This is Rita. Full name: Margarita Rae Berry. She is a one-year-old Golden Retriever, some kind of Shepherd and who knows what else mixture of energy, love and affection. We “rescued” Rita from an online pet adoption site a couple of weeks ago and, through a tumultuous “interview” process decided against all better judgment and common sense to formally welcome her to our family. Rita was originally found on the streets of Tijuana – she came to us as “Hannah” but we renamed her as an homage to her homeland – and has lived in a number of foster homes in the last year. She’s a healthy and happy puppy but given her upbringing so far and her “big kid” status she’s definitely a bit rough around the edges.
Rita is, by any measure, unfinished. And it is that part of her that has spoken to me so loudly and clearly these past two weeks. Training her has been an incredible experience in behavioral conditioning, responsiveness, stubbornness and progress. She has been patient with me, however, and I am learning.
In her willingness to discover and explore. In her pushing of limits, challenging of boundaries and often misplaced and aggressive giving of affection, she is simply trying to find her way to acceptance and love. Her greatest gift is her lack of self-doubt. She possesses no irrational fears, does not second guess herself and seems utterly lacking in inner turmoil about how the world will perceive her should she fail. As I mentioned, I am learning.
I initiated this site for the sharing of ideas and experiences a number of months ago but I have been hesitant to announce it to the world because it doesn’t yet measure up to my expectations of what a “great” blog or website should look like. I have been unable or perhaps unwilling to reconcile myself to the very real possibility that it is precisely the unfinished quality of it that may make it the most useful. Maybe my willingness to just get started, to trust that the right elements will emerge along the way is how the most vital learning will emerge. Perhaps my job is to learn to love the question of what it might become.
Like myself and like Rita, the site is unfinished. And so are all of you. And so is the world. And it is that unfinished part in each of us that makes us deeply aware of our own vulnerability and our own fears. It is also the part of us that makes it possible to be powerfully empathetic of and for others as we offer to them what we so hope they will offer us in return. It is that part I am counting on from each of you. And that you should expect of me.
As I start writing again I aspire to do so with a spirit of discovery and exploration; to push limits and to challenge boundaries.
In other words: just how Rita would do it.