Dreaming Big

Max really wants to chase rabbits.

And there are so many rabbits out this year that we usually see two or three a day. They seem to be getting bolder too, because they are not hopping away as quickly and are venturing closer to roads and sidewalks.

No rabbits in here?

No rabbits in here?

As we walk by, Max becomes very alert then dashes toward the rabbit. Sometimes he even hops around straining against the leash trying to pull me on his hunt.

While I have occasionally run along with him, I have never let him freely chase them (you’re welcome rabbits). I honestly don’t even know what he would do if he got one, and I doubt he would know either.

Either way, his desire to chase and/or catch the rabbits will remain a dream, an ever out-of-reach goal.

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But Max does not give up on that goal, however many times he fails.

And he has taught me that it is worthwhile to maintain those lofty dreams. He has shown me that it makes no sense to give up on such a goal – he may actually attain it someday, and it doesn’t hurt him to keep trying, even if he fails.

Moreover, he has shown me that the goal is important (whether or not he attains it) because it provides much needed excitement, newness, and challenge to his daily routine. He can too easily fulfill his goal of peeing on every bush he passes (at least until I get fed up with his moseying around). While this minor goal does make him excited every time, he also needs bigger dreams that inspire him to journey to new places in new ways.

I reckon his dreams of chasing rabbits are sometimes even very literal. His sleep is often interrupted by muffled yips and twitching legs that I imagine are signs of him living out that excitement of the chase in whatever version of doggy dream imagination his brain can handle.

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But I think the most important lesson I have learned from Max’s big dream is that he does not let it distract him from making the most of his daily activities. Yes, he would love to chase some rabbits and he jumps at any opportunity that passes. But when I pull him back to the normal path with boring, static bushes and grass, he maintains a healthy level of attentiveness and interest in the plain walk itself.

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He does not despair for not getting to chase the rabbits, but he also does not despair that his whole life is not a rabbit chase. He maintains his big dream without trying to escape into endless sleep in pursuit of it.

So, thank you Max for teaching me to stay steadfast in my big dreams, even when I may never achieve them. Thank you for teaching me to find a way for those dreams to bring excitement to my daily walk. And thank you for teaching me not to become overly absorbed in that dream so as to miss the beauty of the rest of the ordinary journey.

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Pulling Against

Max is stubborn, but so am I. Lately I have noticed how much strain we put on each other during walks. Max frequently likes to dart off to explore a scent or sight and I have to pull hard against the leash to reel him back.

It’s not that I always want him to stay on the path; I understand a desire to explore new things even if it takes you off the path. But I just do not want him darting off wildly. And I don’t want him pulling me along as he darts off. I like my course and I like my control.

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But he lurches off, I hold tight, and when the short leash reaches its length we both feel the harsh jarring of the impact of the force. And my shoulder has really taken a beating.

Somehow, Max and I have a hard time walking together.

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Nevertheless, it seems easier to carry on as we have been even though it causes both of us (I presume) some pain. We don’t have to consider each other too much, but rather just do our own thing. We don’t have to take the time to think about what the other wants to do, we can stay in our own respective worlds.

But that leash connects us whether we want it to or not.

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Max has taught me that we too often pull against each other – especially those we don’t understand well. It is hard to step in the other person’s shoes (especially when they have none) and think about how they experience the journey. So we go our own way, mindless of those to whom we are inherently connected.

And through the struggle against this connection, Max has taught me that it really does hurt every party when we refuse to walk together.

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So, what do we do, I think as I continue to drag Max along the path. There has to be some better way of walking alongside each other. Perhaps it involves stopping on the way and getting to know each other and our differences. Perhaps it involves allowing a longer leash of freedom to be different from one another and to be perfectly fine with going down the same path in very different ways. Perhaps it means taking a chance and following the other instead of insisting on staying my own comfortable course.

Regardless, there has to be a way to see and experience that connection between myself and others as a benefit, as something that allows us to encounter the path in more meaningful ways, rather than something to struggle against.

So thank you Max for teaching me that working toward a way to walk together is much better than continually straining against each other. It may be hard and uncomfortable, but you have taught me that it is worth it so that we might live more peacefully connected to one another.

Walking with no shoes

Max does not wear shoes. I think it is because he wants to show off his awesome toe hair, but he tries to act humble about it.

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Max’s lack of shoes has come to my attention in several ways the past couple weeks, particularly during our walks. Since it has been so rainy here this week, Max’s bare pawedness has led to some wet, muddy feet tracking in a mess to the apartment.

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But even more interestingly, Max has to stop every now and then because of something he has stepped on. He’s a tough dog, so he doesn’t act hurt when he steps on sticks or rocks or thorns, but he does stop, sit down, and dig around to find what is irritating him.

Since Max does not wear shoes, this reaction comes immediately.

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I, on the other hand, do wear shoes. And I also often get rocks or other painful things in my shoes. However, my guarded feet do not always experience the pain immediately. And because it would be such a task to stop and take off my shoes when I start to feel the discomfort, I most often continue walking while ignoring the growing pain in my feet.

I force myself to live with whatever small thing is causing me pain for no reason other than I have convinced myself that it would be too much trouble to deal with it. And it only grows more and more painful until it impedes my ability to continue on.

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Max understands something I do not. And his response to these small pains in life seems much more reasonable.

Max walks without any insecurities or defense mechanisms and thus can immediately feel the pains of the journey. But that also means he immediately deals with them and does not try to carry on ignoring the pain.

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He has taught me that such a response of immediately addressing the uncomfortable realities of life helps him to get on with the journey in a much more wholesome way. He is not content to carry those thorns with him.

He has taught me not to ignore those discomforts and pains, expecting them just to go away, and he has taught me to let down my psychological guards that really just keep those pains in my heart, unresolved.

So thank you Max for teaching me to walk without shoes. Thank you for teaching me to own up to and deal with the discomforts and pains in my life that are so easy to ignore and to continue walking with.