Cats and Dogs and a Little Theory of Mind

Hi friends!  Cats or dogs?  Maybe both?  I’ll have to say I am partial to cats although I do not have one.  There are four dogs, a turtle, and a fish in our house though.  I’m taking care of my sister’s dogs while she is away for the next few days, so they are on my mind…along with cats.  You know almost every morning I run in the neighborhood and I am either being barked at or chased AND barked at.  I’m used to it.  I found it incredibly hilarious to me the other day when things took a bit of a turn.  I’m just making my way and I catch motion out of the corner of my eye.  Noiseless.  I’m not too concerned.  I look over and the dangest thing.  A cat was running with me.  Small.  Maybe a large kitten.  Not chasing me, running with me!  Made my day.  It didn’t last long, and he just stopped and stared.  I kept going and looking back every now and then watching him/her continuing to stare at me.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Dogs are great but I haven’t had the most luck with them in my early childhood years.  That tends to carry over on a subconscious level to some extent, right?  It started with Penny, my grandmother’s dachshund (named after The Beatles, Penny Lane).  Apparently, as the story goes, my grandma found Penny one day sitting on my face, as a sleeping baby, on her couch.  An attempt to smother me?  That was the “joke”, but grandma told me that Penny wasn’t happy when I came into the picture.  Eventually we did become friends and played together.  On the flipside, there was Shadow, my great aunt and uncle’s dog.  An enormous all black German shephard.  When I was seven, I made the mistake of standing in between him and another dog that he was barking at, Lady, a small beagle.  I stood there, unafraid (because I “thought” I knew him well enough), and chastised him with my finger, “No, Shadow!  No!”.  I don’t remember the attack when he mauled me and almost took off my cheek.  I DO remember being pinned down by a bunch of nurses while they tried to put in the 50+ stitches on my cheek.  Yeah that was a bad day.  Learned a lesson though!

Then there was George.  She was my second cat.  I do not remember the first as she passed away as a small kitten due to a gas leak I mentioned in a previous blog post of mine, Dreaming Reality. I got George when I was four and did not realize she was a girl until later, but in the moment, George I named her.  She became my best friend and at a time when I was still learning how to deal with the world around me.  A time when I was developing my sense of “self” so to speak.  I remember the summer of 1998, shortly after I left the Marines, I took a child psychology class and learned about The Theory of Mind.  I’d have to do some googling to really explain it, but when I reflected on my early child development years between 3-5, I was modeling the behavior of a cat.  Something that has carried over with me to this day.  I love the quiet.  Just staring out a window and watching.  Very soothing.  Downrange (Afghanistan, Iraq), when an “incident” would occur, I found myself becoming calmer.  Eerily calm in a way.  I remember looking back on events in reflection and wonder, “Why was I so calm?”  I really do not know, but I like to think that I had some help from my feline buddy from long ago to keep me grounded.  Unexcited.

I am curious for you though, my friend.  Look back in your own life when you were 3-5yrs old.  What was going on then?  Did you have something or someone in your life that had a dramatic effect on your personality that has brought you to this point in time?  Just something to reflect on, I guess!

Be well and be safe!

Handy Hardware

Hi!  Been a while! Few weeks maybe? Not like I had any excuse not to write but well I suppose life pushed me another way.  I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a fan of breaking bones.  The feature photo is pretty much a testament to that.  No, no, no that was nine years ago.  However, recently I did take an unfortunate “intentional” spill while roller skating.  Intentional as in I had to “or else” type of a deal.  A little girl came literally out of nowhere!  I couldn’t even think, just drop, and as it had been about 30yrs since I last fell, I was not used to it and landed exactly how I shouldn’t have.  Brace my fall when I hit the ground and…ouch.  Small fracture on my right wrist with a cast for a few weeks to boot.  I remember in the moment thinking how bad it hurt but at the same time a sigh of relief that I didn’t ruin that little girl’s day.  I tried to act cool, shook it off, continued on, and on, and on until it really started throbbing.  Yes, I need to leave.  As I was unlacing, I knew right away that I had to go to the hospital.  Couldn’t move my hand.  I was like, Oh crap. So, a cast and a few weeks excusing myself from typing things.  I’ll be honest though; I was not happy about the cast.  I wanted to gnaw it off.  It even slightly depressed me. Me. ME?  I thought it was impossible, but it happened and after a week or so, I knew there was a lesson here for me. Take a step back, Ben, and then a few more steps back. Slow down.  I really did not have to be going as fast as I was when the little girl came out.  Not necessary.  I’m more about precision and finesse. I am ready to go back.

Nine years ago, I had to learn a lot of lessons.  The main thing I was learning was how to feel sorry for myself.  Lessons in pain management without prescription medication (not a fan). On the right-hand side of the photo above of my left, not so funny, humerus, is the first surgery.  A rod, two pins at the shoulder and elbow areas. I spent six months pretty much suffering in silence.  No clue that the double fracture was not even healing.  No union.  It wasn’t until my brigade surgeon asked me when my last x-ray was…I was like, oh man, ummm right after the surgery.  No follow-ups and I am generally too stubborn to go to the doctor as, “I got this”.  I didn’t.  A second surgery to install a plate with a bunch of screws, bone from my hip, and a heck of a scar.  I remember at the time that the doctor’s orders were to have the plate removed after 18 months.  By that time, I was stateside again, and when I went into orthopedics at Fort Sill, they were adamant that it was not coming out.  Period. I absolutely refused to believe that. No way.  It’s coming out.  I was having these infrequent but frequent enough for concern issues where my arm would feel like an electric shock for a split second and I my arm would just go numb.  I’m like, I need a second opinion, this is BS.  There is a screw or screws that’s rubbing against the wrong thing in my arm to make it go kablooey.  I managed to convince the doc for a second opinion where I traveled down south to Fort Sam Houston and saw a traumatologist. He was probably the most intelligent sounding doctor to this day that I have ever come across. He told me he could take it out, but he also very clearly articulated what was going on in my arm. Scar tissue. The scar tissue was rubbing the radial nerve at times. He said that with another surgery the scar tissue would more than likely be exacerbated annnnnnnnnnnd…I could potentially lose the use of my arm permanently.

As Stan Lee was fond of saying, “’nuff said”. I spent the rest of the day in kind of a numb daze. The rest of my life. Within six months after that second opinion, my Shift occurred. I began living intentionally. I had used my arm as a crutch, an excuse for so many things, and deep down inside I knew it was BS. This hardware was a part of me now.  I decided that if was a part of me then I am a part of it. It is Me. No more wallowing in self-pity. I’m a runner, a roller skater. My arms aid me in my momentum. My arms are my wings. In over six and a half years I have never had any more arm numbing experiences.

There is a profound sense of well-being when you Surrender. I am not giving up.  I Let Go and Let God.

Have a great week everyone!