The Sheepdog and the Tire

When we lived in Jaroso, a neighbor kept sheep during a time when raising sheep still paid. A large sheepdog of some breed — Great Pyrenees, I think — guarded the herd from coyotes and other dogs, but he must’ve been prone to chasing cars because my neighbor attached a large truck tire to his collar with a length of rope. The dog still ran within the field, and over time, the track of the dragged tire wore a flattened groove along the fence line. Must hav3w been a strong and determined dog. But, every once in a while when the tire caught on a chamisa bush or got stuck in the irrigation ditch, the dog would be jerked, coughing and sputtering, to a halt.

That’s how my new chemo feels.

I’ll be going along relatively fine, good energy, balance and coordination, full of ideas for long-range and daylong projects, and then all of a sudden I come to the end of the rope and the stuck tire slams me to a halt. The only remedy I’ve found so far is an emergency nap during which my reset button gets activated.

So here we are as a country, a planet, going along relatively fine (if you emphasize the word relative and don’t mind that a tiny percent owns the wealth and the rest live in poverty); full of energy (never mind that it’s toxic and will run out sooner than we think); a distinct wobble to our balance with increasing divisiveness and lack of coordination; definitely full of ideas for long-range and daylong projects, (whether or not they are beneficent, sustainable, just, or egalitarian.) Despite the fact that we were jerked to a halt earlier this spring and have already worn a groove — or should I say a rut — along the fence, we are getting slammed again by a short length of rope and a stuck tire. In this case the stuck tire could best be likened to our collective mental, physical, and spiritual rigidity; stubbornness; denial; fear; and refusal to change.

Maybe that poor sheepdog would have been better off if instead of choking off his breath by chasing after cars and trucks — a futile and ephemeral endeavor at best — he had stopped, sat down, took a breath, and methodically chewed through that rope.

So how do we do chew through the rope? How do we loosen up our own rigidity, stubbornness, denial, and refusal? How do we face our fear of change, our fear of each other, our fear of not being in control?

Or are we destined for another emergency nap — a planetary lockdown — during which our better natures and guardian angels hopefully push and keep pushing the reset button until it takes. I don’t mean a reset to normal factory settings. Those days have come and gone and we have to face that. I mean an entire reset of priorities, our vision for the future, and of our relationships with ourselves, each other, our fellow creatures, the planet. An entire reset of where we are going, if and how we conduct business and with whom. Otherwise we are no better or wiser than that sheepdog endlessly dragging a truck tire.

Slow down. Stop. Breathe. Chew through the rope.

4 comments on “The Sheepdog and the Tire
  1. Kate Booth says:

    Kathy, your words resonate deeply with me. The rope I’m slowly, methodically and with great loving care that entangles me is severe nerve pain. My activities of joy over the past 74 years have taken a toll. Four years ago a simple river spill and rescue exacerbated long term neck and spine injuries that had little or no effect at the time.
    So, now, slowing down is not at option but a directive from my body mind. My heart stays open to the chaos of fear and stress and reduces the impact with self love. Of all the stupid things I got away with, I now deeply atone and love that flity, semi conscious girl with all my heart and soul. Our journey certainly takes us down dark canyons yet overhead, i see sunshine and stars. Thank you.

  2. Ruth says:

    Amen!!! I often think about that beautiful, irrational big polar bear of a dog whose spirit lives on in infamy. He made me laugh, cry, breathe and think a little bit more deeply every-time-I-saw him ~ that great galoot, that hodgepodge of a something all-wrong transcending the powers that be into something better than all right by far. He was Every Man in dog form, a flagship for our collective hopes, dives and dreams, maybe silly but truly something anyhow. I’m glad you turned him into a star with your briliant metaphor ~ thank you!! Now dry your tears, take your naps, and keep rocking our worlds with your one-of-a-kind je-ne-sais-quoi like only you know how to do ** o **

  3. hetty ( heather) cowan says:

    Dear one, this is a wonderful piece. I sure wish I could share it. I wish you healing and as much peace as is possible. Love to you, hetty

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