oh, Sam

Nobody was too happy today when I arrived on the other side of our hill to do some work.

It’s where Sam, Dog of the West, lives, who is my Boyfriend (we’ve had words about the paw on the boobs, for example) and Posterdog for Goofballness.  Sam was a picture of dejection today such as I have seldom seen.  Apparently he got a bad scratch on his side and had to be taken to the Vet as a result,  from whence he emerged wearing one of those big cone collars animals get to keep them from messing up injuries.  He didn’t even come to give me a kiss, and I saw him crouching between a fence and an outbuilding, with cone and forehead resting against the wall.  Shoulders totally dropped and nose down in abject misery.   This is about the first time he’s had this major sort of consequence- he got ‘fixed’ and that didn’t phase him one bit, and also a fight with the other dog who lives here left him with a bit of an eyescratch but nothing much.  Usually Sam is just smiling and happy and lovable if you don’t let his largeness, big paws, and jumping get to you. But this!  I don’t know if he thinks he’s being punished, or if he’s going to die, or what, but he is not taking this at all well.   I do hope he will be back to his customary bounce and joie de vivre soon, but it did make me think about all the other animals whose paws and claws I’ve held in similar circumstances.  Usually they’ve all either come right up to me or dashed by with very specific communications along the lines of HELP!  Some have had reactions to medications, had new fellow pets in the home, gotten chewed up in unfortunate kennel visits, and a few have even had cancer.  There’s often the thorn in the paw or the flies on the face, but there has always been a very clear and specific request and for the most part, successful treatment.  Animals are often a WHOLE lot easier to work with than humans.  In this case, though, Sam seems to be acting just like a person in terms of feeling the unfairness of it all.  And, insult to injury, a cone to wear!  Leave me alone!

The question then is, what do you do when there appears to be a need but you are not invited to deal with it?  This is a pretty crux-like thing as it turns out.  Help can so often be either something that makes the other person (or dog, of course) feel as though there’s something wrong with them, something that must be “fixed”.  It can also be someone doing something they simply need to apply to their own lives.  It can be, I think, something that comes out of an operational base of power, and not love.   Timing is everything in this, just like it is in everything else, and in order to be truly of use and service one has to, in a sense, step outside of clock time and into the other kind of time, which is more about what it actually takes to do something.   So even if you know what might be a good thing to do, if the time isn’t right and the situation not receptive, it isn’t the right thing to do.

I don’t know how the injured Sam came together in my tiny mind with Bruce Lee, but there it is.  We watched the movie about Lee’s life yesterday, and the Partner remarked that one reason Lee had conflict with other, local, older martial arts schools was that he taught fighting before philosophy.  In a traditional setting, you practice blocking and living the philosophy before you ever really fight,and the point of it is to avoid fighting if possible- especially since the consequences can be very serious.  The Grand Masters were individuals who knew ALL the schools of kung fu, which made them essentially pretty intense guys- who’d be crazy enough to fight somebody who knows all THAT? So it’s a long training in observation and what not to do, along with training yourself to have that observation be a reflex that informs your actions and guides you.  Less is more, actually.   One result of this shift in approach was a lot of fighting without the conceptual framework, and in only one manner depending on where you studied.  The conceptual framework learning is something everybody who’s tried to learn anything has struggled with.  But without it, you wind up executing actions that don’t resonate and aren’t proper.

I recently read, somewhere, that warriors and healers walk the same path and I think that is actually true.  In looking at Sam, I have to see that although I may “want” to “help” him, that isn’t what is needed in the moment based on his behavior and wishes.  I may think I know what he needs, but that may not only be irrelevant but untrue as well.  He may need another school altogether, in short.  The same thing goes for being a warrior.  You may indeed want to smack someone into another galaxy, but it’s not always the correct thing to do.  You may want to learn how to fight and defend yourself, but without a framework of observation, practice and understanding, you won’t accomplish anything beyond muddying already dark waters.   It all takes time, more than we in this culture feel we have to devote to anything. Which explains, I think, why Bruce Lee took the tack he did, in an effort to increase knowledge and awareness in a way he thought might work.

It does just take a lot to know what to do at any given point, especially when so often there ISN’T anything to do right then except watch and wait.  It’s a whole different way of life, based on responding to the environment you’re in and not reacting to what you think it is.   Everything takes on a different dimension, and although there is always that moment when the hill you’re climbing turns out to be a giant turtle’s back and you slide off in a completely different direction than you started from,  the habit of paying attention does pay off.  It pays off because even when you’re flying through the air off that turtle’s back, you are able to see that, really? You’re going to land in a much better place.  I’ll see if I can explain that to Sam later.

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