The hair of the dog
It’s sitting right here on my desk, the unsent letter to the IRS. I thought to write it because, well, they might appreciate an explanation as to why we haven’t paid our taxes and might not yet for awhile. Then I was out riding my bike and found a little dog by the side of the road, obviously struck by a car and left there to suffer. Two other women witnessed her as well right in front of their professional office, and were ready only to call the humane society, who would have promptly put her down. They didn’t want to soil their hands with her, and barked suggestions from afar when I gently took her tiny head into my hands and gazed into her frightened eyes. Their excuse was ‘no money, no time,’ which I could have claimed with equal vigor. Yet my decision was made with a clear head, and when I phoned my husband, he was immediately in accord that we would do whatever we could. Of course.
No collar, no chip, loaded with fleas and formerly nursing a litter of pups somewhere in her recent past, this small being is barely a year old, give or take a couple of months. One thing led to another and we are trying to coax the little creature back to health, if such a thing can even be expected. She has yet to put any weight on her two hind legs but seems to have some feeling in them, though the vet says only time will tell. There remains a stack of papers to file, floors strewn with our other two dogs’ hair and dishes in the sink. And then there are the unpaid bills in a stack roughly equal to the file-worthy one.
Life changes on a dime, and those of us willing to be open and prepared to encounter the unpredictable are living it. The rest is just memorization, not really participation. And if sometimes that which inserts itself into our comfort zone feels overwhelming, this is the stuff of living – not the papers, the corporate demands, the manic housecleaning. Life supporting life as it does in nature, with no expectation of result. Death occurs every moment, and the symphony of creation is not ours to conduct. We can only play our part when the music is set in front of our noses, sometimes last minute, often without rehearsal. There is a fundamental rightness in this, a prioritizing of values that streams into the foreground like a runner breaking ribbon – and though there might ever be a close second, there’s rarely a tie – even if the first squeaks past by only a hair.