I was a having a perfect little romantic walk along the beach at low tide yesterday afternoon, when we passed a neighbour with her reactive dog barely under control. Not a minute later, and that dog shot up the beach and jumped on our beautiful old dog, biting her and then running off again. We scurried up the beach together to get away because I was afraid the attacking dog would come back at us, so riled up it was, but we managed to get up to the road and home without further event. That’s when I realized that Charlotte was bleeding – only a little – but still, it made everything seem much worse. Fortunately I have many supporters on the Internet and even some on my little island – and with friendly online hand-holding and some firm instructions about cleaning the wound from my neighbour – I got everything cleaned up and still managed to get in the studio for a couple of hours last night.
Two realizations I had as a result of this:
- At another time in my life, this incident would have sent me into paroxysms of anxiety and trauma. I would have felt isolated and scared (with Brian away), and sat inside those feelings quite willfully (not intentionally, but refusal to let go of a feeling is a powerful addiction). Yesterday, I got home with fairly little anxiety – some worry, but of a normal level – asked people in my community for help, got it, and then went on with things. I think that change comes from a variety of places, including aging, but I would pinpoint my daily meditation practice as the thing which has most helped me get less reactive over the last few years. One of my teachers told me early on that it wasn’t that meditating would change your immediate emotional reactions, but it definitely impacted how long you held onto the feelings afterwards – this came back to me last night when I realized that I quite effortlessly dropped the negative feelings once the attack had ended.
- Like any abrupt or traumatic event, I am reminded that no matter what moment we are currently having, it can change in a nanosecond, and without warning. Which is why we can never get too smug about where we are, or how things are for us. It’s just luck that something hasn’t occurred to take it away yet (or luck that we were born into it in the first place) – nothing to be proud of, nothing to take for granted.
The dog and I are both fine this morning, she’s a bit more tired than normal but pretty much seems to be herself. I expect she’s sore from being jumped on, but the site where she bled doesn’t seem to be causing her any real pain, even when I run my hand over it. I’ll just keep it clean today with alcohol and watch for infection at this point.
My plan for today was to get back to blogging with a Dillardesque reflection on low tides and what they bring (birds! seaweeds! interesting rock formations normally under water!) but instead, it’s something else. It’s the real thing – the fact that life everywhere is changing at each moment, and if you don’t pay attention you miss so much of the unfolding, each second that is about to change the course of your life entirely.