Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Beyond Logic (Why We're Considering Getting a Dog)

(Can you even believe how wildly happy this dog looks?!)

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense.  But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. – Frank Herbert

My best friend from seminary had two dogs – two basset hounds to be exact.  One brown and one black, they followed us on long walks along the canal path that ran behind student housing. 

Two dogs in a small seminary housing apartment is a lot. 

Later, when she finished her doctorate and began teaching, we visited her and her husband at their new home.  By then they had three dogs, having adopted a little blind dog (whose breed I can’t recall).

Three dogs, even in a spacious home, is a lot. 

Maybe that’s why my friend felt the need to explain their newest addition.  “We just felt like maybe something was missing, like maybe we could have more joy in our home,” she said and I knew exactly what she meant.  

I was working part time as our church’s Associate Pastor and our kids were two and four.  Lying in bed late at night my husband and I let questions rise and float into the air above our bed.  We were wondering about a third child, wondering what we wanted and why.  Mostly we were convinced that we were unsure and we resolved that waiting awhile might make the most sense. 

But that question of more joy, that sense that we were on the edge of a tipping point toward something more, it circled us like a tempting fragrance, subtle, suggestive, inviting.  Looking back I think what we were sensing was the possibility of a larger life than we’d imagined for ourselves, a desire to fall head-over-heels into a good and spacious place. 

The unexpected arrival of twins tipped us, for sure. 

It was, to put it mildly, terrifying, perhaps even apocalyptic.  It was the end of many things and the beginning of many more; it was as Merriam Webster defines ‘apocalyptic’ – wildly unrestrained. 

More joy, I’m learning, never seems reasonable. 

It seldom seems responsible. 

It quite often may give the appearance of disrespectability. 

More joy may well be apocalyptic, i.e. wildly unrestrained.

I was talking to a friend the other night and she mentioned plans to pick out a puppy the next day.  They already have three dogs, several goats, cats and chickens.  She said her husband looked at her as they stood in the kitchen earlier that day and asked reflectively, “What are we doing?”

“I don’t know,” she replied. 

She had always wanted a Basset Hound and I told her over the phone, “Sometimes you just have to lean into the joy.” 

It sounded like a wise thing to say.   

Lately, sigh, we’ve been talking about getting a dog.  We have two cats now that were delivered by a dear friend the day after I was released from a week-long hospital stay this past summer.  Getting two cats directly after a nervous break-down of sorts was not a logical decision, but they’ve brought us a lot of joy. 

We have four hens and four kids and endless lists of home repairs as well as a steady stream of laundry and dishes.  This all, for two adults, is a lot. 

And yet . . .

Getting ready for bed the other night we were again discussing the idea. 

“Why would we get a dog?” I asked, sincerely and my husband, sitting on the side of the tub, began ticking off a long and rambling list of reasons.

Interrupting, I asked, “Are you trying to give flimsy answers or are our reasons really that flimsy?”

“No,” he said, smiling, “those were real reasons.”

One thing I keep hearing as we continue weighing the decision, is the possibility that we would all really enjoy a dog – the possibility of more joy. 

Joy. 

Sometimes you just have to lean into it – at least that’s what I hear. 

Sometimes there are things worth grasping that lie beyond the confines of reason and logic, things that require a tipping of sorts, at least one heart-in-your-throat moment of wild un-restraint. 

When have you been moved to do something that didn’t “make sense” for the sake of joy?  What’s the last time you found yourself “wildly unrestrained”?

Linking with #TellHisStory and Give Me Grace.

6 comments:

  1. Stopping by from #TellHisStory. So many good things here. This in particular, "But that question of more joy, that sense that we were on the edge of a tipping point toward something more, it circled us like a tempting fragrance, subtle, suggestive, inviting. Looking back I think what we were sensing was the possibility of a larger life than we’d imagined for ourselves, a desire to fall head-over-heels into a good and spacious place." Thank you for this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "a desire to fall head-over-heels into a good and spacious place" ... and isn't that what we've been promised. The abundant life. Yes, oh yes, let us lean into that always.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thought I don't share your feelings about dogs being the purveyors of joy, I SO get this feeling. And for you, it sounds like leaning into it might be exactly right.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm slowly learning how immediate joy, like getting a pet, can harm future joy, like travel that involves leaving the pet, the entire closet space she needs for her litter box that could be used to make my kitchen more navigable, and the way she makes my house VERY hairy. I'm not sure if this post is more about getting a dog or just "going for it," so I might have missed the point :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really, really love this reason for getting a dog (or any animal, for that matter) - the possibility of more joy. This sets well in my heart, Kelly. For you. And for Ricardo and I, as we've talked long and often of this, too, all with "responsible" reasons why we shouldn't. Maybe the timing hasn't been right, this is true. But I think I recognize that "tempting fragrance" circling back to us each time, and one of these time, I know, we'll let ourselves fall forward into it. I trust the same for you and your family as well.

    ReplyDelete
  6. In my little quote book on the the shelf above my desk is this typed out message from probably 30 years ago, "The heart may have it's reasons of which the reason knows nothing; but reason all too often has no heart." from 'The Street Where I Live', Alan J Lerner's story.
    Joy is a good thing to pursue.

    ReplyDelete