Most people that know me will assume they know my answer to this question. We Bought a Zoo is my favorite movie of all time. I watched it for the first time after I had completed My Year of Hugs but that wasn't significant to me at the time. I certainly did not associate the two nor anticipate that the movie expressed the inspiration I feel for choosing to go on hug journeys.
The first time I watched it with my family and I cried like a baby at the end. The second time I watched it by myself and I cried like a baby at the end. I was a bit embarrassed when my husband came home at the tail end of this viewing to find me crying (sobbing, to be honest) by myself on the couch as the credits rolled. "Why are you crying?" All I could express in that moment was, "I want to buy a zoo!!" He chuckled and said, "no, really?" I became emphatic. "no really, I WANT TO BUY A ZOO!"
I truly believed that is why I was getting so emotional. That embarked me on my path of animal healing and a desire to one day have a healing farm, but that is a story for another day.
I have watched the movie countless times over the years and I never don't cry. The thing that has changed is my curiosity around why. Sure, I want to surround myself with animals but I felt something deeper stirring within me.
As I was drafting the first iteration of my memoir, I rewatched it as I do when I want to feel inspired or hopeful or just plain happy. As I once again found myself grabbing for the tissues at the end of the movie, the connection was made. I was crying not because I want to buy a zoo, but because I choose people.
If you have not seen the movie, there is a scene at the end where the zookeeper and her niece are sitting on a bench enjoying the fruits of their labor as the opening day of the zoo unfolds quite successfully. The niece turns to her Aunt and asks, "if you had to choose, would you choose animals or people?" They both turn in the direction of the people they love and begin to chuckle as the niece acknowledges, "yeah, me too." Not only had they both found love, but they found community.
That moment gets me every time because it's the truth of how I feel as well. Animals bring me the greatest joy. I have a passion for offering them healing. They inspire and teach me every single day.
But, people? They are what make life worth living. They make my heart swell in sizes I didn't even know I was capable of. Even though they may escort me to depths I am not sure I will survive, they also elevate me to heights I didn't know exist. In the midst of it all I find myself and stretch myself to the point that water leaks out of my eyes and I feel I will burst with love for all of humanity, myself included.
Every time, I choose people.
I'm actually doing it. I'm finally writing my book. (insert giddy giggle here) Of course, now I see why this book waited so long to arrive, after all, a hug memoir depicting a journey that was taken pre-pandemic would only have held up until 2020. Now, I get the joy of exploring these journeys taken pre-pandemic in a post-pandemic world. Ultimately, I hope this book envelops you in a great big hug that feels like coming home.