I recently finished listening to the MP3 recording of Patricia B McConnell’s book “For the Love of a Dog”. I may not have her words exactly right as I was typing from a recording and having a hard time keeping up, but in the final chapter, Ms McConnell was describing playing ball with her dog Lassie and said:
“At some point in the middle of our game, I realized I was beaming. A huge smile plastered across my face. For that moment I was truly and completely happy. In some ways, it’s really that simple isn’t it? At their best, that is what dogs do. They make us happy. At our best, we make them happy too. That can only be true because we share so much with them. At the foundation of what we share is our emotions. Dogs are emotions. Living, breathing, embodiments of fear and anger and joy. Emotions we can read on their faces, as clearly as any language.”
McConnell continues to speak about this connection that dogs give us, not just to the dogs themselves, but to life:
“That is what dogs and their emotions give us — a connection. A connection to life on earth. To all that binds us and cradles lest we begin to feel too alone. Dogs are our bridge, our connection to who we really are. and most tellingly to who we want to be. When we call them home to us, it’s as if we are calling for home itself.”
I reread these passages that I had taken notes on and started sobbing.
I do that a lot, sob I mean. In the midst of being so happy about my new friends and trail riding trips and all that fun stuff, I still often feel lost and alone and disconnected.
In one of KB’s “Romping and Rolling in the Rockies” blog entries, she put this confusing state of affairs into one simple statement, “Life is such a mix of happiness and sadness simultaneously.”
Because that’s the confusing part, that these emotions come simultaneously.
When I was at the cabin over a week ago, after a full day of trail riding and good conversation with two new friends. I was SO HAPPY! Yet, I cried myself to sleep. Why? Because having Luke just outside the cabin reminded me of things I miss. It reminded me that I don’t get to catch all those special moments when Luke and Murphy would play, or when they would point out deer to me in the pasture, or see Java and Luke with their noses pressed together.
And the tears over the quotes from “For the Love of a Dog”? It’s the words “share”, “connection”, “cradles”, “feel too alone”, “bridge”, “who we really are”, “who we want to be”, and “home” — expressions of longing. How many times is the word connection used?
Connections… writing has been a way of connecting — to myself and to the world at large. I often don’t understand what I’m experiencing or what I’m feeling until I write about it. I refer to this as “writing myself into reality”.
But writing has been difficult lately too. At times, I tell myself just to stop. That wanting to write, wanting to finish writing a book, wanting to be published is just a source of frustration and feelings of failure. Why not just live and let all those other writers out in the world, those writers that work hard, submit, and get published, let them do the writing. It’s not like what I have to write isn’t already being written by someone else somewhere. Or if it’s not, maybe there’s a good reason for that.
This was supposed to be an essay about how dog’s are a metaphor for joy and it is our responsibility to ensure that we care for them in such a way that they don’t lose that sense of being.
But instead, this is about longing, so much longing. And calling for home. And trying to let the reality of my life, just as it is, be okay.
I’ve been told that “Everyone deserves happiness.” I don’t know about the word deserves. It seems that people, as a rule, who use this statement to justify their actions deserve anything but happiness. Instead, I think that even when things truly suck, we have the option to find something in our day that makes us smile.
(I suggest double-clicking the video to watch it in YouTube as the narrow blog layout, which I can’t stand but can’t figure out how to change, chops off the right side of the video.)