I’ve developed the habit of saying “no” to things before I even give myself half a second to think about if that’s how I really feel. For instance, if a friend asks me if I want to go do (a) activity with them on (b) day/night, my knee-jerk reaction is to decline. What I’m learning about myself is that my immediate response tends to be premature, and if I actually took some time to think about whether or not something appeals to me/works with my schedule, my answer might vary. Yesterday I found myself in a position to experiment with this reactive tendency, and unintentionally decided to challenge it.
Lindsay, an old friend from high school, was in town for work and we had made plans to get together for a drink on her last night. After receiving a text from her asking if we were still on, I automatically began crafting a response that gave me an out: “I really want to try and make it, but I have a lot going on today. Can I check in with you later? If I’m able to get all my errands done, I still want to come see you!” Before pressing send, I thought about what I had just written. Total bullshit. If I was being completely honest with myself (and her), the answer I should have typed (and eventually did) was: “Yes! Can you confirm the details of where/when I should meet you?” Luckily, I didn’t act too soon and was able to correct my message before sending my response. I began to wonder why in the world I would have automatically written something I didn’t mean, something that ultimately prevented me from spending time with someone I wanted to see, doing something I wanted to do. This sparked my curiosity.
Minutes later, as if the gods were targeting me (and my impulsive alter ego) on this lovely Sunday, my phone rang. It was another friend, Megan, whom I hadn’t seen in months. We were long overdue for a good catch-up. It just so happened that she was hanging in the city, and was available for a walk and a chat that afternoon. Something clicked in me and I decided that this was also an activity I wanted to do…so I said, “YES!” to it. “Yes I will come to the city early…Yes I will head to your brother’s house…Yes I’m bringing Banjo and would love to take her and Luna on a walk…YES, YES, YES!” The day was unfolding more perfectly than if I had strategically planned it.
Ok, I’ve gotta back up a sec here. I forgot to mention that earlier in the day I had taken Banjo to the Berkeley Marina, an expansive piece of land where dogs run around off-leash! This is a huge deal, simply because Banjo and I are both new to the whole “off-leash” thing…and our past experiences with it have been rocky (i.e. dead birds, tree climbing, cat chasing, etc). So, while this new adventure was a definite risk, it proved to be one worth taking. Not only was our trip to the park successful because Banjo did so well, but I was also able to practice walking on uneven ground with my newly-healed foot! Horray!!! Turns out, saying “yes” to this experience, one that I was pretty unsure of, proved to be the right thing to do. Now back to the afternoon in San Francisco.
As I packed a day bag, preparing for our trip into the city, I began to think about when I first started contemplating getting a dog. It was important to me to find one that would be compatible with my lifestyle, not one that I would have to sacrifice all of my favorite activities for in order to make it work. But how could you know what it would be like until you actually had the dog? How could you predict what the dog’s personality was going to be and what type of nature it was going to have? Well, the answer is you can’t. There’s no way to know until you’re actually in the moment, figuring it out. Yesterday was that moment for me. With Banjo in the back of my 4Runner, and me in the front, blasting my new song (on repeat, hehe), we were off to the city to test the limits! First stop: hanging with Megan.
After a quick visit with Brandon (Megan’s Brother) and his girlfriend, Olivia, we headed out on a lovely afternoon walk up to Buena Vista Park. It had been years since I’d spent time on that little hill covered in redwoods. Needless to say, the company and conversation were both wonderful. My only complaint about that part of the day is that Megan and I didn’t get enough time together! But since I was on a schedule, Banjo and I bid her and Luna (Olivia’s dog) farewell, and hopped back in the car. Next stop: Fort Mason to visit Lindsay at the art show.
I was curious how this next phase of our day would go. I knew that the show was “dog friendly” but I didn’t know how “people friendly” Banjo would be. Since the day I got her back in September, it was obvious that Banjo was a sensitive girl, one who needed to take time getting to know someone before she trusted him/her. Over the past few months her level of comfort and ease around strangers had grown significantly, but this was going to be a new, stimulating environment. We both entered the Festival Pavilion bright-eyed and cautious.
I immediately found Lindsay, gave her a big squeeze and then began to check out the exhibits. Banjo did great! She was a little timid and untrusting at first, but stuck by my side the whole time, licking crumbs off the floor and sniffing her way down the long corridor. People kept approaching us, proclaiming: “What a beautiful dog!” “She’s so elegant and well behaved.” “What an interesting breed.” “I spotted her across the room; she’s got a wonderful gait.” The compliments kept pouring in. I know it’s funny, but I was shocked. It was a cool thing to both witness and be a part of. I sure was proud of my girl.
Once Lindsay was done for the day, we headed to The Social Study for a glass of wine. As I walked away from my car and towards the bar, Banjo’s yelps made it difficult to stay focused on the task at hand: spending a little bit of time enjoying the company of an old friend. I wanted to say to her, “don’t worry sweet girl. I’m coming right back!” But I knew that she’d never really be able to hear me, so instead I just reminded myself that she’s a dog, not a human being, she will be fine. And of course she was. I was able to thoroughly enjoy my visit with Lindsay, and was reminded time and again that “Yes!” had been the right answer earlier that day.
As we wrapped things up at the bar, my friend, Caitlin, texted me. Turns out she was also in town, visiting from New York, and was free to meet for dinner…another wonderful surprise! So when I left Lindsay, I headed up Fillmore Street to meet Caitlin and indulge in a burger and a beer. With Caitlin and I, we always seem to just pick up where we left off. It was a fun, brief dinner that was satisfying on multiple levels. Our date ended with her walking me to my car, meeting Banjo and listening to the latest mix of my new song. And after a long hug goodbye, I drove back over the Bay Bridge, reflecting on my fulfilling day.
Had I said “NO!” to Lindsay, I would have never had the opportunity to say “YES!” to all these other things. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, rather than letting my knee-jerk reaction get the best of me and dictate my life, sometimes it’s helpful to just sit and think about how I really feel. Maybe I don’t actually want to do something…but maybe I DO. And when I say “YES!” to the universe, maybe it will say “YES!” back.