Damn! The Monkeys.

Damn! The Monkeys.

There is this favorite photograph I took many years ago on the island of Nevis. It is a green vervet monkey sitting in a tree screaming at all the other monkeys on the beach, stealing alcoholic drinks. I saw him as the treatment director, the wise elder. The caption I applied to it says: Damn! The monkeys. I reflected on that image yesterday and almost two decades later it is still revealing wisdom.

The obvious irony is the screaming monkey is also a monkey. But the hidden irony…for almost twenty years…is that the screaming monkey was giving up his life to attempt to change others…to help them, to keep them from addictions…yet he had an addiction–demanding they change.

How many of us do that? We sit in our place of ‘right’ and demand others change…dress better, eat better, clean your house, wash your car, spend your money wiser, raise your children better, find a job more suited to you, paint your house, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t eat meat, don’t own guns, don’t curse…the list is endless, isn’t it? We seem to find a way to know what’s best for everyone else by our judgments. And thus, because we have some privileged connection to Wisdom that few others have, we stand on our platforms openly pitying those that don’t live up to our wishes for them. Ugh.

As I worked with the screaming monkey image I felt such sadness that he wasted his life, his precious days, hooked into something he couldn’t change. Then I saw me in him. And I wondered what it would feel like to just climb down the tree and walk away, move back to the jungle and stop resisting the flow of life.

So…Damn! The Monkeys….I am climbing down the tree and letting them figure it out. I want to live.

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