My dog is here, just there by my feet. If given the opportunity that is where he always is, by my feet, as if we are tethered. Unconsciously I reach down from time to time to scratch his knuckle head (To reassure myself that he is still just there) and frequently I am rewarded with a sigh of contentment or a sandpaper kiss that leaves a streak of foul smelling slime on the back of my hand, but that doesn’t matter, not to either of us. He is all the things great dogs are: loyal, happy, joyful, satisfied, content and easily loveable. While these are great traits to have whether you are a dog or a person, what matters is that he is there for me and I for him. Neither of us must face the world’s challenges by ourselves.
We fill a need for each other. I get company in the most lonely and desolate places of my life and he gets dinner without having to exert the effort of bringing down a wild elk. (I’m thinking I have the better end of the deal) But this relationship goes much deeper than that. Dare I say it? I must; it is as deep as love. Unconditional, not unrequited, whole hog, lick-your-face and whip your tail; love, and isn’t that what we all want? To feel tied inexplicably to something else that exists in this world with us, to share the journey, to feel anchored and rooted and not adrift and alone, to have something or someone else that can sympathize with how hard this journey can be some days.
Isn’t that connectedness what really matters in lifea? Isn’t that connectedness what love really is? Its not flat screen TV’s and Bose stereos, computers or flip-phones. These things can give the illusion that you don’t journey alone. They can make a lot of noise, sure, and they can fill the empty minutes, but these things have no connection. Where’s the sand-paper kiss? Where’s the uncontrollable whole body wag of joy when you walk into the room? Where’s the love?
We all need love to thrive. Survival is food, clothing, shelter, but to truly make it in this universe we all must love and be loved by someone or something. It opens our hearts. It balloons our minds. It makes pockets in our souls and expands within us, so that there is always more room for one more.
As a teacher I try to be that loved one for so many people because I see everyday what just a little bit of love can do for a person. It expands their world as it expands my own. I try to be just like the knucklehead, just there, tethered inexplicably by our shared experience. You are never alone. That snoring you hear by your feet; that’s the sound of love. Feel free to scratch my knuckle head.
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