BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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Walking The Black Dog
A Shih Tzu Dies
It was the day he changed the world. He said, “I’m going to walk the Black Dog,” to his cantankerous wife of fourteen years who just sort of nodded at him and muttered ‘that’s nice’ or some such thing and clearly didn’t care. Her soaps were on. She’d already scolded him twice for trying to make conversation when she was trying to watch. And they didn’t have a black dog; they had a spoiled Shih Tzu that lived on his wife’s boney lap, and he thought it was a yapping, nipping little monster. ‘Black Dog’, they both knew, was his euphemism, borrowed from Churchill, for depression. And he had to get out of there.
He was not a happy person. He was disappointed in himself. He was not the intellect he wanted to be. He was not professionally successful. He didn’t feel he was necessarily more than mediocre at anything. He wouldn’t have cared about that had his marriage the emotional intimacy to balance it, but his wife appeared to want to live in her own world, separated from her own disenchantments by a protective bubble. It seemed to him she only deigned to accept his touch when she was either too desperate for it herself to care or too apathetic to push it away. They had no children, no shared interests anymore, he had no career, no hobbies, no intimacies, no enthusiasms, no faith, no joy.
His life, as far as he knew, had no purpose. He was wrong.
The Black Dog pulled him downtown. He strolled the sidewalks past the shops and the restaurants and between the bustling gatherings of happy people with his head down and his hands in his pockets and a dark cloud over his head and the Black Dog wobbled him this way and then that way and then bumped him into a guy. That’s all he did; slightly bump against a guy. Not violently in anyway, just a bump that altered the guy’s course ever so slightly.
Everything he had ever done or had ever happened to him, all his discontent and disillusions, led to that moment.
The guy looked back over his shoulder at him but thought nothing more of it. It was inconsequential, so far as he knew. But in the process of swinging his head back in a forward direction, the guy’s eyes were cast along a passage between buildings where artists were sitting cross-legged sketching and talking and something about it made him think of something. It made him think of THE THING. And THE THING stayed on his mind. And a week later he mentioned THE THING to a friend, a writer in his spare time. Two years later the writer remembered THE THING and included it in a story. Four years after that the story was published in a collection of his smaller works. Two decades later a graduate assistant assigned the story to her writing class. THE THING in the story jumped out to one of the students who internalized it, and then, throughout a very dynamic life, made THE THING real.
It changed everything. The world became a different, better place.
The Black Dog pulled him into a clear path along the sidewalk and seemed to look back at him and smile. As his subsequent life changed, he would interpret it as simply having gotten so low he could no longer be hurt or disappointed by anything. His expectations of each moment had evaporated. His wife softened, having determined the solution to her own unhappiness lie in a better relationship with her husband. They rediscovered intimacy. His job became less onerous. He realized he enjoyed working a small garden and loved puttering around the house.
The Shih Tzu died.
Although perhaps never overjoyed with the course of his life, he became warmly content. The Black Dog for the most part remained on its blanket in the corner, watching him with kind, chocolate eyes, and he found its presence there oddly comforting. His life floated along.
He never had the most remote idea what he had accomplished.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.