other thoughts


[Monday: 2.5 miles on treadmill; Thursday: 2.5 TM]

One of the most traumatic experiences of my life (I think I’ve mentioned it before) was, in retrospect, all a worry about nothing. I had been married a few years. We had two small children. I did some travel separately from my family and we were to meet in O’Hare airport in Chicago. I had their flight number. I waited at the gate and they didn’t come in on that flight. I bounced back and forth between the gate and the baggage claim in case I had somehow just missed them, all the while growing more worried and unsure about what to do. Somehow I ended up back in the gate area and (I don’t think I was smart enough to check for the next flight arriving from their point of departure) and somehow, out of nowhere, there they were! I was so relieved. (re-reading this.. I don’t think they arrived even on the same airline)

Looking back it doesn’t seem so miraculous that my adult wife could get her children on the next flight and safely make it to O’Hare. I’m sure she could have managed whatever transport was needed for the next step should I have not been there to meet them. It was all worry about nothing. But I’m not belittling my own distress! It was real at the time and even with the cold light of reason and the smoothing over of faded memory, I can still distinctly remember it being a time of distress: I had lost my family.

My son has a small family, just he and two dogs. And of course he sees himself as the human in charge. He lives in a rural area in a rural state and he lets them go out and do their yardwork in the course of the day. But he also has a job so he lets the dogs out and then wants them to come back in so that he can secure the house and go to work.

Lately the dogs have taken a liking to exploration. They go out but they don’t come back. So that puts him in conflict between his two main responsibilities: doing his role as human-in-charge at the house and doing his job. And sometimes they stay gone for more than a day. His tension rises and he worries. He wonders if they somehow cannot return, need to be rescued, need his assistance. He looks for them.

Meanwhile I can hear the tension in his voice and I wonder if he needs assistance, if this pressure will cause him to fall into depression or be susceptible to harmful distractions and bad decisions.

Adult dogs can fall into various misfortunes, they could run afoul of other animals, or get hit by a car or be shot by some dog-hating neighbor. They can fall into wells, get hit by falling trees or struck by lightning. But it is quite a bit safer to be out and about with a friend, even just another dog. So two dogs are safer than one dog alone. Probably his dogs are fine.

And adult sons are pretty resilient too. This isn’t his first rodeo by any means.

So the cold light of reason says that things will probably work out in some middling way and we will go on more or less as before. The dogs will probably come back, and the son probably won’t drive his car off a cliff or take up blissed-out dope smoking.

While I wait for that to work itself out I do some meditation and prayer to keep my own self centered and my concern at an appropriate level. I’d love to drop what I’m doing here and zoom down and help (doing what?? is another question) but I have conflict between my roles of father and husband and employee. I think it helps to be calm and to shift the worry to other shoulders, if nothing else it is an environment for better decision making. I happen to believe that prayers are answered. But some of that benefit comes even if they aren’t.

And I take instruction from my elderly parents. Their ability to intervene is slowly diminishing, but they can encourage and calm and help with exploring options. I happen to know they do a lot of praying too.