Having been a dog trainer since 2006, I could proclaim to be a Master of my trade due to my years of experience. However, over the past 6 weeks, I’ve had defining moments that challenged every ounce of my knowledge, experience, and emotions. They reinforced my belief that I am no Master.
While sitting on a cold tile floor of a veterinarian’s Quiet Room, I gently stroked the head of a dog, Luigi, that lied comfortably on a bed of blankets and waited and waited for the doctor to enter the room. Luigi’s previous owners surrendered him because of behavioral issue. I agreed to take him in, and rehabilitate him.
“I’m sorry boy. I know you don’t deserve this fate. I know you’ve only been with us for three weeks, but they were the best three weeks you’ve lived so far, aren’t they? We gave you all we could, and I did everything in my power to save you. But, you are going to seriously hurt Cathy, or the other dogs, or me. We can’t have that. I’m so sorry. Please know that I do care about you, and I think it’s important that you leave with dignity and with a lasting memory that I really tried.”
He rolled over on his side, exposing his belly. I obliged, and gave his tummy a massage as tears ran down my cheeks.
I felt like a failure. A dog was going to prematurely die beneath my hands because I didn’t believe I had other options. I exhausted every tool in my toolbox to no avail. I had never been in a situation like this before. Ever.
It’s times like these: I hope I never experience again.
It’s times like these: I exhausted all that I had to give. Then God, the Universe, and Spirit stepped in and said, “You gave all you had to him while asking for nothing in return. You made a difficult decision after trying your best. We’ll take it from here.”
Fast forward: Through a series of bizarre and unfathomable events, Luigi’s life was spared. He is now in the capable hands of a new owner where he will have the chance to be the dog he was meant to be. He is alive and well.
The Master taught me, a teacher and student, his lesson.
Cathy’s father has asked me to write a book about his Tour of Duty in the Vietnam war. I couldn’t possibly say, “No.”
While I have written my own book before, I am no Master writer. I have experience writing my memoir, but not someone else’s. Reading his letters-to-home, reading “war books”, and watching videos does not make me an expert war-story writer.
This task is and will continue to challenge every ounce of my knowledge, experience, and emotions.
It’s times like these: I hope I can help bring peace of mind to my father-in-law, and put his demons of war to rest.
I will again exhaust every tool in my toolbox until I am ready to surrender again. Then, I will pray to a spirit that is greater than me for deliverance, because I have much to learn.
I am waiting for the Master to teach me another lesson.
Every day, we face challenges. Every day, we may think, “there’s no way out.” Every day, we may hide behind the facade of a smile. Every day, we may be pushed to our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits.
I want to let you know, that YOU have more to give. You have more strength inside you than you believe.
I have found that when I “open up,” admit my shortcomings, and allow myself to be vulnerable, the world “opens up” to me. Alternatives, possibilities, opportunities, and mysteries present themselves. And, in ways I could not have imagined, or dreamed about.
It’s times like these: I give thanks for difficult situations, because although the reason is not yet known, they have a purpose in my life.
So I encourage you to keep plugging along as best as you can, even though you are not a Master. Struggle through your difficulty, and don’t give up or quit. The answer is waiting for you just beyond the unbearable suffering.
Please be awake and open enough to surrender, and realize the subtle, and not so subtle, hints that Life throws at us every day to let us know we are on the right path.
The world around us doesn’t need more Masters. It needs more students, like you and me, to learn and listen. Then, and only then, we will be able to teach, inspire, give, and love.
For weeks, I have been playing a song on repeat (music is a wonderful therapist for me.) It’s by the Foo Fighters, and it is entitled, “Times Like These.”
“It’s times like these you learn to live again.
It’s times like these you give and give again.
It’s time like these you learn to love again.
It’s times like these time and time again.”
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.