Living Life Like a Border Collie

Several years ago, I went through turbulence in my personal life unlike any I had ever faced. The details aren’t all that important but the lessons learned are something I cherish. Truly, I am grateful for the experience. One of these lessons has been rolling around in my consciousness as a blog post for a while now – and as the school year draws to a close and the snow (yes, snow on May 18 in Denver) continues to fall, it seems today is the day to turn the rumblings in my thoughts to words on a screen.

border collie coming out of agility tunnelA little background: I absolutely adore border collies. My facebook page is often littered with border collie videos, border collie cartoons, and pictures of my own border collie, Darwin. I’m a little weird about it and I’m okay with that.

You’ve probably seen border collies doing agility on tv. If you’re lucky, you’ve seen one in person. No breed of dog does it better and it’s not even close.

Where am I going with this? Watch how HAPPY the borders are when they are doing agility. They tremble with anticipation waiting their turn, they bark with excitement as they run the course, they can hardly slow down for the next command. In fact, so furious is their thrill at running the course that one slight misstep by the handler and the BC takes off at near light-speed to the wrong obstacle.

Obstacle. Agility courses are often called “obstacle courses.” There are fences to jump over, hoops to jump through, narrow beams to walk over, tunnels, poles, see-saws. Border Collies don’t see them as “obstacles” though – they see them as FUN. Even when they mess up, they are just as excited to come back and do it all again as they were to try it the first time.

Back to that personal turbulence: it wasn’t pretty, it was often scary as hell, and there were a LOT of tears.

One day, when running with my sweet boy Darwin through an agility course, I made a connection that changed me forever. The issues I was facing could be seen as obstacles to be feared and avoided – but if I did that, I was missing the big picture. Life, like an agility course, was going to have obstacles – in fact, without obstacles, it’s not an agility course, it’s just a gym floor. But if I approached my life the way Darwin approached an agility course, those “obstacles” weren’t such a big deal. Sure, some of them would trip me up, and some of them I’d get to see again and again and AGAIN until I finally figured them out. But keeping the joy in the big picture the way Darwin kept the joy in agility? That was how I wanted to approach life. Everything changed for me then. I stopped trying to micro-manage every detail, I started trusting people and myself again, and I began enjoying the ride.

Darwin is nearing the end of his life – arthritis has ravaged his hips and back. His eyes still light up when he sees a frisbee or a ball, but while is heart is willing, his body is slowly failing his spirit. The lessons he taught me in the few short years I had him in my life though? Those will last a lifetime.

What would change in your life, your job, and your relationships if life’s obstacles were just a part of the bigger picture of the joy of life?

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