My daughter and I stopped off to visit our friends Kristie and Dita the other day. Dita graciously gifted us with a couple of rawhide bones for our black lab, Buffy. It seemed the rawhide turned her two small dogs into territorial Nazis, so she thought it best to get them out of the house.
We gave Buffy one of the bones when we got home that day. And then the strangest transformation came over her.
Normally our black lab is outgoing, friendly and playful (to the point of being annoying as anyone with a lab knows). Now she was slinking around the house with her tail between her legs, her head hung low and her ears laid back. She did things that were out of character for her, like trying to get into my closet, or crawling under things where she couldn’t quite fit.
She wasn’t carrying the bone around with her, so it didn’t occur to me that it had anything to do with her change in behavior; until I found her bone under my pillow.
This rawhide had turned her into a worried mess. She didn’t chew on it or enjoy it, she just kept hiding it, and then moving it to another hiding place she deemed safer. When she wasn’t hiding it, she was checking on it, and then following us around to make sure we didn’t steal it and enjoy it!
As I laughed over this story with my friend Wendy, she said “Deanna, I think there’s a story there.”
And there is! I thought about the things I didn’t enjoy to the fullest because I was worried about wearing it out, or using it up, breaking it or losing it.
I thought about the aloe vera gel my mom gifted me with that I didn’t want to use up because I was afraid to run out. I thought about the incense I didn’t burn because I didn’t know where to buy more once I used it up. I thought about the chalk pastels I hid away from my daughter because they were “special” and I didn’t want her breaking them into a million pieces. I thought about the opal earrings I was afraid of losing, the black skirt I was afraid of tearing, and the orange high heels I was afraid of looking silly in.
My dog was me. We could worry together about not enjoying our stuff because we like it too much.
I once had a client who lost her home in a fire. Where once she believed that she was defined by the stuff she owned, suddenly she was nothing, no one. But then from the fire was born the opportunity to become whoever she wanted. She tried new things, bought clothes she never would have bought before, treated herself to massage.
We are, by nature, sensual beings living in a world where everything is always in a state of change. To worry about a loss, that may or may not ever happen, is to rob ourselves of the opportunities for joy and pleasure that the universe constantly puts in our path.
Buffy finally ate that bone. It only took her three days.
How long will it take me?
I have always been afraid to “waist” something by using it up. Should I use it now when later might be better? What if I enjoy it and run out and can’t replace it? I realize that things are meant to be used and enjoyed but it is very difficult for me, so often I go without. I have come to realize that I think my things define me and that is not who I want to be. I felt I was the only one who went through this sort of obsessive behavior. Thank you for letting me know there are other silly minded people out there and that I can make the change and enjoy my life more and my things.
Deanna – Your story goes to the heart of what the Buddhists say is one of the key causes of our suffering – clinging. When I cling to people or things, or even my ideas, opinions, dogmas or whatever – somewhere along the line I’ll suffer because of it.
I’ll know I’m truly free when I can react like the man who had everything in his house stolen, including the roof. He looked up thru the big hole where his roof had been, and was thankful that the thief had left him the beautiful moon!