Seems like most of us were eager to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. But, as my cousin, a therapist, wisely reminds us, our lives don’t change automatically by turning the page on a calendar.
So, New Years Resolutions aside, while actions cement change, the process begins with perspective, I think.
One of the most interesting changes I’ve witnessed over the past two years is my dog, Hope. Yes, my dog. (Frankly, dogs are some of the best “people” I know.) Hope entered our family more than 11 years ago as dog #4. Hope is a submissive dog by nature. She didn’t engage a whole lot with Britt and me. After all, there were three other dogs to compete with… or, in her case, acquiesce to. If I began to pet her, her tail would thump and dog #3, Naomi, would hear it and come running and Hope would promptly leave my presence. All dogs live in the moment, but Naomi made a science out of it. We called her Little Miss Stop and Fast; the most impulsive dog I’ve ever met. Over the years, one by one, the dogs passed. A year and a half ago, we lost our dear Naomi. For the first time in 22 years, Britt and I were down to just one dog. But, we reasoned that, if any dog could handle it, it was Hope since she didn’t seem to require much attention or engagement. I would miss it, though. After 22 years of dog cuddles and being shadowed all over the house (especially by the Dober dogs), I would have to adjust.
But I didn’t.
Hope has more than exceeded my hopes and expectations. She is now an awesome cuddler. She is my #1 workout buddy. She is my constant companion. This once incredibly timid dog has become calm, but confident. Earlier this week, hiking at Cincinnati Nature Center, she had her first chance at age 11 to cross a running stream on a trail. She boldly crossed without apprehension and I told her how proud I was.
I’m proud of her… and a little ashamed of myself. Why did I expect so little of her after Naomi died? Clearly, she had been patiently biding her time and all she needed was opportunity and encouragement to blossom into a true “velcro dog.”
I wonder if my way of seeing Hope may have limited her. And I have to wonder how often I do that with people. Right now, we are such a divided nation. My denomination is divided. Many families are divided. But, what might change if we began to see one another differently, adjusted our perspective? What if we began to assume (rightly) that we all have the capacity to evolve? Will everyone react like Hope and rise to meet the challenge? Of course not. But even if just a few of us can grow along the way, it’ll be a better 2021.
Happy New Year.