Thursday, May 8, 2014

Inspiration Incarnate

As I sit here, in my parents' living room — my childhood home — the indoor porch is open, birds are singing and I'm brewing tea in the kitchen.

It's the first warm, sunny day in awhile. It finally feels like Spring has arrived after a very long, very brutal winter ... the kind of winter that made me actually wonder a few times if it would ever be warm again.

Today reminded me yes, it will be. It is. And nothing is ever permanent.

My dog Lakota is teaching me once more. I'm not sure he even knows it. He hurt himself a week and a half ago — a herniated disk — and can no longer walk on his own. At least not now. Surgery was the farthest thing from my mind when my parents and I took him to the emergency vet. In the days that followed, like bread crumbs, I was lead down a path that took me to a crossroads: Surgery (costly surgery) or therapy that isn't looking promising considering the degree of his nerve damage.

Without getting into all of the details, I opted for surgery. I had to know I gave him the best chance I could. You see ... Lakota isn't just a dog. He isn't just a companion animal I've cared for all these nine years. Sure, he offers me unconditional love, loyalty, friendship and protection.

Those things alone are worth giving him his best shot. But he's much more than just those things. Lakota is a soul mate, a guide, he's a teacher, a best friend, a piece of heaven meant to remind me what life is all about, that life is happening in the moment, that the present moment is truly all we've got.

He is inspiration incarnate.

I know, if I'm lucky enough, privileged enough ... blessed enough to have him in my life a few more years, there will come a time when he will move on to the next realm — from form to the formless, as Eckhard Tolle calls it.

But that's then. This is now. And right now, I'm hopeful that with enough patience, enough positive energy, work, therapy, love and care, Lakota will walk again.

Where am I going with all of this? I guess ... I'm not quite sure yet. The entire experience has been transforming. Over a week ago, I was stressing about over committing myself to too many things, having way too busy a schedule to stop and take life in the way I need to to stay grounded in myself, to stay true to myself. I was trying to prioritize everything and fitting walks in with L where I could. I was trying to enjoy my time with him more, having a strange feeling something would be changing soon ... I just didn't know what.

And just like that, everything did. My life changed. I can no longer just drop everything and leave. I can no longer just flutter around from this engagement to that. Will it always be this way? Of course not. But I'm learning to accept what is. To work in tandem with what is ... with the present moment and situation. To resist it, longing for some future, better moment, is living in the mind and in illusion. And that's not living at all.

Sure, to some people, it's "just a dog." And I get that. However, I don't have children. So to me, Lakota is my heart. He and Bella have been through quite a few chapters of my life ... very big ones. And what this reminds me of is, nothing in life is permanent. So, nothing should ever be taken for granted.

I'm sure I'll continue to learn more, and share it here ... but all I know is, what happened to Lakota brought some MAJOR fears to the surface for me that I thought I'd buried or, quite frankly, overcome. The fear of losing those I love. The fear of being out of control.  The fear of being alone. The fear of the unknown. The fear of the dark. The fear of what the future will bring.

And instead of doing everything I could to get away from those feelings, I stayed with them. I breathed through them. I cried, I fought with my mind, my ego, I fought through sleepless nights, a suppressed appetite, depression ... I continued to view all the things I felt from a lens that was almost in the background of it all, like the awareness behind the emotions. And all those fears, I worked through them one by one, plunging into the dark without a candle, feeling my way back to the light of each tunnel.

Instead of crying, "Why him? Why us?" I went inward and asked what it is I can learn from this. What is the lesson, what is the teacher ... what is the challenge, because I'm open. I'm utterly terrified, but I'm open.

And one of the biggest things I found ... faith, hope and an overwhelming response from people I did NOT expect. I thanked people over and over again for their responses, for their private messages, for their understanding, for making me feel less alone. Yet, I don't think I can quite express right now how much all of that impacted me. I was in deep at that moment when I reached out and needed some help back to the surface. And all of that support lead me there.

So to all of those who reached back — thank you, from the bottom of my heart <3

I suddenly have a deeper appreciation for the hardships of others, for those who have to be caretakers, for those who have heavy burdens in their lives they struggle with day to day. Not that Lakota is a burden. He isn't. But I appreciate the people who do sacrifice for those they love.

Because, if Lakota can go through what he went through. I can go through this with him. And every day, he inspires me. He reminds me of what love is, every time I look into his gentle brown eyes.

And so, my life has slowed down. It's grown very simple in a matter of a week. And I'm OK with that. Because I know if I go with it, rather than resist it, I will gain so much more than I ever would otherwise. And anything else that seemed so important to get to before ... no longer does.

After all ... as the quote goes: "Finding myself through process of elimination." ~Jonathan Stefiuk



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