a godless october part 5: concert deaf

I’m currently sitting at a concert that has yet to start. I don’t know the band well. A friend offered up his tickets because he and his wife weren’t going to be able to make it. Emily and I are just passive observers to it all, really.

But someone in this room probably knows every lyric to every song. Someone else probably has this bands music as the soundtrack to a break up, someone else the soundtrack to falling in love. 

The highly attached and the completely unknown both exist in this place and they’re interacting with the same thing, objectively speaking. This goes without saying, but what you chose to hear, what you chose to tie yourself to, influences the realities you encounter.  

a godless october part 4: the red hat

Dogs must be a theme for this. Because today’s reflection centers around Oliver, our Australian Shepherd, yet again. I took him for a long walk today. There’s this small dog park about a mile west of where we live in downtown Spokane. Him and I got there and had the place to ourselves. He leaped and played and ran and barked with glee. It’s what he does. But amidst all the energy, we both heard the gate to the park rattle a bit. He bolted toward it to greet the new visitor who entered. It was a pug. Tiny and pug-like, as you might expect. Snorting and grunting.

And Oliver was over the world with joy from this little thing. The two of them ran around, Oliver using his fancy footwork to toy the pug into thinking he may be able to get a lunge in that would slow Oliver down. The pug had no such luck. 

The owner of the pug had on a beat red hat. And the beat red hat had crisp white lettering on it with four words.

Yep. You guessed it. “Make America Great Again.”

The pugs owner was still proud enough in the person currently holding the office of President in our country to where that hat out and about. Greeted with an initial neurological reaction tied to animosity and angst, I wanted to roll my eyes, scoff or bark at him in the way Oliver barked at his dog. 

But then I realized that Oliver’s bark had no bite attached. No pent up animosity. My dog and his dog barked out of play and happiness. Chasing each other around and rolling on the grass. No politics or ideology separating them from the collective encounter they were having with joy. 

It’s hard for me to imagine a situation where I could interact with the man with the hat in the same way that our dogs interacted with each other. And that saddens me. Have I really such a hard heart that I can’t bridge gaps because of a man who has a four year term in office? Is there not some greater reality that can bind us that stretches beyond four years? 

Yes. I think there is. And it was reflected in the lives of our dogs. The reality of connection is built on joy and thankfulness for the other that we interact with simply existing.

Oliver was having fun alone at the park. But when that pug arrived, a whole new level of fun began. Shared fun. Shared joy. Fun tied to the respect and admiration for the pugs existence.

a godless october part 2: leaving the leash

Emily and I took Oliver, our dog, out for a bit of a hike today. We were the only two people on the trail and it was a relatively wide open space, so we eventually decided to take his leash off. We live downtown. So for Oliver, leashes are an extension of his body anytime he’s outdoors. He’s constrained to the 5-7 feet between the one walking him and the buckle on his color. So when that leash came off, a new dog appeared. 

Oliver booked it. He sprinted through the tall grass and the bushes. Running circles around us with the biggest and dopiest grin on his face. It was the clearest and most vivid picture of what freedom can be. No constraint. No resistance. Nothing to tie down. Blatant and pure and beautiful freedom. Emily and I both got giddy just watching him. 

There are some ways to encounter the world that are leashed and constrained and dogmatic. And there are other ways that are free and lush and liberating. Leashed realities, at least from what I’ve observed via the life of my dog and the life that I left behind in dogmatic religion, don’t come close to the leashless ones.

There’s SO much beauty in this world for you to run through, smile at, and have brush against your face. No leash anyone guilts you into wearing should trump your ability to taste the reality of beauty and freedom.