Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Way We're Wired

We had unexpected snow yesterday: just a couple inches, but enough to cling to tree trunks and weigh down evergreen branches in ways reminiscent of Christmas card scenes.

Since we don't often get pretty snow here (it's more often slush or ice), I went outside this morning to capture a few pictures, then found myself puzzling:

What's this short trail on the deck?
Did DH come out and shovel this, and if so, why just this narrow swath?

We don't own a shovel this small, so what the heck was he using?
And why would he do that anyway?

Here's what I wondered about:

It took me all of about two seconds to realize what made the path (in the picture, follow the trail to its end at the railing): a water bowl

Yup, one of the canine kids (probably Rudy, Pinot, or Tuc, all of whom love playing in water bowls and chewing up ice) undoubtedly found the water frozen and, in their attempts to get the water (or ice) out, nosed the bowl all the way to the deck's other side.

And yes, they did get the ice out.

Silly kids.

They're just doing as Labs do.

Labrador retrievers are wired to be intelligent, curious, playful, inquisitive, active, persevering, and optimistic (among other things including loving, affectionate, loyal, etc.). Like the boy in the old joke who finds himself neck-deep in horse manure but who happily digs there because he's sure he'll find a horse in the pile somewhere, Labs keep at it and don't complain. Ever the optimists, they just keep trying. They don't give up.

They push figurative frozen water bowls to the other side of the deck everyday, and they're quite happy to do so.

I love my Labs. And I so often wish I were more like them.

But I have to remember that canines and humans are wired differently. And that's as it should be; it's the way we're made.

Take today, for example. It's the first day in nine months that I've been alone -- as in, no other human beings in the house. And I'm relishing every second of it! It feels like absolute liberation to me. Truth be told, I'm an introvert: that is, I'm recharged by being alone (most people wouldn't suspect this about me). When I go too long without my alone-time, I wither. And I've been withering inside for months now.

Don't get me wrong: I love DH to the nth degree and like nothing better than a quiet evening spent with him. I love my kids wholeheartedly, I love having them around, and I miss them when they're away (yes, btw, DFS was able to go back to school and did two days ago - yay! - we're really happy for him). I love my friends and am able to laugh with them 'til my face and sides hurt or I can hardly breathe. I love my extended family and church family and ministry partners and the other people with whom I find myself in regular contact. And I enjoy being with them all.

But, unlike Labs and many people, I need time alone.

I'm learning that I need to pay more attention to how I'm wired -- and accept it for what it is. I need to give myself grace to be who I am.

I would never, for example, expect one of my Labs to behave, say, like a Great Dane or an Australian Cattle Dog or a German Shorthaired Pointer (or I'd be incredibly foolish if I did). Though they are all canines, genetically they are very different breeds with very different temperaments. Labs behave like Labs, as they should. They can do no other.

So why do I expect myself to run like a Greyhound when I'm more like a Newfie?

Silly me.

I'm glad my gang is my gang, and that they are designed to be pack animals.

The girls need the girls (all of these pics were taken over the last several days):

The boys need the boys:

They all need each other (in the first shot below Ridge is under the coffee table next to Pinot's hind legs out of view, and in the second photo Ridge is off-camera to the right):

And they need us, too.

Yup, it's in their nature to thrive as pack animals (whether the pack is human or canine).

And it's really okay that it's in my nature to need time alone.

Note to self: quit feeling guilty and beating yourself up for not being an energetic extrovert. Just accept who you are and be who you were made to be, and you'll do just fine.

'Til next time,


Chester's Mom said...

The Lab "bowl trail" photo is funny-Chester loves to chew ice also. And all the sweet pictures of the kids snuggling-aaahhhh, looks so cozy. If it's any consolation, I am wired exactly the same way. Me needs me all by myself to recharge. And I am Ok with that and you should be too!!

Ms. ~K said...

Wow, can I relate to this!!
I taught school for 27 years-I had every summer vacation to myself, while my hubby (also a DH) worked. I loved it!
Now we are both retired and home together ALL THE TIME!!! sigh
Thank goodness we respect each other's space...
Enjoy your day home alone (with all the pups).
Kit, Zack, Sassy and Buddy

scargosun said...

I am looking forward to my evening alone. :) I am almost giggling at the prospect of it. :)

Anonymous said...

i am EXACTLY the same way as you - without big (& often) gulps of aloneness, i become a crazed, cranky, wanna-be hermit. existence turns into one long fingernails-scratching-on-the-blackboard...

i've never thought of it as any kind of flaw. simply my nature, like brown eyes, or my height.


Anonymous said...

Yep, me too! I love my 'alone-time'. Just me and my boy, Darcy the Lab.

I love your kids, they are just gorgeous... I can barely stand too much cuteness all at once, lol.