Our passions are derived from what we are most comfortable with. Things we can count on, the things we know.
We adventure within ourselves and the things we choose to share are wrought from that comfort, the things we have grown to love and even sometimes hate because it challenged us on or own terms.
Mali was a gift at a time when something was missing, very long ago. She has been with me, our family since she was a pup, and travelled too many times when my path took me to far away places during those times when life's maps set before me without cause or knowing why. Some unwanted, others by design, and the rest maybe just because.
Her first toy was a coke bottle. Just a simple thing we take for granted but to her it was an amazing gift that somehow she thought was made just for her. She chose to make it her focus, and even though insignificant to the rest of the world, it was hers. I reflect back on that and just remembering the care (as a puppy cares in many different ways. Play, carrying it around, hiding it and falling asleep with it as if its safety depended on her attention and protection) A few times when it was hidden or forgotten about she would look for it, and when me or Diane would bring it out it was as if her world became settled. The gratitude in her eyes was enough to invoke understanding that small things, things that might not mean much to anyone else can be the most important thing to others.
That made the damndest noise when she crinkled it. (laughs to myself) Remembering her looking back and genuinely knowing she was asking "What? when it made me cringe.
When she was young, she was like one of my children, but as she grew older became a perceptive equal, then surpassed my own ability to deal with adversity and challenge- a teacher if you will. One day in the not so distant past I realized she knew how to read me and her vocal prompts, her subtle gestures and behavior were genuine concern, and even advice. I already knew this for a long time but it was really at this point when I really thought about it. I had to stop using my human eyes, my human ears, and even touch to really experience the problems and solutions from the mind of someone who is always optimistic, can find happiness and comfort in even the smallest part of a bigger, overwhelming storm that we often create ourselves.
We have to trust, even when things look the darkest. This is what sets the primal, the natural apart from the human condition. People can lie, cheat, and steal for their own reasons and depending on the situaton it can even seem justified. Animals, especially dogs, cannot- its because they love and depend on those they choose to rely on totally, never wavering in that conviction. When you submit yourself to be part of something, all singularity fades when you realize that because you trust, because you love, you gain strength from those around you when it seems you have little, or none. Humans make life so complicated and rarely give more than they take. We have evolved (devolved mayhap?) into the penultimate consumer of all things, and mastered it to the point no real effort needs to be involved. We became that because we feel we deserve everything.
We do not.
Mali was very old, wearing down and yet managed to retain the same optimism every morning, maybe even having more. Sometimes when I would watch her without her noticing, I could see things were getting hard and she just wanted to rest. Yet when she could tell I was feeling the same way, she'd seemingly set aside her own challenge and shared mine. A lick to the face, and often, she would bat me up side the head (literally, I kid you not) with her big paw and hold my arm or hands down to make me stop. Shed start washing me like a mother and stop from time to time to just look me in the eye as if to say "Better yet?" Laughable now that I reflect on it because shed leave her tongue in position and wait for an answer. Not with my voice, my eyes. I had to let her choose when she felt I was done. Ive had some pretty rough times the last few years and she never failed to be there. People could learn much if they only let themselves go completely and realized most of the decisions and behavior they embrace are based off fear, jealousy and self supporting greed. Real love, real devotion doesnt require any decision at all, not when you really have it and leave those other cloudy aspirations behind.