I once knew this dog named Willie. She learned at age 4 things that I still can’t comprehend at age 30. I believe animals understand the fundamentals in the snap of a finger, and I believe the rest of us are truly lucky if we even get remotely as close.
One summer evening, several friends and I were at Willie’s mommy’s house. We were outside having hamburgers. A few of the more agile guys decided to play an informal game of baseball. James was up to bat. On his second strike he failed to take note of little Willie walking behind him. He accidentally struck her in the side with the bat. A terrifying yelp came from inside of her. She instantly ran inside of the house, up the stairs, down the hall and onto her mommy’s bed, where she stayed quivering the remainder of the evening. James felt terrible and wanted to formally apologize to her, but Willie’s mommy insisted it would be best if he didn’t, that it would only traumatize her even more. The evening ended fairly well. No one was seriously injured, and no hard feelings were felt, at least between the humans.
James and Willie never saw each other again for a very long time, mainly due to James’s
moving out of state to pursue career goals. He had returned home several times to visit family and friends, however, it was three years after the baseball accident in which James’s decided to pay a visit to Willie’s mommy. He pulled into Willie’s mommy’s driveway and stepped out of the car. And of course, we all know what dogs do when they hear the sound of a car door. Willie briefly stared at the living room wall which faced the direction of the driveway, her ears perked attentively. She then ran to the living room window to inquire as to who the visitor was. She saw James walking up the driveway.
Willie’s ears slowly sunk to the sides of her head. Her demeanor caved in on herself and her tail curled in. She steadily climbed up the stairs, trotted down the hall and hopped onto her mommy’s bed, where she stayed quivering the remainder of the day.
Willie remembered the pain associated with that figure walking up the driveway. Years had passed. Seasons had passed. Many visitors and friends have come and gone. And Willie remembered all of the pain, simply from catching a small glimpse of a figure through a thin living room curtain. She knew what this figure represented in her life. She knew this figure could not be trusted. She knew this figure could do nothing but harm her. She knew she must protect herself. She knew she must hide in a place that was safe. She knew she must get as far away as possible from the source of the pain that once hurt her. She knew she must be smart about what she did this time. I wish I could be as smart as Willie.
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