Impermanence. My dog Yogi has an incurable kidney disease. The vet told me this the other day. Now what?
Now the sand is shifting beneath my feet, but I am not swept to sea.
The ego wants to suffer and make stories of loss. This loss, and all the others. The ego, my false self, derives its identity from the concept of having and not having. It needs certain people, places and things to be the way it wants them or it suffers. The ego is me– as an addict. I am addicted to things being as I want them to be. Since life is seldom as I want it to be, my addictive self has plenty of opportunities to suffer.
Now is the time I want to run from the pain of losing Yogi. If I had the money, I would numb the pain with shopping or travel or visits to doctors who would pay attention to my sudden and various ailments. If I had a partner, I would numb it with my resentments of him not taking the pain away. If I had success, I would seek more recognition–the applause will make me forget the loss. Etcetera, etcetera…
Yogi may have 6 months or some more years to live, but he is dying. As we all are, of course. Nothing special is going on to oppress me in particular.
I spent the day with Yogi and on the phone with friends. I lay down on the bed next to Yogi and listened to a recording of a Ram Dass who, with much physical and mental effort, answered an interviewer’s questions about his stroke. I listened with my hand on Yogi’s warm, smooth belly. This is the sand shifting. The water rolling over my feet, under my feet in an endless, but changing intensity. Ram Dass said his “body had a stroke.” Who he really is inside that body did not have a stroke.
Last night and the night before Yogi woke me twice in the middle of the night. He has to pee–this is how it will be each night for the foreseeable future for us– I stumble down the stairs and onto the street with him. This too. This too is now. This too requires acceptance, not resistance. This is now reality. What of it? This is simply sand shifting.
When ego is set aside during present moment awareness I see beyond my suffering. I see Yogi’s patient acceptance of things as they are for him. I practice emulating his fully present, fully alive example.
Yesterday day I invited friends–whom I had told about Yogi’s illness– to have a picnic dinner with me at the beach. The addict I am would like to spend more time suffering, but the real me chooses to live fully . Dogs more than anyone sense and respond to depression and worry. My depression and worry should not be Yogi’s problem.
The sky was overcast–it happens sometimes in Florida!– and we took some shelter behind a large rock, resting our backs against its heft. We talked and laughed. We toasted Yogi. The sun came out for a while before it set and we watched it with pleasure. Two dolphins rose and dropped behind the waves in the distance. I became so filled with the beauty of the present moment, with the power of living awake and accepting of to impermanence that I felt compelled to run down the beach. I think that is what Yogi would do if he had been there. The sand was wet and cool and solid under my feet. And it was perfect.
- Listen to Ram Dass interview with Thich Nhat Hanh: Holding Emotions (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Permanently Impermanent (journalingtruth.com)
- Let go of attachment towards this impermanent physical body, but with appreciation for it… (mydailyyogapractice.wordpress.com)