A couple of days ago something happened between me and one of my close-in humans. I had a surprisingly strong reaction to what happened. My feelings felt really hurt. I’m still experiencing the residual effects, like a strange energetic aura vibrating around all of my thoughts, feelings and actions. I didn’t like my initial reaction of feeling hurt and I struggled not to retreat into self-protection mode. But what I really don’t like is that now, a couple of days later, I’m still feeling a bit like the wind got knocked out of me, a bit rough around the edges. Situations like this ideally call for a healthy dose of intentional reflection on the nature of reality, relationships and being human, or, if that seems a bit ambitious in the heat of the moment, a couple of glasses of wine or a day of napping in a dark room. But since I’ve taken (and renewed, yet again) a vow to not engage in practices which I know I’m using to avoid my own strong emotions, and since I’m not feeling quite ready to engage in mindful contemplation, this morning I went on a long walk with Happy-the-dog, and yesterday morning we took a great three mile run.
Besides the pacific influence of exercise and fresh air and water fowl on my overall state of being, time with Happy always helps me. If you’ve read even a few of my essays, you’ll know that Happy and I have got a pretty sweet sync going, we really dig each other. We spend a lot of time together and pay a lot of mutual attention so we've come to know each other rather well. Just like I do, Happy has his habits and quirks, one of which is to plant his feet, widen his center of gravity, and pull back hard on his leash when he comes upon an intoxicating scent so as to indicate that we have to stop immediately what we are doing – walking, running – so that he can really pay full attention to and luxuriate in this particular scent that has completely captivated him. Sometimes I yield to Happy’s overwhelming desire, most times, actually, because he’s fully involved in being a creature in the world, and I respect that, even see it as my responsibility to foster opportunities for him to do so. But sometimes I must insist that Happy yield to me, to my overwhelming desire to keep moving. And so we engage in a quick tug-of-war – he plants his feet even more firmly, he pulls back on the leash even more fiercely, and I do the same in response in my own two-armed, two-legged way.
And then -- so suddenly! -- the tug-of-war is over, and we are on our way again.
What happens next is the most wonderful thing ever. Happy, as he resume trotting along, looks back at me and smiles as if nothing happened.
We humans engage in tug-of-wars with each other and even with ourselves. And once any particular tug-of-war is over, we humans tend to hold on to the energy of the misunderstanding or conflict, let it continue to reverberate inside and around us, sometimes for a really long time.
My aspiration on this day is to do as Happy does: When I feel I must, give it my all in the tug-of-war, but for the least amount of time and doing as little damage as possible. And then when the tugging has ceased, trot back into the flow of this life with a smile on my face, as if nothing happened.