Dog Wait

The winters were rough, and even the brightest of the bright colours looked gray. The landscape transformed in the last one month. The same roads and streets I walked during the snowy days, look very different now. Something catches my eye, and I usually make arbitrary stops to make a picture. Sometimes I notice something but don’t bother to wait, and that thing calls me back to make its portrait. From a distance, it looks like someone had spread thick green carpets on all the available open plots. Hoards of wild dandelions grew out of nowhere and make random patterns on the green rugs. When its windy and they move like yellow waves of a green sea. The complete lack of structure in the way dandelions appear is fascinating, and instead of photographing the scene, I like to remember it. But all these colourful scenes will not last long. Mother nature will transition into yet another long, freezing, and aesthetically minimalistic all-gray winter. I plan to absorb as much colour as I can in the next four months.

Proving the weather report right, today the sun is shining, smiling, and warm. Some people are jogging, walking their dogs, or humouring themselves with worldly affairs. The flowers are busy blooming, the sparrows are tweeting together, and I could hear distant voices of children playing. As I walked past a café, the gentle wind brought the fresh smells of coffee and sweet bread to me. Yes, it is a beautiful day, indeed. I was particularly glad to see the absence of mobile phones from my view. People were actually talking to each other in-person. The type of talk where we look into each other’s eyes to communicate and laugh and cry. The rare kind.

As I continued to walk, I saw a small house with a red door. It is a typical house with a lawn and a white picket fence. Wooden stairs lead to the entrance, and I noticed a few garden tools, a water container and a few toys next to the stairs. A small fluffy dog on a leash was tied to a pole. It was a pretty long leash so that the dog can move around if it wishes to. But, the dog sat there in silence. Maybe the dog is enjoying the sun and contemplating life, like me. To my shock and surprise, the quietness disappeared hastily as the little creature started barking, and ran towards me, continuing its incessant shouting. My startled consciousness paused for a moment and wondered why the dog was yelling at me unnecessarily. Go bark at yourself, you silly animal.

If not for the leash and the fence, the dog would have jumped on me and undoubtedly gotten a taste of my brown flesh. Sounds terrible. As far as I know, I was minding my own business and did not do anything that deserved a barking. It was pointless to continue to stand in that spot, so I started walking. The stupid dog kept yelling at me, as I crossed their house, and probably barked till my silhouette disappeared into thin air. Unfortunately, the barks faintly rang in my ears for the next few hours. It was as if that fluffy dog was following my thoughts wherever I went but maintaining a 20ft distance. Overall, it spoiled the excellent mood I was in and interrupted my pleasant experience on a nice day.

Why did the dog bark-at-me? I asked myself.

The dog did not like me walking on the street or going past its owner’s house. The did not like the way I appeared. It was barking because it is a dog, and all it does is eat, poop, and shout. Perhaps it was only trying to communicate something and did not realize that I don’t speak dog. Or, maybe it was mad at something and took its frustration off by baking. What if, in my previous life, the dog was a human being and I was a dog; and, its taking revenge because I once barked at him? It is imaginative but possible that the dog was miserably screaming for help and pleading me to rescue it from its villainous owner. No, that can’t be. This little animal appeared cute, but I’m sure it is the real villain of my story. The dog may have its reasons, but I do not understand those. Because of what it did, my day was ruined.

Did the dog wreck my day in actuality? Another question popped up in my head.

Not really. Let’s go back to the beginning for a moment. I started my day, thinking and expecting it to be a nice day. In my childhood, the best day of my life would be full of chocolate icecreams, kites with long tails, schools without teachers, and a world full of magic. Unfortunately, I grew up hurriedly to be an adult, and my thoughts and dreams have evolved (I do question this, but will keep it for a different story). Today, my imagination of a ‘nice day’ has experiences of a warm touch of shining sun, sweet aromas of flowers and perfumes, tastes of mouthwatering foods, and sights of picture-perfect moments. It did not include mundane disasters like rude people, traffic jams, and it definitely did not include ‘being-barked-at.’ The list neither has uncommon catastrophes like snakebites, being abducted by aliens or getting murdered by possessed dolls. In summary, my own definition of a nice day ruined my day.

Wow! The dog taught me a life lesson.

A perfectly normal and natural dog bark should not and cannot ruin my day; and, neither should newspaper headlines, or angry customers, or yelling managers, or assholes in general. While a dog has its dog reasons to bark, a manager has his or her non-human agenda to spew. Either way, the dog and the manager knew that they are on a leash, and they also knew that I won’t jump over the fence to counterattack. Because of this unfortunate but true instinct or authority, they do what they please. Okay! Thanks for your wisdom, I guess. Should I, therefore, be non-reactive and emotionally static to any of these ‘being-barked-at’ episodes?

If someone or something ruins my mood or day, I am used to reacting with anger, sadness, disappointment, and/or a mix of unpleasant emotions. Depending on the importance, intensity, and gravity of the situation, I react in various degrees. The reactions may range from a resting-bitchface to a vicious beating to a potential possibility of ending up in a dingy-dark-moist-infested prison to die. Sure, morbid, but I could do that. Or, instead of ruining my day, I could simply alter my usual spontaneous response of “being severely affected” to a more tedious and slow response of “you look so cute when you bark, and I’m happy to wait until you are done being adorable.” Of course, it is sarcastic, but it is also efficient. This boring method does not offer the same, ooh! the sensual feeling of jumping on an adventure to satisfy my ego, type of adrenal rush. Neither, this method stops assholes from being assholes. What it does is that it ‘indefinitely delays myself from turning into an asshole.’

Absorb the communication and be present. Observe the behaviour and psyche of the objects, and the subjects in question (including self). Finally, respond afterthought.

Whether the dog or the manager or the alien intended to ruin my day, it is my response to them, that decides how the rest of the day goes. Btw… intended or not, assholes are assholes. Absorb-Observe-Respond may not always work, as it does not apply to all circumstances. Practicing it on a day-to-day basis, of course, it helps. However, certain situations demand a quick response, and we should be aware of when to contemplate, and when to run or sucker punch.

Whether it is delayed gratification or delayed emotional response, the ‘delay’ brings the control back to us. No more, we will feel that external factors decide how nice our day should be. Every delay is a tremendous opportunity to relook at our own definitions of nice, ugly, great, awful, awesome, and all the wonderful descriptions we wrote in our spiritual dictionary. Because it is none other than ‘delay’ that teaches us one of the most essential life skill called ‘waiting.’

Santosh Korthiwada

May 27, 2019

Edmonton, Canada

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