Recently, I had an opportunity to host a colleague’s pet dog for a few days. A beautiful cocker spaniel, Jimmy (as the name goes) was now old and was suffering from a severe cataract condition in both eyes. This had rendered him blind, and the lovable being lived through, relying on all other senses to find his way around.
Figuring Out the New
His first day at my place was marked by an activity which involved Jimmy moving all around, probably noting all the walls and furniture in its sincere mind, fixing the inner radar and thus getting comfortable in the new surroundings. The place was new for little Jimmy, and the only way he could figure it out was walk around, hoping to not bump into something unexpected and if he does, remembering what and where it was.
It was striking how the process was similar to the way we lead our lives, walking into the unknown, our hands and eyes feeling for the unseen future. Cradling the hurts and the wounds, sipping on the ecstatic ‘freeways’ when everything goes as expected. And nursing the occasional stubbed toe when we unexpectedly bump into an experience.
Taking Jimmy for walks in the garden was an exercise. The enthusiastic little being could smell, but solid objects are, after all, solid – most hardly reek of an odor. While I used the leash to help him avoid walls and parked vehicles, his sudden rushes often ended up in him stumbling into a shrub. Dogs pee, and they dole it out in batches, and they keep trying till the bladder runs dry. Jimmy, a sincere fella who clearly had a misinformed bladder, pretended to pee in the end. While the initial sessions resulted in generous pee, the final ones had an equal amount of excitement, but no results. Thus a cue for me to take him back home.
Humans pretend all the time. We put a lot of energy in the way things have been done, forgetting that a process is only as good as the result. Wooden buildings need a certain structure, concrete buildings require a different structure. Crops grow in different seasons, stories mean different things to different people, we won’t find God in temples if we disregard His message of boundless love. Despite knowing that the result isn’t coming, we keep doing the same thing over and over again, forgetting that we following the process doesn’t matter if the results aren’t showing. Jimmy keeps pretending to pee, we keep pretending to grow.
On his first night, this mysterious little being waddled under my bed in the middle of the night and launched an attempt to dig through the hard floor tiles. It was tedious work, because it is not in the nature of tiles to be dug through. Jimmy sought warmth, under the bed, closer to me, away from his bed which was made in the kitchen. Instinctively, he tried digging for a hole. When I pushed a rug towards him, he gladly plonked on it and dozed off.
We cannot expect Jimmy to understand his own requirements, because we struggle to understand our own. A child doesn’t understand hunger. An adult suffers from an unexplainable one throughout his life, often feeding it with greed and ambition – unsure of its nature thus not knowing what it’s satiation would feel like. We hardly understand our lives, thus inviting a range of emotions and desires and dancing our way on their carnal tunes. We keep digging, blindly, when all we probably need is a rug.
It was very easy for me to wiggle out of the responsibility of hosting Jimmy, but with this unusual experience come new lessons. I remember little Jack, now it has been little Jimmy. Representing two ends in a dog’s life, an eternal circle through which they keep teaching us mortals of how to love without expectations. A dog’s love is a gift to value, for the animal loves you more than it loves itself.
Jimmy helped me realize that we are all blind dogs. And the way to cease being one involves knowing that happiness is an inside job. Once we choose to be happy – there are no walls to bump into, no pretense required to prove our worth, and no hunger to dig for. Satiating the hunger for this unsettling lightness is a quest to die for.