“I can’t help but believe that I was sent here this morning to meet you,” she said, this woman a few years younger than me, walking an elegant dog half as tall as herself. The dog, mottled brown, wore a large shoulder bandage still from the last of two dog attacks on him, just days ago. Insecure and anxious, he had nearly provoked another one—in his efforts not to be attacked yet again—as my dog (Sexy Louis, tiny by comparison) and I walked up minutes earlier. But we, being not foes but friends, let him close the gap as we stood non-reactive but alert, letting the moment unfold without forcing it. When the big brown started to leap toward Louis, both of us turned half a step aside so the aggression could not connect, and it faded swiftly in that space.
We visited then, the woman and I, Louis and the brown, and the low-key energies of Louis and I eased their concerns, for we are friendly and approachable and, after all, people walking dogs or vice versa are nearly always benefited by stopping to sniff one another and share stories and the like. I shared with her some of the tips that reliably have worked for me with aggressive off-leash animals, and I could see her fear lessen as I spoke, Sexy Louis standing staring up at the big brown dog, curious but leaving a completely loose leash between him and me, even when that big guy finally reached over to sniff me, and calm enveloped the four of us bar none as we stood there and kept visiting.
In the way of conversations unforced, we wound up talking about dog encounters from here on this deeply historied commons by the sea in Massachusetts all the way to the Mojave, and Louis vouched for me with his peaceable behavior. We exchanged names then, this woman and I, expecting to cross paths again before long, and she started on her way, but turned back and said that to me, impulsively, perhaps surprising herself. Definitely surprising me.
“I can’t help but believe that I was sent here this morning to meet you.”
What a gift that was, of a morning following close on the heels of a full day and night and part of another wondering if my whole life has been wrong to this point, one bad choice unleashing a cluster-strike of decades of less-than-good decisions because there were no others to make after that single unwise choice so long ago. Life cascades at us. Pummels us on good days, and crashes in like a tsunami on the rest. We try to walk free, but keep getting sucked back into our mistakes. It’s as if our future footfalls all landed years ago, some days, and we only get to trudge through them, knowing the end and yet not being able to step aside. Ah, what dramas we weave in our stories of such matters!
For then we awake and pray and walk a small dog along the sea’s edge to the commons, and all along the way there were people connecting—making eye contact on purpose and then conversation. Another woman and I walked eight blocks alongside, visiting about this little city that I love so well, chatting about our dogs and her noticing and mentioning the look of open adoration that Louis turns my way every few feet no matter what else is afoot and how he and I seem to be communicating without words even needed, which she thought was cool and so did I, for that matter, now that it had been mentioned so that I could notice its extraordinariness, too, and that was a full half an hour before we ever reached the commons and the brown dog and his owner—and this is New England, no less, which far too many have tried to convince me (with zero success) is not friendly to strangers!
In these connections and the overwhelming feeling of neighborly kindness, of being valued just for who I am, bad choices and trudging through notwithstanding, I can’t help but believe that I was sent there this morning to meet each one of them and their dogs. For in every one—I know this now though I cannot say how—some slip of my spirit resides, calling me home in the world, dramas moot, for the real stuff of being is so much more arms-wide-open-to-it-all than that!