After many hours on a treadmill that faces a window that faces a sidewalk, I began to notice this trend: Dogs move towards each other and humans pull their leashes away. As one dog moves with a greater pull towards another, the grip on the leash gets tighter and tighter. Maybe the human chooses to stay still, make the dog sit, and let the stranger pass by. Yet, as a dog, often times they see no strangers. Just friends who they’ve never met before.
Our tendency as humans seems to be to cast our eyes downward, look away, and pull back. Avoid contact. Avoid confrontation. Keep the peace. Keep the norm.
Having a puppy for the past month has been more than just cute and cuddly. I’m starting to see how Franklin the (grey, fluffy) Dog is opening my eyes to the people around me, to the squirrels that scurry up trees, and the nature to explore that is just within walking distance. I’ve had exponentially more conversations with neighbors in this past month than I’ve had in the year that I’ve lived here. It’s actually quite ridiculous, if you think about it.
This past week, Franklin the Dog met Tucker the Cousin Dog and it was not just hilarious, but downright interesting. Although Franklin shows a more passive, chill personality at first, it didn’t take long before he bared his teeth (quite literally) and showed his true self. Tucker, the more apparently “aggressive” one, came out and showed his personality more passionately and fearlessly.
However, when they both played as dogs do, there wasn’t much that kept them back from doing what they wanted and showing how they felt. For the most part, they moved towards each other recklessly and excitedly. They were curious, intrigued, and ready for a good time.
There’s so much inside of me that would rather move away from people. Withdraw. Look down. Don’t make eye contact. Maybe it’s easier that way, and less draining for an introvert like me. But, maybe life is more full when we are more open to the people around us. Not just on the surface, but to their stories, their passions, their dreams.
What would my life look like if I was recklessly curious about others’ stories, open to the unique narrative that they have to share? What do you think?