One lovely morning, Rico and I poked along the wooded trail next to our neighborhood. The insects’ stringed instruments and soprano songs of birds filled our ears. The scent of God knows what filled Rico’s nose. Nature encased us in a cocoon of greenery and shimmering morning sun. It was truly magical.
Until a ruckus from the nearby cul-de-sac raised my hackles.
I heard a deep, throaty bark of a huge, powerful dog and a yike-yike ankle-biter. They gave each other hell. A young girl’s voice echoed out, “Hey! Where did that dog come from?”
Uh-oh. A loose dog? And right on the other side of the woods?
I panicked. In just minutes that dog could come through the woods. We no longer have Roxy to help intimidate strangers. It’s just me and a definitely not intimidating Rico. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on vet bills this year. I can’t afford any more.
So we hustled. Or, rather, I hustled, dragging Rico back to the car. We weren’t even a quarter of the way around the trail. But we needed safety.
What really happened?
Most of it happened. It was a stunning morning and we did hear barking from the nearby street. And the girl’s question.
Then it gets hairy.
I couldn’t verify the loose dog. Only that two were barking. I couldn’t prove they were fighting. The way the girl phrased her question and her lack of urgency probably should have been clues it wasn’t as bad as I feared.
And the notion the loose dog would jump out like the boogeyman? Embarrassing.
One clarifying question
Where I didn’t know the facts, my mind quickly filled in with fiction. Unfortunately, this is a very human trait. Our minds are wired for story. And for negativity. Scientists call it survival technique passed down from the caveman era. Our ancestors had to assume that rustling in the bushes was a predator to improve their odds of staying alive. Today, however, we get a little carried away with it.
Now when I have a negative emotional reaction, I try to pause, identify the thought process behind it, and for each sentence ask myself, “Do I know that for a fact?”
I hope admitting I don’t know if the trigger’s true will calm the waters. Or at least keep me from missing another glorious morning.
Thank you for stopping by.