For the next several blog entries, my dog Lucy will be taking over. She will also be answering questions in the comments. I’ll check back in soon after I’ve completed a project that needs focus. Thanks so much for understanding. Best, Don.
I came from a litter of Labs and I was the only brown one. My brothers were all black, and we lived in the woods by waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. We lived in a cabin and we lived in the kitchen of the cabin. We lived on a blanket in the kitchen at first, and then when my mother left we lived on a towel, me and my brothers. We slept mostly, all together like one animal, as though we were still my mother. We became my mothers parts when we were hungry, and went out across the tile floors toward the food, which sat a cold earth away next to a silver bowl of water. There was a board that kept us in the kitchen but it didn’t matter. The kitchen was the whole world and there wasn’t a map to the world. It smelled like wood and cats, like water from the creeks, like grass, like oil and like soap. I missed my mother. Everything is very hard when you get born.
Don came at seven weeks. I knew a couple people before I knew Don, but I only knew them with my brothers and we competed for them. I liked their hands. They smelled like butcher shops and candy stores. They smelled like garbage sacks and old socks. They smelled like leather.
Don took us all into the living room where there was a couch and a table and some newspapers, and he sat on the floor with us. My brothers wanted to wrestle each other, but I wanted to smell Don’s hands. He’d eaten a turkey sandwich with tomato and relish. I licked his hands. He was wearing a fleece and his neck tasted like chicken. I wanted to eat his fingers and I wanted to live inside his fleece.
I was very scared. In the car I was scared and I crawled onto his lap. I don’t know how I knew he was safe but I knew. I fell asleep and woke up and cried and moved myself onto the floor of the car, next to his feet. I couldn’t stay awake for long. It was all terrifying.
I know now that was the day I was picked and being picked is a beautiful thing. But I also know beautiful things are frightening. When something beautiful happens it’s sometimes like an amputation, like your heart is being cut out with a knife. You don’t ever think when you are in extreme pain that you are being saved, chosen, picked for relationship, set aside to be loved. You can never really believe pain. It’s almost always something beautiful transitioning to something better, the whole time masquerading as a tragedy.
It doesn’t do any good to question life. I’m at the mercy of forces I trust, a whole world of systems that are out of my control. And I’m fine with that. I don’t even think about it. Thinking about it would make the pain cryptic, rather than just what it is, dark colors in a painting of a bright muse. If I had the ability to think about it, I’d create systems of false security so I wouldn’t go crazy. I’d actually convince myself that, to some degree, I was the master of my own destiny. I’d block my conscious mind from considering the brevity of life, or my pending death, or my seeming insignificance in the endless cosmos. If you could think about things objectively, the only way you could actually stay sane would be to become the center of your own universe, rather than a character in a grand epic, going around charting delightful smells, feeling fear as a reference for security, or pain as a reference for pleasure, enjoying all the scents God made in an effort to bond.