Burrowing In

As I brought Missy to her bedroom, all the familiar comforts were waiting. Her Hogwarts pillows. Her bedtime story on the nightstand. And 95 pounds of midnight-colored canine, sprawled across the carpet.

Sigh. “Hi, Blake.”

Big Blake hasn’t always been part of the bedtime routine. In the past, our English Lab preferred to camp out in the master bedroom with Heather, waiting for her attention to wander so he could sneak off and raid the Christmas trash. But sometime last June and July, when the fireworks turned into a Normandy-level barrage, Blake decided it was time to relocate.

For a while he hid under my desk, which was a little like trying to fit a genie back into its lamp and about as miraculous. So after a while, he chose the comforts of Missy’s room instead. Even after the fireworks stopped, he’d plunk himself down, just in time for storytime.

I can hear everyone saying “Awww!” And yes, it makes a rather cute sight. But after the book gets put away and the last good-night hugs are shared, there remains the Herculean task of getting Blake to leave the room.

“C’mon, buddy.” Pause. “No, really, it’s time, let’s go.” Pause. “Blake ….”

Leaving the door open at night isn’t really an option, since it’s harder for Missy to sleep. Leaving them alone together is a little like leaving the Marx Brothers with a cream pie and a society matron close to hand. Lifting him up and out … I did mention this was 95 pounds of Lab, right?

So we coax. We call. We lay trails of food to lure him or ring the doorbell to get him charging out. We always feel a little bad about it, since we know it’s a comfort spot for him. But sooner or later, he needs to move.

I think more than a few of us can identify with that.

There has been a lot going on over the last year or so – enough that I sometimes wonder if the Cubs broke the space-time continuum with their World Series win. Hurricanes and wildfires. Torches and Nazis. And of course, the political becoming perpetual, with every day seeming to bring a new issue to discuss … no, debate … all right, argue.

Now, I worked in the media long enough to know that we’re never completely at Condition Green. We live in a world where we can instantly know every crisis and feel pain from half a world away. Not every alarm bell is necessary, but sorting out the ones that must be dealt with is a non-trivial task, even in the best of times.

Even so, the volume has been creeping up as surely as Missy’s stereo. And it’s being felt. I regularly see people who just want to disengage and break off from it all. Turn off the TV, put down the paper, clear off anything on the Facebook wall that isn’t puppies and flowers. Find a good bedroom at storytime, and plunk down on the carpet, away from everything else.

I understand. And to a certain extent, it’s necessary. No one can battle all the time, everyone needs a time and place where they can pull back, regroup, and recover. Having a space, online or off, that’s a “No Politics” zone can be essential to sanity.

But while it’s a great place to visit, we can’t live there.

In a free society, politics is everyone’s business. In an interconnected society, no decision leaves anyone untouched. And in this society, pulling back from a situation because it’s stressful doesn’t mean the situation will go away – it just means that you’ve removed any voice you might have had about how to deal with it.

And the voices that stay are not guaranteed to have your best interests at heart.

Yes, rest. Recover. Care for yourself, renew your joy and your strength. No job can be 24 hours, including our job as citizens. But remember that recuperation is different from surrender. Sooner or later, however comfy the place, we have to move back to where we need to be.

Trust me. You’ll be dog-gone glad you did.

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