Devie is dying. We all are, of course, but our thirteen-year-old dog is very near to the end of life. She’s lost eight pounds in the last six months and she sleeps most of the time. Her kidneys aren’t processing food well anymore and she exhibits cognitive dysfunction. All of this adds up to one thing: she makes messes all the time.
Dev finds new food-like items to tear into, like the box of bulk spices she never disturbed before. She no longer signals to go outside, so we clean up puddles inside nearly every day. We started crating her when we’re gone and sometimes she messes in there. If doggy nursing homes existed, Devie would be a resident.
Meanwhile, the federal government is shut down. Alex, a federal government worker who was just furloughed this summer, will be paid for an uncomfortably vague ‘twenty to sixty days’. Other friends are already furloughed.
If adulthood has taught me anything, it’s that people are at least as messy as old dogs. We stick to insignificant points instead of compromising. We are greedy for what should be shared. We make mistakes, like the local school district that left my friend’s kids stranded on a bus for three hours. We complicate life into a huge ugly tangle.
In both cases, my aged dog and messed up human systems, I want to hide my head in a hoop house and opt out. I feel powerless in the face of all this mess, yet it surrounds me.
So I will dig my cares away this afternoon. I’ll dirty my hands in nature’s mess while planting garlic. Chaos in nature, the only kind of nature, is beautiful to me.
I will stare at the birds and warm in the sun and remember there are much more important things in life than a bunch of people arguing in Washington. Important things need my care: growing nourishing food, protecting the wonder of nature, and providing comfort to the aged.
How do you react to overwhelming mess?