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Morning Metaphors: The Strain

Ever since getting our pandemic puppy, I've been noticing a bit more of the world. I see the stars each night, the morning fog, and the subtle ways the world shifts every day. It's the meditative space I didn't realize I needed, and I've decided to start my entry into blogging in the same way I have started entering each day: noticing simple things, and creating metaphors that can carry me through the day. It's mostly a chance to reflect and do some writing that fills me up, and if others read and enjoy it then that's even better!

So, today I start with metaphor #1: The Strain. My dog (Summer) is not very well trained. Maybe because we have no idea how to take care of a dog and thus default to "furry human". She's not a big dog, but boy can she pull! One time my mom volunteered to walk her and Summer instantly bolted. My stubborn mother dove after her with the same determination of a baseball player stealing second, and the impact of the fall somehow miraculously corrected some of her hip pain. So, I guess mixed blessings?

Summer has two speeds when walking. Stopping to smell things, and racing to smell things. There is no "walk". Hubby says I just need to hold the leash taught and power walk, basically forcing her to live in the moment so she doesn't get dragged along behind me. But I struggle with this. I'm out to enjoy some meditative time - why not let her do it, too? And her meditation includes collecting as many smells, small pieces of trash, and various sizes of poop as possible.

There are many, many times during the walk that I just allow it. I follow her a bit over to a bush, or towards another walking dog, or inexplicably in circles. But there are other times that we just need to keep walking, damn it. And other times when that other dog is not looking so friendly (or, more often, the other human). Or times when I feel like she's probably better off without someone else's poop in her mouth, you know? During these times, I hold firm while she strains. Sometimes the strain is so much that she is nearly vertical in the air. Other times her paws push so hard and so futility that I worry about whether it's painful. But in these moments of strain, I don't yield and all of that effort is in vain.

It's easy to note with amusement and frustration when your dog is straining in futile ways. It's like, why doesn't she understand that I'm in control here? And yet, don't we do this all.the.time. as humans? Don't we also strain and pull and dig in our heels in search of what we want, even if every sign is telling us it's not our time or not our path? Such wasted energy, friends.

I'm reading "The Way of Integrity" by Martha Beck at the moment, after hearing her on Glennon Doyle's "We Can Do Hard Things" podcast and being moved to tears. She speaks about meditative release, and trusting our inner ways of knowing. One of the things in the podcast struck me so deeply that I transcribed it:

“There’s this Chinese saying that goes ‘When nothing is done, nothing remains undone.’ And it sounds so weird, but what it means is that when you stop doing things by the struggle of your individual will and you relax into nature, the power of nature itself has intentions. And it has a design for you. And it will pick you up like a river and take every skill you’ve learned, every bit of talent you inherited, your position in life, and it will throw you at the problem. And it will get the kids up, and it will do all these things. And there’s this weird sensation – ‘I’m not actually having to do this. It’s happening through me.’… relaxing into freedom allows you to be useful to the force.”

Is it just me, or does that quote sit like a sucker punch to your subconscious?

So, this is the metaphor I am embracing today. To notice the areas in my life where I'm straining so hard, and to choose to relax into the journey rather than chase them. After all, the thing you're straining so hard for could end up being just a huge pile of poop ;).


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