Slack in the Leash
Chip and I were talking today about how so many things we usually love to do don’t bring as much enjoyment now. For me, some of those things would be hiking, reading, bargain shopping, and traveling. It’s not that I don’t enjoy those things. It’s just that often there’s a threshold on the level of fulfillment and happiness I gain from them.
Sometimes I do find myself breaking through the threshold and becoming immersed in the experience. But it seems I always get yanked back to reality. It’s like when you take your dog for a walk on his retractable leash. He gets all excited because you’ve given him so much slack. He runs as fast as he can through the grass, but then suddenly, he comes to the end of the slack, and he stops short, unable to run any further. He has reached the limit of his ability to run free and must deal with the constraints of the leash. That’s how it feels when, in the middle of the best moments, I remember, “Chandler died.”
During our visit to the zoo on Monday, I really wanted to fully enjoy this day with family. When I found myself inevitably at the end of the taut leash, I tried to create some slack for myself. I thought, “How would you be feeling right now if Chandler had not died?” My answer, “I would be fully in this moment, enjoying some of my favorite things on earth — family, nature, sunshine, and animals.”
So I tried to let myself simply be there, letting all painful images and thoughts pass without grabbing on to them. It helped. I found some slack in the leash — some moments of crashing through the threshold.
I won’t say it works every time. I’m not even sure it’s healthy to make it an ongoing habit. Chandler did die. And I do have to feel what that’s like. But I think my little experiment might be helpful sometimes.