If your little dog were here at the Bossy Spa, she would be in the creek. It is sunny, and after their morning romp Annie and Ginger both went in, despite temperatures below freezing. We have been cooped up more than we’d like because of the cold, and no one could wait for summer before getting in the creek.
Your dog might not go into the deeper water, but she is just the right size for the jade green section of creek in the picture. She would wade in from the edge, swim a bit, and even brave the small rapids downstream. She could climb up on the sloped edges to get out of the water and shake herself.
Once she was out of the creek she would look reproachfully at you for having let her get so wet and cold, and you, being you, would carry her back to the house where there is a warm fire in the wood stove.
Even though you are taking care of a human person, you have other things in your care too. I was thinking of your dog, but you also have your friendships, your plants, your work, and yourself.
These caregiving activities are rewarding in different ways. Your colleagues appreciate your intellectual and leadership contributions. Your plants bloom for you. Your friends and dog love you back.
Spend a few minutes looking at your situation through the eyes of someone in these other relationships. Maybe you pick your dog, who visibly droops when she thinks you might be leaving. Her world is less joyful when you are gone, and she knows it. Her whole body lights up, wagging and bouncing, when you come into the room,
We humans have perhaps overdeveloped our capacity for long-term thinking. This can lead to good things, like saving for retirement, but it can also yield massive doses of anticipatory dread that other creatures seem to avoid. I can spend years dreading the possibility that one of my parents will fall ill, and this may happen, but years of dread are big sinkholes of time and energy and enjoyment, whether or not a parent ever falls ill.
A certain amount of dread is useful. It steers you away from situations you don’t want to encounter, but there is no end to what you can dread. Dread is a bottomless pit.
Today zero in on the time frame that your little dog focuses on. Enjoy the warmth of the fire. Cringe if someone tries to brush the tangles out of your hair. Dread just a little, right before your favorite person leaves the room, but quickly recover in time to enjoy the smell of roasting goodness coming from your neighbor’s kitchen.