Yesterday morning Gus and I made our way up to the fields behind Thornlea Secondary School. We usually take that route because there are about seven different soccer and football fields interconnected in one enormous open space. I love to let Gus off leash there every morning because he gets a good chance to really run flat out for a while. After that, he’s content to continue with our neighbourhood route; trotting beside me along the sidewalks for the second part of our morning walk.
Yesterday when we walked through the opening into the field, I was surprised to find a scene that I didn’t expect. Instead of empty wide open space, the fields were packed with people and action. It was soccer Cup Day.
I shouldn’t have to tell you why it wouldn’t be a good idea to have Gus off leash with 7 different soccer games underway. Remember, balls are his thing! And yes, he is completely capable of sinking his teeth into a soccer ball and carrying it in his mouth! Needless to say, I had to change plans.
We turned around and left the field, and picked a different route for our walk. I was disappointed because not only does Gus love to tear across the fields; he needs that flat out run every day. I was worried that even a brisk long walk wouldn’t tire him out in the same way, and I’d have to deal with an over-energetic doodle for the rest of the day.
As it turned out, we had a lovely walk, and I found that I actually had a better workout because I was hustling at top speed and swinging my arms the whole way. Gus was completely happy to stick to my pace, and I think he even enjoyed the change of route. He definitely got enough exercise; just a different type of workout. As an added bonus, we ran into an elderly woman we haven’t seen for a while around the neighbourhood. She loves Gus and was so excited to see him that it really made my day to see how he perked her up.
How often do we have to shift gears or change direction suddenly when something unexpected interferes with our plans? It happens all the time. Our natural reaction is to feel thrown by the force of inertia; as if the bus we’re riding on has sharply rounded the corner, causing us to collide with the wall. There’s a kind of mental inertia that causes us to feel rattled up when we have to change course. It’s almost as if we have to sort out the collision between where we thought we were headed and all it entailed, and come to terms with the shift to the new direction that we know we must take.
The inclination to resist that shift can be a strong one to overcome. Disappointment, frustration, or even surprise can keep our feet rooted to the old path and prevent us from moving ahead as we must. I keep thinking of Gus and his happy acceptance of the new route we took yesterday. He just seemed to trust that it would be just as much fun as the one he was expecting, and he simply followed my lead as we turned from the fields.
As our family travels the journey of my father’s illness together, we are experiencing this phenomenon over and over again. Just when we think we have sorted out what is going on, and have come to terms with what we have to cope with, some unexpected event happens to throw us in a totally new direction. Sometimes things have gone up, and sometimes they have gone down. We are doing our best to just roll with the punches, and to regroup and continue marching forward together after each new event. Sometimes we’ve even been lucky, and things have turned out better than before. In the end we’ve all agreed that it’s the only strategy that’s worthwhile.
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