As I tickled the toes of the Rocky Mountains, hanging out at the sheepdog finals, watching and filming, I wondered then too. I took time to watch, really closely watch, the interactions: dog, sheep, handler, volunteers, leaders, friends. Is it age, a place in the midst of my life well lived, finding myself closer to the end than the beginning now, that leaves me wanting just a little bit more from myself? I want to believe that my life has been and is being lived for something bigger than my performance at a sheepdog trial. I wonder.....
I ran Bella and came off the field feeling a partnership in flux. I "felt" like she ran over me most of the way around until that magic moment where we found our rhythm and made the most out of the rest of the course, too late. A good friend and mentor talked to me long after my run, his version not at all like me version of what happened. I've learned over the years that mentor's words are to be ruminated on, so I boxed them up in a larger box than I would have liked and began sorting through them on my drive home.
It always takes me a few days, if not weeks, to find my courage to watch my runs, if a friend is willing to film for me. I lucked out and a friend stood behind the camera for my run......I'm sure I am grateful. It is not her fault what she filmed was the reality of what happened and not my sugar coated, self absorbed version that skated dog blaming. I grabbed my box off the higher shelf, where I had stored it, hoping it might catch some dust before I sorted out the contents. I watched my run, in amazement the first time around, then moving through the Kubler Ross stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression. My filmed run is NOT at ALL what I remembered! That, and my mentor was RIGHT....gasp. My video run showed a dog that was giving everything she had to sort twitchy, difficult sheep....and a handler who needs more work. Work at what, I'm just now beginning to sort and gain ideas about.....I've learned over the years that the changing of me is that special life challenge that I am willing to embrace with everything I am. I tiptoe through the depression stage......disappointed in myself. My dogs give me so much of themselves and I am more than willing to take. The good news is seeing.....the bad news is seeing.....the quest continues. I dig deep knowing that relationships are my higher quest.....dogs, friends, me.
Friday I got a call from the Sheep Boss; he needed a field gathered and his shepherd was MIA. I pulled up, into the field, grabbed a four wheeler, my whistle and Bella. The second I started up the field, big and deep with a bend to the left of it, tree lined shade beginning to creep its way onto the dark fescue grass, Bella took off on an outrun. It might have been a pretty outrun, but Bella had no idea where the sheep were tucked into the shade, out of sight, around the bend and i did not have time to leave her to her own mistake. Today was about team work, we had a job to do and the Boss does not like his sheep to run. I yelled at her, "Bella, Lie Down!". She ran harder and a bit tighter. I yelled again, a pitch coming into my voice, one of how about I come kick your ass, "Bella, you better lie down". She was gone. Then it hit me, I had a four wheeler and I could out gas her.....I took off up the filed, stuck my whistle in my mouth and blew a lie down. She stopped, and looked over her shoulder, waited for me. I pulled left, calling out a "that'll do" and together we went out and around the shaded up sheep, walking them in to the catch pen 100 acres away. Bella took the side draw, holding the pressure, catching the runners and waiting for my to push the sore footed laggers. As the trailers pulled away from the field, packed full of our gathered sheep, not a single one left behind, Bella and I headed to the coffee shop to celebrate.
I found my stage of acceptance on the field of real work. I know and have known that Bella hates it when I yell at her. She is a lot like me, and pretty much everyone I know; she does better without being yelled at. Me, well, I have to die to my ego I guess.....ego and old habits from lifetimes ago. I relish the days where I'm allowed time to sort.....to experiment and find the answers given back. New vision to my eyes, from the real time and filmed runs from the finals, the good news is seeing, the best news is adjusting to what is seen. Relationship.....it's not about perfection; it's about seeing, adjusting, communicating, understanding, self change.
"One hundred years from now
It will not matter...."
I think on this quote...what exactly will matter 100 years from now? Will anyone remember my score or my run at a trial? I think not, I know I am hard pressed to remember who came in third at The 2012 National Finals, let along who came in third at Heppner last year. Knowing this and living this are two different edges to the same sword. As I look for a concluding "ah ha" moment, some profound statement to pull this all together, I can't find words to put to my feelings. I'll keep to the work...I know most of it is an inside job....my dogs a mirror to my growth.
Seize the Day......make your life extraordinary!!!!!
Seize the Day......make your life extraordinary!!!!!