In my last blog, Revolution, I explored the ways in which taking action aligned with our deepest knowing can often lead to a sense of ease and satisfaction. Yet there are also times when knowing what is mine to do leads to a sense of heartache or unrest. It’s no less the next right thing, it simply requires me to hold two realities, and in so doing, feel the heartache.
In October of 2001, I adopted a 7 week-old golden retriever puppy named Zoe. She came into my life just as it began to fall apart; as I entered therapy and 12-step programs to address family of origin issues, codependent relationships, and love & sex addiction. For the next seven years she was my constant companion; for the first 2 years, literally and figuratively the reason I got up in the morning.
Every day we went for a long, off-leash walk in the Sonoran desert where she chased rabbits and tennis balls, rough-housed with her doggie friends, and enthusiastically greeted humans, especially babies, with a crooked smile and mad wriggling of her body. As she expressed her full-on dog nature she offered me a window into complete love and acceptance (especially self-acceptance) as I hit bottom in my addictions and began the long, slow process of feeling my feelings, changing my behaviors and co-creating a new life with Source.
She was both my teacher (she was the art of being present in the moment) and my child (needing constant care and attention). Both were her true nature. She was clear about her needs, heart-centered, and always happy to see me. Yet like a toddler, needing me to feed, walk and care for her – and always would.
In 2005 we moved to Albuquerque where there were fewer places to walk her off leash. Because of commitments and health issues, I was less available to play and walk and I watched her begin to show the signs of a kept dog – digging a lot, moping, chewing – even as she also continued expressing her true nature. Truth be told, I became weary, even resentful, of all the care she needed. I was wracked with guilt and self-judgment. When I adopted her, I made a commitment to her lifetime care, why was I unwilling to fulfill that? My heart ached during this time, knowing this arrangement wasn’t deeply serving either of us, but not sensing a resolution.
I began praying for a way for her to live more fully that also met my needs for ease. For a year nothing arose. Then, in 2008, we moved to Hummingbird Community with Robert (my partner at the time). Finally, she had a place to romp, chase and be her fullest expression. She lived in a state of joy, chasing squirrels, running through the water, raiding the compost bin for snacks, and generally being a mountain dog.
A few months later, it became clear that I was leaving Hummingbird and going back to the city. I wondered what to do with Zoe. She loved it there. Her true nature is an expression of everything Hummingbird Community stands for. When I left, we agreed she would stay until I was settled in my own place in the city. But deep down I knew; she was never coming back to the city. True to that knowing, when I found a lovely little apartment that I knew was my next residence – and dogs were not allowed – Robert and I agreed she would stay.
She’s been there 2 years now. She’s a full-fledged member of the community; a living expression of Hummingbird Community. Happy, joyful and free to be a full expression of her doggie self, she thrives. Still, my heart aches every time I visit her, see a picture of her, or allow myself to remember our life together. At those same moments, my heart is also filled with joy, seeing and experiencing her fullness. I know all is well and that this arrangement serves us. The power of paradox, holding both as true, feeling both as true, allows peace and clarity in the moment. Even if another wave of heartache rises in another moment.
This week, as my husband travels to be with his family because his mother faces a life-changing (and maybe life-ending) health issue, the story of me and Zoe opens me. Pictures of her remind be that it is possible to do the next right thing, even when it makes my heart ache.
I know what is mine to do – stay in Albuquerque for the time being. Simultaneously, I ache for physical connection – with Jake, his mother, his family. I ache to contribute to her well-being in person even as I know that today, contributing means sending Source energy her way, meeting with clients, doing my laundry, writing this blog. Yet I trust, just like with Zoe, that I will know when it is time to take action – to visit, to show my caring in person.
BTW, I also know Zoe would be fine living in the city – her true nature of being present to what is all the time would allow her to adjust brilliantly and our deep connection would sustain her (us). Yet I would not be fine. I have seen her fullest expression and nothing less will do. I am committed to a world where all beings are able to express their (our, my) fullest self, to thrive. I know that place for Zoe, today, is Hummingbird Community and for me, today, is Albuquerque. But tomorrow? Who knows…
Some questions for you to consider:
- In what areas of your life are you attempting to choose either/or when holding both and feeling the heartache or unrest is the next right thing?
- What is available to you when you take the time to be in the heartache, feeling it fully and allowing it to move on for the moment?
- What issue in your life do you know the next right thing to do, but have you been avoiding taking action on because you dislike (or are averse to) the feelings that action invokes in you?
- What are you going to do about it?