Sometimes Karma Is Furry
I think a lot about karma, these days. I don’t really know what I believe when it comes to past lives and future lives and all of that, but I do feel a need to believe in some sort of interconnectedness between what we put out into the world and what we get back. (This is why—when life is difficult—my husband and I have a running joke that we were very bad people in a past life.) It just helps me to believe that somehow, there’s an underlying meaning and/or order to life, even if most of the time I have no idea what it might be.
It’s easy to forget about this in the daily minutiae of life. School, work, packing lunches, chauffeuring kids around, feeding one of the dogs every few hours so he doesn’t die, doing laundry… just getting through the day fills up my brain until I drop into bed at night, exhausted and not exactly doing any higher-order philosophical pondering. In general I am prone to a Chicken-Little-esque view of my life (“The sky is falling!!”) and I am trying very hard to change that, so now if everyone I love is still in one piece by the time I crawl into bed, I chalk it up as a successful day. The good thing about this approach is that I’ll forget about all the times I lost my temper or took a lazy shortcut or otherwise wasn’t at my best. The bad thing about this approach is that… I’ll forget about all the times I lost my temper or took a lazy shortcut or otherwise wasn’t at my best. (Personal growth requires an honest assessment of one’s shortcomings, or something. Whatever.)
Anyway. A few weeks ago I was having One Of Those Days. You know the kind; you have about 40 hours worth of tasks to be completed in a 24-hour period, and everyone needs something from you right this second. It was the kind of day where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and my patience was worn thin.
Of course this was a day when my daughter had an appointment, and despite multiple reminders about our departure time, it came as no surprise when I found myself sniping at her to hurry up, we are going to be late, why do you always do this; don’t you know how to read a clock?? By the time we buckled into my car, I was annoyed, she was sullen, and my foot may have been a little heavy on the gas in an attempt to get us where we needed to be on time.
We weren’t all that far from home when I had to lean hard on the brake pedal to avoid… a happy-go-lucky basset hound who was trotting (yes, trotting!) down the road’s double yellow line as if he owned it. Another car was coming from the other direction, too, and we both slowed, then the other vehicle cleared the dog and sped off. I saw pedestrians up ahead, but they were watching with curiosity, not acting as though this was their dog who’d gotten loose.
My daughter was frantic. “He’s going to get hit! What do we do??”
I looked at the dog. I looked at the clock. I looked back at the dog. I pulled off the road and stopped. “We’re going to be late,” I muttered, the picture of selfless grace.
I got out of the car and called to the dog, who ambled over to me, tail wagging. He had a collar and tags, so I managed to lure him to the shoulder of the road and then tried to get a look at his ID. I was just flipping the tag over when he broke away from me, though, and sprinted (well, as much as a basset hound can sprint) behind me. Panicked, I turned around to see that my daughter had also emerged from the car, and he was apparently very happy to see her. Except, that wasn’t quite it. She’d left the car door open, and this dog must be a big fan of car rides.
He hopped into the car and sat on the passenger seat, still wagging, eager for us to take him on an adventure.
We burst out laughing. How could we not? It had been a stressful day, we were late, and now a strange dog was sitting in my car looking for all the world like he’d just won the doggie lottery.
“Alright,” I said to my daughter, “Get in, hold him on your lap.”
She managed to position herself under the dog, and I got back into the driver’s seat. Once we closed the doors, I was able to get a look at his tag. Slinky—of course he was named Slinky—had an address I didn’t recognize, but I punched it into the GPS and we set off to take him home. It turned out he hadn’t wandered all that far; when we pulled into his driveway, he wagged some more, hopped out of the car, and started grazing on the lawn. (Perhaps Slinky is a basset cow?)
We rang the doorbell and waited, but no one appeared. Just when I was trying to figure out what we should do next, a harried gentleman covered in paint came out from around the back of the house, and it turned out that he’d been painting, had left a door open, and he didn’t even know Slinky was out. (Slinky seemed pleased to see him, but also seemed pretty interested in eating more grass.) He thanked us profusely for returning him, and we waved and set back off on our way.
I pulled out my phone and called the doctor’s office to let them know we were en route but might be late. Funny, though—we didn’t hit a single red light or any traffic, and actually made it on time.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we did anything extraordinary, nor do I think that a spur-of-the-moment dog rescue zeroes out all of the times my behavior has been less than stellar. But the rest of the day was… better. Calmer. There was less eye-rolling, fewer power struggles. Weeks later, all I have to say to a certain grumpy teenager is “Slinky wanna go for a ride??” to get a smile.
I’ll take my good karma wherever I can get it these days, even if it leaves fur all over the seat of my car.