Getting a dog was the first step in creating the life I wanted (I’ll detail in another post all the highs and lows of puppy ownership), but this wasn’t about the act of adopting a puppy—it was about the act of decision making as part of a creative step towards the life I wanted.
That sounds like nonsense, it sounds exceedingly dramatic for the simply act of getting a dog. I know. I detest self-help dribble.
This action just so happened to be getting a dog, but it could’ve been any number of things. It could’ve been something as small as cutting my hair, something as big as quitting my job. It was giving myself the power to make a choice despite the warnings of everyone else because the vision I had for my life was now more important than their judgements. And there were A LOT of warnings; from people telling me it was a downright stupid idea, to questioning my ability to care for a dog, to wondering how it would impact my job performance—they came from numerous sources, and I listened to them for a long time.
These arguments were important. Telling yourself that you are going to start living the life you want right now, giving yourself the permission to engage in an action of creation, does not mean you get to blow off everyone else’s concern and input. On the one hand, it is important that you listen and give weight to the people that are close to you. You need to have the strength to come up with your own argument, your own reasoning—and there’s no better exercise than responding to others judgement and concern. This will only cement your desire to act out of your own will.
On the other hand, there are times when other’s insight is valuable. In fact, almost anything anyone close to you says is going to have some truth to it, and it would bode you well to listen. This doesn’t mean you have to accept it in totality, but that you can listen and appreciate their reasoning. Again, this will only further strengthen your own resolve.
It took me two years to finally make the leap and adopt a dog. To be honest, I wasn’t ready before. I was too consumed with my career, too consumed with status, too consumed with appeasing everyone that I knew. I had no time to care about a puppy. Those arguments were good for me to hear, good for me to take a step back and recognize that at that moment, the truth in them outweighed my need to take action.
Eventually, I had enough. Had enough of where my life was taking me, who I was becoming. Had enough of other’s judgements. Had enough of being too afraid of what I wanted to make a change.
So, I bought a puppy.
The puppy needed exercise, so I started hiking again.
I had to make choices on what to do with my time, as anyone in the midst of puppyhood will understand.
I began to question the value I get from the relationships I have. Most of these relationships revolved around one thing: drinking. As I told my group of friends I couldn’t go out, the backlash was intense. They couldn’t understand that I didn’t have time to spend a night getting wasted and two days to recover. They felt personally attacked, and I was able to see our relationships clearly for what they are for the first time.
Many of these friends came from my job, and yep, I began to question that too. This job was started right out of college. It was supposed to be a one year stint while I saved money for the Appalachian Trail. And now where was I? Three years into a sales role, fully immersed into the culture of alcoholism and harassment. And so, I quit the job too.
Seems like a lot to stem from a dog. And there are many, many dog owners who will absolutely say that their relationship with their animal has changed their life forever. But that’s not what this is about. It’s so obvious to me now: when you finally, intentionally, take that first step of creation; when what you want veers away from the grooves life has worn out for you, everything that doesn’t fit will begin to fall away. Just like that. So yes, it’s a lot to come from owning a dog, but it’s what to be expected, whatever the action might be, when you finally trust enough in your own vision to move forward.