As I spend a weekend at a spiritual retreat in West Cornwall, I think of all my patients and their owners and one thought stands out.. my pets appear to have such beautiful clarity with their emotions. What they feel is expressed without filtering, without nuance, without hidden meanings. They show a peaceful simplicity that we, humans, would do well to learn. We, humans, are filled with convoluted emotions that are stirred by ofttimes inexplicable past experiences, present stresses and incomprehensible expectations. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn how to simplify our emotions?
Take one particular emotion my dogs seem to comprehend with elegant and absolute simplicity: forgiveness. I forget to feed Athena one morning, yet she forgives me by evening when I make amends by giving her a hug, kiss and a bowl of food. I yell at Malijah for opening the trash and spreading it all over the kitchen floor but I overreact and yell too loudly. She accepts her punishment with droopy ears and sad eyes yet doesn’t blame me for my too loud voice or my stomping feet that really weren’t necessary to get my point across. She forgives me. Or Scrappy- when I turn over in bed and accidentally knock him to the floor. His forgiveness is absolute. He doesn’t question whether I pushed him on purpose or out of unloving carelessness. He forgives me and climbs back into my arms with no resentments.
Forgiveness is a lesson we can learn from your furry companions. “Perfection is an enemy to excellence”- if you are expecting perfection from yourself or others, forgive, and in its place you will receive the peace of love.