Something profound happened this morning; Marty stopped chasing bunnies. You remember Marty my sweet old dog and guru. Well this morning, we were walking and right in front of him, munching on some grass was a massive rabbit. Marty saw him and in a moment, when I’m sure they made eye contact, the bunny acknowledged Marty’s existence and Marty growled “Hrumpf” under his breath and kept walking.
Now, just so you know, since the very day we brought Marty home 14 years ago, every time we let him out the front door, he clears the field with barks and growls that light up the neighborhood. He announces his presence and lets everyone know that this is his territory and all should beware. We say he’s protecting us from the “evil doers” and we feel infinitely safe. Then he goes about perusing the property, sniffing and grumbling to himself. We call this, “Marty on Safari.” We’re not sure what that means, but we know it’s important business.
The other thing Marty does without fail is chase rabbits, it’s his job. And we have lots of rabbits. In all these years he has never caught one but he is intent in his effort. If he’s inside, he chases from window to window, barking in a fit of annoyance that they even consider coming into his yard.
So whatever should I make of his acceptance of this nemesis? I came inside and opened my book on Native American Animal Totems. Totems explain that the energy of various animals teach us about aspects of ourselves. It reads that Rabbits are our annoying fears, those niggling shadows that darken our paths and stop our progress. Here’s what I read.
“Rabbits are guides into the shadow world, where all of our personal fears lie. When the rabbit appears it is time to examine those deep reflexive fears that hold you back from growing. Do you keep dashing for the safety of your old patterns every time something new or challenging presents itself? If so the rabbit asks you to face your fears with compassion for yourself. Accept that it is part of human nature to feel fear at times, but also believe that our fears need not paralyze our growth and movement.”
Fear, like rabbits, is inevitable and fear is one of my least favorite emotions. Personally when fears rise in my life I attack with as much vigor as Marty chases the rabbits. We can avoid fear in so many ways, by isolating ourselves, and through addictions of all sorts. I hide from fears by tracking them down, looking for “information” thinking about solutions. This all seems so practical but in honesty it doesn’t work. I’m still scared.
So what was Marty telling me today? Is it time to stop fighting with that, which scares me? Is it possible that I can live with fear as a neighbor rather than an enemy? Was he showing me how to acknowledge the fears right in my path and stop trying to run them down? Was he telling me that at some point in life, it is better to make friends with all the things that scare me? I’m not sure I have any answers yet but I’m sure he is telling me that there is much to learn from that which scares me.
Leave it to my old dog to teach me new tricks.