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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I'll Be Back

"Love your neighbor as you love yourself."
~ Jesus

In a couple of days it will be the two year anniversary of adopting our dog, Wilson. He was nearly five years old when we rescued him so he came with his own baggage.  We don't know much about those years but we do know he ended up in a shelter as an "owner surrendered" pet. It is understandable that he has a certain degree of separation anxiety.

Wilson is use to having one of us around much of the time, usually Peg because she works from home, and me when she is traveling. Whenever one or the other of us leaves him he always whines for a while after the one who just left. He presses his nose against our glass balcony door when either of us is out on a walk. When we're both gone we're not sure what he does. What we do know is that he just wants to be with us.

When we leave we always say to him, "I'll (we'll) be back." At first he would stay at the door and bark or whine but over time he learned that we do come back. Now, when we leave, he usually looks at us with cocked head and raised ears as if to ask, "Am I going?"  Then when we say "I'll be back" his ears relax, then he turns and walks to one of his favorite lying places.

As pack animals most dogs do not enjoy being alone, even when their pack is human.  However they do need quiet time and perhaps solitude because sleep is important to them. We humans are much the same. As social creatures we need relationships of various kinds with other people.  We need intimate relationships. We need social relationships. We even need superficial relationships. However, we also need time alone - not loneliness, but rather solitude.  Loneliness laments not being with someone else, while solitude welcomes being alone with yourself.

As poet John Donne said, "No man (sic) is an island."  However it is good to occasionally go to an "island" of solitude even, and perhaps especially, when we are feeling lonely.  According to much spiritual teaching learning to be alone with ourselves and loving ourselves is the beginning of loving one another.

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