I walk my darling little Great Dane every morning that I’m on St. Croix. He waits patiently (most of the time) by my bedroom door until I am ready to go, then does the craziest happy dance as we make our way down the driveway.
He always wants to take a right out of our gate because the house to the left has a big pit chained to a tree and, during the day, the two small inside dogs are leashed by the front door. Guard dogs are commonplace here, as are dogs chained to trees. It’s something my parents did in the 80’s in our poor, rural neighborhood, so I get the mentality, though much of the world has moved to treating their dogs like children.
Last week, we took our usual right out of the gate and one of the small, fluffy dogs came running over, leash trailing behind it. It barked at Zed, nipped at his ankles and ran around him like a Banshee. It
finally gave up its unsuccessful fight and ran back home when Zed wouldn’t engage. Now, my big baby is terrified to leave the safety of our yard.
This morning, Zed ran for the opening in the gate as soon as the neighbor dogs started barking on our return home. I let him run in and closed the gate behind us. This got me thinking about the relationship between freedom and safety.
For two days I couldn’t get him to leave the fenced yard. It’s a nice 1.5 acres, so more than enough to get his exercise. But, he LOVES his walks. And he was willing to give them up because of fear.
Humans have long built great walled cities to keep out predators, one another, weather, and even contrary viewpoints. We now have technology with firewalls that protect the technology that protects us.
Yet, we all want freedom.
Zed used to run out of the gate when it was left open, free to roam as he pleased. After sufficient fear was born in him, he does not want this freedom any longer. Safety is now more important.
It’s fascinating to think about the many areas in our liveswhere these tradeoff decisions are made. I stopped flying after my son’s dad was in an accident. The best way for a child to learn not to touch the hot stove is to do it themselves (or make their little sister do it).
How many of these fears are unfounded? The little fluffball dog was noisy and annoying, but it didn’t hurt my big beast. Well, maybe just his feelings.
How often do we make these tradeoffs unconsciously? Someone makes a negative comment about something you made and are proud of, so you avoid creating something new from fear of a naysayer. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with a vendor, so you decide not to stop nurturing that side of your business. Did someone break your heart and now you find every excuse to sit inside your
walled garden, safe, but not free to experience the love you deserve?
I’ve made Zed walk out of the gate with me the past couple of days. He’s terrified and nearly pulled my arm out of socket this morning. But, given enough time and happy walks, he’ll get back to his normal derpy self. He’ll forget his fear. And next time that little fluffball is loose and terrorizes him, I might
just let go of the leash so Zed can run away, releasing my own fears of getting him back home. After all, his GPS collar will tell me where he goes.
What are you NOT doing, that you want to do, because of unconscious fear and your resulting flight to safety?