Some of my students know me as animal-averse. The truth is, I’m more like, animal-on-my-own-controlled-terms. I don’t befriend strays. I don’t entertain whistle pigs. And because my students are used to my animal-averse nature within the context of a campus house, what they’re also experiencing is the law-abiding Michaela who likes to keep things orderly for the sake of fewer administrative headaches.
Now there’s this dog…it’s a light brown little dog. It’s grown since the last time I saw it which I’m pretty sure was last week. I’ve seen it about weekly for the last three weeks. It doesn’t have a collar and it walks with adventure in its steps. Someone’s feeding it OR it has enough drive to scrounge very well. It has lost the gaunt-ish look that I remember from the first day I saw it outside the campus house. I haven’t paid enough attention to know if it’s a he or a she, I just don’t want it on the property.
After seeing it again today, a thought came to mind which is still making me chuckle hours later, as I write these thoughts down. It’s a distraction. That curious little stray is a distraction. In fact, every time I’ve seen it, it has distracted me from a very specific task. It’s all happy, wagging its tail as it trots down the hill in front of my office window. Meanwhile I’m frustrated because whatever important thing I’m engaged in is paused by the thoughts, “Who’s feeding this dog? I don’t want it getting familiar with this property (thought it’s probably too late).”
There’s always something–a dog, a text, another human being–something getting in the way of a project, a conversation… Something reminding me that I can’t always have the order I crave, the peace I value more than being on time for a meeting.
Peace is quite high on my list. That’s why I get rid of clothes I’m no longer wearing. It’s why I aim to keep my work desk clean. It’s why I rarely listen to the radio as I drive. I need moments of reprieve from visual and audio clutter. I need the gift of fewer choices. Give me white space, give me breathing room.
But please, no stray dogs and certainly no random possums stuck in the downspout (true story).