Oct 22, 2011

What happens when the ground beneath you crumbles?


Many years ago my dog and I fell through the ice on a lake in the country. My husband was away patrolling at a ski hill and the house we rented at the time was in an isolated area.

The moment I fell through and started to go into deep freeze - I heard my late Grandfather telling me to fight and survive.

I equate the depth, darkness and overall tone of this post to the traumatic events we all experience within our lifetimes and the spirit that arrives and takes us by the hand and saves us from everything and everyone including and most importantly ourselves.

We all fall - here's to hoping we all get back up again.


What happens when the ground you stand upon falls out from underneath you? Is an ambulance sent to the scene? Is there a trauma team on call waiting for you in an operating room? Are your loved ones contacted and gathered together? Are you able to express what is happening and why? Is there news coverage of your story at 6pm? Does the whole world stop and pray for you? Does it become a national day of remembrance? Is the flag hung at half mast?


What does happen in no particular order is you slowly but surely lose your mind,your perspective, your understanding of the world around you. You are not able to express or communicate to anyone exactly what has taken place. You want to find a dark corner in a deep cave to crawl into and wrap your arms around yourself while you shiver and shake. You forget simple things like your phone number, the street you live on, the name of your dog. You become so anxious that the shakes turn into convulsions that rock your mind and pinch and twist every muscle in your body.

And that ground that bottoms out and fails you...that same ground that has allowed you to walk upon it your entire life thus far...ceases to exist.

There is an aura you feel before the ground shakes and falls apart. It's a feeling that something very awful is going to happen and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it. No one - not your friends, family can prevent this from happening or catch you as you fall through the deep crevice.

Once you fall - there is nowhere to go. You are stuck; the teeth are clenching your soul, your being. There is no going up, no going down, no going anywhere. There are no search and rescue teams shouting at you from the top, there are no heroes rappelling their way down. There is no light only dark and it's uncomfortably cold.

You know you cannot survive this predicament for long. You try to think of ways to save yourself but your mind is in fragments and colours like a Picasso painting and you can't make sense of what is left of you on the canvass.

Hour go by and no one is calling, then you hear a familiar voice, it's someone you loved very much and has passed from this world but is always there overseeing your every accomplishment, your every mistake. They are telling  you to make like a snake and slide your way slowly and carefully to the top. Don't push, don't pull, just become a snake.

So you visualize and you take your mind far away from the negative thoughts and you tell yourself, "I can become a snake. I can slither my way up to the surface using the path of least resistance. I can let go of all the anger, resentment, frustration and disbelief" and you hear your loved one repeat "Move, never stop moving - there is nothing for you in the stillness."

You twist your arms and legs around your body and you start to slither along the side of the crevice. Moments pass like days. Then you see a crack of light and you find yourself within inches of the top. A vision of your loved one appears and their eyes are as deep as the ocean. They look good in the afterlife; refreshed and strong.

Your hands reach the ledge and with one final movement you pull yourself onto the surface. You look around and all you see is vastness...miles and miles of salt pans in the midst. This is not the ground you previously stood upon but you are happy just the same. You gather yourself, your mind still baffled and confused and you find the courage to take one step after another.

You reach the edge of the salt pans and see the sun is rising in this newly found world. You seat yourself down and with your right hand gather a handful of the sparkling white crystals. You pick up more with your left hand and you throw them up in the air. You wish you were that salt, flying freely in the air, no worries, no sadness, no heavy load to carry, just air and sparkles.

You grow tired so you snuggle up and pull some salt around you. The sky is dancing in a spin of shades of purple and you see your loved one waving goodbye, But just before they disappear, they scrape a message in between the stars and the sky and it reads:

"We all lose our grounding. Some of us never get up again because we believe that there is only one ground to walk upon. Those who do rise, find a new surface and they walk, dance, live, love, sing upon it for evermore."

In every life, the ground will break. But like the salt on the pans and the shades of purple in the sky, you must rise again, fly through the air and land spectacularly upon a new ground.

Oct 21, 2011

A Dog Named Chance

We take chances every day. Actually we take chances every second of every day - we just don't realize it and we therefore do not always weigh the consequences.

We take chances in allowing ourselves to fall in love for the first time. We are vulnerable and we let someone into our deepest, darkest secrets and share with them the most intense of intimacies - love making.

Many people believe that life is but a chance. It may sound Shakespearean but think about it... how many times has something happened to you that seemed like less than a coincidence? Maybe it all is one big chance sort of like leaping over a large puddle between the corner of the street and the road and you either end up in a smash landing or you make it safe and dry onto the sidewalk.

It's sometimes good to take chances because in taking them we change the path we are on and turn onto something new and refreshing and we even discover a part of ourselves that had been hidden or lost. Other times we take chances and well, we don't do so well with them but at least we tried.

When we were young, we constantly took chances - we were the greatest "risk takers" ever. That's because we were curious and we were doing most things for the first time. It's exhilarating and scary all at once to take a chance and to do something new. Chances help us learn. We learn what it feels like to fail and what it feels like to succeed. We take chances again and again no matter how many times things do not turn out as planned.

Sometimes we find ourselves asking a friend, "Should I take that chance?" Although usually when we are asking we already know how much of a chance we are willing to take.

Here's a little story for you about "Chance". Many years ago, a friend of mine (let's call him Harry)was driving to his cottage on a snowy, winter's night. He was on a dark road and the snow began to fall heavily, so much so that there was barely any visibility. He had a choice, he could either continue driving and take a chance of possibly having an accident or he could stop by the side of the road and wait the storm out. As he was pondering this decision, he saw a parking lot appear on his left. He recognized the abandoned property as a former B&B that his parents took him to when he was little for the best banana and chocolate chip pancakes.

He then chose to get out of his car and seek shelter under the awning at the front of the building. Once he was there, he chose to see if the front door was unlocked and it was so he crept inside lighting his way with his cell phone.

There was a ghastly stench of must and rotted food. He could see the breakfast benches and dining room had pretty much remained intact. Just when he decided not to venture any further, something ran by his feet and hid under a table. He had a choice, he could run like hell and get back to the safety of his car or he could beam his flashlight app from his phone under the table.

He bent down and found a dog, his fur matted, his leg cut and bleeding, shivers running through him and no tags. He had a choice, he could leave the dog there and not bother with him or he could carry him out to his car. He chose to take the dog with him. He carefully lifted him and carried him in his arms. The snow had subsided and the road was clearly visible. He placed the dog in the back seat and put the heat on full blast. Then he got in the back seat and covered the dog with a blanket and held him close. The dog was shivering and short of breath. Harry hoped that he was not going to die in his arms but if he did, at least he would not die alone.

Within 30 minutes or so, the dog was almost completely respondent and sitting up placing his muzzle into Harry's neck. He was leaning his entire weight into Harry's side and he moved toward his face and gave him a big, wet kiss. Harry drove off and they arrived at his cottage shortly thereafter. Once the house was lit up and warmed by a crackling fire, Harry placed the dog in the bath tub and gave him a good scrub down, dried him and bandaged his cut. Then the dog suddenly appeared in his entirety and Harry was able to recognize that he was some variation of a Golden Retriever. He had chocolate brown eyes, a coat that looked like it has been sprinkled with brown sugar and a tail disproportionatally large for his body. His left eye was partially splashed with a white blaze that made its way down to his nose.

Throughout the next week Harry visited all the local shelters, police stations and posted signs and but no one called to reclaim the dog. Harry felt badly for whomever had lost him but it seemed more likely he had been purposely left out in the snow to fend for himself. It didn't take long at all for Harry and the dog to grow closer. He decided to name the dog and in doing so to recognize that this was now his dog and his dog only.

He named him "Chance" because that's what he initially was - a chance that Harry decided to take. And for the "Chance" that choice saved his life.

I would have taken that chance - would you?

It's hard to say what chances we will or won't take because as much as we think we weigh the consequences, we are actually quite impulsive when our emotions are in play and when another "being" is part of the chance, it's all about emotion in the end.

I am all for taking chances. Most of life adventures have come my way because of the chances I have taken. I'm not afraid of losing because no matter how many times I do, it's the winning that brings me back to chance time and time again.

Chances...take them, don't take them, but never underestimate them because in doing so you are underestimating yourself. And who knows? There may just be a goofy, brown sugared Retriever out there waiting for you to take that chance.

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