We want things–I want things, humans want things–to be predictable. To follow the same path every time. We have labels, some funny, some serious, for the weird outliers who don’t. Thrill-seakers. Adrenaline junkies. Rule-breakers. Problem children. Freaks.
More and more lately I realize that there is, in fact, nothing easy and predictable. From public-policy issues to dog training, everything is more complex than we would like. We look, desperately, for the one answer. We (I) want one thing to work all the time. We (I) want progress to be linear. We (I) want tomorrow to be exactly like to day, except maybe even a little better. I’m a control freak at heart, and it pains me that this isn’t really possible. It isn’t even close to possible, especially not when we’re dealing with living creatures, ourselves or our dogs.
Fortunately, in our personal lives we don’t have to make laws. We don’t have to set things in stone forever. We have a wonderful, but oh-so-hard, freedom to adapt to what every situation needs. We can look at individual need in any moment, and work to fill that need with the tools at hand. (I’ll be talking more concretely about this this week.)
This is the refrain I will always circle back to here, always trying to say it better. Especially lately, because it weighs on me: rules are easy, but compassion is not rules. Compassion is the opposite of rules, and it is a difficult practice. It’s walking on soft ground, having to evaluate every step, and getting a little muddy no matter what. Seeing the need means also seeing a hundred impatient failures a day, but that doesn’t make it a worthless goal.