What my dog taught me about letting things go


Rimsky is a 3-year-old Boykin Spaniel. Things he loves include barking at the neighbors’ dogs, being petted and, of course, chasing tennis balls we throw for him.

The thing is, Rimsky can become very attached to his tennis ball. Once he’s caught it, he really doesn’t want to let it go. Unfortunately for Rimsky, he can’t have it both ways: if he wants us to throw the ball for him to chase, he has to let it go.

Quite the dilemma.

Although I have zero desire to chase tennis balls (outside the tennis court) and carry them in my mouth, I think it can be easy to relate to Rimsky’s situation.

We want things: jobs, relationships, clothes, electronic devices, pretty jewelry, vacations…it’s typically not a short list. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I mean, you can’t go wrong with a shopping trip to J.Crew or a good job, right?

However, I think a concern can arise when we become overly attached to whatever it is we’ve decided we want. That person, the new dress, the ‘perfect’ job…it almost becomes something we need instead of something we would like. This is especially dangerous in relationships, as to be with someone because you feel you need them is possibly one of the most destructive and unhealthy things you can do in a relationship.

Like Rimsky, we become attached to the things we want. What started out as an innocent desire becomes something we can’t live without. And also like Rimsky, we can’t enjoy the things we want if we’re too busy trying to hold on to them (or the idea of them) as tightly as possible.

My brother noted what we all saw, ‘it’s really hard for Rimsky to let go of his tennis ball.’ I’m not quite sure what goes on in his head, but if it were me, I would be scared that I wouldn’t get the ball back if I did let it go. I see myself doing the same thing, especially with people. We worry that if we take a step back and let go of our hold on someone, we’ll lose them. But I think we attract people, we don’t ‘catch’ them. We have to give them space to come to us. If we ‘latch on’ they’ll never be allowed to do that and we will most likely  lose them anyway. We have to trust that we are worth pursuing and know that if the person doesn’t, we’re better off without them anyway. At the end of the day, don’t we all deserve to be with someone that really wants to be with us?

Once Rimsky finally lets go of the tennis ball (after much coaxing on our part), we’re able to throw it for him and he gets to chase it (for the upteenth time) which is the part that really brings him joy. Likewise, when we let go of the things we think we need, we’re able to enjoy them in a more whole way as we’re more relaxed and receptive. Once we know we’re okay with or without that job/person/car/etc., the idea of having it or not doesn’t consume us and we’re able to appreciate it all the more if we do get/have it or be equally content if we don’t.

There’s something to be said about being complete in and of ourselves, not looking for fulfillment or happiness from someone/something else. The truth is we can’t control other people or outside events, so putting our hopes & dreams in them is probably not the wisest idea. Find happiness doing things you love, treating yourself and others well and the meaning and purpose you give to your life.

You must try to generate happiness within yourself. If you aren’t happy in one place, chances are you won’t be happy anyplace. – ERNIE BANKS.

Rimsky is a 3-year-old Boykin Spaniel, for him life doesn’t get much better than chasing his tennis ball. As humans with autonomy and freedom of will and thought, we have the opportunity to channel the same enthusiasm for pursuing our purpose and making the world a better place (even in the smallest of ways). I don’t think there’s much more to happiness than that.



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