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It was a while before it occurred to me that the other side of becoming more like my dog, is Winifred becoming more like me. The worm turns!

October 25, 2017 1:59 pm

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Chapter 19: What Goes Around…

 

Sadly, comes a day when everything gets turned around and bites you in the butt.

 

 

Winnie and I used to hit Carmel Beach almost every morning after breakfast. See old friends, meet new ones, run with the big dogs, chase balls. One of our friends was a sweet woman and her Scottish Deer-hound. (Not to be confused with an Irish Wolfhound, as I learned when one of her out of town friends showed up with the latter, an even bigger gentle giant.)

Winifred would run between Buck’s legs, under his five-story belly, and generally want to play and chase. Buck was less inclined, but would entertain Winnie until she found other playmates her own size to run circles around and wear each other out.

With the cold and rain of winter, and a new writing project filling my mornings, our schedule had shifted to less beach and more walks on our hill.  Then, one glorious morning I thought it would be a big treat for Winnie and me to hit the beach again.

Parking on Scenic Road, Winnie pulled me down the stairs to the sand. I unhitched her leash and off she ran toward a couple of dogs about her size. I watched, happy to see her running free and excited. Winnie and the other dogs did their usual warm-up circle dance sniffing each other before the start of racing and chasing. Only there was no racing and chasing. The other dogs were ready and willing, but Winnie seemed nervous by the prospect, returned to my side and watched the dogs run around their humans before finding other dogs to race and chase.

Winnie looked up at me,  No thanks.

Okay. I’m sure she had her reasons. Maybe they didn’t pass the sniff test.  But, no problem, because I brought Winnie’s favorite beach toy. I produced the bright orange tennis ball from my pocket with the grand gesture of a magician. Voila`!

Winnie’s ears stood erect, eyes big. Oh boy!

I heaved the ball down the hard sand by the water’s edge. Winnie raced after it, grabbed it, and started back to me when something more interesting found her nose. Winnie dropped the ball in the sand and took off to investigate, leaving me to be the retriever-in-chief.

Other dogs, old acquaintances and new characters passed by, checked Winnie out. But she had no interest in them, or the beach after a while. To my surprise, she even seemed pleased to be hitched up on leash and lead me back up the stairs to our car.

What to make of this? It was a while before it occurred to me that the other side of becoming more like my dog, is Winifred becoming more like me. The worm turns!

The fact is, I have become less connected with the world out there. More comfortable to be with Winifred on walks in our neighborhood, or streets where we don’t have to deal with people and circumstances beyond our control.

The older I get, the easier I’m inclined to play it safe. Keep the guard up, opt for what’s predictable, comfortable — to pull back rather than embrace what’s new.  The unknown. Sad to admit that I have made Winifred less adventurous, less inclined to get out there and interact with others. And, of course, that’s where life IS!

I believe this reflects a problem for more than Winnie and me – a growing populace unwilling to engage life beyond our little circle, outside our comfort zone. Increasingly we fear reaching out, safer to hibernate in our little cave.

While Winifred has opened me up to her exciting world, expanding my perceptions, our growing bond has seemed to pull her back into my narrowing universe. Which turns the notion that the older I get, the more I’m becoming my dog, into, the older I get, the more my dog is becoming me!

This is not a good thing.

Carolyn Myss, best-selling author and speaker in the fields of human consciousness, health and spirituality, says, “Choose the path you know the least about – that scares you the most. Because it is not contaminated by your expectations of how you think it is all supposed to work out. What you are supposed to get in return.”

To which I will add: You never know where the extraordinary experiences and amazing people are waiting to find you. But there’s zero chance they’re going to find you if you’re holed up in your safe little cave.

I say this as someone who used to love taking off for parts unknown, excited by whatever adventure lay beyond. Lately, those adventures feel like a previous life in a galaxy far, far away.

What happened to that person? Where did I go?

Nowhere. I’m still here. Just older. And not necessarily wiser. Which makes me determined to take my end of the leash and lead Winifred and me back to getting out there! Time to explore and mingle with all manner of species, aliens and others with the wide-eyed spirit of Luke Skywalker when he entered that Cantina in the first Stars Wars movie. I can only hope the Force is with us.  If not, then we’ll just have to create our own!

Truly, the experiences you regret are the ones you didn’t have. And the older I get, the less Winnie and I intend to regret.

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