Last week I was driving to the studio to teach a morning class. As I was waiting at a stoplight, an older woman was crossing the street with three large dogs. Big dogs! I have a black lab and all three were bigger than my dog so just their presence was notable. As this unlikely quartet was about halfway across the street, the last of the three dogs stopped in his tracks. The woman pulled hard on the leash. I could see the leash tight and taut. But the dog was not budging. Then she walked back a few steps, grabbed his collar and pulled. Not one of his paws moved an inch. I realized the light was about to change, traffic would be coming in her direction. I wondered what she would do. Apparently she took the path of least resistance. Without further ado, she turned around and went back the way she had come. No pleading, no coaxing, no cajoling…..just went back to the curb.
That little encounter has had me both laughing and thinking for days now. I wonder if sometimes I am like that dog, digging in my heels and refusing to cross to the other side. The “other side” might be a new challenge, a change of direction on a path, a different way of doing something. It could be something really great is on the other side but some days I’m just not interested; I don’t want to change. Period. And no amount of tugging, pulling or pushing is going to get me there any quicker.
Other times I wonder more about the other side. What was it that kept that dog’s paws planted so firmly. Was he afraid of something? Or was there something at home that he wanted to get back to even more than a good walk? Or was it the idea of a new path that had him refusing any forward movement?
Then, sometimes I think about that woman. Gray hair, a bit hunched over, seemingly far too small in stature to be handling three big dogs. But there she was. Did she admit defeat in turning around and going back? Did she show compassion for the dog who had other ideas or needs? Or was there wisdom in taking the path of least resistance? Maybe she knew another way to get to their destination that didn’t entail crossing four lanes of traffic.
Do you ever notice that you’ve dug in your heels and don’t want to move forward? Those moments can tend to be black and white, this way or that way. But maybe there is more to it. Maybe we need to give ourselves permission to move forward in spite of fear, confusion and uncertainty. Or maybe we need to give ourselves permission to go back to the curb and wait until the moment is right. No one knows for sure except you but maybe those moments are good opportunities to take time to reflect about what is going on …..but don’t get hit by a car while you do it!