Charlie just turned 1 year old last month. He has been an enormous handful and 100% puppy from day one, no naps. But yes, finally, he is starting to settle in a bit and be a Poodle, a fine Poodle at that. Oh those dog people are right, Poodles are just so clever. This could be assumed to show up in the form of a dog who understands what you say very quickly and responds with accuracy. This has partly been our experience, but the word clever fits Charlie better than simply smart. This means my smart poodle uses that big brain to factor a life that he enjoys, with the extras he can make happen for himself.
There is a dog treat made of compressed cheese. Charlie has never had one, except on the rare occasions we see extended family and then Charlie absconds with the cheese sticks of my in-laws Doodles. He loves it and tries to make it his own, even gets a bit pleased with himself when he ends up with their treat and they let him have it. But alas, he always has to leave it behind when we go.
Today I bought Charlie his own cheese block and he was on the moon. Then a curious thing happened. When we got home he really wanted to go outside, which is not unusual. This dog loves the outdoors, no matter the weather he wants to be outside. But then, I see he started digging in the winter empty soil in some garden boxes I have. I scolded him and told him, “aw come on Charlie, you never dug in those all this time, lets don’t pick up new naughty behavior”. He stopped, only to find him a few minutes later now digging in the mulch on the ground. He looks up and sees me, grabs something and runs like the dickens. I wonder what on earth is going on and follow him around the corner and he turns his back to me and just stands there. I ask him to turn around and behold, THE CHEESE. Shoved all in his mouth so only the end is barely showing outside his teeth line. I say, “Charlie, why are you hiding your cheese from me, you can have that, just quit digging in the yard”. As soon as I step back in the house he is back at the digging spot and I realize what he’s out there trying to do, he is trying to bury his treasure and somehow knows it should be done undercover. I stop him and call him in, he brings the cheese still hiding in his mouth and he runs to the couch and puts it behind the pillows. Then decides that will never do and gets it and runs to the next room, trying to shove it into a pile of books. Still unsatisfied that it is hidden well, he picks it back up and begins to whine and search about for a good place. Then upstairs he army crawls under the bed and finds a satchel and proceeds to nose the bag open and shove his cheese in there. But he comes out and sees me and feels his cover is blown. He gets the cheese in his mouth and goes to the mirror and whines, looking at himself with the cheese visible and not fully concealed in his mouth. Exasperated by the exposure and vulnerability of finding no where to hide. So he opts for putting the cheese about 4 ft away and laying down and just watching it, like guard tower watching it. He just laid there, on guard.
Um, okay. I guess this is a Poodle thing. I don’t know, I’ve never had a Poodle. The wonderful thing about Charlie for me these days is this, he truly does operate his own universe. There are no wars going on, no kids being hurt, no futures in limbo, no men in honorable places falling from grace, no laundry crouched staring at him with the menace of work yet to do, no interpersonal tension between him and the world. My Mom always said, everyone should have a dog, because they make you better, reminding you not everything has to be tidy and convenient. Some people should not have animals, she would also agree, but her point is well taken by me and often I reflect on it.
Life is not tidy or convenient and I actually think that is on purpose, but I sure get the idea it should be sometimes. Luckily I have a multitude of forces and circumstances in my life which keep me flexible, very much against my will most times. I want there to be a solution. If you tell me a problem, I immediately start churning solutions in my brain. I don’t mean to do that, but it seems it has its own trip switch. This can get me into trouble. This is what I have been learning this season of my life: even though people are bothered by their problems, not everyone actually wants a solution to them. Truly mind altering to succumb to this fact. I had no idea. If you tell me it hurts when you hit your head, I immediately suggest you quit hitting your head. But see, that is just not this simple in real life. So, in this season, I am learning to not only watch people keep hitting their head, but also listening to how bad it hurts and how they despair of the predicament, but now I just listen and at most, try to appreciate the experience they are having. But I don’t have to keep bringing them bandages. A person with a penchant for head hitting, will be best suited for having and using bandages, so I will not take that very necessary and complimentary task from them. Its sort of the other part of the package they have put together for themselves. I don’t have bandages and it is okay for it to stay that way.
Something else my Mom says, “You can’t save someone from their own life, when they are determined to live it just as they wish”. My Mom is even smarter than a Poodle. She is the wisest person I know actually. Charlie has run a muck with his sudden good fortune. Now he finally has something he thinks might get taken, so he has his very first worry. Wait until he finds out that I am not going to take that cheese away and no Doodles are going to come steal it, but eventually it will get too small and I will take it, soak it in water, microwave it a few seconds, let it puff up and get soft and then feed him the final treat it makes. All gone Charlie, all gone, did you enjoy it? Can you enjoy it when you are so worried at the thought of its loss?
Never has there been a more disjointed writing to land on a page. Never more dull has my mind wanted to speak. God is giving me such grace in the aftermath of the last few years of reckoning going on around me, in me, from me. I get to decide to let it make me better or cling to what I think is the good stuff about me or maybe not even good, but important, essential to who I am. I am so grateful for the willingness, which surely is a gift from God, to just be made different, to be made better and that means being made in a different image than the one I have of myself. I wanna be surprised. I see what happens when someone fancies themselves self-aware, I’m not sure that can be achieved actually, not with accuracy. I wanna see what God sees, not what I think I see or worse, what I think other people see. I will not bury my treasure. I will not hide. Let me see what You see God and let me not for a moment, feel an urge to bury what I am afraid you will take from me. Take it. Make me new.