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Life on life’s terms, it is proclaimed, in 12 Step Programs.
I always found that invitation both puzzling and slightly annoying.
What terms? What are life’s damn terms, anyway?
Well, that exactly has been my predicament.
However, as I get older and older, and continue to get older, (She said, lovingly with a slight snicker), I realize the answer to the puzzle:
My friend, Jodie D., use to ongoing repeat her mantra:
While shaking her fist at the heavens.
It was funny. It was slightly ironic. It was pleasingly irreverent.
Yet something about it, the words with the matching action, was somewhat helpful.
Back to my convoluted story:
I rushed out of the house, adrenaline surging, pulling the poor frightened dog, Niki B, on her leash, behind me.
The poor dog knew not to fuck around now. (sorry, the f-word, and so early in the blog.)
I took nothing with me—no change of clothes, no schedule book, nothing.
Dog, wallet, keys. I guess that was something.
The call from Friend Mary kicked my blood pressure through the roof.
My spouse, in Richmond, about 30 minutes from here, Mary told me, minding her own bees-wax, as my mother might say, was walking through our funky little neighborhood.
She heard the dog but didn’t see it, until it was upon her.
Screaming for help while he violently attacked her, with poor Mary was on the phone, way over in New York State, the dog continued to have at her.
Eventually—helpful neighbors, ambulance, paramedics, state police, animal control, all intervened.
The dog, an Australian Shepherd, always runs back and forth at the window, barking, herding us neighborhood people walking by.
Today he somehow escaped both his house and the fenced yard and needed to do more than just herd.
(Aruni, please, return us to the sequence of events—)
Driving the sixty minutes to the hospital was a hot misery.
Dropping off Niki the Tiny Dog at our Richmond house, I looked down at her and proclaimed:
“YOU NEED TO BE BRAVE NOW.” Her eyes were huge in the face of this odd invitation, this different moment.
Perhaps I was talking to myself.
Perhaps my eyes were huge, too.
Back in the car.
Finally screeching into the parking lot of the ER, heart pounding, I found my mask and made my way inside.
I eventually found Ras in a cubicle, wrapped in a bloodied sheet, on the phone, looking ridiculously spunky.
The dog did a number—I will spare us the goory details. And goory I do mean.
And Ras is a strong little thing.
Five hours later, we got home.
10:30 p.m., exhausted, we walked into the darkened house. Niki greeted us with trembling delight.
Poor Ras settled in. She is tiny and ferocious, with strong energy to live onward.
Although shaken by life on life’s terms, traumatized by the abrupt and violent shift of reality, she is okay.
And so am I.
Pray for no infection, folks, which is the big risk with dog bites, due to the inevitable bacteria in dog mouths.
(How often do I kiss that Little Niki’s mouth? FEH.)
I stayed for a few days with her.
No schedule book!
How do I live onward?
What’s the schedule?
For me? With a little hindsight….
The hardest part?
Not the unbelievable amount of blood.
Not the torn flesh.
Not the abrupt interruption in the peaceful afternoon.
Not watching the doctor reconstruct her skin on her calf.
Not scrubbing the blood out of her clothes.
NO. The hardest part was
The driving behind “slow cars” to the hospital,
The endless waiting for medical support.
For me, the hardest part?
Recognizing how my impatience
Is a smoke screen
For my terror.
Recognizing how my anxiety
For my fear.
With my own
The hardest part.
I believe the energy I bring to people
Determines so very much.
I believe the way we interact
Impacts each other.
I once attended a presentation by my colleague, Dr. Lisa Nelson,
The Biology of Empathy.
Biologic data tells us that our thoughts, our feelings influence each other–
Us—to each other.
What I put out into the universe
This is not to make the fear wrong,
The anxiety wrong,
This is to remind us that
Leaning back toward center.
Leaning back toward calm,
That’s the practice.
Doing my best
To return to center.
Doing my best
That’s the practice.
In the ER.
Behind the drivers with out-of-state licenses,
Out for a scenic drive,
In the middle of my family emergency.
Life on life’s terms.
Rumi talks about calm in the midst of the lighting of life.
Not separate from
In the midst of.
Not sitting on the meditation cushion.
Walking peacefully in the woods.
But right here.
In the ER.
Life is real.
It seems to be getting more real.
I faced it without my schedule book.
Now it is now.
We are in this—
These past few days, I was supported and calmed by two artists I randomly discovered this week. (Do we believe anything is really random?). Although I know little about them, their words and their music comforted me, and returned me to ease.
The first is written by a poet named Guthema Roba. Here are his words:
Calmness by Guthema Roba
Life is a great guru
And every day
We are being polished
We are learning to remain calm—
When you are calm, even a tornado calms itself down
To sit next to you
To remain calm is the ocean
A raw goldmine sleeping
In your heart-center—
When you are calm,
Time and karma disappear—
Birth and death disappear—
You become one with the
Vibration of the universe—
What has happened and
What is going to happen
Does not worry you anymore.
To be calm is to be truly yourself—
When you are calm
The world around you
It is a return to
And being calm does not
Require any effort
Just remember who
Secondly, I most randomly discovered this lovely twenty-minute guitar piece, by Claudie Makula. I am surely a sucker for guitar! Please do enjoy her lovely music, simple and easy:
What do you do to return to center?
How to you unwind, soften, relax,
Please—keep blessing yourself
With this return home,
No matter what is happening.
Returning to center.
Not to get rid of our feelings.
But to give us the strength
To keep practicing.
With blessings to the dog,
With gratitude that more harm wasn’t done,
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