This morning at my cafe — the one I go to each morning — in a split second, one big dog lunged for one small dog and suddenly there were two upset dogs and two traumatized humans. The little dog was okay after shaking for a bit. The big dog was hauled off to a car after being scolded by the woman who happened to be dog sitting and was caught unaware of how to handle the situation. Her combination of apology and tears showed she was not quite sure how to handle what was happening. And the little dog’s mom was shaking in such a way that it was clear she was in shock. Actually, I think both humans were in shock. In a world where some are experiencing such big trauma, such a thing might seem trivial. But as I sat with the little dog’s mom, someone I know from years of seeing each other every morning, holding her as she held her little dog, placing pressure on her legs, just enough to ground the shaking, I saw and felt so much vulnerability in everyone involved. This human thing isn’t easy. And I take it this dog thing isn’t either — especially for dogs trying to exist in the heart of an energetically intense city. And I saw and felt how deeply we need to acknowledge the traumatic nature of our society and world.
We need each other. We need touch. We need care. We need to feel. We need to know we will be cared for by others when things get hard and that we have the capacity to be the ones who will do the caring when the time comes to care.
We need to act on our caring.
I was inside facing the window that looked out upon the corner where and when the big dog lunged for the little dog. I saw the little dog’s mom’s face cry out with fear and my body and heart responded instinctively by getting up, going outside, helping her to sit down, wrapping my arms around her, and placing my hands on her lovingly. Yes, I knew her so she trusted me already. And I knew to go gently and slowly. I knew she needed to feel held and grounded. I’ve done enough somatic work to know and yet in the immediacy of the moment, my instincts were what guided me.
We’ve been cut off from our instincts but now we need to rekindle them. We need to trust in our body’s wisdom. Our bodies know how to be with each other, especially if we allow ourselves to feel our innate compassionate nature and move from this. Our hearts know.
We must act on our caring.
As I sat with the little dog’s mom, we checked for blood and a wound. There was no blood drawn. No wound we could see.
The big dog’s woman sitter came over to apologize. Her eyes were filled with tears — a mixture of fear, sadness, shock, surprise, and a bunch of ‘what the hell do I do now’, she offered an apology, her hand shaking as it reached out toward but not all the way to. Her hand reached out toward us, not quite sure of what to do, then slowly made its way over toward me. At which point I reached out with my left hand and took hold of it. She softened, clearly needing touch, too.
Everyone needed touch. Reassurance. Connection. Dogs and humans, both.
Her eyes searched for reassurance. She received some and yet I sensed she needed more. Perhaps we needed more bodies, more hands to reach out and touch. More people to come over and simply be together. We were surrounded by people, but most sat and watched, their eyes reaching out with a look of ‘What do I do here?’, ‘How do I be here?’
I don’t have answers other than to feel, to act upon the caring your heart signals when it signals. To listen in the moment for how you might be needed. And to trust what you hear. To gauge what is needed by what you see and hear and feel and sense.
We are all trying to exist in a world that feels as if it is going madder and madder each day. And yet, we are here with capacities perhaps much greater than we know because they haven’t been tested until now. Perhaps it isn’t going madder. Maybe we are being offered the opportunity to grow into the fullness of our humanity.
Will I continue to act upon my caring when I don’t know the little dog’s mom? When the stakes are higher? When blood IS drawn, so to speak? When it is humans lashing out at humans? I intend for this to be so. I was deeply moved by what I witnessed this morning. In how we try to be here as best we can. And I know we have more inside of us dying to be offered even though we don’t yet trust in ourselves to give it.
I know I need you. But more importantly, I need to know I have something to give, something that in these moments makes a difference, in the everyday moments, when another needs something that only a human being can offer. I was fortunate to see that my instincts offered were graciously received and that in some small way the love I offered made a difference. This was the huge gift I was given. The love that came through me knew what was needed. I was the one, though, that had to act for it to do so.
Will we act upon our caring when we don’t know how to but know we must?