This is one of those fall days where dry leaves scamper and sun warmed breezes swirl between trees in a voice that all but speaks. I find myself straining to hear what’s inside them, knowing if I could just understand their wandering wisdoms I’d have the secrets to life. Of course it’s never that easy.
Apparently my affinity for writing here takes six-month intervals so it seemed appropriate to start with an update of sorts. Maybe it takes that long to transform from one phase of life into another that’s fresh enough to want to write. If you’re anything like me you get weary of the sound of your own written voice so you wait for it to have something new to say.
It wasn’t long ago (uhh, about six months) I’d reached that plateau again. I was still struggling with drastically changing circumstances, seriously wondering if the newness in life could ever feel like anything normal. I was so hurt and angry and I’d struggled with it for so long that ‘normal’ seemed impossible to reach.
So I sat back and not-so-patiently waited in hope that passing time would make a healing difference, reminding myself to be content if not grateful for what I had. I’d long been mystified with how the seemingly smallest decisions in fleeting moments of a lifetime end up being what we live. So I did what little things I could, what made sense, to try to move myself in some direction.
One of the decisions I made was to get a pet. It was no small contemplation, really, knowing that in my meager life this would be one of those small but life-altering choices and it could go either way. The last thing I needed was something that felt like another ‘failure.’ That was critical. Every day I visited shelters and researched breeds, each moment taking me closer to actually doing something. I’d talk myself into it then out of it then into it again, until I landed on what felt right.
I decided on a GoldenDoodle. If you don’t know the breed, they’re a specifically bred mixture of Golden Retriever and Poodle, two of the best-natured dog breeds. Many are large, often looking like a giant poodle and they are exceptional for their unique appearance and playful personalities. I went to a breeder who specialized in smaller sizes, which was necessary for me to handle as well as to stay under the weight limit where I live.
I knew I didn’t have the stamina for training and cleaning up after the rambunctiousness of a new puppy and it wasn’t common to find an older one through a local breeder. Finally I lucked into a pup just under one-year. She was considered undesirable because of her age, so at first they weren’t going to even show her to me. (One of those mystifying little life-blurps that changes everything.) What an absolutely precious animal. She is smart, was easy to house train and is the most sincerely affectionate and well behaved pet I’ve ever owned.
Soon I let her sleep with me and she loved to snuggle close. I woke up in the morning with her smooth warm puppy paw across my neck and it was the most tender, sweetest sense of affection that I’d felt in years of an abusive marriage. As I lie there basking in its tenderness my mind jumped to how, in all of my years, I thought a man was the only place to find that affection when all I really needed was a dog. Go figure the complex simplicity of that epiphany. If you know how burdensome abusive spouses can be you totally get the humor in it.
I talk to her and she listens with attentive ears. She gives me reason to get up in the mornings and to enjoy outside when I used to hide indoors, even meeting people now that I wouldn’t otherwise take great pleasure in knowing. I only have to feed her once a day, she never complains about her meals and when we go out she’s reasonably obedient on a leash. When I want to go somewhere she’s content to lounge quietly in her crate and never complains about the money I spend. She loves to peacefully snuggle on my lap and she has her own room with toys when I’m not up for the intimacy. She never hogs the bed and lies patiently every morning, staring at me for some sign of movement before tail-wagging kisses of excitement for a brand new day. So far I haven’t taken to dressing her in clothing … but winter isn’t here yet.
Trust me, ladies. The right pet is a woman’s best BFF. That nonsense about a man filling these needs works fine for some, but I’m not one of them and we all end up alone sometime.
When I got my pup last spring I thought there could be nothing cuter than a young pup’s curiosity in jumping after flitting new butterflies. This fall that’s matched by the tender heartedness of a pup so intrigued with blowing leaves it chases them with the fervor of hunting big prey. I suppose the flavor must be disappointing but they seem determined to believe it is a catch worth tasting. And isn’t that innocence what makes them, life, so irreplaceably precious?
God bless the innocence in life. It keeps my heart alive. And all of those anguished feelings of six-months ago? They’re gone. Without realizing the gradual changes of everyday living I’m in a better normal than ever envisioned could be. It’s the seemingly innocuous decisions we make in the moments of each day that lead us there – or not.
Coming back to the simple things in life is the secret to it. This morning’s fall breezes told me so.