Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hops in the Right Direction: What Happens When You're Not Looking

No, the title isn't a Weeping Angels reference.  (Well, it only is if you get it.)  Rather, so much growth occurs when you're not actively working towards it.

This week, I've been thinking about the adult I wanted to be when I was a little girl.  I wanted to be confident and have a decent job that funded the continuing adventures I wanted to have.  I wanted to be successful on my own terms and eventually be able to cut the financial cord between my parents and me.  I wanted to be satisfied with who I had become.  Pets, family, and great friends were a necessity, of course--and I wanted them to be satisfied with the person I'd become, too.  And sure, I wanted a bit of romance.  Who doesn't?

It occurred to me:  I've got that life.  Out of all the economic hardships, dumb choices, and plain ol' drama, somehow I ended up somewhere good.  And I think it started happening when I stopped worrying about it so much.

Let's back track a bit.  When I was in high school, I got sick.  Really, really sick.  At one point, my prognosis was, "Don't expect to see the end of college."  Obviously, it was a turning point for me--if I had a limited amount of time, I was going to fucking make the most of it.  Valedictorian?  Check.  Study abroad?  Check.  First complete manuscript by age twenty-two?  Check.  Fall in love?  Check.  I got an apartment and a full-time job right out of college, because I needed to prove I could do it.  I joined everything:  choirs, sports teams, theater groups, dance groups, bowling teams, pie parties, writers groups...  If it had anything to do with anything I was the least bit interested in, I signed up.  How can you experience everything life has to offer if I don't experience everything life has to offer?  I had a bad case of DO ALL THE THINGS.

Controlling every moment of my time gave me a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  It made me feel like I was going somewhere.  That feeling has lasted years after my illness went into remission and I was told I should have a normal, long life.


What the hell does this have to do with Prada and tripods?  I'm getting there, I promise.

As I said, I only realized I was where I wanted to be when I stopped working so hard for it--my single-minded goal-setting had blinded me to the goals I was actually achieving.  I needed to stop and smell the roses, as it were.

I needed to let Prada do the same.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I was training the bejeezus out of her.  We've taken four 6 week training courses in the last year and a half, and we practice several times a week, not every day.  But I have had a mental list of the things I want her to accomplish, in the order I want her to accomplish them.  A lot of the places I take her to, I take her to with the assumption that she will have some experience, and I want her to experience ALL THE THINGS.  In order.  By my mental list.

Sometimes, I'm kind of dumb.  Sometimes, I need to just let things happen in their own time

As long as I've had her, Prada has refused to eat or drink out of any dish deep and narrow enough that she had to sort of stick her head in it to get the food or water.  I bought wide, shallow dishes for her, and put that fear way down on my list of things to accomplish with her.  Getting her to heel nicely, sit properly, and wait politely were clear priorities for me, followed shortly by getting her used to surfaces other than the carpet she prefers.  When we travelled, I brought or scavenged a dish that would accomodate her fear.  It was something I (mostly) remembered to consider when taking her places--I couldn't depend on a Prada-friendly dish of water even at a dog-friendly event.

And then, at the rally event we went to, Prada got thristy when I had left her with my parents to run an errand.  (Okay, I had to pee.)  Without even thinking about it or making a fuss or balking at all, she shoved her head all the way into Linka's very deep, very narrow water dish.  And drank.

I like to think I've been pretty good about adapting the way I train to the way Prada learns.  Now I need to learn that I don't need to teach her everything.  Some things, she will learn without my interference.  Some of it is just going to happen, probably when I'm not looking.

And that will give us more time to just enjoy each other, which is kind of perfect.

(True:  I still have lots of goals  Long-term, I need to find an agent for that manuscript I wrote back when I was 22.  Short-term, I need to do my laundry.  Unless some helpful reader wants to offer to do it for me?)


  1. I'd do it for you Dana but shipping it to Washington and back could be problematic. LOL!

    1. Well, it was worth a shot. Maybe my mom will take pity on me. :)