Fear and other ramblings

November 3, 2011

The helmet pressed down on my head, feeling as cold as my insides. My fingers fumbled with the harness’ unfamiliar latches.
I’ve put on a harness before, I grumbled self-consciously—my eyes darting back and forth at my daredevil group members, expecting to be the last one to decipher the tangle of straps that dangle from my body.
I listen as couples on both sides of me excitedly chatter about the upcoming thrill and discuss the rest of their day, their children and other small nuances of their lives that only the other person shares.
And I desperately wish that I weren’t alone.
Longing for companionship is not something I’m used to feeling. Aloneness allows me to carry on a quiet, subdued, and orderly existence, yet, exciting when I choose it to be.
No listening to and nodding in sympathy at the empty conversations about shopping, dead-end jobs and small talk. Never having to put up with another person’s indistinguishable moods or wondering if he/she is having a good time.
Being alone, I’ve always felt, is far less exhausting.
But the reason for this, I have discovered, is because that premise is based on the assumption that I would be accompanied by people I don’t want to be with. Of course I am unconcerned with the woman in the grocery aisle complaining about the bad pedicure she received last week, and of course I roll my eyes when I hear two girls talking about their recent one-night stands. I don’t know them, and, frankly, the last thing I want to hear about is their stereotypical and oh-so-unimportant problems.
But, when it comes to someone I love, those feelings change. And suddenly, I’m interested.
Oh, if only I could be back in the 17th century with Jane Austen. She would know how I feel.
After all, she created Elizabeth, from Pride & Prejudice, who lamented, There are only a few people I care for and a far less of whom I actually respect.
Finding those special individuals is my constant quest.
So far, that group includes my small family and handful of friends—that handful being about the size of a toddler’s.
Such as my ever-supportive best friend who is getting married. And my selfless childhood friend halfway across the country who longs for a child.
My thoughts jolt abruptly to the slam of the door in the open-back jeep and the exhaust fumes settling in my nose complimented by a hint of evergreen. Leaves rain down in heavy bursts as I hobble from the vehicle under the weight of my life-saving gear, urging my flip-flopping stomach to calm itself.
I have done things far scarier than this. This is nothin’, I repeat silently.
But as I stare below, while being hoisted onto a barely-distinguishable wire, I shut my eyes and urgently search within myself for serenity.
I breathe in the rustic wood and fresh fall breeze that chills my nose and throat, and I jump.


paws of devotion

November 26, 2010

We humans think we are pretty smart. We create new technology; minimize our impact on our planet; buy local; feed the hungry; give money to a stranger; make safer vehicles.

But we don’t know it all, yet.

Everything around us can teach us something, if we let it. Including animals.

Any pet owner will attest to his/her pet’s undying loyalty.

My 11-year-old Schnauzer would take a bullet for me and my family, I’m sure of it.

But it’s not just loyalty to their human owners that makes them so worthy of praise but also their loyalty to each other. Even those outside of their kind.

I witnessed this intense connection once, between a Doberman and a tabby cat.

Simon the cat was displaying signs of increasing illness over the course of a few days. I could hear his meows of discomfort before I even entered his home for my daily pet-care visits.

Doby, the intimidating yet lovable Doberman, always met me at the door, thrilled to see a human face and even more ecstatic when we hit the pavement for a brisk walk.

As Simon’s pain continued, we decided to visit the vet.

Doby watched us go out the front door, Simon curled in my arms.

I can only imagine his mind confusedly wondering where his pal was headed. As I returned to the house, visit after visit, each time without Simon, Doby became increasingly agitated. And with me being the last one he saw with his missing buddy, he began to view me as less of a friend and more of a traitor.

Doby made his distaste clear by regularly tackling me during my visits. His agile body and powerful paws landing on my back–and sometimes my front–though with no intention of hurting me, I know. If he wanted to harm me, I had determined, there wasn’t much standing in his way. No, he was simply protesting his feelings in the only way he knew how.

I couldn’t tell him that Simon was not coming home, nor did I want to. This was something he would have to realize on his own. And if it meant I had to endure a few powerful pounces from a heavy-hearted, 80-pound wrestler, I was resolved to take it.

Doby’s affection for and loyalty to Simon ran deep and was not quickly tossed aside.

I can only hope that my bonds of friendship and family hold so tightly. How much happier the world would be if we all lived like Doby.