We think that when we decide what we want, we are looking at our lives with the clarity and precision of a 400x microscope. A microscope with infinite God-like wisdom that can not only see the core of us, but can tell us with infallible knowledge how to get from where we are to where we need to go.
But life has always surprised me, given me things that I never would have asked for, only to realize they fulfilled me so much more than what I could’ve chosen for myself. And perhaps that’s just it — we can’t know what we truly need in order to be our happiest, in order to reach the highest level of our existence, because we’re not living at that level yet. We are trying to grasp at something that is far beyond our reach. And yet we foolishly think that we know what we truly want.
We only know what we believe to be true. We only know within the bounds of our self-imposed limitations, our own tiny and egocentric ideas of what is possible for us.
What led me to realize this (for the umpteenth time)? Well, sometimes when you forget grand truths, life slaps you sideways so that you can remember again.
Mia is in the middle of the park. Mia is my dog, by the way. She’s on the field, and I’m kneeled down beside her, cheering her on for being the goodest of good girls and letting her know that her little cardio activity is almost near its end. I hear two young boys asking their mother for something. I look up and see they’re playing with their skateboards or something, and I think to myself, God, who would ever want to have kids? And I swear in that moment, I deeply realized I would absolutely never ruin my life in such a way, and that to the core of my being, I knew that I would never be the kind of person who would have children.
Then I hear something.
“Is your dog friendly?”
I turn my head in the direct opposite direction from those young boys and I see a little girl, maybe 6 years old, approaching me with her golden retriever leading the way.
“Yes, my dog is friendly — but she doesn’t much like big dogs, so she may recoil a little.” The girl doesn’t seem perturbed by my warning and proceeds to bring her dog to greet mine. “What’s its name?” I ask.
“His name’s Remy,” she replies, as I pet him.
“Are you walking this dog alone?” I ask her, not noticing anyone around. The dog is twice her size.
“No, I’m with my sister. But I don’t know where she is.”
“That’s okay,” I say. I notice her looking at Mia, unsure whether or not she can pet her. I tell her, “You can pet her, she’d like it actually.” She tells me I can hold Remy’s leash, as I dutifully do, and she goes over to pet Mia.
Suddenly, I’m sitting on the grass, affectionately watching this little girl with her hair tied back in a ponytail, this little girl who looks so strong and so brave and so feeble all at once. She’s petting Mia with a smile on her face, and I immediately fall in love with her, just absolutely smitten by the way she speaks and the person it’s so clear she will one day be.
“I like small dogs — I mean, I like Remy too, but it’s just that, with small dogs, you can take them on planes,” she says to me.
“Do you travel a lot?” I ask, clearly unable to adapt my conversational skills to anyone under 21.
“No, I’ve only been on a plane once.”
“Where’d you go?”
“Salt Lake City.”
“Well maybe one day you’ll travel more with your very own small dog.”
She laughs. “Yeah, maybe.”
And I watch her walk away with her golden retriever Remy, with all her stray hairs from her ponytail flying in the wind. She’s so small but she’s so strong, so strong, I can’t help but repeat to myself. How proud I’d be if I were her mom.