Now that my Pug Lord Sciante (so named after RHCP guitarist John Frusciante) has reached his senior years and is deaf and blind, communicating with him has become somewhat of a challenge. I’m not the most patient person in the world, and now that I can no longer hurry him along in conducting his business via command or lunge in his direction, I find myself getting quite frustrated with our master/pet dynamic. What used to be a five minute bathroom break–I say “dim sum” and he poops, “lychee” and he pees–is now a stroll around the yard, sniffing thirty different places, sending him back out to “dim sum” because I know he has to even though he’s not feeling it until he’s back inside and decides the kitchen floor is a great place to go. Sometimes I even have to fetch him because he’ll stand at the gate leading from backyard to front yard, mixing it up with the door that leads him into the house. I can no longer yell “Sciante!” to set him back on the path. I have to get him, turn him around, make sure he follows me until he can pick up the scent that leads back to the house. When I have to go somewhere and feel I don’t have fifteen minutes to do the dim sum dance, I feel the blood pressure rising and my grip on the dog as I turn his body in the right direction is a little too tight. And he’s such a sweet little thing, clearly lives to please me and be rewarded for doing such a good job at this innate task, I feel instantly guilty when my actions convey to him that he has failed. I am angry and frustrated with him. I know he feels that energy, and it’s simply not his fault.
So we’ve come up with a new way of communicating. I stand in front of him so he can smell it’s me, then I tickle him on the head and step back, out of his path so he knows it’s okay to move. When he goes a few steps and hesitates, I tickle him again and he continues on his way. I walk beside him to keep him on a direct path so he doesn’t fall in the pool when we’re out back, to make sure he doesn’t run out into the street when we’re out front. If he collides with my legs, he readjusts his path, walks a few steps, then pauses and waits for the tickle, his sign that he’s going in the right direction, that he’s heading where I want him to go. He knows we’re out there so he can do his business, but I’m the one who knows where the right spot is. He trusts that I will lead him there so he can do what he’s supposed to and make me proud.
So I got to thinking: aren’t we all tickled on the head? We call it gut feeling or intuition, but I’m coming to see it as God’s fingers tickling our heads. He knows the path we’re supposed to take even though we may not. He knows there’s a pool in the yard we have to avoid, walls we may walk into. Sometimes, like Sciante, we may come busting out of the door, disoriented or overly eager to get something done and we fail to wait for the tickle and end up instead taking the plunge.
I felt it ten years ago when I decided to move to Vegas. I actually asked for it. At the time I was working for Wawa and although it was a fabulous job and to this day they remain one of the best companies I’ve ever worked for, I knew it wasn’t where I was supposed to be. Nothing about that time was right. Not where I lived, what I was doing, where I was working. I felt so hopeless, so lost. There were woods beyond the back of the building and one night when I went to take the trash out I lingered outside, staring into the woods. It was about eleven at night, almost time for me to leave to go home to my crappy Lansdale rental row home with the leaky bedroom ceiling and I saw myself just taking off and running through the woods. This would do nothing for me, of course. I knew it would solve nothing, but at least it would be different from what I was doing. I thought about getting in my car after my shift and instead of driving home just driving south or west or anywhere. I didn’t care. Anywhere other than Jenkins Avenue worked for me. I started to cry, which I was doing a lot lately.
“Please,” I whispered out loud, not wanting my co-workers inside to hear me. “Please, God, get me out of here. Send me somewhere. I can’t do this anymore. Please. Please put me somewhere else, tell me where to go.”
My Muse I blogs deal with my moving to Vegas, but let’s just say someone heard me that night and shortly thereafter I was led to the next phase of my life. Less than five months later I was in Las Vegas, embarking on a life I never thought I’d have the guts to pursue. That was honestly the first time I paid attention to the tickle–mainly because I asked for it and was looking; I’ve always believed if you ask out loud, the Universe hears you and delivers. I remained open to the tickle; when it was time to leave Vegas and move to Tampa, I didn’t hesitate. It was simply where I knew I was supposed to go next. Sure, I fell into a few pools along the way, banged into some legs. Sometimes I confused God’s fingers with a strong breeze that was tousling my hair. But I know if I start going in the wrong direction, He’ll be walking right beside me, waiting for me to feel his presence. I’ll stop for a moment, catch my breath, and wait for the tickle.