“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” Steve Jobs
A Soul is Born to Earth…to trust the human instincts given as a guide to navigate this ever changing world – for survival, for day-to-day decisions, and to find and thrive in our given purposes.
My Soul was Born to Earth…to learn this lesson again, and again, and again. Although I know there really are no mistakes, just life lessons, in some ways it feels as if much of my life has been one big lesson in not following that intuitive whisper inside. This one is personal. Recently some deep truths have surfaced for me that I’ve worked hard to keep buried. But like hot lava covered with tissue paper, they keep bubbling up as anger and resentment toward myself, yet projected onto others. I’m finally listening. Here’s a light example.
I’m not a dog person. I’m a full on cat lady. I never had a dog growing up, and in fact, I was attacked by a Doberman Pinscher at 18 months old. I don’t consciously remember the incident, so that’s not the total part of my aversion to dogs. I just prefer the quieter, slower, less needy nature of cats.
With that said, here’s our dog, Leo, as a puppy. He’s a sweet, innocent, loving animal. My husband, Andy, was in a serious car accident in December 2012. He was laid up at home and he doesn’t do well just sitting around for long. So, somehow he convinced me to get a dog (with an adorable puppy picture and the promise to fully train Leo himself while he was at home healing). But there was a persistent whisper inside me saying, “No, no, don’t do this. Listen, this is not a good idea.” My chest feels tight right now as the anger is surfacing again. I’m nervous sharing this and a bit embarrassed of how silly it seems in the big picture of life, but I can’t keep pushing it down anymore. There’s barely any room left. Owning a dog is relatively insignificant, but cast in the light of a recurring life lesson it appears fairly important on the day-to-day, I-have-to-live-with-this-animal level.
Long story short, Andy was home for about a week with Leo before he went back to light work. He just can’t be home for long and I knew this about him going into it. That was another whisper I didn’t listen to. Do you think Leo was fully trained in one week? Right, no. Who then became the primary caretaker of the dog? Right again, me, the cat lady. I rearranged my flexible work schedule, which I loved, to let Leo out so his little puppy bladder wouldn’t piss on the floor, or worse, which happened anyway. I felt anxious all the time. My peaceful, clean home was turned into a mess of fur and poop and scraps of stuff he chewed. I’m the only one who walked him, brushed him, tried to brush his teeth (that doesn’t happen anymore), and attempted to semi-consistently train him. Part of the self-made stress I created around Leo was about how well I wanted to take care of him because he really had stolen my heart. I mean, who doesn’t love puppies? As I was searching for pictures of him for this post, I ran into the 200 page photo album filled with just Leo before he turned one year. What? Why? I don’t have the answers.
I’m not blaming Andy or claiming to be a victim here. I had choices, and still do. I agreed to get Leo. I could have easily researched harder and taken the time to train him very well. I could have spoken up for my needs, asked for more help, and voiced my resentful feelings, but instead I fell angrily silent, which I think is the real lesson here, and perhaps, my biggest life lesson of all. That’s a topic for another day though.
Jump forward almost five years, add two kids, more responsibilities, subtract time for Leo’s needs and you get a dog craving attention by chewing on all the kid’s toys and me trying not to freak out on him daily, with little success. But there has been progress. I’ve been able to let go of things that I see now as not important, like brushing him (that’s what the groomer does), feeding him exactly at 7am (I’m happy if I remember before 10) and walking him daily (hahahaha). Both Leo and I have calmed a bit and learned a little. Do I sometimes fantasize about him dying peacefully of natural causes? Sure. Or giving him away to another loving family who can give him more attention? Yes, daily. But now I love him so much, I can’t give him away. Just look at that adorably loyal face, who never asked to be sent to our family and who just wants love like the rest of us.
On the other side of all this, I can see how his existence has been a blessing, even if a painful one at times, as he continues to shed light in my shadows. What I call the “Lessons of Leo” are too numerous to name. So, here’s where my limited mind gets hung up. If we’re always being guided by our intuition, and we’re never really off our unique path, and there are no mistakes…then isn’t every decision we make the right one for our life? Every choice is actually what we were meant to choose – one part of the perfect whole. Each choice and the consequences are teaching us a little more along the journey. Can’t we see how everything has lined up perfectly in the past? How a seeming mistake turned out alright after all? Why can’t we trust it will all work out in the future? Why the fear and worry if we really trust we’re being guided to the best outcome for us?
Everything is speaking to us in big and small ways, with relative significance. A daily reminder of this for me is the “Finding Dory” calendar in my son’s room. Every month gives me a new light but deep insight. Last month the message was, “Let your heart lead you home.” This month is, “Let the shells guide your way.” Exact right timing for writing this post and in line with other messages coming to me recently. But if I weren’t paying attention to how life is speaking to me, I’d miss it. So, how is life speaking to you? Are you present enough to notice it? Is the same message coming to you from multiple directions?
I don’t have all the answers. They lie within each of us. All I know is each day I’ll just keep showing up, doing the best I can at being present, listening, going as slowly as possible, being gentle and easy with myself and Leo as we learn along the way, with a lot of deep breaths. Because I know deep down Leo still has a lot to teach me, even if I don’t want to admit it some days. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned for sure, my next pet will be a cat!