I cut the perfect line with my paintbrush between the white ceiling and the wall that’s becoming red from white. My experience tells me that going slower gives me a crisper line and I can make it look straight even when the wall itself is not. Amazing! For a brief moment satisfaction wells up inside me. “BIG ____ING DEAL!!!” The voice comes from a corner of my brain shouting and snorting in disgust! I can hardly get by a day now without it angrily tearing down my workday. The voice comes from my bored self. It’s getting louder and angrier and stronger. HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE A ____ ABOUT YOUR CLIENT’S WALLS, WHILE YOUR OWN LIFE COULD SERIOUSLY USE A LITTLE OF THAT SAME TLC!
The voice is right. How did I get here? This painting gig was supposed to last a couple of years—tops! Here I am almost 15 years later, still painting but I am in denial of the toll it’s had on me and to be perfectly honest I’m BORED WITH IT! The rare request for murals or decorative painting is not enough to break up how dull it’s become! And denial (at least for me) has become useless as a means of shoring myself up.
It’s not surprising that the voice is shouting and swearing these days. One doesn’t come through open-heart surgery and not expect that it’s a sign that something has to change! What am I holding on to that I’m so resistant about?
Another couple of months pass by. I’ve regained new strength to tune out the voice by justifying that my problem is about not having someone in my life. It’s a decoy but not completely useless. However, with my romantic track record I shudder to think of the ways that most people would remedy this problem. While I love a great glass of wine and/or a dry martini, barhopping to meet guys is not the best strategy for someone on medication for life!
A friend wins a year’s subscription to an online dating service. The next day she meets the man of her dreams in a bar! (Oh the irony!) She gifts me the subscription and I try it for a year. Of the five introductory coffee dates that I get in that year, I’m grateful that three don’t call back. The fourth doesn’t and I’m perplexed for a day. The fifth has no romantic sparkle but becomes a nice friend. I guess the Internet isn’t my medium for the delivery of magic from the universe!
Over the years my brother and sister have annoyed me with their rants of, “You should get a dog, Cora Lee, you know dog is God spelled backwards!” However, the underlying message that getting a dog could be a solution to being alone finally sinks in. When I try to imagine the kind of dog I would like all I can think of is Dororthy’s Toto and before I can sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow I have made a connection with a snappy 86-year-old who breeds the “Scottish Warriors” (her passionate description of the little ratters)!
He comes home at 8 1/2 weeks and I am terrified of the immense responsibility I have taken on. Nothing goes the way the books say! (A friend says to me in disbelief, “Your first dog and you get a terrier!”) We bumble along and in spite of his front legs not growing correctly and his curmudgeonly ways I fall for this little creature. I name him Mr. Mac, then add Ananda to his name after reading a definition by the amazing [Smith alumna] Madeleine L’Engle: “that Joy in existence without which the Universe would collapse and fall apart.” I love to see him happy. Suddenly the three-flight walk up to my apartment seems wrong. I insist that he gets the best Kibble and I can’t buy him enough toys. He even comes to work with me. It’s not always perfect but we’re managing.
But soon the voice has another tirade. HE NEEDS A YARD! HE NEEDS COMPANY WHEN YOU’RE AWAY or HE NEEDS A DOGWALKER! And so it is that Mr. Mac’s needs becomes the catalyst that helps me face the big changes I need to make. I decide to go back to school. After a brief stint with UMass I decide to listen to the many friends who’ve been suggesting I give Smith’s Ada Comstock program a try.
So here I am navigating this structure that is Smith College, believing I’m doing it for Mac. But recently it hits me that the only way this will work is if I let Mac off the hook. After all, cute as he is he’s just a little dog who loves long walks in the woods, lying in patches of sun and as much food and treats as he can stuff into that little mouth. Beyond that I don’t believe he thinks about much at all and certainly not about my altruism on his behalf.
What has really happened through the divine shenanigans of the universe is that through loving Mac I finally found the path to loving me. A journey of this type demands a place for transformation to take place. I see the Ada Comstock program acting as my own personal chrysalis. What comes out the other side is anyone’s guess, but whatever it is I know it will be fine. I’m open to not knowing the outcome and finding a way to be in the loving present. Love is all I need!