A wise man once told me that we humans as a species are hard-wired to only accept as much bad news as we can personally affect, and anything more tends to cause us to “shut down”. Imagine our most remote ancestors; they only had to process as much information as affected their immediate family, or maybe their tribe, problems that they could address. The issues were still real and possibly insurmountable, but they at least had the whole picture. Survival was always an issue, but I doubt that anxiety was.
I don’t think it coincidental that this is around the same point in our history that man and dogs became inseparable, but those that know me wouldn’t find it odd that I would consider that hypothesis; further studies are necessary.
Then came towns and villages, cities and countries, and the problems became larger, appearing to be beyond the capacity of a normal human to make a difference. Now we live in an internet age, constantly bombarded with bad news from around the globe; a tsunami in Indonesia, famine in Ethiopia, abandoned animals and people, The View, political unrest, well, everywhere, and so on and on. And since we can’t fix everything, we instead decide to fix nothing, retreating into crates of addiction, pornography, celebrity gossip, professional sports (an oxymoron if there ever was one), and the resulting anxiety.
Anxiety generally comes in two forms – a fear-based resistance to some deeper feelings that are arising, and projecting past pain onto the unknown of the future.
With the cacophony of the random thoughts bouncing around the inside of my skull during these uncertain times, I decided that I needed to make an adjustment. I’ve been studying my dogs for years, and often commented on when they put on their “wise eyes”. You know what I mean: lids half open or even slanted completely but not asleep, panting lightly but not out of breath, not a care in the world. I can’t help but think that this is a form of canine meditation.
I’ve tried meditation before, but the empty space inside my skull is more akin to a pinball machine than a Buddhist prayer bell. The closest I have ever come to enlightenment is on a long distance motorcycle ride…
…with Charlie as my muse.