It’s not just that I find it nearly impossible…
It’s also that I’m not sure I entirely agree with the principle.
(Some things really are about us, after all).
Specifically, I’m referring to the second of Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements:
“Never Take Anything Personally.”
Listen, I fully understand the wisdom of realizing that ultimately almost everything anyone else does or says is vastly more about them than you.
It’s also quite clear that living one’s life to win the approval of others is a perfect roadmap for inauthenticity and unhappiness (if not outright disaster).
It’s hard not to take things personally, not to feel the tiniest sting of rejection, one I suffer countless times each and every day, beginning sharply at 7 am.
You see, that’s when Vlad and I arrive each morning at the baseball field.
Passionate as he is about fetch, I am far and away his last choice.
He will play pretty much nonstop with every other Dog Parent for an entire hour, composing an unwitting fugue of paternal rejection.
And while part of good parenting does involve a timetable of self-obsolesce, I’m not sure now’s the time and place for that.
It’s not that I’m concerned Vlad doesn’t love me deeply.
(Our cuddle-time naps prove that daily HERE––more videos coming next week).
And yes, perhaps it’s because part of me still resonates with the plaintive verses of Janis Ian’s At Seventeen:
To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today…
As Vlad engages with everyone but me, it’s like having a cool teenager who insists their embarrassment of a parent drop them off a few blocks away from school.
Truthfully, my angst over this is actually microscopic, not just because I’m secure in Vlad’s love but also because I recognize that in this moment, he’s simply embodying one of the Universe’s fundamental principles: Expansion.
(In fact, it’s the theme of this month’s meditation HERE.)
Lately, I’ve been diving deeply down the rabbit hole of the Expanding Universe via several fascinating documentaries and other research for an upcoming project.
The Big Bang Theory may have enjoyed twelve sitcom seasons but the physics of an ever-Expanding Universe are infinitely harder to wrap your mind around.
In fact, NASA’s website tells us:
“It was not an explosion in the usual way that people picture explosions. There was not a bunch of debris that sprang out, whizzing out into the surrounding space. In fact, there was no surrounding space.”
We’re used to narratives with beginnings and endings, roadmaps that tells us the distance from A to B.
And yet that simply doesn’t apply here.
It’s NOT that a tiny ballon of a universe suddenly got inflated.
Indeed, “the erroneous concept that you can point to a spot in the sky and say that the Big Bang happened at that spot is a result of the incorrect mental picture.”
One has to reconcile the Big Bang as a phenomena in which “it is space itself that has stretched.”
In other words, it’s an entirely different view of the Cosmic Playground.
Back to the local one…
Please note: Again, it’s not that Vlad refuses to play fetch with me.
It’s that I’m always the last choice if anyone else if present on the field or in the dog run.
Fortunately, people are overwhelmingly receptive to his invitation to play.
He simply lays the ball in front of them and waits for them to kick or toss it.
If they are engaged in a conversation or simply oblivious to his offering, after a minute or two, he lets out a plaintive short yelp.
His confidence is actually quite inspirational, founded on the fact that he believes he’s offering you the greatest possible opportunity for fun.
And while his methodology can seem a bit scattered to me, he goes around to each person, one by one, making sure they’re all included.
Frankly, it’s the ultimate in good hosting.
In fact, Vlad perfectly embodies Emily Post’s tasteful advice for dinner parties:
“Be welcoming and attentive. Look after each guest as much as you can. If you notice a guest with an empty glass or if there’s one person standing alone, take action and remedy the situation.”
With Vlad that translates to “If you see someone not tossing or kicking something, offer them the opportunity to do so.”
I hadn’t thought of it to this very minute but …
Perhaps he might someday pen his own book of Puppy Etiquette, heavily focused good sportsmanship and keeping the ball forever in play.
Whether it’s on the playground or between galaxies––and perhaps especially within our own lives––the deeper we look, the more we see that expansion can be profoundly beautiful and deeply mysterious.
That’s one of the reasons I really love this poem by Rilke:
I live my life in ever-widening circles
that drift out over the things.
I may not achieve the very last,
but it will be my aim.
I circle around God, around the age-old tower;
I’ve been circling for millennia
and still I don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a sovereign song?
Exemplifying the adage “the more I learn, the less I know,” perhaps the more radically we expand, the more our fundamental concept of self might also dissolve.
Ultimately, we might emerge from such soul stretching vastly greater yet fundamentally undefined.
My very slight feelings of playground rejection aside, I’ve accepted that even as space itself is being stretched, therefore Vlad’s universe must be expanding.
Phrased another way: it’s good to realize there are increasing numbers of playmates out there for each of us.
There’s also been an interesting side effect of Vlad’s expansion.
You see just recently I’ve observed that purely by example Vlad has taught several of his morning cohort to enlarge their playing field.
For example, Moon and Chase, both German Shepherd mixes, have taken to dropping the ball between my feet sometimes.
Even more revolutionary, more and more over the last few weeks, Miku the Weimaraner now does the same.
Like Vlad, they’re all under two years-old.
Therefore, it’s easy to see how their universes are constantly and rapidly expanding.
And truthfully, although we may blind ourselves to the phenomenon, so are all of ours as well.
In the end, as Rilke reminds us, we may circle for a thousand years, never learning if we are a falcon, a storm, or a sovereign song…yet nonetheless stretching space––and ideally ourselves––more and more, with each and every breath.
Embracing that reality with unhurt feelings, I’d love meet you on that ever-expanding playground…
Namaste for Now,