• August 29, 2014

Life’s lessons are unplanned

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012 4:30 am | Updated: 11:50 am, Wed Jul 16, 2014.

Planned spontaneity is my cup of tea, which tells you I like plans, and next to plans, I’m most comfortable executing orderly processes.

Life did not get those memos.

One of my aha-moments was when I accepted the fact there is more than one way to achieve a goal. Before accepting it, there was a wrestling match between my mind and heart.

My mind: There is only one methodology to achieving the objective, and obviously, yours is the correct one.

My heart: This is the way you may execute the process, but your mom may do it one way, and your friend probably has her way, and guess what? We’re all getting to the same desired end.

In much the same way a toddler’s hands are pried off a forbidden object, my mind had to relinquish its notion and let my heart win.

There’s never a time this is more prevalent then when I’m training my dogs.

They always teach me more than I teach them. Their simple honesty trumps any words, or my flailing body language, or the stressed energy I sometimes emit. It happened this week.

It was evening time. The dogs and I were outside; Skye was tracking the scent of a varmint, and Tuck was grabbing random-sized sticks and logs. In all the ways that Skye is purposeful, cautious and deliberate, Tuck is the opposite. He’s reckless, spontaneous and has the attention span of a gnat. While Skye wants to be quietly close to me, Tuck is elated by rough horseplay and elaborate rounds of tug-of-war, which, for his ego’s sake, I always let him win.

So on this particular evening, Skye was tracking, and Tuck was running around with no direction in mind. And then there’s me: dog owner and trainer, and I think, “Let’s have a dog-training session.”

Tuck, here.

He hears me, grabs the stick he’s eying and runs full speed, sliding to a stop in front of me. He looks at me expectantly, and I praise him. His body pops up in excitement, and he’s off running again.

Wait, wait, wait. We weren’t done.

I call him, he runs back, but he drops his stick on the way. He runs back to get it, and returns to me.

I ask him to sit; he does. His face is tilted upward so his eyes are on mine. Then something catches his attention, he looks and his ears are up.

He turns his gaze back to me. I ask him to lie down. He does, exhaling heavily as if to punctuate his sentiments about the whole thing (“This is sooooo boring!”). I praise him; he jumps up and tries to lick my face. But I was going to ask him to stay, so I go through the sit/down commands again; he obeys hurriedly.

There’s a random weed in front of him, he starts chewing it. I ask him to stay; he does. His head turns in all directions (“There’s so many exciting things to do!”)

When I call him, he comes barreling and plops in front of me. His feet are still moving, tongue lolling. He looks at me: “Are we done yet? Can we please play tug-o-war? Plllleeeeeassseee.” I praise him, and he’s so proud of himself he can’t sit still. He leaps up and jams his big ole head into my chin, clanging my teeth together. I was mad; he happily ran to catch up with Skye.

And I was left with my lesson. Again.

I wanted that segment of my life to be executed neatly and in a specific order. In all of his rambunctious dedication, Tuck reminded me there is more than way to achieve a goal. It might involve grabbing sticks, chewing weeds, and leaping in excitement, but if the objectives are reached, does it matter?

My heart assures me it doesn’t.

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