Yesterday my family and I had to put our dog to sleep. She was thirteen years old and her health was failing. No matter how much you think you’re prepared for this kind of thing, it still brings a wave of emotion, from doubt to sadness, from loneliness to grief.
But what I want to focus on is how this old story we hear about the cycle of life plays out. Sharing in the cycles, and recognizing them for what they are, ups and downs, lessons and learning, is what counts.
And when we think of cycles, we think of comings and goings. Grace, our darling dog, came and went. But it was humor that saved the day. We laughed and remembered the funny stories—how she could hold three golf balls in her mouth at the same time, and how a sweet, quiet spirit like her couldn’t resist the pull of her DNA to go after the ground hogs in the field.
This experience highlighted an important element of resilience—looseness. A funny word, I know, but I’m struggling with finding a better way to describe this capability. When we harden ourselves, overprotect ourselves, and tighten up, it’s harder to roll with the punches and bounce back when challenging things happen.
Dwelling on a sad moment like yesterday doesn’t help us stay loose. What helps us stay loose, though, are the connections and the support we have. Most of my family was there, and we shared the burial ritual and spent some time laughing and hanging out when it was over. It was short, but ever so meaningful.
Connections and support carry us through rough times. Whether it’s someone to work with, someone to talk to, or someone to sit with—that presence makes a profound difference. And as my yoga teacher loves to say, “What a difference a difference makes!”
When we feel the edges of our being start to harden, it’s important to remember looseness. How can you possibly roll with the punches or bounce back when you’re not loose enough or light enough to roll or bounce?
Especially at this time of year, when family rituals remind us of that cycle stuff, there is no better time to loosen up. Transition times test our resilience. This is when we can choose to loosen up and become open to opportunities we might usually be blind to. So I’m going to keep my eye on looseness. The bridge to rolling with punches and bouncing back is closer and quicker that way.