This post has been quite some time in the making. First, it was about what my new dog had taught, and was teaching, me. Then, it was about love and loss and the pain that it caused when I was forced to return her. It has gone through so many transformations, that I’ve decided to do my best to chronicle the situation and include the span of my emotions, reactions, and lessons I’ve learned over the course of the last two weeks.
Instead of forcing it into completion when I didn’t have the mental energy, time or inclination, I have let it grow organically. At the beginning, there was too much sadness and too much emotion to write anything other than melodramatic renditions about how confusing and unfair life seemed to be. That was at my worst. I don’t censor myself here– or ever in my writing– but I also want to provide people with a somewhat enlightened point of view of a difficult situation, not play into their victim-mindedness (as I am sure to do when that’s where I find myself at that particular point in time).
I will not post the entirety of my original musings; not because I wish to elevate an image of myself as being above deep sadness or utter emptiness and expression of melancholy; but simply because that was not the message I ultimately wished to receive from this experience; and that was not the message I wanted to leave with you, the reader.
We all know how to be sad and depressed. We all know how to wallow and indulge our pain in our own special ways. I did that for two days, on and off, until finally I broke through and surrendered to it. This post is about sadness and loss, to the extent which I have most recently experienced. But more than that, it’s about going beyond pain and using it to learn from and grow beyond.
Life has showed me, wherever I have given it chance to, that it is ultimately good, and the worst enemy to our happiness is trying to decide what is best for ourselves– especially in the face of what is. Resistance is depression, anxiety, stress. Acceptance is peace, space, freedom, happiness.
My emotions on the subject have continued to grow, but I’ve found sufficient space and the ability to write from an optimistic and more conscious place. I have recently taken to beginning posts in one frame of mind, working in another, then completing them in a different one altogether. Because of the length of this post and my erratic schedule of the last two weeks (including a literal change of state– from New York to South Carolina), this is perhaps the best example of such piecemeal collaborations with varying versions of myself. Any break in emotional continuity is due to this span of time and various states of awareness.
At the time of this writing*, two days after giving Lady back to the shelter and saying goodbye to Leo (*and now, quite a few days later) I feel very little by way of sadness. It is nearly indiscernible, although I’m wary of making the claim that I feel nothing at all by way of emotion. However, I do feel at peace.
Therefore, explanations of depressed or resistant states are simply to explain how I was feeling at the time, and not an attempt to dramatize the event. At this point, I have very little interest in rehashing any of it– except for the derivation of any small bit of benefit of the reader, in order to place the entire lesson into its proper contextual form.
I understand death. Death makes sense. Death is not at fault and death cannot be fought against by mortals. There is no arguing the cycle of death within life. However, I sometimes find the ambiguous things rather difficult to navigate. Like saying goodbye to the one you love, man or animal. I have just, in the last two months, said goodbye to perhaps the two greatest loves of my life, while I still was very much in love with each, and both were seemingly out of my control.
Six days ago I had to return my dog to the shelter. Between breaking up with my boyfriend of five and a half years, and returning the closest thing to a kid I’ve ever had, I’m not sure which was more difficult. All I know is, in that short period of time I came closer to my own humanity (fragility, fallibility) than I have perhaps ever in my life.
I don’t write this as a plea for sympathy, or an attempt at elevating my experience to that of a parent losing a child (hopefully that is obvious). But I will say from everything I have heard and witnessed about what it means to be a parent, I finally had that veil lifted in my relationship with that dog. Whether it’s a person or animal, caring for something that’s entirely dependent upon you brings out another side of you; another angle of fullness to life. It was an entirely new realm for me– the uncharted territory of total responsibility and caregiving for something whose entire well being depended upon my daily actions.
Her name was Lady. (Later, I would call her Adelaide and decided it was Lady for short.)
This was the dog who had immediately jumped out to me (figuratively speaking) the moment I saw her the day of orientation at the shelter. We hadn’t been allowed to walk any dogs that day, and when I asked about her, they wouldn’t even tell me whether she was male or female. Apparently she had just come in, so they had no information to give. I hadn’t been able to walk her just then, but I looked forward to the day when I would finally get the chance to meet her.
That night over dinner I told my family about my first emotional day at the shelter (also the day my ex-boyfriend officially moved out) and the dog that had captured my heart through the bars of the cage. She reminded me of a four-times-as-large version of my family’s much-loved (adored, idolized) dog, Katie. She had the same white blaze down her face, with the same tan and white coloring.
That dog at the shelter, however brief our encounter, seemed so beautiful and sweet. I felt strongly that she was everything I’d ever wanted in a pet– especially considering my plan to take a road trip, in which I felt it would be best having a dog for both safety and companionship.
On my first day of volunteering about a week later, I tried walking her first. Remembering which cage she’d been in, I asked if I could walk the dog in cage two. “Sure! That’s Louie,” replied the lady named Jane, an experienced volunteer there.
I thought that was great, the name Louie. I was glad it was something I would keep if I decided to take the dog home. Excited, I walked to cage two– and stopped. That was definitely not the dog I wanted to meet. Without wanting to seem to ungracious (I was there to help the dogs, after all) I looked around. The dog I loved was to his right, in cage number three.
“What about the one in number three?” I asked, tentatively. “Oh, that’s a new one,” she checked the clip board, “…Lady. She’s head strong. You don’t want to start with her. I’ll take her, and you can take Louie.”
So for my first walk, I got the annoying beagle named Louie (who, for the record, was way more difficult to walk than Lady ever was). I waited until I had walked everyone else and I saved her for last. She’d been left in an open air cage outdoors. I went into her cage, and forgot about the rest of the world as she let me pet and hug and kiss and cry all over her.
(I would learn later that basically every single interaction we had– in which I hugged and pet and kissed and cried all over her– was like the definition of poor dogmanship. If you want a poorly-behaved, maladapted pet who thinks he’s your boss, do all of those things.)
She was the kind of dog that looked into your eyes, pushed herself all over you, and demanded to be loved. It was impossible to deny her. She was both cute and annoying in a monkey-like way. I took her for a test-walk, and it seemed that her energy level and height were perfect for us to go running together. She was everything I wanted in a dog. I put her away and said goodbye, crying as I drove home at the desperation of the situation, and all the dogs who needed homes, but especially her.
When I got home I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted my sister Camilla meet her and see if there was any way she would be willing to help out with her the next week when I would be at Kiawah Island. If she was on board with the plan, I knew there was a chance I could make it work by jury-rigging a system of family and friends to pinch-hit for me while I was away. The timing would be awful, but that’s the kind of thing you did for love.
Besides, didn’t people always say how there’s never a perfect time to have kids? I was borrowing a page from their book. At least I wouldn’t have to save for her college.
The next morning, I annoyed Camilla by rushing her through her shower and make up and off to the mall. I didn’t even let her hang her laundry on the line– a true sign of my single-mindedness on the dog. (I will usually stop heaven and earth to get someone to hang their clothes on the line.) Not to mention that I hadn’t been to the mall of my own accord in probably a good six months. I usually avoid it unless I’m getting paid to take a kid there. And the traffic on a Saturday morning during tourist season was enough to remind me exactly why that was.
But the mall was where the shelter, which I’d called at 10:01 AM (they opened at 10:00) had told me Lady would be. I had asked a little girl Grace, who I’d babysat for the night before, if she wanted to come with me to see a dog (she was an animal lover and someone who was turning into a friend after sitting for her since basically she was born). I was going to pick her up and the mall was close to her house, so I felt it was another sign that maybe things were lining up as they were meant to be.
The fact that I was rushing my sister through her morning routine (if you know Camilla, you know this is like playing with fire), stressing when Grace was a few minutes late getting out the door, and my overall anxiety were portentous.
I knew better, knew enough of life to know that this wasn’t the way to get what you needed, or ultimately even wanted. Normally, I try to live as much as possible in the surfer-dude mentality that “whatever, man” is fine, and you get what you need in the end.
Usually, that’s what works. But for this, I had tricked myself into thinking that all that stress was just necessary in order to get what I really needed. I couldn’t leave something this important up to the universe! That was for petty things that didn’t really matter.
I kept saying to myself, “I’m not usually in the habit of forcing things… but I just knew I loved her from the moment I saw her.” That was my go-to philosophic-spin on the situation; that love would conquer all and that we were going to make it work, in the down-on-our luck rom-com-dram sort of way.
She was too perfect for me to leave the chance to fate. Besides, everyone has a pet; it’s not like rocket-science. I could totally do it. I could prove it to myself and my parents how great of a pet-parent I was and it would all turn out like a Disney movie in the end. I’d have a Dalmatian Plantation!
(Often, my worst enemy in life is my eternally-jaded pessimism laced with an infinitely flowing optimism. In other words, my complete personality juxtaposition that probably gives a schizophrenic a run for their money. I’m overly practical and pragmatic one day, and throwing my carefully-laid plans to the wind on a whim the next.)
We made it to the mall, all three of us piled in the car, and I jogged around trying to find which direction the shelter would have set up their temporary shop.
Finally I spotted her, dragging my sister and Grace behind me. A moment later I was reunited with my girl, asking Camilla what she thought through yet another release of waterworks (the 11:30 AM showing)– and not accepting anything other than compliments on my fantastic choice of canine. I called my mom and asked her to come meet her, but she was at lunch with her friends. I tried calling my dad, but he was away at a music festival for the weekend.
I wanted to talk to my parents about it, since I was living on one of their properties. And even beyond that, I sincerely wanted their input (as long as that it was supportive of me getting her/congratulatory re: finding such a cute dog at a shelter). But I felt like it was a do-or-die decision to be made on the spot; if I didn’t take her today, I felt certain someone else would.
This wasn’t the time to mellow out and think it over– my usual method of choice (or, at least what I usually force myself to do).
Anxious at each person who came to look at her, and more stressed with each time the shelter volunteers declared her “very adoptable”, I knew someone would take her. It wasn’t that I didn’t want her to have a home; I truly did. I just wanted it to be with me (and no one else, god forbid).
After half an hour of mental debate in which nothing actually happened, and then another thirty minutes of having a near-nervous break down whenever someone fawned over, or eventually even came within a few feet of her (I was physically positioning myself to jump in front of anyone who showed any serious sign of interest) I finally realized there wasn’t going to be a thunderbolt come down from the sky telling me one way or another what to do. So I screwed up my courage and said, “I’ll take her.”
How quickly she went from being a homeless pound puppy up for grabs (and $33– heartbreakingly cheap) in the mall to someone with a home and people who loved her was unreal. I signed my name one time on a poignantly brief sheet of paper, and without any pomp–or circumstance–they handed me her leash. It was like the nurse handing me my new baby. I cried just as much as any new mother– maybe more (but certainly more embarrassingly, since it was in the concourse of the Wilton Mall).
I love freedom and independence. While I love children, and sometimes taking care of things (when it suits my fancy), I’ve never taken for granted my ability to roam the earth as a free agent. This, especially in the last year of breaking free from my jobs and starting to really live life. Almost every day I wake up and am consciously grateful for the fact that I have no dependents, no one to think of or care for but myself.
Incidentally, this may have been a bonus of the break up; after putting the needs of another either before or at least equal to my own, it felt like breaking free for the first time in over nine years (the course of two different boyfriends, one after another). While I’m very much a relationship person; never one to lament missing out on the single life, just the sheer change of pace of not having to live my life around someone else’s wants and needs was a bit refreshing.
But I never knew this about myself; that I actually like having something to take care of, 24/7. While I’ve taken care of kids for more than half my life, there is something entirely different about never being able to clock out of your duties, even if you’re not physically there. Suddenly, there is a sense of everything you do having a cumulative effect on the one you love. You are fully faced with the concept that nothing happens in a vacuum– your entire life revolves around the well-being of another.
There is no satisfaction in life greater than loving devotion to someone else (it helps if they’re cute) whose most general need in life is for you to take care of them. The helplessness of an animal, combined with the do-gooder feeling of adopting from a shelter, was pure joy for me, despite the peppering of annoyances, like a mad-dash at attempted dog training in the face of going out of town in six days, and sudden loss of total and utter freedom, there were other areas of freedom to be had. For example, freedom to meet more people, have a constant yet (usually) not annoying friend, freedom to spend lots of time outside every day, and the freedom to travel with the benefit of an always-willing partner.
Okay, maybe some of these weren’t freedoms– maybe they were more like natural and sudden inclinations towards a different lifestyle. But they were still benefits Lady brought to my life. So she took my freedom away, and offered me something else: companionship, expansiveness, fulfillment, and love.
Lady taught me what it was like to wake up in the morning and not have the first thought be about me. She taught me what it was like to wake up in the morning and have the first thought be about someone else, what I could do to make their day better. My life became about love of something else. It wasn’t fun– but it was satisfying. My life took on new weight, a new importance in that no matter what I did, I had the power to benefit another being.
That’s what true meaning in life is. It’s not making ourselves happy; it’s loving things outside of ourselves and experiencing love through that, even though sacrifice. The kind of happy I was before was empty in comparison to the life I had with Lady. I understood what parents said how nothing could prepare you for how differently you would feel the moment someone handed you that little helpless thing and told you it was yours. It was like a dream that suddenly, in the course of a few morning hours, I’d become a sort of parent.
I took her on walks, long walks, every day. I got more exercise in that week than I had in the entire last two months. I wouldn’t pre-plan, wouldn’t lock the door or take my phone, I’d just put on her leash and go.
Totally free and at one with nature, I felt in touch with the original men and their wolf companions, untethered by technology, free to roam together as one. We would just go, her and I, around town, through trails, into fields. It was freedom– yet with a companion. A companion who didn’t interrupt my ability to feel quiet and introspective, yet not lonely. A feeling I haven’t known heretofore.
I met more people than I’ve met in the last three months, in six days. My home was wherever she was; she made me want to be around people again. She anchored me. As long as I was with her, my whole world came with me. As long as she had water, I was fine. As long as she was fed, my hunger took on less importance.
It was the first time, during those six days, that I stopped caring what my diet was. How I looked wasn’t important. I just wanted to give her the best I could. I gave her what I was eating as long as it was healthy for her.
I’ve never experienced the selflessness required of full responsibility of something else. In thirteen years of babysitting and pet sitting, nothing could compare to the six days I had with that dog.
It was hard though; I didn’t sleep much that entire week. I was stressed about my parent’s reaction, her training, and the fact that I was leaving town in less than a week.
My life looked nothing as it had days before as a carefree non-pet owner. I went back and forth to the mall more times than I can count (that’s where the best pet store was). I was suddenly glad I hadn’t sold my car, as there were more car trips than I’d taken all summer.
We had to go to the vet (and then back again for more medicine I’d not realized was routine for dogs, being a total newbie at the whole pet-owner thing). There was a new grocery list of things I had to buy (I hadn’t bought anything but food and gas for months). I spent hours researching, poring over reviews for the best grain-free food, the best harness, the best crate, the best of everything. I didn’t want to spoil her, but I wanted her to have the best of whatever it was she absolutely needed. I became like the mother I never knew I had in me for sure– the mother my natural self-centeredness usually covered up, or perhaps circumstance had simply not provided me with occasion to express.
I loved my new life and my new dog. I was stressed about my upcoming trip away from her, and how I would have enough people to cover enough shifts taking care of her while I was gone, but I was full and happy. I loved the new direction my life had suddenly taken.
Then, two days before my trip, my dad unexpectedly stopped over at the house to say hello. She reacted in what can best be described as trying to attack my dad through the door (kind of viscously). He left without coming inside. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know how badly things were about to change. I was embarrassed and taken aback by her sudden change in demeanor. I immediately went the computer to google search answers on how to remedy the apparent human-at-screen-door aggression she’d just displayed. I was stressing hard.
Half an hour later, he called and told me I had to bring her back to the shelter. I won’t go into details of the desperation and pain of that afternoon, but suffice to say my first inclination was that I would sooner find another place for both of us to stay than give her up. I wanted to make it work. But after a few rounds of calls with people who knew dogs better than I, ranging from her vet, to a professional trainer, to a friend who’d rescued a shelter dog themselves, I eventually came to believe it would be a much harder battle than I’d originally thought.
I’m not saying it would have been impossible, and given a different situation, I would have kept her and fought it out. But given the circumstances, I felt I had to give in. I knew I would have to give her up.
A few hours later, she did the same apparent attempt at attack through the front door thing to my sister. This was especially disturbing, since she’d lived with, and loved her. We didn’t know what was going on. Where was our sweet Lady girl?
I know no dogs are perfect. I don’t and didn’t expect her to be, and I knew when getting her that we would have intensive training for the first part of our lives together. I think she was a sweet, sweet dog and had the potential to become an amazing pet. But given my mad dash of the day, searching in every possible direction to avoid doing what I eventually did, and coming up empty handed, I surrendered to the fight and planned to bring her in the next day.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I know that literally speaking, I could have done it on my own. But I asked my mom to come with me. It was one of the most gut-wrenching days of my life, and I’m glad I had her to lean on. She helped me through it. It was one of the worst days of my life. I wasn’t just failing myself, I was failing Lady more than anything else, and that’s what caused me the most distinct pain.
Later that day Leo came to say goodbye. He would be leaving for Colorado while I was on my South Carolina trip for work.
So I gave up my dog and said goodbye to my ex-boyfriend in the same afternoon. I didn’t plan for these things to coincide in one rather emotionally-laden day. Most people didn’t even know I had a dog.
I know it may sound melodramatic (first because it’s a dog, and the power of their connection with us is not always universally acknowledged or understood, and second because of the short time I was her owner), but those six days I was Lady’s adopted mom changed my life. I was heartbroken in a way I’ve never experienced before. She simultaneously showed me what I had been lacking, and filled that space. Almost as soon as I learned where it lay, I had to give her up, and I felt the vacuum of her impending absence weighing my heart and pulling out my emotion in the form of tears and heavy sobs.
Her scent, her warmth, the nicknames and jokes for her Camilla and I had created, and the heavy weight of a soft fur body lying on my lap as my mom drove us to return her to a place I am sure she never wanted to return weighed heavily on my conscience and my heart.
At the time, it felt harder for me than the break up. Partly because I felt completely out of control in the decision making that led to her return; partly because it was a blindside, and partly because I felt responsible for her total happiness and well being in a way I had never felt for Leo. I loved Leo, and was devoted to him, and tried to nurture him maybe more often than was healthy, but he could live without me. He didn’t need me to come rescue him from a shelter. He could feed himself without me. He could even let himself go to the bathroom in an appropriate spot without my putting him on a leash and leading him outdoors.
One of the hardest parts of the break up for me was not questioning how right it was, or even regret. It was feeling as if I’d abandoned him– not only in life and the path we were going down together, but in his worst time of need. It is hard to be there for someone emotionally when you’re the one causing their pain. I felt as if I’d failed my boyfriend, my best friend and the person I’d lived with day in and day out since college. That was hard enough, but I’d come to terms with it as part of life and a great experience to learn more about myself and the dynamic of relationships in general. There were two equal, mature, and self-sufficient parties in that break up. I was confident it was what we both needed.
Now, on the heels of that, I felt as if I’d failed the animal equivalent of my child. My sister could reiterate that it wasn’t my decision, how I’d done all that I could do, over and over again.
But in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but feel as if I should have known, I should not have been so selfish; I should have taken my time in choosing just the right dog and not going off emotion and imagining it was fate. I should have asked all the questions about her socialization and asked for an aggression test (I still don’t know what that is, but I learned of its existence after getting myself into this tangle). I should have gotten her a trainer right away. I should have kept her on leash on in the house, not let her sleep in my bed (a habit I broke as soon as I realized the implication in dog psychology), made sure she always walked next to, or behind me. There were a million things I could have done. I could have not been so naive to think that doing the “right thing” always resulted in a fairy tale ending.
With the break up, there was still hope for happiness, a happy ending. I could still imagine us meeting each other’s kids, maybe attending each other’s weddings (hopefully not in that order). It was sad, and it was a big change, but I knew it was the right thing for me, and therefore, the right thing for him. I could talk to him, explain what was going on in my head, gauge his reaction, ask him how he was feeling. We can still text and I can still tell him I love him. In fact that’s just what I did, through more tears, before he left.
With a dog you can’t tell them that. I had no way of telling her how much she meant to me, even though it seemed so silly to say, having known her for less than a week and having just dropped her back off in a cold clinical room in a shelter with a woman she didn’t know. I didn’t understand a world that type of thing could happen in– where you have the best intentions and things don’t work out. I had learned that with break ups, you may love someone and still have to let them go. But breaking up with a dog, you cannot explain to them. They are truly an innocent party.
I don’t know what she thinks, or if she even remembers me a few hours after I was with her. I just know the love I felt for her from the moment I saw her, and how I’m doing the best I can to comprehend the fact that that love didn’t mean it was meant to last.
I think what I’m learning about pain is that you must surrender to it. That nothing is for certain in life, and you must accept that if you want to be happy. I bought her with forever in mind. I choose Leo with forever in mind. Neither was forever, but both brought joy and taught me an immeasurable amount of about life and love and loss. I choose those as gifts from them, and nothing less. The last two days before my trip, I cried myself out. The next day, I felt new.
That was my first flight in seven years. It felt fitting to start off the first day without my dog and without my boyfriend exploring a new place, with new travel companions.
When families would tell me that they felt as if I was one of their own, it used to make me feel claustrophobic. Not only didn’t I want to acknowledge that having a family meant relying on other people, I was quick to point out (not to their faces) that I had my own family; I had Leo and my mom and dad and sister and I was perfectly happy with them.
I had shut myself off, and compartmentalized the people in my life: business, and love. I wanted not to mix the two. I never wanted anyone to rely too heavily on me, because I had no intention on relying on them in return. My attitude was that I was doing them a favor, and they had little else to offer me, besides the money I earned, which was my ultimate goal, and the reason I did mostly everything I did back then.
I have finally come to realize that in life, if you are ever doing anything pragmatically–simply for getting from A to B, you are bound to fail– at least emotionally. You may get all the money or success you are after, but it is hard to feel happy or satisfied when you are only working toward extrinsic goals. Having Lady made me vulnerable; it made me dependent upon others for their good will and time. But mostly, it gave me a goal that was the happiness of another; there was no outer measure of success beyond my ability to care for another living thing. That was inherently valuable in the realm of love; and there was nothing practical or pragmatic about it.
It made me realize, for the first time perhaps in my life, just how much I did actually have to rely on other people. People outside of my family. I couldn’t brush them off anymore. I felt willing to do just about anything for them, because I realized finally, how it felt to need help. Instead of looking down on people for asking for my help, I felt a deep empathy for them in understanding the humility it took to ask for and accept it. I had to ask them to care for Lady when I was gone, I had to ask my mom to come with me to bring her back.
I needed people more than I’d ever wanted to admit. More than I’d ever even realized to be able to admit.
Asking for help isn’t weakness. It’s accepting your limits as a human being. It’s accepting the fact that we are put on this planet together, to help each other, and to share our talents and love. I cannot withhold from the world, nor can the world withhold from me, if I am giving the best I can to the world itself.
Being vulnerable and being in pain, two things that came from my experience with Lady, softened me and my ego. I realized the ultimate meaning of the saying “No man is an island.” Before I had taken that to mean that everything we do affects someone else. And I still do believe that. But even more than that, I realized it is only an illusion– and the only person you are hurting is yourself, when you shut off from the help or assistance of others.
I thought giving my dog away was one of the worst things that had ever happened to me. And before giving her away, all I had wanted to do was cancel the trip and stay home with her so my life could really begin. The Kiawah trip felt like the vacation equivalent of purgatory, a treacherous path to blaze before I was allowed to finally live my life with my dog-daughter, and all I wanted to do was nullify its existence.
But then, as soon as I was made to give Lady up, that same trip I’d so fully regretted having planned became my savior. It got me out of an empty home, a home with only memories of my boyfriend and my dog. It gave me a distraction and a reason to get up in the morning and keep going throughout the day. I got to see a beautiful island and be around people I loved (who weren’t my “real” family). That trip was the silver lining to it all. What had once been my prison was now my peace. It was all simply a matter of changing my perspective.
Life works in mysterious ways. Just because something feels meant to be, doesn’t mean it’s required to have a fairy tale ending. I believe Leo and I were “meant to be” but only for a relatively short period of time together. I have come to believe the same with Lady.
Sitting there on the island, surrounded by the most amazing wildlife and natural greenery I had ever seen, I was so content. Just a few days prior, I could never have imagined feeling so happy and at peace after parting with my dog and my boyfriend that fateful afternoon. Hey, fate doesn’t have to be bad.
Maybe something being necessary, as fate implies, simply has higher meaning in your life than you are able to discern at that time.
So in the aftermath of this all, I am learning to sit back and trust in life; to live in the moment and not worry about what’s to come. I keep reminding myself that all the best things in my life were given to me through fate, or destiny or the universe or god, or whatever you want to call it. My family, Leo, my friends, my talents, my experiences. None of them were forced by my individual will. They were naturally-occurring in the great scheme of life, and things I am ever grateful for having filled my time on this earth.
I don’t think this means I won’t ever try at anything risky again, but I do think it means I now strive to act consciously and from inspiration, as opposed to an imagined imperative or a sudden urge to rebel. Knowing the difference is true wisdom.
Sometimes when we get too much into our minds, we lose sight of what is truly best for us. When we want, it’s the ego talking. And the ego doesn’t know what’s best for us. If you live life with your ego at the helm, you are bound to have an unhappy one.
I think I need to start enjoying things in my life within their context and not automatically try to place them in larger roles that perhaps they don’t belong in. All I can do is enjoy the moment, instead of immediately searching out repeats in hopes of recreating the experience. For instance, just because I love dogs, doesn’t mean I should have one right now. There are so many things this applies to in life. My wisdom is to be able to know the difference between what I could want or attempt to get and what I need, what is truly right for me.
Maybe it’s not the time for me to have a pet. Maybe I need freedom to travel and roam or simply learn about myself in the context of various experiences, apart from caring for a single being. I’m opening myself up to the idea of things I want so badly in the moment, still perhaps not being the best for me in the long term.
I’m allowing myself to just be. I enjoyed my time on the island and now I’m settled down back at home and just letting life to come to me in its own way. I’m allowing myself to be receptive of what comes and just go with the flow. I’m taking my own advice, and not chasing happiness or trying so hard. I’m waiting to act out of intuition and inspiration–and only then–when I’m fully aligned inside with what I’m doing out here.
Ultimately I just want to be at one with life. That’s my only true goal. Anything more specific is like playing god, and I’m certainly learning better than to keep up at that any more. All of the most beautiful things have not been pre-planned or promised, have taken me by surprise, and have not been of my own conscious effort. I know whatever I get by going against my inner voice is not what I want or need– no matter how attractive it may seem in the moment. Deep down, I know that to be true.
Yes, I miss her, and yes I think of her every day. My biggest wish right now is that Lady finds a family worth her beautiful little spirit. I try not to think of anything else less than that perfect scenario. And I hope to eventually find a dog that’s a fit for me, too. But I’m laying off the forcing of things into a particular time frame, or filling a void I should probably learn to make peace with instead.
If I don’t know the answer, I’m just going to let it be for a little while. You can’t fill the space from your long-term boyfriend by rushing to get a dog. Well, technically you can… but I’m learning it may not be the most productive route.
So for now, I’m back to my old carefree, non-to-do-list self. And I feel at peace knowing I made the right decision for us both. I’m going to take a little time before rushing into anything else, and re evaluate where I am and where I’m going. All that timing-is-everything-wisdomy-stuff.
(But I still want a dog.)