Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Proud Beast Goes Down

Last night, I saw Peter Jackson's long-awaited epic, "King Kong" and it had a strange effect on me. Though various reviewers will inevitably pan the wooden dialogue or quibble historical accuracies, Jackson artfully captured a universal pain in raw form: Loneliness.

Specifically, here, the loneliness of a giant beast who lives solo on an island as the last of his kind. He's getting up there in years and every day he rambles past the bleached white bones of his ancestors and he huffs and snorts to no one in particular. Just as he finds a friend, a beautiful companion that entertains him and fits in the palm of his hand, he is shackled and then slaughtered. Illustrated in such primitive terms, it reminded me how basic our needs are and how little they differ from other beings, whether they share our form or not.

So, I'm contemplating all this last night as I settle in to bed. Lights out and drifting off, I suddenly sense I am being watched. I open one eye and make out the silhouette of my feline sidekick, Simone. Though her nighttime 'spot' is usually at the end of the bed, on this particular evening, it clearly wasn't going to do. I opened the blankets, laid out my arm and watched her eagerly settle in. Then, to my amazement, she did something she'd never done before: She put her head in my palm of my hand and purred so loud I thought the blankets would vibrate right off the bed. It was a different type of purr, deeper and longer than usual. It was . . . well, emphatic.

Right about then I caught sight of the clock, saw that it was just past midnight and realized the State of California had just executed Stanley 'Tookie' Williams. Still in the dark, holding a grateful animal's head in my hand, I pictured Williams clinging to the top of the Empire State Building, a swarm of planes circling him and firing rounds as he swipes and roars.

In the end, of course, both proud males lost the battle but went down knowing that they had overcome obstacles that once seemed insurmountable. Death doesn't change that.

I woke up today with an overwhelming feeling of sadness - for a ex-gangster I'd never met, a giant gorilla that never existed and for the rest of us, left here to realize that their wasteful deaths did not erase any tragic events or fill any aching voids, they only deepened the wound within us all.

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