I went for a walk with my dogs today completely naked.
Don't be alarmed, I do pilates four days a week.
Seriously though, I haven't lost my mind nor was I on some hallucinogenic drug. I was so caught up in my head with a dilemma that I put my dogs in my truck without their collars or leashes. I drove 15 minutes to the trail and when I opened the truck I went to grab leashes that were not there, to attach to collars that were not on.
I stood there shaking my head at getting so immersed in thinking about a problem that I could do nothing about. Then I wondered what to do. I could drive back to my house and get the leashes and collars, but that would be 30 minutes out of our walk.
I took a leap of faith and walked my dogs naked. No collars, no leashes. Just verbal control of my dogs and faith that it was going to turn out OK.
Now, I do not recommend anyone do this at all. This is simply a tale of my experience with absent-mindedness and the life lesson learned along the way -it's not an invitation to mimic my behaviour.
It was scary, I admit. I walk my dogs off-leash every day but my dogs always have collars with their ID on them and I always have my leashes in my hands. Rarely, if ever do I leash my dogs, unless we come across someone on the trail. Then I always leash them for the other person's benefit, so they feel safe as two large dogs approach them.
But today, if anything unpredictable was to happen, such as a small white fluffy dog rushing up to Zumi barking and attempting to snap at her . . . that would be it, I thought to myself - whatever "it" might be.
I thought of the excuses I would use in my head, such as . . . I forgot my collars and leashes at home. This was the truth, but it still sounded lame. What dog trainer trying to set a good example in the world forgets collars and leashes for her dogs? (Answer: a 48-year-old absent-minded one!). I was left with two choices, turn around in fear and doubt and go home, or simply go for it.
So I let go of all my fears of negative outcomes. I set my sights on the positive, trusted myself, trusted my dogs, trusted my leadership, trusted the situation and jumped off the cliff filled with the faith that it would all turn out. Whatever happened along the way, I trusted that I had the skills to overcome it and I stayed present, therefore keeping my attention on what was happening right in the very moment. Allowing my mind to wander would cause problems as I would not see obstacles approaching and be prepared.
The first obstacle was getting out of the truck. Normally they are secured by the leash but today it was: "Out and Wait," which they did. Next was heeling, easy-peazy while on leash, but today it was "Close" - their off-leash heel command, which they did (phew).
Then as we got into the walk they were allowed to "go free." In theory this is no different than having their collars on and letting them off the leash, but not being able to see their collars on them left me with a sense of no control. I just had to believe they were going to listen, instead of relying on the sight of the collars to make me feel sure that they would.
Everything was fine and dandy, with just the dogs and myself along the trail and nothing to challenge my control, so nothing went wrong. Just as that reassuring thought came into my head a horse and rider appeared coming over the knoll. I called my dogs back to my side, and they sat at the edge of the trail, peacefully and patiently waiting for the distraction to pass. They were perfect.
The remainder of the journey went smoothly as long as I didn't panic, stayed present and trusted it would all work out.
We all get used to safety nets in our lives, be it collars and leashes for dogs, relationships, jobs or choosing a path that is of least resistance by knowing the outcome of a situation before we start, therefore ensuring its success.
But by choosing that easy safe route that stays close to shore, you never get to know what you are capable of, how far you can really go or what you can create in your life and the world.