Sunday, October 31, 2010


I spent many, many summers in Paris where poodles frequent restaurants. I visited Pablo Picasso's museum and home, walked through William Shakespeare's birthplace in the Cotswalds, hiked and dined in Dubrovnik, landed by chopper on the Mendenhall Glacier, danced with abandon on a tabletop in Corfu (yes me), and stood in awe of Michaelangelo's Sisteen Chapel and his 'David.'  I pulled a woman out of the canal in Venice, spent Spring in Switzerland, rode elephants in Bangkok, taught cooking classes on a cruise ship on the inside passage of Alaska and lived for 2 years 'on the economy' in Seoul, Korea.  I have done more 'stuff'  than we have time for here, nor are you interested, nor is it pertinent.  All beautiful experiences yes, but none so packed with emotion and power than living fiercely and with wild abandon today.

But with that ferocity and abandon a heavy price has to be paid and is paid daily.  There are some tears that come and dry up and then some of the time aren't allowed to come at all.  But when they do there is a reason.  Today there is a reason. 

It is my fundamental belief in goodness that lifts me up, and over, and beyond all that is ugly and tragic and pathetic and just plain wrong in this world. Sometimes the tragic and ugly comes in the door wearing sheep's clothing.  Much like Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf.  Today keeping that belief in goodness is the hard part.  An almost impossible mission, for the moment.

My brain is cluttered with 'stuff' I want to get rid of, much like my closet and the untidy drawers and cupboards in my house that have been in need of tending for a very long time.  Neglect of closets and drawers and a cluttered brain can become overwhelming. So can neglect of the human spirit.   But time and life take over and sometimes you are thrown a curve ball that is so fundamentally painful that it is indeed hard to catch your breath.  Today was such a day. 

So today I stepped into a book and cuddled up close to my dog, to escape. The book, From Baghdad, With Love by Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman. I realized soon that dogs 'watch over our sanity,' and our warriors sanity. As Kopelman put it, "When you spent  you entire career on the fringes of violence, the dogs helped remind you that you were still human." 

Okay, that I can understand!  I have read the book three times.  Most unusual for me. These words are consistent in putting my life back on track.  Why do I keep trying again and again when the arrows are continually shot at my back?  I  do this because dogs have an extraordinary ability to remind us that we are human.  And more importantly, they remind our warriors, coming home from hell, that they too are human. 

In a few short words, this is a book about the true dramatic rescue attempt of a dog named Lava and Lava's rescue by one Marine from the emotional ravages of war.  An unforgettable true story of an unlikely band of heroes who learn unexpected lessons about life, death and war from a mangy little flea-ridden refugee. I quote further after Lava ultimately makes it to the United States and freedom, "Film footage later shows a dog barreling toward a well-composed Marine (Kopelman) in uniform who bends down, catches the dog in mid-leap, stands up and turns circles with his face buried in the dog's fur, and all you have to do is add hot water, and bang, instant answer to the question. Koppelman asks, 'why wasn't my time spent helping people instead of a puppy?  I don't know, and I don't care, but at least I saved something.'"
We all try to create our world.  We try to do the right thing, aim at the right stars and dust off our pants when we are knocked down.  We try.  But sometimes we don't know what galaxy we have landed in, when those in a place of reverence pay homage to something quite alien.
So for a couple of days I have buried my face in dog fur, scratched tummies, made homemade sweet potato dog treats, petted horses noses, and listened to the silence and inhaled the fragrance, as they munched  sweet hay and carrots.
So to hell with the naysayers, to hell with the arrows flung in my direction, and to hell with hell. Today I don't care for disipline.  I am going to create my world the way I want, not the way someone else directs me.  Time and life does what it will. And in the process makes us who we are in the end. And in the end I am a pretty good person. And yes indeed should anyone ask, my dogs indeed make me human! So hold on world, I am still here!  I promise tomorrow I will be back and do my work. You see, to paraphrase, I am on this earth to do good, what the others are here for I simply do not know.
"I resolve to surround myself with EXPLORERS who are not afraid to wander the back roads of their minds.  Luckily for me, I enjoy small intimate parties." ~Kay Foley


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