When It Turns To Mud
Let me start by saying that I love rain, it is immensely fun to do all sorts of things in. When running in the rain I find it nicely keeps me cool and even rejuvenated allowing me to run farther and faster. Playing in the rain brings all the more joy when you find the mud puddle and splash those with you. And of little concern to younger me; rain filled the spring, pond and streams allowing crops to grow and my mother to dragged me feet first into the shower (If only she had known how long it had taken me to become “MudMan”).
As I became older the call of the couch and the warm flickering fire became ever more enticing. With my back up against the softest of pillows and a book in my hand a once long and endless day of fun disappears in the pages of Moby-Dick. However, no matter how enticing something may be, we cannot always do as we want; often we must do as we are required. Even more so, I often feel the pull of expectations brought about by responsibilities. The one at which I will be referring to in this story is the responsibility I placed upon myself when, on my own accord, I adopted two young small stray puppies.
This wonderful event would lead to the lesson I have always remembered, a lesson that was given to me at a time I ever so needed it, if only I had taken it to heart right then and not a year later.
What do you think? Can we start with the dark and dreary morning with a sky full of rain or should we fast forward to the afternoon when the dirt had drunk the rain and become something else? Honestly I don’t know where to start so with this in mind let’s jump right in.
The first day was easy, as the rain began to fall I was able to slide by on my walking responsibilities by only stepping out into the yard with my energetic puppies. However when the second day came I realized with one quick glance over that the same tactic would not work again. In short I found myself putting on my tallest boots, pulling over my sailing storm jacket and grabbing a small rubber ball. Then the door was open, eight paws ran by and, with myself on the other side, the door once again closed.
I know I refer to my dogs as puppies in this story but that in and of itself can apply to a variety of sizes. They were puppies, young, energetic, almost fully potty-trained, and ever so much bigger then they were adjusted to. There games were that of young dogs; slowly crouching, waiting for the other to appear from behind a tree then, bam, as if a race had begun they launched at each other running at a capacity greater than my ability to ever catch them. I once wondered how they would fare growing up in a city, but I realized that dogs like mine require a home where they can run and exert themselves both physically and mentally, such as a farm, ranch, or merely a home with a large yard and dedicated owner.
I contemplated this as I pulled my boot clear from the tight grips of mud that had moments ago engulfed it, as if the ground itself was trying to eat my boots and steal them from their current owner. A few more steps later I realized this walk would not be a fun one, it is a known rule that if dry one does not want to become wet, however once wet there is no reason to try and avoid it. My football coach understood this simple rule and took precautions before any game or practice that occurred late in the season when the ground was wet (we often played one or two games in the snow). He had us end stretching with a penguin slide into the end zone thoroughly soaking every inch of our bellies, legs, arms, and even our face.
As I walked through the mud with drops ringing off my hooded head the rule of staying dry constantly was on my mind. To my credit I did a remarkable job staying dry; that is for a time. Finn, my young black lab mix with an undying affection to small rubber balls, is the cause of my misfortune. I was walking, well more like balancing, on the small rocks in the road sticking above the puddles as I slowly climbed my way back down a mellow but long hill. Well let me clarify, its important in a second, the road I was on is mellow however if you were to step off the road it become a great deal steeper. Finn was running up and down the road impatient and clearly not understanding the reason for my slow pace, after a few minutes the road became boring to him and without a second thought he turned and launched down the hill off the road.
As I watched him do this, I caught a final glimpsed of his tale and two back legs before they suddenly were out of sight. This didn’t raise any alarms and I continued my slow decent of the hill, staying remarkably dry! Reappearing, Finn ran a few laps around me then tackled Scout, my other lovely dog, a Sheppard mix, and ran up to me. It took me a minute but I finally realized he was staring at my pocket, it pulled it out showing I had nothing in it and he came close to sniff. Sitting down he stuck out his tongue and waited, now noticing he did not have his trusty ball in his mouth I began to look around, he never left it too far away. Calling to him and swinging my arms I sent Finn off in a search for his ball as I myself made my way to the edge of the road.
There, I knew it, Finn in his puppy wisdom had left his bright orange glowing ball at the bottom of the hill, off the road.
Now hold on a minute, I can see your brains working some of you, ok most of you, can see where this is headed. Yes it is clear Finn’s ball is why I got wet, it even why I got muddy, and to the literalist, you’re right that is the whole of the story. However for those of you with an open mind I ask you to bear with me, it’s really not about the rain, or the mud, or even Finn. This story tells a small tale and a small lesson, what I have taken away from it has helped me change the way I think and see my path through life. However you may only hear a story suited for eight year olds, I write this in an attempt to communicate what I learned to you. If, by the end, you don’t understand then that’s ok, but if you do “get me” then it will probably have a much smaller impact on you then it did me, if any at all. That being said, if by the end of this you understand what I am trying to say, then I have accomplished what I set out to do and that in and of itself is a success.
Staring down at the ball my heart dropped, really, I mean really Finn, you had to leave it there? With a small grin Finn gave a glimpse into his wisdom he ever so cleverly hid behind his puppy face. I had climbed down these hills before, just not in the rain and my attempt to stay dry begged me not to try. I stood there yelling, walling and waving my arms, it had an effect, the dogs ran and ran around excited and playful to, but no one went down the hill. Finally, when I had given up, I began my descent. It only took one step off the trail before I regretted my decision. Swinging my arms back I desperately grabbed for the edge of the road as my legs sank ever deeper into a place I never cared to see. It was a fruitless endeavor, no amount of effort would have put me back on that road, and so I stood there sinking with my right hand digging into the rocky road above.
When I was about waist deep I finally gave in, there was no hope of staying clean, let alone dry. Letting out a great sigh I tried to step forward and found that equally as difficult. Moments later the side of the hill gave, and as if I was riding a wave I slide down the hill. My only thought was of staying above the mud, while it is moving it may seem like water, but once it settled. (Oh no there I go again being overly dramatic – Disclaimer included in case my mother reads this) As I was sliding down the hill, I glanced over to my side and was surprised to see two dogs with tongues hanging low running down the mud slide. I stopped, the mud stopped, and slowly I pulled myself free, almost losing a boot in the process. I decided my best way not to get further stuck was to crawl on my stomach in order to spread out my weight over the ground. I had given up on the rubber ball and figured it was long berried, how I am often wrong. In fact, lying on my back I looked up at four eyes that were studying my face and I noticed that in Finn’s mouth was a round rubber ball. I let out a great yell, or maybe it was weak and feeble, but given I was the only person who heard it, we will call it a strong, masculine and one of the greatest yells to exit a throat.
I slowly dragged myself across the bottom of the hill back to the road and carefully stood. To the dogs rejoice we moved much quicker than before, I was no longer trying to stay dry. Back at the house my mother opened the door and promptly closed it, relegated were we to the cold and dreary weather. That is until the hose worked its magic.
With wet hair and dry cloths I curled up on the couch, book in hand and fire blazing. Looking down, I saw two puppies at my feet, napping, with wet yet clean fur.
Who writes with anyone reading? I myself do not write anything without asking someone to read it. With this I hear their questions; what the point? Where is the lesson? What I don’t get it, explain! How should I know the point, this story is no parable, in fact I struggled to put it to words for quite some time. What I took from it was more than words on a page, it was the experience, the moments of that walk that changed me, walked me through a series of mindsets before, finally, freeing me from them all. Sometimes I try to explain its importance to family by referencing when I saw the dogs having so much fun in my moment of greatest fear. Is fear a matter of perspective? Or did my puppies in their infinite wisdom understand the fear, face it, and have fun anyway? Could I have had fun on the muddy slope? Or would it have distracted me from what kept me safe?
Would it go any better to pick a different point in the story? How about when I was desperately grabbing on to the road even as I knew I was already sinking into the mud? How would getting back on the road save me from the mud I had already covered my legs and arms in, why resist?
So understandably even when I try to explain only a small part of the story it raises more questions. No, the lesson I learned was not from the events but the journey itself. The story that truly taught me this ever important lesson wasn’t even learned from these events only. It was the culmination of all my previous moments in life, it was learned from what makes me, well, me.
But that is all hobbily gobble and I have lost all of you in the labyrinth of my brain; an ever twisting and ever contradicting web of thought.
(Here they rest unburdened by hardships I face)