A leisurely walk to gather my thoughts in the dark of night. There were no street lights. No flashes of distraction. It could have been anytime. Now. Then. Before. Anytime. No context of time that we now measure time by. The calm of the still night prevailed. No noisy cars, no barking dogs, no screaming kids or beeping cell phones. All was quiet on the homefront.
I was lost in my thoughts. But there was no guidance. No light. No shining light of truth in the words that were bouncing around in my head. They were missing something. No context of relevance was to be found. I was missing something.
Then out of the darkness of night he appeared. On my left. Why on my left I will never know. I'm sure that meant something, but I didn't know what it was.
He looked directly at me. Our eyes met. He startled me. I had seen those eyes before. That frightened me.
A moment passed. We froze.
A split second then passed as we were startled. He was startled. I was startled.
I startled him. He startled me. We startled each other.
Even when you are very close, the dark of night is a startling place to be when there isn't anything you can really see.
He retreated. I moved forward. He retreated further but watched me. As I moved past him. I watched him. He watched me. I couldn't see his eyes anymore. And he couldn't see mine.
I tried to watch but I couldn't see. It was dark. The farther I went, the harder it was. He continued to watch me. The dark was a place where he excelled. For me, I needed the light to see.
I was on my way. But I was looking back for him. I couldn't see him, but I was sure he could see me. I looked back out of fear. He watched me out of suspicion. Our intentions were clear. As clear as dark can be. He trusted the dark. I still did not.
I was now far away. But my attention was back on him. Not where it should be. It was for him to watch me. Not for me to watch him.
As I looked back one last time he was gone. He was a ghost now. A ghost of my past.
Then, as I looked forward again. He was right in my face. He snuck up on me from the front while I was looking back for him.
Then he stopped. He meant me no harm. I meant him no harm. We both knew that much. It turns out, we already knew each other well. We had a long history. I was at his mercy, but he was showing plenty of mercy towards me.
And then he said what I needed to hear.
"Don't look back at what might be chasing you. Look forward towards where you are going to be. Don't look back at what was. Look forward at what will be."
He was the ghost of my ancestors past. I was the illumination of my futures present. We had unfinished business.
He was the ghost of my ancestors past. Watching over me.
He was just a raccoon. One among many. But he was chosen this night to encounter me. To watch over me. He wasn't just a raccoon. He was my raccoon. More than a raccoon.
He was the ghost of my ancestors past. Still watching me. Still watching over me.
He turned his darkness into my light. I needed to see the light. He showed me the light. In the darkness of night.
I passed many raccoons that night, and every other night. They all just ran away and disappeared. Like raccoons are bound to do. Like they are supposed to do. Why didn't he do that?
He was just a raccoon. Or was he?