I met a puppy named goose
And this newsletter is about that and about breathing and being okay
Fresh to the world at only eleven weeks old. Everything still new and everything still exciting. A fluff ball of a thing that’s eager to run, eager to play. Still learning the weight of his paws and the distance between him and the ground, still learning how best to occupy space. I have ADHD and I am not comfortable in social situations a lot of the time which tends to make me weirder and more hyperactive, however, throw a pet into the mix and it tends to have the opposite effect. Goose was in the stage where he was getting the most out of his puppy teeth before they fell out. His claws yet blunted by the concrete from long walks. Goose was still sharp at his edges and learning what that meant but it didn’t stop the playing. He doesn’t yet understand that digging teeth into flesh isn’t what he’s supposed to do and right now it’s just fun. He never bit hard but just enough so you could feel it. He was just playing and throwing himself into the game of having fun and it is the most welcomed distraction.
Whenever I meet animals they run to me. I have some odd connection with them that’s unspoken that I don’t truly understand but animals have some strange effects on me unlike anything else. They have this ability to bring me into some foreign state of calm whilst I’m simultaneously feeling more excited than a child who just realised his parents got him a bounce house for his birthday party. As chaotic as I am, animals seem to also find a calm in me and for the life of me I have no idea why. My baseline is a bag of sugar and six coffees. I bounce off the walls so much that my childhood home had a slight lean to it.
Goose sat on my lap and rested his head on my shin as I sat cross-legged. Soft fur through my fingers and I was left pondering what regulates heartbeats. In normal social situations my heart is leaving footprints next to door handles looking for an exit but giving me puppy snores and the warmth of cuddles and my heart has its feet up reading the newspaper. It is miraculous what resets a rhythm and leaves you beating in time with the world. Anxiety is just a form of forgetfulness. Forgetting how to breathe, forgetting how to see anything but danger and panic and DOOM!! Make sure you put the big dramatic voice on the word doom there and pay close attention to the two exclamation points. I spend my life searching for things that help me remember how to use my lungs. That makes me want to stay in places instead of running away from them. This isn’t me saying I don’t like being around people, that’s very inaccurate but being around people is hard a lot of the time. Until I’m confident and entirely comfortable with people it isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I know I’m not alone in this. I know this is a shared guilt and I know how hard it is to explain. To say to people, I don’t want to see you today and for it to not be taken personally. It’s too cliche to say ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ but god damn, a lot of the time that cliche is accurate.
I guess with animals the expectations are different. You rub their bellies, you cuddle them, you play, they snooze on you and you’re the best person in the world. You don’t have to think about what to say or how to fit into a conversation or find the right answer to a question, you throw a ball, it comes back and you throw it again. Yesterday I met a puppy named Goose and even the mere presence of him made me feel happier and calmer and it made me believe I could fit into conversations that were happening. No dread, no fear, no ‘when can we go home?’ pondering; I was just there and didn’t mind being there. I guess the takeaway today is that your feelings are valid and even when they seem like terrible feelings and when you feel bad that what you feel will hurt people, it’s okay. You just have to explain yourself. You have to find those things that regulate your heart and bring function to your lungs. You have to put breathing first and admit you’re struggling and then conquer it. Robert Frost is infamous for saying that the only way is through but that’s a little difficult when there’s no door and no window and the ceiling is one hundred feet high. You have to find your sledgehammers and swing them, you have to make your own way forward. You have to know what needs work and then get to it. Yesterday I met a puppy named Goose and he showed me that I still have a long way to go. That thank god, I still have a long way to go.
Gosh, this song is two decades old now. That’s actually wild.