I remember how weird it felt to cut through the skin of the half-defrosted giant white rat with those tiny chirurgical scissors. I was 15 years old in biology class the first time I started to consciously look at the pieces from my “vegan puzzle box”.
Yesterday, I wrote about those puzzles that we inevitably encounter as humans living on this planet. I do feel that veganism is one of them.
When I look back to how I became vegan, moments of short insights come up to me like pieces of a puzzle. I didn’t know what they were or what they meant when I encountered them but over time I was brought to see how they all fit together.
I didn’t know that the compassion and sense of wonder towards animals that my parents instilled in me from a young age were forming the rough edges. I realize now that I had the frame of my puzzle built up a long time ago.
It is not really out of the ordinary, I would say a lot of people have a puzzle frame built up. The middle part with all the confusing look-alike pieces is where it gets tricky. It took me 23 years to piece them together.
Let’s go back to my opening story. This was one of those lonely pieces that I couldn’t do anything with at the time. In the way a puzzle piece belonging in the middle cannot be placed before you build around it. Does it make sense?
So I was cutting through the rat’s skin, it was tough and odd, still partially frozen from being in the fridge too long. I thought “everyone is doing it, surely I can manage to dissect it”. Then something weird happened. To this day I still don’t know if it was an allergy to chloroform or my unconscious trying to get me back to reality, but my eyes started to uncontrollably tear up. I didn’t feel any particular emotion, not even outright disgust but I couldn’t help it.
I had to give up trying to dissect through a blurry vision. I was excused of the class much to my embarrassment and ran to the bathroom.
Some emotional expression theorists say that we smile, then we feel happy, we cry, then we feel sad. In other words, we don’t cry because we feel sad but we feel sad because we cry.
It certainly applied to me that day. A wave of sadness hit me out of nowhere after crying for a while without any reason I could think of.
It sounds overly dramatic, was I really crying over a dead rat?
I asked myself that question over and over again.
I concluded that I wasn’t but the sadness didn’t go away.
I realized I was crying over all the rats in the world, all animals really, human and non-human. I was crying over how senseless death and this world is.
Then it stopped as suddenly as it all started.
I came out of the bathroom, laughed at myself for such a dramatic outburst. I went on with my day.
It was lunch and I was hungry. I think I had chicken or something.
To be continued…