I wildly miscalculated the biggest drama of the week.
Namely, I was geared up for the penultimate playdatefor Vlad and his “business partner” Moon.
Moon is the German Shepard mix who along with Vlad, Miku, and Chase form the informal pack of most Fetch-Driven Hunting Dogs.
You see, without consulting me in their decision making process, foolishly (perhaps even tragically) Moon’s parents Tomo and Natsumi are prepping for a cross-country move to LA.
Although I wish I could celebrate their Freedom to do so––the theme of this month’s meditation HERE––our morning routine now requires complete revision.
Vlad and Moon frame each day withtwo primary rituals:
1. Switching balls
The rule is whoever arrives second simply seizes the other’s ball as the corresponding dog parent supplies a new one.
2. Immediate Wrestling
This begins the nanosecond play is done and balls are stuffed in backpacks.
Otherwise, for the bulk of their time, each remains focused on his own personal quest, only occasionally attempting a secondary ball switch (as illustrated above).
Lately, however, I’ve noticed that they’ve evolved another component to this routine, one confirmed by Tomo.
Although fully engaged and self-sufficient on the field, it’s clear that each pup isn’t quite settled in until the other arrives.
While they are mostly focused on the ball from the get-go, they also keep an eye geared towards the entrance, waiting for their friend/business partner to arrive.
And sadly, in the next few days, for an indeterminate period (I keep trying to pretend the move is NOT permanent and just a whimsical road trip), this daily routine of the last several months is going to end.
But I digress….
The most dramatic moment on the dog park this week was not one I had anticipated.
Approaching the baseball field, I glanced at my phone to see that between 7:30 and 7:35 I missed 24 messages in the WhatsApp Puppy Group Chat.
A new dog apparently had gotten into an unprovoked scuffle with Kingsley, a small terrier mix owned by a good friend of ours.
Vlad and I just missed the mayhem but the core elements involved a very unapologetic owner, several other riled up dogs, and even a concerned bystander.
What’s shocking is that this level of drama almost never happens on the larger field, only on the smaller rooftop dog run in my building.
That dog run––roughly the area of a mid-sized lap pool––is vastly more prone to conflict and to canine misunderstandings.
Early on, I realized that the smaller space ignites territorial instincts.
In the big field there’s a vast feeling of open space, of room to run, of unbounded and exhilarating liberation.
(Again, that’s the theme of this month’s new meditation HERE).
I couldn’t help but wonder, when everyone has more than enough space to truly enjoy their Freedom, how things could have risen to this level of discord.
I’ve often shared that I draw an Angel Card each morning.
(In all candor, I actually do this on my iPhone, before even getting out of bed, to set the theme for the day.)
Yesterday, I drew the Angel of Freedom.
As always, I find the card’s instruction illuminating, and never quite what I would expect them to be:
Here’s what this one offers:
“You are free to change your experience
by changing the criteria
upon which you base your decisions.
Let go of old trappings
and express your uniqueness.”
I find it interesting that these words are so surprisingly and precisely instructive and not about entitlement.
Freedom is defined as the power to transform our lives, yet we’re also reminded that rather than merely an inalienable right, freedom is entirely based on shifting the basis of our choices.
This also recalls Paulo Coelho’s wry reminder:
“Everything happens for a reason.
Sometimes the reason
is that you made bad decisions.”
Anyway, I very much like this card’s level-headed perspective.
Rather than just a pep talk, it’s more of an invitation to authentically examine your foundations, reframing and releasing whatever holds you back.
Doing that and thereby tapping into your uniqueness is a recipe guaranteed to yield that deep rush of Freedom.
We still have a few more days together with Moonbefore our mornings shift.
(Note: It’s more evidence of my denial, but since Moon’s parents are both creative freelancers I’m constantly visualizing that projects will bring them back to NYC ASAP).
Anyway, this week I was also struck by another aspect of freedom, one shown to me by Vlad and his other best friend, Malibu.
During two longer playdates this week––each was about 4 hours––it was delightful to see how after ecstatic greetings, significant wrestling, and bouts of tug-of-war, they’ve also mastered the art of sharing downtime together.
(Again, see photographic proof above.)
Just as when a silence becomes comfortable between two people, they’ve reach a point where they wordlessly agree to chill out.
(At least for a while, that is, before resuming another heartfelt round or two of puppy play.)
The freedom they’re embodying is the one underlying Blaise Pascal’s classic quote:
“All of humanity’s problems
stem from man’s inability
to sit quietly in a room alone.”
Granted they’re together and not alone, but they’re definitely able to allow the other one to simply be.
Sidebar: Since they embody the phrase in their behavior, I was curious who actually first said “You Do You.”
Turns out it may be either from the hiphop universe of Funkmaster Flex (featuring DMX) in 2000…or this passage in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein: “‘Do you,’ said I, ‘enjoy yourself, and let this be our rendezvous.’”
In the end, I realize, of course, that wide open spaces are no guarantee of freedom, of simply allowing oneself (or one another) to be.
Indeed, for decades I taught many Type-A New Yorkers who relished any difficult yoga pose I offered them but found the final moments of simply resting in Savasana the most challenging part of the class.
For them, doing nothing and simply being felt nearly impossible.
Real freedom, the kind Vlad and Malibu enjoy, is the ability to luxuriate in the miracle of being fully present, of living in the moment.
When we possess that rare skillset we don’t get into squabbles with whomever our local Kingsley is––who’s doing fine by the way––or kerfuffles with local bystanders.
Ultimately, the challenge becomes to expand our own Inner Field of Awareness to the point where we can allow that same spaciousness to everyone.
Living more in that world would be perfect Freedom indeed.
Namaste for Now,