Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sometimes you are just going to step in it...

Life is funny. I don't consider myself to be a deep person, but I do think about things. I don't always do this in a normal way. My best thoughts happen in places like the shower, when I cut the grass, or like last week, when I run with my dog.

I started running for many reasons; it is good for me, it feels great (when I am done!), my dog Kona loves it, and it is better than slowly becoming a lump of human flesh that must be peeled from the sofa. Kona is probably the reason that I don't give up on it. I feel guilty when I don't run and she looks at me like she doesn't understand what she has done to be treated so terribly.

Last week I took Kona for a run, just like always, and things were great. I was running at a good pace, and Kona was focused on the run. It was just about sunrise. The sky was a wonderful light blue and the birds were making a glorious racket. It was very peaceful.

And then it happened. I am usually very aware of my surroundings. I like to say that it is due the intense martial arts training I went through when I was younger, but the truth is probably more like I keep my eyes down and look were I am going. In any case, I was not paying attention, and on the downward heel strike of my right foot I felt the unmistakable squishiness of dog pile.

It was too late. I stepped in it good but I just needed to keep on running. When I finished the run I found a sharp stick and sat down on the curb to clean up. Running shoes have deep groves, and at 5:50 in the morning I worked hard to dig out all of the offending excrement, while cursing my complete unawareness of my environment. My "Unagi" had failed me.

I should say that the dog pile I had run through was not my dog's special delivery, but some unknown canine assailant. My dog would never take care of business off of my property. I don't know why, but she is only happy going potty in my yard. I know some people with similar habits but she is the only dog that I have known to behave in such a way. As I cleaned the shoe I cursed the wretched beast who befouled my cool running shoes.

I promised myself that I would be more vigilant in the future and never make that mistake again. Promises are easy to make.

The next day we began our run and I carefully scanned the area ahead. Three quarters of the way through and I was feeling confident. It is important to note that I use a 6 foot leash, so Kona and I travel pretty close together. Kona was a little distracted, but I wasn't worried, until in mid stride she hunched up and assumed the position. Not only did I almost step in it, I almost tripped over her at the same time. Now, not only am I afraid that I will be spontaneously pooped upon, but I am really worried about landing on my face. Luckily my ninja like reflexes kicked in and I was able to spin and step safely away. To the untrained eye, it may have appeared to have been an awkward stumble with arms and legs flying around randomly, but it is my memory, and have the distinct impression of grace and agility in my moment of avoidance.

This is when I achieved my stunning moment of clarity and everything came together for me. I realized a few important things;

No matter how hard you try to avoid a mess, sometimes you can not miss it. And things can be worse than you anticipated. This is not to say that you shouldn't prepare for problems, but you should listen to the birds and enjoy them while you can.

Reality is not always the way we perceive it. The dog I cursed could very well have been my own spasmodic pooper.

Sometimes things just happen. Accept it and move on. Being upset over dog poop is ridiculous.

Learn to forgive. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and forgive others for theirs. The world is imperfect. Don't dwell on the bad things and look to assign blame. Is that really going to help get the puppy present out of your shoe?

Remembering all of these things now is easy. But the next time I get upset with myself, or anyone else, that will be my true test.

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