Choose kindness

I have a 12-year-old dog. She is a gorgeous Labrador. Two years ago, she had a paralytic attack and lost movement in the back legs. Slowly with therapy and medication she fought her way back to walking. A little while ago, she had some trouble again; but if you see her sitting down or sleeping you will not be able to tell. She is one of the happiest, kindest, most loving souls I have ever met. Her tail is a whacking device she uses often when she meets strangers or loved ones.

We take short bathroom breaks outside the house a few times a day. Walks are not really possible because she has to be assisted even for short distances. We always sit down below the house for half-an-hour or so after our evening walk. The footpath is wide enough for both of us. The weather is usually pleasant and sitting down is a good unwinding session for me. She watches the vehicles go by, her street friends come visit us and we sit in silence. Occasionally, people stop by, pet her and talk to the dis-interested human sitting with her (mostly me or my dad).

Off late, I hate most of the people stopping by (with a vengeance). They offer their priceless nuggets of wisdom each time. I have forgotten how many times people found it necessary to tell me, “Your dog is in great pain. You must put her to sleep.” There is that extended stress on the must. Like a doctor advising the terminally ill. I don’t always have the time, patience or energy to explain to them that I would know this far sooner than they would. My dog, though very old, has a spirit to live that I cannot always explain in words. I usually snort and drag her back inside. “We do not need this negativity,” I tell her. I wonder if people offer my dog this wisdom. If they don’t maybe I should consider wearing a grumpier, more intimidating face.

Layla has never really complained about the pain she is in. But we as a family have always known and rushed to her aid. We have done doctor visits, stayed up odd hours and been there for her in the myriad of ways each of us is usually there for her. But it isn’t really about that. This whole unsolicited advice has gotten me thinking. How easily do we hand out advice to others? Their advice doesn’t make me question how I treat my dog because I know I care very, very much. (In fact I perhaps have a serious case of separation anxiety right now because I am leaving her for a few months.) But it hurts me. It hurts that we as a society don’t always think about the harm we might be causing. How little we have begun to think before making these well-meaning, concerned statements. Or that we are somehow experts in this matter and know that death is the only way. This is obviously not a one-off experience. I have friends who have been offered such advice too. We brush it off and move on. It seems to be a pattern especially with ageing, sick dogs. I don’t want to be crude and draw a comparison on when else would anyone offer such advice. But it upsets me.

So, I want to send out a message into the universe. Hoping that people would think before they callously utter these words. Without realising that the family is already well aware about the short life that dogs live. They are grappling with the sheer magnitude of such a loss. They are willing to do as much as possible to ease their dog’s pain. They are more uncomfortable seeing their dog in pain than anyone else. They are already doing the best they can. So if you ever encounter someone with an old dog: Let the dog shower love on you. Pet him/her. Whisper lovely things about treats and flowers. Leave a little happier.

Choose kindness.

Don’t. Talk. About. Euthanasia.

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Lessons

I have been in therapy for a while now. After much difficulty, I was able to find a therapist who I could be vulnerable with. I did not realise earlier that one of my problems was I wasn’t being honest in my sessions. Even to myself. I needed to be honest and allow her to ask questions which will in turn help me. I believed that the best process for me was when I was asked questions that encouraged me to introspect my behaviour/reaction and hopefully hold my hand through the chaos.

During this year of on and off sessions (mostly cause I slink back into ostrich mode), I found out that I had a lot of accumulated baggage. These were my triggers for anxiety, panic and depression. I had trouble identifying and dealing with the triggers. Much of our work together was in helping me deal better and in turn being the best version of myself.

Some days, I deal with triggers of past trauma or pain very well. I know to breath, to gradually untangle the mess and to work on the negativity. On days like today, everything feels like a trigger and overwhelms me. Most of the trouble arises from my own high expectations.

I am still working through this but my most important lesson might be to be kinder to myself.

Be kind to self.

Tech vs. asking

Everybody keeps telling me these days how it is so much easier to travel with smart phones. You don’t need to know the language. You don’t even have to interact too much with people, unless you need the Wi-Fi password. Needless to say smart phones and the Internet have made travel much easier. You know what to expect in a strange land. You know the best places to go to eat. You know what you will need to carry to have a pleasant trip. But everytime someone rattles on about how great and easy it has become, I’m reminded of a trip A and I took to Pondicherry. I was eager to go to this great pizza place that everyone was raving about where I could sit back and enjoy a glass of wine and pizza. I typed the name of the restaurant into google maps and followed the high-pitched lady’s instructions. “Turn right. Walk 300ms.”

We turned and we walked. We turned and we walked. At this point I was certain we were walking around in circles. A was optimistic so we dragged on. After a while, she exclaimed with delight, “you’ve reached your destination. It is on the left.”

In that dark road, we both stood silently for two seconds before we burst into loud laughter. On our left was a huge dustbin.

As much as I am a huge advocate for technology, I know to not depend on it too much. Sometimes it oh so innocently leads you to a dustbin. We could have asked someone for directions to that restaurant, I am sure. But in that moment we decided to just walk into another one and have a (shitty) meal.

(We did debate for a while though that maybe the dustbin had a Diagon Alley like entrance. Who knows right?)

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We walked down a crowded street.

The hustle and the honks

made hearing very difficult.

She refused to hold my hand,

her mood was crankier than ever.

She kept looking out in the distance,

She looked exasperated or bored.

I asked her, “What’s up with you today?”

She replied, “I want some pie to eat.”

I heard the last bit as ‘lie to meet’.

The noisy streets made my hearing weak,

so instead of checking again,

I apologised profusely,

over and over again.

She stared at me blankly

till we reached the end of the street.

There she found a bakery.

She dragged me in and

ordered some pie.

I watched her gobble it up.

I asked her what she had told at home?

She said, “I said I am out with you”

“But why do you ask.  So suddenly that too.”

“Then why did you say you lied?” I asked

She looked at me bewildered.

She pointed at her plate and exclaimed,

“I just said I wanted some pie!”

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

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It was our first date and we decided to watch a movie.

Movies weren’t awkward. There were no pressures to keep the conversation going. So, we bought popcorn, 2 brownies and 2 large cold drinks. Thank god he didn’t like sharing either. Mid way through the movie, popcorn came flying at me. Throughout the otherwise boring movie, I only ate the popcorn that he threw at me. Something told him, I would find it funny and I did. A lot changed in our lives, but our little popcorn routine stuck around. It felt intimate to me.

When friends came to watch movies with us, they called us juvenile. But I found it romantic, back then and even now.

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A pair of black, thick rimmed glasses were on the floor of the train in the aisle of my seat.

Who abandoned their glasses on the floor, I thought. Someone must have dropped it, accidentally. I picked it up and placed it on the tray table, sat down in my seat. I plugged in my mp3 player as the train began to move. Its pace picked up and I sunk into the comfort of my music and chair.

Several songs later, I opened my eyes to notice the glasses were on the floor again. I picked it up and placed them back on the tray table. They probably fell when the train braked I thought. I went back to my music. I had a two-hour long journey ahead of me. I can easily catch a little sleep. I must have drifted off for ten odd minutes. When I woke up the glasses were on the floor. I placed the glasses, again, on the table; this repeated for a while till I decided to get away from them in order to not be bothered by them anymore.

I moved a few seats away to a window seat and collapsed into it. The music went back to colouring my thoughts. A while later, my phone buzzed, indicating we were a little outside Brussels. I got up to move towards the nearest door. I passed the tray table where I had placed the glasses. To my surprise, the glasses were neither on the table nor on the floor. I knelt to look under the seat and under the nearby seats. The glasses were not there. I was the only one in the entire compartment. Who took them? The glasses weren’t mine; I didn’t wan to take them. But I couldn’t fathom their sudden disappearance.

The train halted and I rushed to the door to get down. Cool breeze washed over me, the music went back to lifting my soul. Yet, I couldn’t forget those black, thick rimmed glasses on the floor of the train. Where did they go?

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I enjoy happiness so rarely in retrospect. I remember the physical and emotional scars well enough, with details, for long periods of time. But happiness feels like a fleeting moment in my short life. And how untrue that is!

Today, I revisited my wonderful trip to France triggered by a memory of a random walk in a park where we saw a Gandhi statue. Then I went back to my post about Paris and I realised I had missed this and many other high moments of that trip. Including describing the sheer joy of visiting Shakespeare and Co. How does one ensure that these memories or moments help define us? The happy, elated, ecstatic ones? Not merely the bitter, angry and sullen ones. Pain and loss have a remarkable way of shaping us. I know this well and I wouldn’t change how those moments have changed me. But happiness or even not-sad moments have much to teach; I have much to learn from them. For instance, to hold onto these moments. To remember that it defines me as much as the low points. To realise that these highs bring meaning to my life.

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Great magic and hope hides

in bookstores. See

not the ones in malls.

But ones with personality.

 

The ones with creaking shelves,

and cracks of light seeping in.

With romantic corners of old classics

for sneaky couples to hide in.

 

The ones that tell a story,

or if you are lucky many stories.

Stores that you prefer

to even your home that is cosy.

 

The ones that fill you

with a great desire,

to sit down and scribble

till you collapse tired.

 

Stores full of potential

and inspiration.

I hope to own one, though

a library it must be.

 

Stores isolate many, here

Not a soul will be turned away,

poor or rich, straight or gay,

but they must read and write, everyday.

 

It sounds like a dream,

maybe it will never come true,

till then, we could all just visit

stores and libraries,

to fill us with immense hope.

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Thunder and lightning

echoed

raw and clear,

my dark shadows

also disappeared.

Dangerous path

to the top;

unsafe, lonely

frightful, it was.

Everyone scattered

hiding from their fear.

Stranded alone,

I stared at the

steep road ahead.

Skeptical and decisive.

Definite and unsure.

I know not

what awaits me,

on such a haunted,

hunted path.

So, I left fear and

fear of failure,

at the bottom itself,

and walked on.

 

Hint from: Magpie Tales: 188