New world

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. – Lucille Ball

Willoughby Street stretches for a little over a half mile from Willoughby Plaza in downtown Brooklyn to St. Edwards Street on the west side of Fort Greene Park in Fort Greene. Compared to Myrtle and Dekalb Avenues, which flank it to the north and south respectively, Willoughby is a relatively quiet street. In May of 2020, barely two months into confinement, it is deathly quiet. With hardly a car in sight, a person can walk down the middle of it if she wants. Which you do. Luckily, because it’s in the middle of the street where you encounter the vaca deportista.

Water stain for Vaca deportista (Willoughby Street, Brooklyn)

This athletic cow is playing tennis. Her upper body is wide open, her arms up in the air in joyous abandon. She is smiling; her face is tremendously bright. There is so much to be happy about, there is so much room for magic and play and creation. Given the state of the world, this message alone would be inspiring enough.

There is meaning, too, in the fact that she is running. To see a cow running, in case, like me, you didn’t know this already, is to be reminded to pay attention to the imbalance you might be experiencing in your professional and personal lives.

For years you allowed your professional life not only to seep into your personal one, but to completely take it over. In this way, you neglected both your interests and artistic endeavors, much to the detriment of your emotional well-being.

Vaca deportista (6 May 2020)

When, exactly, did you walk into the head of school’s office to negotiate a contract at three-quarter time for the following school year? The day after seeing the cow? Or maybe a week after? No matter, you did it, and the move was crucial. Running or not, a cow announces to the person who sees it that she is either currently or about to experience a profoundly transformative period in her life. What better way to ensure the success of such a period than to give it lots of time?

As for what you are going to learn during this transformative period of your life, it’s in the type of cow that we find the answer. Vaca deportista is a Holstein, a dairy cow.

“You have in your possession every tool necessary to sustain yourself,” the dairy cow says.

And she is right.

No sooner had your husband announced his desire to separate a year and a half before than you had started dating, desperately, as if a man was what you needed. You didn’t need a man. You could pay your own bills and fix the broken whatever and drive the thing that needed to be driven. You were strong, intelligent, and resourceful; you could take care of yourself.

Divorce was not the end of the world. Far from it. It was just a door into a new one. This new world would only be as beautiful and peaceful as the time you spent getting to know and love yourself. You wanted a man in your life. An affectionate and attentive one; loving and generous of heart; hairy like they don’t make them anymore, with manly man hands and a voice deep like the ocean. He was out there in the world. The new one. For him to be visible to you in it, you had to first be everything you needed; you had to first be someone you loved.

“Spirit Animal Totems and the Messages They Bring You” (

“Cow Symbolism & The Spiritual Meaning of Seeing Cows” (

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