I have decided to get a puppy. Simple statement. Simple fact. Quite a labour to get to it.
I’ve never contemplated so long and hard about commencing a human relationship. It took about a year to decide and now I’m waiting, for various logistical reasons, until early spring next year. My puppy hasn’t even quite been conceived yet, even though he’s coming alive inside me. I know he’s a he and that his name is Leonard. Everything else is a mystery. Leonard’s still residing in the realms of mystery. And yes of course he’s called Leonard!
So, here’s the thing about why it took so long to decide. If I get a dog I have to commit to Life. A dog’s life. But that’s very tricky because I am committed to being alive, breath by breath, as here as here can be. I’m here more than I ever could have imagined. I am here in the kind of simplicity and surrender that is almost a tease. As if life is slightly rolling its eyes at me, saying, ‘Darling, it took you a while…’
The thing is, I also long for and lust after my own death. And while I am starting to enjoy this paradox as I explore the edges of it more, through writing, dance, friendship and the relentless business of waking up over and over again, it did trouble me some in the dog deciding. When Bebe came into my life I had just been through a veritable masterclass in saying goodbye. My dear old cat Mr. Myrtle died, closely followed by my heart-sister Jan and then my other beloved old cat, Martha. I wasn’t in great shape and found myself almost without thought, in the cat rescue centre, looking for a cat that needed a person. Bebe walked out of a little box into my cupped hands and that was that. She does represent the Life that goes on and she carries that energy very lightly. In 5Rhythms terms she’s Lyrical.
I wasn’t able to formulate my longing for death quite as clearly as I now can. And now that I can, making a commitment to another being, human or animal, seems to require more complex consideration. You might think I’m hinting at being suicidal. I’m not suicidal. I do know the difference. My only caveat being, if I had a dementia diagnosis in time to get a little posse together for a weekend break in Switzerland. But that’s another post entirely.
I’m not suicidal and yet I do long for death. Maybe a bit weird, but what’s the dog problem exactly?
Let me put it like this. Apologies in advance to anyone this might touch in a contrary manner. If I was told I had a terminal illness, I would be, as well as fearful, profoundly relieved and very excited. I would truly relish the opportunity to know more or less how and when I was going and to do a bit of sorting out (my orderly nature) and say some mindful, heartful goodbyes to people and animals I love. I know it is visceral to go home via serious illness, that it ain’t easy. Nevertheless I am up for it and would give it my all. For my year of indecision around getting or not getting a pup, a part of my mind was telling me it wasn’t okay to feel this and bring a dog into my life. I wrestled with not being able to make it not so. I wrestled mightily with the Paradox Teacher. How could I love life, long to leave it and bring a dog in? Well, how could I…?
I guess I’ll be telling you as I work it out myself. As I go along. I have found my way to the simplicity of getting a dog in my heart. To my commitment to love him and look after him and protect him from harm as best I can. To my willingness to be taken out for a good walk on a daily basis. I did say taken on purpose because in a way a dog is a heart strategy. I can love a dog well, of this I have no doubt. And I believe it will be good medicine for me to love a dog. Being taken for a walk every day will help me and if I need to be in service to a dog to be able to give it to myself, well, so be it.
So, me and Bebe, with whom I have done much talking through this decision making process, are in our last few months as a household of two. And I am in my last few months of having the double edged liberty, to get literally stuck, like concrete, in my flat for extended periods of time. I will have to go out and come back in again and go out. I will have to feel the seasons with my body and I reckon I’ll be better for it. Not fixed particularly, just better or softer with where I find myself. Better for breathing in some dirty old, London fresh air.
Me and Bebe, well, we’re making a little space for Leonard in bed world. She has, in no uncertain terms, informed me that she will always be the queen. My Lyrical feline friend. Thank you Bebe.