When I peeked into the bedroom, a pair of deep brown eyes in a furry face stared back at me. From a much higher elevation than usual.
“He jumped up,” Heather said smiling, as 85 pounds of English Labrador curled into her on the mattress of our bed.
This was big. And not just because of the sheer canine mass involved.
It’s been a long time since Big Blake managed to fly.
Mind you, in his younger days, Blake would leap for the bed about as regularly as he’d raid the trash, and with fewer emergency vet visits involved. If both of us happened to be there, he’d happily land among us like a moose onto a parade float, exultant in his accomplishment even as he inadvertently crushed anything nearby. If one of us had briefly gotten out of bed for any reason – to visit the bathroom, to get a book, to check on Missy – then the spot would be claimed by a furry black-and-white mountain range, requiring contortions, pleas and the liberal applications of snack food to alter the terrain by even an inch.
But that’s been a while. A 14-year-old dog’s knees just don’t have the spring that they used to. Medicine helps a bit. Steps get ignored. These days, Blake either gets a boost from one of us, or he stays grounded. Most of the time.
But sometimes motivation matters.
Like, say, the world suddenly exploding. Every night.
Blake hates the Fourth of July season. Hates it. The random booms, bangs and bursts that fill the air for two weeks before Independence Day and a week after it turn our big, bold hound into a nervous wreck. He’ll do what he can to find safe spots to curl up, places where he can feel less of the vibration while staying near people he trusts.
And if that means learning to fly again – so be it. Falling from a failed jump is scary. But maybe not as scary as the alternative.
You focus on the goal. And you do what you need to do to get there.
If ever there was a time of year to remember that, it’s this one. When an entire country took a leap into the dark and hoped.
I’ve said it before: the American Revolution was not exactly made for Hollywood. Sure, sometimes you’d get a Saratoga or a Yorktown, a battlefield victory to evoke cheers and celebrations. But most of it? Retreat, evade and endure, with a healthy dose of “survive” on the side.
“We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a feather bed,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in the midst of all. And we weren’t. The daily victory was staying alive by any means necessary, whether that meant getting out of New York one step ahead of the British, abandoning the “capital” at Philadelphia, or hunkering down for a long winter of next-to-nothing at Valley Forge.
In a world like that, it’s easy to get impatient. Easy to lose sight of the long-term goal. Easy to forget that the discomfort and struggle has a purpose.
But when the world is exploding around you – in revolution, in fireworks, in pandemic – you do what you need to do to keep moving forward. Because falling back isn’t an option.
And there is a “forward.” However hard it is to remember sometimes.
“Yet through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory,” John Adams wrote. “I can see that the end is more than worth all the means.”
We’re in mid-leap. If we keep our focus, we will stick the landing.
Even if it means working like a dog to get there.