Friday, December 26, 2008

Helpless, helpless, he-elpless

Years ago we had a contractor working for us who had a sticker on the back of his truck which read "Lord, let me be half the man my dog thinks I am."

I suppose there are lots of ways one could interpret this bumper sticker, but for the moment I'll just concentrate on one. It seemed to me yesterday, as I photographed this look on the face of my Polish sheepdog, that there were lots of people -- and animals -- needing things from me.

The hard part was not that I didn't want to give it; what really was disturbing was that I didn't seem to be able to know what it was they wanted or needed. Or in some cases I knew but just wasn't capable of providing it.

I feel particularly helpless at times like this. I can guess what might be needed -- and in Nemo's case, I suspect he was desperate for a walk -- but what he really wanted was for the street to be clear and easy to walk, so he could indulge himself, sniffing all the bushes along the way. And the fact is that all those bushes were covered with snow, and neither of us could get more than a few feet before giving up and going back home.

Christmas often leaves me feeling this way: I long to be able to give the gifts my loved ones need and deserve, but I can't always know what that might be, and sometimes circumstances -- like our inability to leave the house for the last few shopping days before Christmas -- prohibit my being able to follow through.

This morning I read that "there is no way to the true Self except the narrow way of renouncing all the false selves of the ego-system. What is left when I have let go everything that I am not is who I truly am."

So perhaps this sense of failure, of not being able to live up to my expectations of myself, is a good thing, another step along the road to oneness with the Divine. If I could accept that I cannot be half the man my dog -- or anyone else -- thinks I am, perhaps I might come closer to being more me and less a reflection of what my ego thinks all those external forces need me to be.

That's the hope, anyway. But for some reason an old book title comes to mind: "I'll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip." I guess that's my resistance speaking...

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