I like to make plans. Even though advice from friends and experience teach me time and again that my efforts to take control seldom pan out the way I hoped or anticipated they would, I continue to make plans. I think it may be that I cannot handle living in a world where this is no hope and envisioning the life I want is a way to continue going through the motions of living when I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.
When I imagine what I seem to want or need, I am engaging with the world, and I am participating in my own life and destiny. For me, making plans comes easily. Where I have room to grow is in accepting when things work out differently. It is in the letting go where I need the most practice.
Letting go of the illusion of control is no easy feat, particularly for one as stubborn as me. My sweetie and I adopted a three old husky/malamute/question mark just under five months ago after our husky of ten years passed away quite suddenly at the beginning of the year. Silly me, I was certain that adopting a younger dog gave me some kind of certitude that he would be in my life for many years to come, ten at the least. When his health crashed a month ago, it hit me like a bowling ball to the stomach. But I held on for as long as he held on. And he held on for me, of this I am certain. I think his soul had no intention of leaving mine ever; it was his body that was at its end. And sensing this so deeply from him made it even more painful to make the decision to put him down when his body could not catch its breath even with the aid of an oxygen mask.
I had not gone into the vet that afternoon thinking I would leave alone. In the car were packed a blanket and a bowl for water in case I had to bring him with me to my yoga training. There they remain still, for I haven’t had the heart to take anything out of the car he touched, including the blanket that covers the back seat in its entirety.
48 hours after, I began a bit of a desperate online search to find the new body his soul had moved to. I studied reincarnation and sent out questions to friends from near and far of what might be possible. Everyone told me something different, some more gently than others.
What I began to realize was that no one else’s opinion mattered as much as what I felt in my own heart. So, I began to try to sift through the layers of grief and sadness to learn what may be floating, ever so tenuously, underneath.
And I continued to listen to signs from the universe. One told told me, The universe is mostly 2°K on average and doesn’t give a shit about us. What do YOU want?
The universe may not care, but I do. And what I began to realize was that my heart, so recently nearly bursting with love for my poor fated pup, felt aimless and empty. For me, this was a bad sign. I am learning that my dharma (sanksrit for “calling”) is to be a healer. It is what fills my soul and brings meaning to my life. I know that I need to be a healer for my own self as well.
I searched and found a dog who seemed remarkably similar to be my beloved Okami in body and spirit, but the foster parent would not let us adopt him because of our geographic location. She had had a bad experience with Arizonans in the distant past and had not yet realized that all people from Arizona were bad.
I was devastated, I think less because I felt connected to the dog but because I felt that I had lost Okami once more in losing the dog who most resembled him.
In my mind, I knew this was not true. I know that no other dog will replace him or be him, though some may resemble him. In my heart, I think it quite possible that our souls have been forever joined.
Another friend wrote to me: There is no control. It’s all an illusion. Things happen because things happen. Always be letting go.
Cognitively understanding something does not make it any easier to embody, particularly when one is grieving. So when I learned that a baby male husky had been adopted by a family in Tucson, I was devastated. He had been the only male in a litter of females, which I had taken as a sign.
My sweetie is always reminding me that it is important to dance with the universe. When one opportunity changes, you have only to shift your perspective to see the myriad others. I was so upset that baby boy husky was gone that I could not see the opportunity the universe was presenting to me. I had been holding onto the belief that I needed a male because my beloved had been a male. I had not even considered a girl. But there she was, looking at me through bright, blue, baby eyes.
As I slowly awoke this morning, I remembered something that happened a long time ago when I adopted my last dog. I was living in Washington state when our neighbors had an unplanned litter, the result of a hit and run from an unaltered male, chocolate lab from down the road. There were 11 tiny, black lab mix puppies. Having grown up with a black lab female who was the runt of the litter, I picked out the female runt of the litter. When I went to pick her up, I could not find her anywhere. The large, blue bucket that had been full of water for mom was sitting empty outside the run. When I realized what had happened, I trudged back home, vowing that I would not return. My plan had been changed without my consent. Sitting at home, I realized there were still 10 other babies in need of love and nurturing and an introduction to the world. I remembered a sweet, quiet male puppy that had often fallen asleep on my feet. I walked back, picked him up, and went home with him cradled in my arms.
This morning, I will drive down to Phoenix for the third consecutive week. The first trip was with my Okami; the second without; and now I will return with a soul that may or may not be new to me. I will just have to wait and see.
Non-attachment can be a bit loathsome, yet another friend wrote to me last night.
What I am learning and relearning is that sometimes in letting go, I create the space for holding on.