In need of a bit of solace and clarity this morning, I took Mr. Chulo for a walk around Jamaica Pond. I thought we both needed a change from our daily routine. However, the new environment began to cause me anxiety. I became overly concerned with Chulo’s behavior, unsure of the leash politics in this park. Also, there were a lot of ducks and geese and I was afraid Chulo would chase one out into traffic.
He began to pull on the leash. He barked nastily at another dog. A passerby shot me a judgemental look and my anxiety grew. Finally, when we got to a quiet spot, I let him go and sat down at the edge of the water. He wandered off a short distance to eat some horse poo, but when I told him no, he came back by my side and settled down.
I listened to the water and let my mind be stilled (more or less). I heard inwardly that I have to pay attention to how I feel. It sounds so simple, but I have never been taught to prioritize my own emotions. Prioritizing my own experience doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t do things for others, but that I should pay attention to how I feel in the doing and to make sure I honor myself, whatever the task.
I tend to spend a lot of energy worrying about whether or not everyone else is ok, about what everyone else is thinking and feeling, instead of being grounded in my own thoughts and feelings, my own truth. But now, I have to take responsibility for my own happiness. It cannot come from any other source.
Now, I know this is an obvious truth. I’ve read it a thousand times in a thousand ways. I thought I understood it intellectually, but there I was putting Chulo’s needs before my own and seeing that this is what I do with everything. I have lived unworthy of my own attention. I think this is probably true of a lot of women.
After I sat with this for a spell, I got up to leave. I felt that there was a shift of energy between Chulo and me. He was calm and walked behind me off the leash. I realized that he didn’t want me to put him first. I know this is Cesar Millan 101, but Chulo is my first dog and since I can’t afford a house visit from Cesar, I have to learn this for real, through actual self-understanding. It’s one thing to watch an edited version of other people going through this on reality tv. It is quite another to be in the hot seat yourself.
Which on a deeper level makes me think about how we learn. We can learn facts through our intellect, but the really important stuff of life has to be felt through experience. All the spiritual texts in the world can only be a guide. I remember a long time ago, I think in high-school, coming across the quote from the Buddha, “Seek no refuge outside of yourself. True happiness comes from within.” Today, I am the buddha.