Acceptance and unwinding the leash

My dog is sitting outside with me as I work on a glorious fall day. I have Freddie’s leash attached to a longer lead so that he can wander around the yard.

He and I both love the chipmunks, though I suspect for different reasons. I’m amazed by how little they are, not much bigger than a mouse, but so very different from a mouse. They’re lightning fast and Freddie wants one of his own.

He is caught in the loop we all get caught in—wanting what he can’t have. He has wandered and, in the process, has wound his lead around a tree and some bricks stacked up in the corner. When the little chipmunk makes a dash from one flower bed to the next, Freddie tries to pounce on it. But he’s brought up short by a tangled lead and is five feet away from the little guy.

Not being a fan of chipmunk carnage, I’m delighted he can’t reach him. That doesn’t stop the longing. Freddie is alert, eyes boring into the spot the chipmunk once occupied. The chipmunk is long gone, but Freddie, being a firm believer in hope, still waits.

Until he manages to unwind himself, though, he’s going to be forever five feet away. It’s criminal on a day like today to be grasping for anything. It’s so perfect out here. A breeze, sun, birds, kids in the distance, waning cicadas. Yet he and I still grasp, still try to hold out for what we don’t have and won’t get.

I was in a meeting last week that devolved into a lengthy conversation about minutae. Typical of faculty meetings, I have to say. But I’d wound myself around frustration and irritation and was consumed with the desire to disappear or, better yet, make a few other people disappear.

On most days, I’m not a particularly irritable sort of person. But last Thursday I couldn’t have been more filled with that feeling. Consumed by it, and grasping at the same time for peace.

It isn’t that hard, at least not on good days, to turn my attention away or to turn my attention to something more constructive. Today, for instance, stuck on I-80 in interminable midday traffic, I just took an exit and meandered a back way home. I didn’t get home any sooner, but I got home more at peace.

For me, that is how acceptance acts and feels. It’s finding a different way of being in the world instead of tugging at the same leash where I’m caught up in frustration. It’s taking a deep breath and redirecting my attention.

Before my next meeting, I’m going to make a list of constructive, and non-hostile, phrases and sentences I can contribute that might help the conversation move along. I’m going to remind myself of the minutae that I get caught up in myself so that I’m more accepting.

In the meantime, I’ll unwind Freddie and take him inside where we can play with his toys.

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