A few days ago, I was running through the park, Kaya in the jogger, Kahlua at my side. He was tied to my stroller on a leash, despite my having been advised otherwise. Now what will they really think of me, ignoring sound advice? His leash was naturally taut from his eagerness for life and passion for all things moving. I was directly under the beautiful green bridge, admiring it's magnificence, while simultaneously thinking about me and my dog and how I can't wish away my impatience. The other day, I wrote a lot about how I, how we as humans, make so much meaning out of things. I have to admit, I wrote that from a very excited place, coming from a place of "Now that I've got this, I won't make meaning anymore or feel plagued by my tendency to do that."
Well, perhaps I'd rather say...not so. Just not so at all.
As I was running with them, I didn't LIKE that Kahlua was pulling. In fact, it still bothered me. Not to the point of angering me or leaving me overwhelmed, but bothered me regardless. I REALLY wanted it to stop. I didn't like that I wanted it to stop. I really wanted to be OK with it, just to be able to let it roll. But, like it or not, I was annoyed. In fact, I realized, the fact that I couldn't stop it when I wanted to bothered me most of all. It was like I had no power over my reality. I can't stop my dog from pulling. I can't stop my dog from barking. I can't stop my baby from whining or banging the door or throwing her spoon. Or so I believe in those really hard moments...
Pretty clear as I lay it out like that...I feel bothered, even overwhelmed at times, when I can't control others.
That sounds awful.
And there I go, judging once again...making meaning out of what I do.
It doesn't stop, I realize.
We are always practicing. Always.
As human beings, I think we have this tendency to believe that someday, somehow, we will get to a point, a place in life, where we've really figured it all out and will be plagued by nothing at all. Granted, there are many who say they don't believe that at all. But I wonder if they have simply covered up this hope with a fear that it will never happen...?
Easier than speaking for all of humanity, I do know what I've always believed--that there would be a day when I'd have it all figured out. A day when I'd be less angry, have no concerns for screwing up my child, and would be completely happy with my relationships. Admittedly, I've thought that a lot in the past few weeks, too. My life feels so much "better" (another judgment...) than it used to. I see things in a way that I never did. I don't get 'triggered' in the way that I used to by not getting my way, being misunderstood, or being unable to stop my baby from crying or speaking German.
But now that I can fully accept that we're never gonna 'get it' fully, to the point of not having slip-ups and break downs, I don't have to beat myself up or get afraid anymore when it doesn't happen.
What a relief.
And it just hit me...
maybe that is "getting it?"
So, there I was, running along the path through the park when I noticed a man and his dog walking towards us. Good looking guy, nice beard. I like his hoody. Cute dog. We made eye contact and smiled at one another. Do they think I shoudn't be having thoughts like this when I'm married? I was listening to my ipod, buds in my ears, ipod in the pocket of the stroller. Suddenly, before I could grab his leash, or even call his name in vein, Kahlua pulls off and heads straight for the man's black dog. Oh jeeze. Oh my god. It's like it was happening in slow motion with the sound turned on high. Kahlua growling, barking, hovering over the black dog who was cowering. My mind started racing. He's gonna bite him. I gotta do something. I start to run to the scene, about 5 feet away, but quickly realize my headphones won't reach. For about half a second, I attempt to deal with the situation, tethered to my jogger. It didn't take long for me to realize, however, that this wasn't a tethered-type situation. I un-clip and run to the dogs, having noticed that the man has squatted down and is speaking softly to both dogs. I have no idea what he's saying, mostly because I'm too focused on my own inner dialogue. I get to Kahlua, and as much as I want to explain what I did to separate the dogs,my memory of how I get him off the other dog is fuzzy. Sounds strange, like I did something crazy drastic and awful to get him off. But that much I do know about what I didn't do. Whatever I did was completely different from anything I'd ever done before, and I was so focused on this newness that I can't remember the minutia. For the first time in LONG time, in a situation where my "aggressive" (read: judgment) dog is "intimidating" some other being, I didn't feel overcome with wanting to yell and scream and kick my dog. I didn't feel overcome at all, actually, but completely at peace and empowered.
Once the dogs were separated, the man pointed behind me and motioned to the stroller (and Kaya!) that had rolled down the path about 10 feet. Ooops. Maybe that's why I wanted to stay tethered. As I started interacting with the guy, I noticed the embarrassment come up as it always used to. But, surprisingly, it melted away as quickly as it came up. I apologized for what happened, recognizing quickly that it was my responsibility for not having had him more secured. I felt so freed from my defensiveness, from any guilt I'd normally have, and was simply filled with honest regret that I might have caused this dog and his owner any problem. It felt really empowering to apologize out of authenticity rather than shame. And, hard as this is to describe, I also noticed, as I was walking back to the stroller, than I didn't NOT yell at my dog out of fear of embarrassment or shame, either...I really felt no anger towards Kahlua, but instead complete acceptance that what he did was run towards a dog, bark and growl and stand over him, and respond to me when I got to him.
As I continued on my walk, I felt in awe. No longer of just the bridge, but of life itself, once again. This man could have responded in SO many ways. I recognize that his response made it easier for me to respond in the way that I did. His calm energy allowed me to call on mine and put into practice all that I've been holding as a possibility: patience, compassion and acceptance.
I rounded the bend and noticed a gaggle of geese flying overhead. Inspired by what just happened, as well as Buckley's Hallelujah blaring in my ears, I watched them take form, fly further, and take another. I noticed this one goose that became separated from the others and started wondering if the other geese were bothered by his separation. Were they hoping to control him and get him to fly back? Was he worried about getting separated, about not being able to find his way back or get so tired he'd never be able to reach them?
I don't think so.
I think geese, and trees, and dogs and fish just accept things for what they are and live life from there.
That's what I want.
But I got a human brain, so I get to deal with the territory that comes with it:
I get to remind myself of what I want.
I get to notice when I don't get it.
I get to reflect on the foundations of my human response, and then choose to act differently when it comes up again.
I was told recently that once we truly look at and REALLY accept that something IS, it disappears.
I didn't believe it.
How can my anger go away just by looking at it, recognizing its presence and force in my life, and accepting that it just is?
Despite my disbelief, I just watched it happen, in my life AND the goose's, and clearly see the possibility that it can happen again.
With all of us.
Thanks for being here.
You are helping my possibilities take shape.