and understanding that I hoped the right relationship would someday bring. But just like the old song says, I was “Lookin’ for Love in All the Wrong Places”!
So this brings me to a story of a much smaller deer. A story that teaches a valuable lesson that can set each one of us free.
It’s the story of the Musk Deer.
It seems that the male Musk deer at mating time secretes a powerful fragrance from a gland that’s hidden within his lower abdomen. And as this powerful sent becomes stronger and stronger, it increasingly agitates the deer who is desperately looking everywhere for its source. If he can’t find the source it is said that the half-maddened deer in desperation can jump off a cliff to its death.
Well, most of us aren’t jumping off cliffs, are we? Or, are we?! We come out of a painful divorce desperately looking for happiness and quickly jump off the matrimonial cliff again into the same set of variables that brought us such great pain in the previous relationship. Now understand, I’m not criticizing anyone here. What I’m talking about is myself!
I learned from this very experience many years ago, that we draw someone into our lives at the very same level of woundedness that we are at!
But the hidden blessing in that experience was the gift of learning that it brought. For gradually, I learned that to be in a relationship that was healthy, equal, nurturing, respectful, loving and honoring, I first had to know that I deserved to be treated in these ways, and then that for my part I needed to fully and unconditionally offer those same gifts to my partner.
Then after several years of working on improving these qualities within myself I was at last able to have a relationship that continues today to share all of these wonderful and soul satisfying traits.
So like the Musk Deer, we each need to first discover where happiness and personal value really lie. They do not lie outside of us in a relationship or in all that the glittering world seems to be offering.
Rather, happiness and personal value lie deep within each one of us, waiting for us to shine the light of introspection, not criticism, into our hearts and minds so that we can see what healthy changes we need to make in our lives so we can then experience and express the boundless love and happiness that are native to every human heart.
I’m John Johnston. See you next time, here, On the Cosmic Porch!