My Hero’s Secret

It was a little over a year ago, and although somewhat comic for us bystanders, it was not a particularly auspicious beginning, and certainly not the one I had intended.

Specifically, I’m referring to Vlad’s swimming career.

Last May, at the Prospect Park birthday part for Bobby, Vlad’s best friend Malibu’s dad, my dog blithely followed his sister Dua––a very experienced swimmer––into one of the lakes.

Unfortunately, Dua didn’t wade into the water; she bolted across the park and jumped off a ledge right into the lake’s depths.

Vlad ran after her and was not prepared for this dive into the deep end.

Instinct kicked in, fortunately, and he dog-paddled his way back to dry land.

(I’ve shared the moment as well as the others in this newsletter HERE.)

The classic “What have I gotten myself into moment”

Vlad’s second swimming outing was much more successful.

Last June, I took him to the official Dog Beach in the park, a relatively small enclosed area designed for some easy canine wading.

It was mostly low-key splashing around, but I think it took the edge off his previous plunge into the deep end.

Mind you, all of this was prep for his big outing: my mother’s 90th birthday party on the lake near my little sister’s house, where the swimming was unrestricted.

Both hesitant and enthusiastic, Vlad’s spastic splashing evolved over the course of the afternoon into smoother, more accomplished strokes.

Delighted that, like his sister Dua, he was now officially confirmed as a water dog, I thought my aquatic mission was accomplished.

The next day, however, Vlad took things to a whole new level.

I have some looming June deadlines––some inspirational, others dreaded––and I’m keenly aware of the importance of staying focused, of not spinning out of my orbit because of disappointment or distraction.

Therefore, the choice of theme for this month’s meditation was fittingly clear: The Power of Intention.

The new meditation is HERE.

As I was contemplating and preparing all of the above, a weekend movie marathon synchronistically arrived featuring my “secret” role model of pure intentionality: John Wick.

Hyper-violent perhaps, you’ve still got to give it to the guy: he’s entirely focused, he’s unstoppable, and he really, really loves his dogs. 

Speaking of which…

The day after Vlad’s first successful lake swim, I picked up my friends from the train who were coming to my mother’s party.

Always delighted and amazed to see the people he knows and loves in new settings, Vlad was beside himself with ecstasy.

That afternoon, however, when Cha Cha––who can’t swim––embarked on a paddleboat ride, Vlad was unnerved.

Although there were no indications that this was a Godfather II moment where Cha Cha, like Fredo, was being taken out to the middle of the lake, never to return, Vlad didn’t like it in the least.

Even though he’d only learned to swim the day before, Vlad was unwilling to sit idly by on the shore and watch his friend sail away.

In fact, he insisted I release him so he could swim out to the boat mid-lake, where he was welcomed on board. 

I was both amused and impressed at his determination and fearlessness.

Indeed, in those moments with no thought other than rescuing his friend, my little dog truly embodied The Power of Intention, dare I say, on a John Wick level.

Mid-lake & Mission Accomplished

As a quick counterpoint, I saw someone that day whose defense for any wrongdoing, big or small, is to semi-apologize by way of restating their intention.

It’s a weirdly overly-therapized response, one they believe is a “get out of jail free card, that could sorta work but doesn’t.

Example: Yes, I burned down the house but my intention was to light a scented candle.

Intention alone isn’t always enough.

Indeed, about a decade ago, I taught a private yoga session to a true Forbes-verified billionaire.

Afterwards, refreshed and relaxed, he exclaimed:

“That was great!
Let’s do one every day.
This time is perfect.”

Delighted that this new five-day-a-week client more or less completely solved my cash flow problems, I showed up the next morning as directed.

To my surprise, his first assistant greeted me with a knowing weariness regarding her employer’s ways.

“Listen, his intentions are always good, and I know he definitely meant it, but you can’t believe a thing he says about his schedule.”

Explaining that every appointment had to be confirmed by her for it to be “real” was sobering proof that sometimes––even from billionaires––intentions alone are not enough.

This morning, I drew the Angel of Openness card.

The advice was to “Let go of predetermined outcomes and guarded responses. Move with receptivity and readiness to change.”

That’s a perfect complement to how I’m trying to experience the Power of Intention in my life.

That John Wick level of focus must incorporate adaptability.

As the yoga sutras tell us, each pose needs two distinct qualities:

Sthira (स्थिर): Steadiness or firmness
Sukham (सुखम्): Comfort or ease

That’s the sweet spot for the Power of Intention, the one that will help Vlad and me succeed in all the deadlines ahead this month.

(Again, both the inspirational ones and those most dreaded require that perfect mix of determination and flexibility).

That’s also the sweet magic behind Vlad’s Power of Intention, the one that motivates a warmhearted puppy to swim boldly into the middle of a lake to rescue his friend, the day after he learns to swim.

We should all be that focused…and that courageous!

Namaste for Now,

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