Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dog Faux Paw

Everyone makes mistakes. Presidents, football coaches, parents and puppies - no one is immune. Last night I made the mistake of leaving a party too early. Or maybe the mistake was just the gnawing discomfort of thinking that I had left too early. The truth is I wanted to leave from the time I arrived. Parties in general always feel like nothing but a series of mistakes, potential faux pas, awkward lonely silences, self conscious small talk, wasted time. I was not designed for crowds, no matter how smart or good looking they are. Even crowds of children and dogs are not my forte. I don't like to fight for attention. I prefer to interact with one or two at a time. That's the way I am. Who's mistake is that?

Today at the beach my beautiful dog Bodie made a rather unfortunate error. She loves the beach more than anywhere else in the world. She is - and I only slightly exaggerate - the fastest dog on the planet. As soon as she hits the sand, she turns on the afterburners. And it is glorious to see her run. Usually I throw a tennis ball for her, but I didn't have one today so she decided to chase birds instead. She set some seagulls alight and chased them into the surf. A little while later she saw two lovely white egrets picking their way through a tide pool on a rock reef. She bounded after them, huge leaps through the water and over the rocks. She was going very fast and had almost reached them when she plunged into a deep hole and slammed, chest first, against the rocks. She stopped in her tracks and looked back at me sheepishly. The egrets took flight - amused no doubt - and Bodie made her way back to me on shore, hanging her head, clearly in a bit of pain and embarrassed too. I pet her, of course, asked her if she was okay. Tried to assure that I loved her even though she had messed up and nearly broken her own snout. After a while she shook off the hurt and humiliation and started to run again. But when, on our return trip down the beach, we again came across the egrets fishing on the same rock reef, Bodie just looked at them and let them be.

And that is the sadness of making mistakes. They can rob us of our passions. They instill fear and caution until eventually we have made so many mistakes (the more painful - the more dangerous) and learned so many reasons to be afraid that we will hardly venture out the door. And so, I hope that Bodie and I will always be able to place enthusiasm above our fears. To learn from our blunders, but perhaps not to learn too well.

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