One Foot Forward

 

long roadI’ve moved many times; almost too many to count. I like to think I’ve developed a few reasonable tools: the art of getting lost, the dexterity of being alone, the talent of turning bread-buying into daylong adventures, and the okayness of feeling isolated, sad, confused. This last set of skills is doubtlessly the most important.

Today is the last day in this city. Today is the last day in this community, in this part of the country. Today is the last chance to pack boxes, to whisper secrets into the walls of this old house, to run fingers along the mortar and the windowsills, to plant feet into the dirt of this particular yard. Tomorrow morning we’ll wake early. We’ll strip the bed, walk down the stairs, let the fur-kids out and make a final cup of coffee. Men will come with a truck to take our things – furniture and plates and shoes, memories and stories and truths. We’ll walk through our empty home, vacuuming the dusty corners as though gathering our tattered ends, tidying up the technicolour residue of our joys and of our tears. We’ll leave behind a beautiful and nameless edifice, ready for someone else to know love in. They’ll hang frames and find hiding places for their most private hurts and pleasures.

I’ve moved many times; almost too many to count. This time feels different. Momentous. All of the regulars have shown up, as if on cue: doubt, anxiety, excitement, uncertainty, willingness, readiness and unreadiness. There is a bubbling cauldron of magic too, a witch stirring in strands of hair, dirt, and possibilities. I can see her in the corner of my eye. She’s playful and coy and testing. If I try to look at her directly, she disappears; she is building my trust and my confidence. She is measuring my tenacity. She is teaching me a dance. It doesn’t start with fear or attachment. There is a pause as the music begins, and I move one step back on the second beat, grounding the left foot, then the right. There are a few quicker, harder to master steps moving into joy, a swing of the hips to shake off the ashes of who I used to be, a mammoth jump, and the promise of sweet release on the landing.

I’ve moved many times; almost too many to count. I’m at a fork in the road and this time I know which path to take. If you hold my hand, I will hold your heart.

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(both photos found on tumblr.com)

In Memory of Utah

11392876_10152872908176860_3668522950837520774_nOne of my friends once said that losing a dog was, in some way, harder than losing a loved one. Our dogs love us unconditionally, every day. Our dogs shower us with kisses and tenderness whenever we (or they) need it. They ask for nothing in return, they teach us the gratitude of every moment, the joys of the mundane: sticks and rivers, food and water, warmth and hugs. Most importantly, they teach us to love openly, to give love and to receive it. And even once they’ve left us, they continue to show us how to grow, to move, one tentative puppy step at a time, through the mourning and the grief, through the mud and murky waters, into the clear calmness of remembering and of re-membering. There is an opening that can’t be closed, a widening of the heart that can never be narrowed, a depth of sensitivity and a new understanding. There is an ability to communicate without the burden of words.

22516_10152872908126860_6684168451912576704_nDogs show us how to follow our instincts, trust ourselves, step into our own beauty, and not worry about what others may say. They show us that for every person that doesn’t want to play, there are three others just waiting to share their joy with us. They train us to explore all of our unknowns, to tumble and fall and get right back up again, bruises and all. They show us how to enjoy what we have, to trust the abundance, to find the loveliness that is everywhere, if only we can learn how to see it, smell it, taste it and celebrate it.

So when we say goodbye to our friend, our number one secret-keeper, our protector, our calm, tender, wise boy – it hurts. Badly. And we are reminded that as the pain begins to subside (and it will), we will find solace in the memories, and even more gratitude in the gift of each day.11011011_10152872908296860_8587589940910800863_n

“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings or walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.” ~Suzanne Clothier

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