Fear and Loving
This is Ziggy Stardust--Ziggy or Zig for short.
Each day of the three months he's been with us, I add another thing to the List of Things That Scare Zig. Last week, I jokingly shared an excerpt of that list in an Instagram story and laughed to myself at how ridiculous these fears were.
A trash bag? Shoes? Spoons? Hilarious.
Hilarious because it defies logic: these things are harmless.
I shared the list for the sake of spreading the absurdity. It's ludicrous, right?
Zig is a rescue. He was found wandering near a busy street and was taken in, brought to a shelter, then a battery of tests and shots were administered. Within a few weeks, he went from a tiny lone survivor to a neutered heartworm positive death row inmate. He was saved by a rescue (the very one that gave me Kobe, my truest love, who's death and life I think about every day), then lovingly brought into my home.
I don't know anything about his life before me. I don't know what it felt like to survive, or what behaviors and habits are required to literally get by. Zig could make his own list, likely forty pages long, of the experiences and horrors I know nothing about. I chose to love him, and he chooses to love me, so it follows that it is my privilege to learn.
It's so easy to feel frustration and irritation at what I judge to be irrational.
The thing is:
It isn't my job to judge the quality and validity of experiences that aren't mine.
They affect me and how I move through the world, but the second I make the decision to love, I also decide to be affected.
To move and be moved.
To be curious.
To say, "I want to learn you."
To ask, "Will you teach me?"
To listen and understand.
To make room.
To make my self and heart a home.
This idea--not of accommodation, but of curiosity and its relationship to unconditional love--isn't confined to my experiences with furry buckets of love. I have seen it in action and practiced it with almost every living thing under the sun. This isn't a PSA for animal adoption (it could be--shout me a holler, ASPCA!), and it isn't a plea for attention and praise ("She is, like, so brave and selfless.").
It's a framework for declaring my place in the world and how I see my responsibilities as a teacher, writer, parent, and human.
We aren't always taught about responsibilities associated with titles like those; we inherit them, often unspoken and unpacked. We often don't know what we expect of ourselves until they grind against someone else's expectations, also often unspoken and unpacked. That's a discussion for another time (tomorrow?), but know that those expectations are and should be negotiable; there's no one way to be a wife, mother, friend, sister, and human.
Because I am The Riddler who rocks a side pony, I want to ask you to do some thinking with me:
Consider, then reconsider the things that frustrate you.
Unpack the suitcases that emotions like fear and anger are laden with.
Ask yourself what you have been willing to do to see the ones you love.
Ask yourself what you won't sacrifice.
Ask yourself what sacrifice is.
Ask yourself if you are a home--not just to others, but for and to your self.