Eating meat makes you party to a kill. Shrink-wrap and fancy presentation may distance your awareness from this truth, but changes nothing. Almost any food involves the death of something...but...animals have feelings. They actively and passionately don’t want to die.
That’s why if you want to eat meat, you should participate in the hunting or slaughter of an animal, so you know what you are eating. Hunting makes my head spin hard. There are a lot of angles, and I’m forever changing my mind.
When I’m hunting, I’m actively and passionately feeling the whole universe through every pore. Putting weight on each foot ounce by ounce...slowly contorting into strange positions. In Cherokee, the word for “tracking” also means “awareness.”
Grappling through a multi-dimensional world of cause and effect. Many things can affect success. The dimension of death yawns around me like the ocean.
Hiking, by comparison, seems trivial. Bouncing down the trail, making chit-chat, on the surface more than in depth, covering ground quickly. The trail blurs by.
Don’t get me wrong—you don’t need to carry a gun in order to move with awareness through the biosphere. But unless you have strong mystical or meditational (or self-medicational) tendencies, it doesn’t seem happen. And you still don’t get the possibility of bringing home meat.
Half an hour before sunrise, light was leaking into the sky over the east-side plains. The doe took up most of my scope. She raised her head and looked towards me, ears raised in my general direction, a shadow among shadows. She had a glow, as if every cell in her body was on fire. She plunged her head into the grass, her head swinging back and forth, her teeth chewing, shewpshewpshewp. She was alive and vital and loving every mouthful of frozen grass. When she dropped her head, her white tail would flag straight up. When she swung her head around, her white tail would wag. Then she would raise her head towards me, chewing loud with her mouth open—caricature of the happy deer. Lack of fear gave her power. Gave me doe fever. I was shaking like a deer in headlights.
Trapped in my role as a hunter, the goal was now in sight, and I was supposed to shoot this innocent flame of exuberance. I pulled the trigger to get it over with. There was a loud bang. She was gone. No. It was not possible to miss her. No trail of blood. Yes, she was gone. I searched for hours, wondering bleakly if she was dead or wounded somewhere, or peacefully sleeping, or still eating grass, shewpshewpshewp. Our fates were now entangled.
In 1922, the physicist Erwin Schrodinger used a story about a cat in a box to illustrate a paradox inherent in the emerging science of quantum mechanics. A cat is placed in a box with a vial of poison. There is an apparatus set up so that there is a 50 percent chance that the vial breaks and the cat dies.
Quantum mechanics describes a universe of parallel universes held together by perception. To those who exist outside of the box, the cat is neither alive nor dead until the box is opened. The cat exists in a superposition of states, either/or and neither/nor, a blur between life and death. Same as the doe I fired at—until I find her.
In each blur between birth and death, all possibilities exist until you perceive otherwise. And the primal activities that consume us have a way of blurring together in strange ways. Consider the parallels between hunting for meat and the mating dance: aka ‘scoping’ for babes—the other white meat. An ocean of gray area. These days, either sex can scope for either sex, and you don’t need to buy tags.
However, while stalking is one of the highest arts of hunting, applying those same basic principles in the otherwise noble pursuit of love is a serious no-no, resulting in major style-point deductions, as well as legal issues. In both hunting and scoping, there are restrictions against robbing the cradle.
Doe fever. Buck fever. The biggest twist in hunting for babes is that if you play by the rules, the prey has more power than the predator. Ask any two-year-old about the power of “no.” I’ve been frozen in more than my share of doe-eyed high-beams. The heart races, the brain seizes. So many ways to say the wrong thing. Just like our universe hasn’t found a way to divest its appetite for death, so too has it not found a way to digest heartbreak. Not even with the potent digestive enzymes of Chef Boy Ari.
Perhaps the next phase of human evolution is to break out of old patterns that no longer serve us. After all, ‘the love dance’ is more of a cooperative effort than a predator-prey relationship—hence the illegality of stalking. Can we look at other forms of food-procurement that way as well—as cooperative rather than
predatory? I’m not exactly sure of what I’m suggesting. All I know is that all possibilities exist until perceived otherwise.
Email Chef Boy Ari: firstname.lastname@example.org