I met my dog-mom doppleganger today. A woman about my age with long dark hair who was crying outside of my vet clinic. She was very upset about her 12-year-old German shepherd, who has many of the same neurological symptoms as my German shepherd, Tasha.
I told her to wait for me, put Tasha in the car, and chatted with her for about 30 minutes. I described the therapies we’ve been doing with Tasha. I confided my own fears for the future. I explained as best I could what the neurologist had just told her, which is basically the same thing they told me. “We don’t know.” She said I used the same words the vet had just used in describing the potential diagnoses, but she felt like she could hear them from me. Frankly, I think she simply felt heard.
Why am I writing about this? I worry about our world lately, especially now that the political rhetoric keeps getting louder. We spend much more time talking at each other than communicating with each other. Listening has become a lost art. I’m not taking sides here. I see the same problem on all sides of the political spectrum—and there are way more than two. Our political candidates are simply a reflection of the rest of our world. None of us is innocent.
I don’t know how we change it, but perhaps opportunities like the one I had today are a start. Rather than walk past someone who is a struggling, why not walk toward them? Human connection comes in so many forms, and it has infinite benefits. We’re just out of practice.
Remember what the yoga teachings say about communication:
- Speak less
- Speak only the truth
- When the truth will cause harm, say nothing.
As for the stranger I met today, I don’t know what the future holds for either of us, and the end is inevitable for both of our dogs. (For all of us, really.) But I feel like talking to me helped her. At least I hope it did.
May we all find a kind ear when we need it the most. More importantly, may we be willing to offer that same kindness to others.