The Smile

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Once a little pig lived in a dark, sad barn.  He was old and blind and had lived his entire life in darkness. This darkness was much deeper than that caused by lack of light in the barn, and much darker even than a blind old pig might normally experience.

Selick’s darkness was the most profound sort— a darkness that emanates from desolation.  From the time he was born in the dark barn, his world was filled with angst, fear, and worst of all, a lack of hope.

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His mother loved him as much as she could, but she herself was caught in the same helplessness and despair.  The barn was filled with old cow poop, broken glass, and other dirty, scary things.  Selick, his mother, and the many, many other pigs there had not a single clean, comfortable, safe spot to sleep.

Sometimes the human brought food, but often she did not.  Sometimes, the food was really smelly and bad, like animals that had been hit by cars and left on the side of the road for a few days.  She had, once or twice, let the pigs outside.  Many of them made a break for it.  Selick’s darkness was so deep that he did not wonder where they went.  It was so dark that he did not event try to run.

When the woman did bring food, sometimes it was enough, and often it was not.  She did the same thing with water.  Selick’s mother taught him he had to be tough and mean to survive. She taught him to fight for his food, and it’s a good thing she did, because not all of the pigs survived that dark, sad place. But Selick, he survived.

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One day, a humane police officer came in, bringing light and fresh air with her.  She had other humans and trailers, and the pigs were all happy to leave that barn behind.  All the pigs but Selick, that is.  Selick’s darkness was just too deep.  He had no hope that wherever he was going would be any better, and he certainly had no hope that humans might help him.

Selick and just a few of the other pigs were brought to a place called Indraloka.  Three of them were given a big pasture with different little houses, and were told they could go in and out whenever they wanted.  Selick took the best house for himself and was ready to fight over it.  He was disappointed when Raymond and Waldo ignored him and went into the other house.

The humans kept trying to lure him into complacency, but he knew better.  He would never trust them. The others were suckers.  They were won over by fruit and belly rubs, but Selick was going to do exactly as his mother taught him, so long ago.  He avoided humans at all costs.  If they insisted on touching him, he screamed and fought until they gave up.

Raymond and Waldo were annoying.  Selick knew that this situation with plenty of food couldn’t last forever, so he decided to make sure he’d survive again when things went bad. He began picking fights with them daily.  He needed to prove to them he was in charge, so when he needed to fight for food, it would be easier to win.

Selick food

Years went by. Selick was sick of those stupid pigs.  In fact, he never wanted to see another pig again.  His darkness was still deep and thick. He decided he was not going to spend one more night in the same pasture as those stupid, annoying pigs.  So, late one night, he found his way out. After wandering around for a while, he found Tom, Jake and Henny’s barn door.  They were some very mellow old turkeys whose company he did not completely hate.  He knocked and grunted, and the turkeys kindly invited him in.  They had a huge bowl of seed and grain right there in their house, and no one was even eating it!

Selick gobbled it down and thought, “This is too easy! I didn’t even have to fight for this!” The turkeys just cooed softly and went to sleep.   Selick, his belly full, and very relieved to have escaped the pigs, lay down and slept the whole night through. The turkeys were so easy to hang out with, and they had all this food and a pig-free home.  They were nice to him, Selick realized.  The edges of the darkness he had held onto for so long began to lift, and a tiny sliver of light came in. Selick knew he wanted to stay with these birds.

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The next day those awful, fakey-fake humans came and put him right back in the pig pasture.  Selick knew they couldn’t be trusted, and this proved it.  They were not going to tell him where to live, though.  So, that night, he broke out again and went straight to the turkey’s house.

Every day for about a week, the humans put him back in the pig pasture, and he broke back out to go to the turkeys.  The turkeys took to flying right into the pig pasture while Selick was stuck there during the day.  He couldn’t believe it, they liked him, too! Finally one day, the short human exclaimed, “You love these turkeys, Selick, don’t you? Would you rather live with them?”

“These humans have got to be the slowest creatures who ever walked the earth,” Selick grumbled to himself. “Yeah, ok, lady, you sure do understand animals,” Selick said patronizingly, and the short human told him he could stay with them from then on.  A few more slivers of light came through.

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Years went by, and Selick’s heart attacked him.  It hurt and he was scared and he thought he was going to die. He was shocked to realize he wasn’t ready. He actually wanted to live. The short human started spending all her time with him, covering him with blankets, giving him medicine he hated and encouraging him to eat when he didn’t feel like it.  Tom, Jake, and Henny stayed, too.  Selick slept heavily, and a lot. One day, he dreamed that someone he didn’t hate was rubbing his belly.  He woke groggily and slowly to discover it was true, someone was rubbing his belly. It felt so good, he went back to sleep.

But this time, the old, blind pig slept in the light.  His darkness had faded. He understood that the humans and the turkeys had saved his life. He could not come up with any reason for them to do that except that they cared. Maybe all humans weren’t entirely fakey-fake after all.  Maybe some were ok.

More years passed, and the more Selick trusted, the more humans he attracted. This worked out very well, as he found he could persuade any human to rub his belly and give him treats very easily.  “You just have to understand them,” he mused, “and then they are easy to communicate with.”

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As more humans sought him out, Selick started realizing the humans had feelings very similar to a pig’s.  Lots of them are afraid to trust other humans, and fight with them just the way Selick did with pigs.  Lots of humans lived in darkness because of a painful past that was long over, refusing to let the light of a new day in because they thought it would hurt more when the darkness came back. And just like he used to be, lots of humans were certain that the darkness would always be back.

Selick was so much older and wiser now.  That heart attack really helped him, because it showed him how much he did like life.  He started living fully—exploring sanctuary grounds, making friends with lots of birds, goats, and other animals, although he still did not like pigs.   He began to count certain humans as his friends, too.

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They’d come to him, talking and sometime crying about their problems, sometimes telling him their dreams, and sometimes just wanting to love and be loved.  He’d talk with them and smile at them, and their whole world got brighter.

“How sweet these other animals are,” Selick would think, “and so delicate, with so many problems.  I’ll just help them when I can.”

For Selick, it was never enough just to escape his own darkness.  Selick wanted to shine light on the whole world.  So he smiled.

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You see, Selick had hope now.  He had so much hope that it lit up his insides as bright as the sun.  And when he smiled, that light of hope shone right out onto whoever was near, and stripped away their darkness for just a moment, so they’d feel warm and light, with hope restored.

***

In just a few days since Selick crossed over, we have been blessed with messages and stories from people far and near who loved him, learned from him, and called him friend.  If you have a similar story, please share it below in the comments.  We would be grateful to share your memories.

Here are some excerpts from others who loved him:

Yesterday not knowing this, for the first time I introduced Selick as the star of the day in my afternoon classes. They cheered and clapped for him, waving and calling his name, and then when they learned he was blind- the kids used the words “brave, smart, inspiring, and special” to describe him while watching his photos and video clips. I had no idea they were actually giving him the kind of celebratory send off he deserved… This makes my heart sad and warm at the same time. Selick was a super cool being, he knew how to enjoy life unlike anyone else I have ever known. I’ll miss him. – Sarah

Selick had such a profound and fervent affect on me.  From the moment I met him, his meandering determination and subdued vitality seemed as consequential and inspirational as any being I’ve ever come across.  Meeting him and spending what relatively little time I did with him, was so utterly fulfilling.  

Selick, without fail, provided me with a fresh and dynamic perspective every time we occupied the same space.  I loved him deeply, and I am so sorry about having lost him, but also incredibly gratified by having known him.  

Thank you for providing sanctuary to him, and all the souls.  You and Johnny have my unending gratitude for saving him and thru him, to some very quantifiable degree, saving me as well.  Another example of the good we do, rippling outward to eventually include the entire pond.

A little less light in the world tonight… but a reason to shine brighter tomorrow.  – Matt

The focus is on what that beautiful soul did for us, what he meant to us, and how lucky we all are to have walked this earth with him… He’ll continue to bring you smiles for years to come – Mike

Bless precious Selick. I recall fondly seeing him mill about the place at the ThanksLiving event. Eating the turkey’s food, coming into the barn and walking among the tables in the barn. A happy boy — all because of the good souls at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, who gave him sanctuary and loved him. Loved him. Loved him. Loved him.- Bren

My daughters still talk about Selick when they visited last June. He is my first memory at Indraloka as he greeted us wagging his tail when we arrived on the farm. What a beautiful spirit. – Tala

You did so much good in your life, Selick. Peace in Heaven, beautiful soul. Xxxx – Florence

I will never ever forget Sellie. Ever. He made a mark on my heart, like he did on so many others. – Dotsie

Just getting to spend a few days getting to know him he made such a HUGE and loving impression on my heart! – Elle

My heart is broken, but I will always be grateful for the happiness and love Selick gave me.- Lisa

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6 thoughts on “The Smile

    Cheryl Travers said:
    January 8, 2017 at 3:06 am

    What a beautiful beautiful story Thank you so so so much!! I cannot tell you How especially in this frigid cold The thought of animal suffering makes me nuts Nuts nuts And reading this besides Hare Krishna calms The mind Thank you I love you And have since I heard of you! Cheryl travers

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    David LaVerne said:
    January 8, 2017 at 4:14 am

    Darkness cannot hide the light, I only met Selick once, but he will always be remembered! A pigs nose is amazing and Selick’s more so. Being blind he viewed the world with it. Pigs have cartilage in their noses that makes it more like another appendage. Touching, feeling, rooting, the big guy showed profound emotion through it nuzzling with people. I am blessed for the memory of his touch.

    David LaVerne

    Like

    DIANE KASTEL said:
    January 8, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    THANK YOU FOR THE INSPIRING STORY ABOUT SELICK, THE PIG. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW OLD YOU THINK HE WAS BEFORE HE DIED, AND, WHAT DID HE DIE OF?

    THANK YOU,

    DIANE M. KASTEL

    WHEATON, IL

    U.S.A.

    >

    Like

      indralokaanimalsanctuary responded:
      January 8, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      Hello Diane, Thank you for your kind words. Selick was deemed “geriatric” at the time of his rescue in 2008. The veterinarians over the years were unable to provide a more specific guess on his age. The cause of death was a heart attack. Warmly, Indra

      Like

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