Friday, August 31, 2012

Watching While I Stroll

"Memory is a child walking along a seashore.  You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things" (Pierce Harris)

Our minds are funny things.  Why do they hold on to the things that they do, but let slip away the things that would seem most useful to us?

Yesterday afternoon something unexpected happened, which triggered my question.  After coming home from a lunch date with my wife, I let our dog Izzy out into the backyard to do her usual sniffing around and leaving her little "Pee-Post It" notes for any visitors.  When she returned to the sliding glass door, I saw she had something in her mouth.  Puzzled, I took it from her, but then recoiled in shock when I realized it was a big piece of a chocolate brownie!

My mind began racing:  "Chocolate can kill dogs!  How much has she eaten?  What do you do?  Do something!  Don't just stand there!  Deborah's gonna freak!  Ok - get a grip on yourself, you ninny!  Think!"

I scooped Izzy up into my arms, jumped into the car, brownie in my pocket, and raced to the vet's office.  The vet examined Izzy, and said it would be best to keep her there overnight for observation.  They would try to make her throw up anything she ate and put her on an IV to flush anything dangerous out of her system.  We both agreed that since she's such a little dog (6 lb. toy chihuahua), and since we didn't know how much of the brownie she may have eaten, it was better to be proactive and safe, than sorry.

I called my wife at work and told her what had happened, and thankfully, she took it all pretty calmly (not what I expected!).  As we sat and talked about the "mini crisis" over dinner, I surprisingly found myself getting very emotional.  Tears came to my eyes and my voice trembled as I talked about Izzy.  In an unusual reversal of roles, it was my wife who had to reassure me and tell me "Everything's all right, Jon.  You did the right thing".

I knew I had done the best I knew how to do.  So what was behind this surge of emotion?  Reflecting this morning, I can see there was a rich concoction of images and memories that had all been stirred.

  • Paternal feelings:  Izzy was "my little girl" and I missed her, and wanted her to "be alright"
  • Guilty feelings:  How could this have happened?  Did I overreact?
  • Anxious feelings:  Will Deborah be upset?  How will we pay for this?
And deep underneath all of these feelings was a memory - a dark, sad memory from 8 months earlier.  The very painful memory (still) of taking my cat Buddy to the vet and not coming home with him.

The emotion that welled up in me was a mix of all of that.  Memories, associations, assumptions made about who I was or was supposed to be.  And through all of that, my mind had strolled and picked up a few painful things to stick in its pocket as "treasures"; as "real".

But none of these "treasures" were real.  Izzy was fine.  We will pick her up later today.  Bad things happen in life.  I couldn't have prevented any of it, nor could I have done any differently than what I did in the moment.  Deborah was not upset, and we will be able to pay for Izzy's treatment.

Out of all of this, though, I want to remember one thing, something that Guy talks a lot to us about at class:  the importance of SEEING.

"Right now, you don't know the difference between THINKING and SEEING.  Our lives are meant to be lived in seeing - not in "figuring out" what we're seeing" (GF)

I want to remember the importance of keeping my attention - watching my mind before it goes wandering off wherever it wants to go - to pick up whatever it thinks is valuable.  My memories - whether pleasant or painful; my expectations of who "Jonathan" should be; my predictions about what others will do or should do - are all based on the past.  On thought and imagination.  None of which is real right now.

I know I can be a bit of a dreamer.  But just because my mind picks up a shiny shell while on one of these "scenic tours",  doesn't mean I have to stick it in my pocket and call it mine.

That's a pearl I want to remember, because I know I'll be going on many more leisurely "mental strolls" in the future.  I just want to be able to see all that's being offered me, without relying so much on my "egghead" brain telling me what it all means.

Me and Izzy at the beach

See you soon, Izzy!

No comments:

Post a Comment