Recently I’ve been taking my dog, Lucy, to our local dog beach for a two-mile walk. It’s relaxing for me and Lucy gets some exercise and freedom to run off her leash. The exercise is good for me too, though I’m used to being off my leash.
The last couple months I’ve taken quite a few 13-mile bike rides down the Orange County coast passing the dog beach and watching the animals frolicking in the surf as I pedal. Lucy and I have gone there before but not for a few years. I decided to take Lucy out on Thursday morning because the truth is I was kind of a wreck inside. I’ve been trying to get in to see a neurologist for about six months and Friday morning was my appointment to see one. I was relieved to finally be able to see the doc but I was also afraid.
After parking at the Huntington cliffs I threw on my headphones and fired up some music. I tried to choose between my Beach Cruisin playlist or Rad Stuff. I was in a particularly contemplative mood so I thought about Mellow Shit but finally decided it was a Rad Stuff day.
As we headed across the parking lot my brain went into overdrive. “What if the doc is a dick?” I thought to myself. “What if he comes in, does a quick exam and blows me off?” I knew neither was a likely scenario, but I kept “what if-ing” myself and it was driving me up the wall. The first neurologist I saw seven or eight years ago had the bedside manner of a toilet brush and the longest appointment I ever had with him was six minutes.
At this point you’re probably wondering why the hell I need to see a neurologist. The quick version is that I have a tumor on the nerves between my left ear and my brain and I’ve lost the majority of hearing in that ear plus I’m losing a lot of vision in the left eye. It generally feels like someone is shoving an ice pick in my ear and I swear that I have something jammed into my left temple. To say it hurts would be an understatement.
The tumor was spotted five years ago when I had an MRI for another neurological thing but it was too small to take out without likely causing permanent hearing loss in that ear. It was decided to not touch it until it grew and started affecting me more. That time is obviously now, but my health isn’t the reason for todays blog post.
Lucy and I headed towards the beach and I was trying to put the upcoming appointment out of my head and just relax. Ska tends to put me in a happy mood (Sublime too) and my Rad Stuff playlist is loaded with both ska and Sublime. Pushing “shuffle” on my phone, we made our way down the hill towards the beach. Lucy and I hit the sand about the time Come on Eileen by Save Ferris started playing and I began to relax and smile. I let Lucy off her leash and she immediately sprinted towards the water.
We were barely 100 feet down the sand when my companion received a colonoscopy from another dog. After extricating the other dog’s nose from Lucy’s butt we continued south down the coast. The next song was Take It Or Leave It by Sublime with Rome and that put a little bounce in my step. At this point my brain tried to kill my buzz and I started playing negative scenarios in my head.
“What if the hearing loss and vision problems are permanent?” I asked myself. “What if the doctor takes his time with tests and I have to live with this rock in my head for another six months?” I knew these weren’t likely scenarios but they kept churning through my brain. Taking a deep breath, I exhaled and attempted to relax. I looked down the beach towards the Huntington Beach Pier and tried to empty my brain and focus on my walk. At this point Rise Above This by Seether began playing.
Take the light, undarken everything around me
Call the clowns and listen closely,I’m lost without you
Call your name every day when I feel so helpless
I’m fallin’ down but I’ll rise above this, rise above this
I listened to the words and thought this was exactly what I needed to hear at the moment. The ocean rolled in, covering my feet and ankles and I watched Lucy trotting ahead of me. As the water receded I noticed that my dog was leaving faint pawprints in the sand. As the sand became less moist the pawprints were deeper and more defined. Then, just like that, the next wave rolled in and washed them away.
Call your name every day, when i feel so helpless
I’m fallin’ down, but I’ll rise above this, rise above this
This reminded me of the poem Footprints In The Sand. In the past I’ve blogged about my distaste for church in general because I feel like they’re full of insincere, hypocritical douchebags (including many of the pastors who run them) and I have no use for the “I’m so holy and I’m better than you” game. I don’t have a problem with God and in fact, He and I chat on a pretty regular basis. [I have my reasons for feeling this way about churches and someday I will probably tell you all about it, but not now.]
I stopped to sit on a rock, called Lucy to come back towards me and began to have a chat with the Man Upstairs. I told him I appreciated the timing of the song and the partial relaxation I was now feeling over my impending appointment. Lucy came up and shoved her head under my hands which is her not so subtle way of saying, “Pet me damn it”.
We sat there for a few minutes before pressing on and as my dog started to walk up he beach I saw the pawprint at the top of the page. It was like one last reminder to chill out and let go of things I can’t control. To be clear, letting go of things I can’t control isn’t easy for me to do.
Lucy and I went back to “Dog Beach” on Friday after the appointment and on Saturday my 14-year-old (who I affectionately call Drama Queen) joined us on our walk. Lucy is 10 and three days in a row of running down the sand and playing with other dogs completely exhausted her and she snored like crazy. I felt emotionally exhausted after Thursday and Friday’s walk, but in a good way.
It rained on Sunday and we didn’t take our walk but I looked at the picture a few times and the memory of the alone time with my dog made me smile. As I sit on my bed typing this I’m reminded that the simple things really are the best things. I never thought a pawprint could be the thing that calmed me down, but it was. Pretty cool, huh?
P.S. I spent the weekend updating my Blogroll and I invite you to check it out for some other rad blogs.