As the weather (sort of) gets warmer, Max is going through a transformation.
Since he has a double coat, he sheds his undercoat in the summer. And since I am usually bad about brushing or bathing him, large clumps of fluffy white hair pop up all over his back.
This is fur that kept him nice and warm in the winter as he gallivanted across the snow and ice. It served a very important purpose for a certain time. Yet, now it is not only unnecessary, it is even detrimental to Max’s overall health. It makes him too hot and so it has to go.
In observing this process, I have realized that there are things in my own life that I need to shed. There are physical items that I need to get rid of, like all the cardboard boxes I keep just in case I need them for a project or to ship something to someone or to wrap a gift. And there are all the holey socks that I keep because…nope, there is no good reason for that.
These things were once useful, but now are just crowding my life unnecessarily.
And then there are the habits I need to lose such as spending an inordinate amount of time on facebook or not getting to know my neighbors. And the simplistic, one-dimensional treatment of politics and religion and science that may have been an important starting point but really only holds me back from fully understanding what’s going on. And the desire to do things as they’ve always been done that too often just adds layer upon layer of hair to an already bogged down, overheated system.
I do not mean that everything has to go, though. The process of shedding and grooming is an intentional, careful one. I’ve heard that if I were to shave Max’s overcoat off, it might mess up his whole fur coat balance.
Max has taught me that in my own grooming, I must also be careful – especially in the non-physical things. I need to talk with others who have the experience of shedding and know what parts can go.
Even in Max’s unconscious process of shedding, there is a level of help that is needed. He cannot get the excess hair all the way off his body. He rolls around and leaves plenty of hair on the furniture and my clothing, but there is still so much that needs to be brushed or picked off by someone else.
And that difficulty has taught me that often I need help in letting go of things. It is hard when I consciously hold onto an idea or thing I don’t need or when I am deeply ingrained in some sort of habit or practice. And too often I am not even aware of the need to shed something in my life.
But that also means it can be very beneficial when someone comes into my life in order to lovingly brush out all the things no longer needed.
Plants need pruning, animals need shedding, and I need some sort of similar transformation that allows me to grow and run and live in a healthier way.
So thank you Max for teaching me that shedding can be beneficial. Thank you for teaching me to examine all parts of my life to see what is helpful and what needs to go, and for teaching me to seek help in brushing it all out.