Tag Archives: Tennessee Williams

dog story

I had a very small adventure a few weeks ago. I still don’t understand it, but I thought about it for days…..here it is from my journal:

Yesterday, I see cars stop outside my windows….side street side. I see people get out of their cars. I see them pick up a small dog. I hear them talking. I watch them walk to my front door. 

Is this your dog?

 
No. We talk about whose neighbors’ it might be. It is a small, red brown dachshund. I hear myself tell them that if they can’t find the owner, I’ll put her in the back. They can’t find the owner, and before I know it, I have her in my arms and take her to the back. I find a rug. I make a bed. I get  water. She’s just a sidelight in a busy day. I close off the garage so she can’t get inside it, so I don’t run over her or she doesn’t run away. She never barks a sound. She lies on the rug like a tired, good girl.
 
I go off to write and then buy her some food. I call my husband to tell him. He grills me about what I am going to do.  I’ll put up signs. She’s so docile she must have owners. I come home, give her food. She is still on her rug. I make signs, put them in a big circle around the house on busy streets. I take off again. She is now on the deck. I realize she is elderly. She is saggy baggy in a certain feminine area and her nipples show….so she has been a mama. She doesn’t greet me, but I pat her and tell her we will find her master beginning tomorrow.
 
When I come home late, I see her lying on the back door step, stretched out, relaxed and at her ease. The light from inside the house washes over her, and I am moved. I think about how she must miss her home. At the door, I reach down to pat her again, and I realize she is dead…………………………………
 
What does it mean? What if I had ignored the people walking to my door? That thought did cross my mind. I reverberate with her small passing for days, her tiny place in the space of my life, a little moment I rushed through. I talk about it with friends. I don’t understand. I think about Tennessee Williams’ line, I depend on the kindness of strangers. I think about the motto that was so popular a few years ago, practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Someone mentions my mother, who in her Alzheimer’s, is as dependent as that little dog. Is that the reverberation? I don’t know.
Do you? But practicing random kindness and senseless acts of beauty seems like a good way to love. I meant to write the word live just now but love came out. I’ll leave it. It’s somehow part of this little dog story.
 

Not knowing is a place I don’t like to land in. I know with my rational mind that there’s really nothing I know for certain, nothing I have or own that is for mine forever, guaranteed, not even relationships. I can discuss the theory of this quite beautifully at some dinner party or with a friend. But being in it again, as I am now, is distressing. How I long for security. How I long for permanence. How I long for knowing. I don’t know what to do about my mother, who has Alzheimer’s. Continue her living with family or move her to a facility? I don’t know what to do about my career, whose heartbeat I can’t find these days. I am Tennessee Williams’ cat on a hot tin roof, my mind pacing, jittering from one thought to another, searching for solutions, searching for a hold I know isn’t there.

I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

That’s Rilke. And here’s another suggestion: Friend, don’t let the world run you crazy. The world ain’t even honking at you. You just think it is……..

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Be still, I guess. Be still and valiant in the unknowing….