Walking Blind

January 29, 2024

Artist Margaret Aden with Finn (who is blind during the day)

Hello Friend! We’ve turned the corner into 2024. New Year’s always careens into life, a rush after the Christmas Holiday, full of promise and pressure and prayers. I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions, choosing to keep my “don’t stab anyone” goal in place for the last decade. It seems a simple goal, and yet, it isn’t.

 Overall, I much prefer the timeframe of the Chinese New Year celebration. I know, I know, I’m taking it wildly out of context and superimposing it on my Judeo-Christian calendar, but it feels more achievable, separated from the madness of the Holidays by time and physical space (Christmas tree tucked back into its garage nest). Taking the couple of weeks to get the beat of the New Year allows me to feel and observe the tenor of the new time and space of “January”.

This year, I’ve been home more than others. It’s a blessing even as the time off the road upticks the pressure on my business to preform later in the year. I’ve been tending to my succulent garden, my people, my pets. In particular, I’ve been contemplating the life of our largest dog (ever), Finn. At 85 pounds he’s not the biggest dog in the world, but he is the biggest one we’ve ever had. He also has something really special going on—he’s blind during the day.

When Finn was a puppy, we noticed him bumping into things, not able to catch balls, and totally unaware of anything new that came into the house. After a visit to a specialist, we learned Finn cannot see during the day. He has a congenital defect in the nerves in his eyes and his cone shaped nerve endings just don’t work. So now we have this big 85-pound dog bumping around the house. My husband likes to keep the lights low so Finn can see better, but my middle-aged eyes require landing strip lighting to get the coffee in the cup. My studio is lit up like a neighborhood Christmas lights extravaganza.

That’s life, right? Competing needs and compromises.

But what I’ve noticed lately is just how BRAVE Finn is every day. He boldly walks around in full sunlight; having memorized where the posts to the porch are, how to get up and down across the terraced, brick landscaping in the yard. He knows where my utility trailer is parked and avoids it while he takes care of his personal business. Finn even knows where the pool is and how to avoid falling in while walking around the whole thing. (I mean, that last part was learned the hard way, he falls in once or twice a year and we fish him out and dry him off. Big dogs have big wet dog smells too.)

What’s more is that when he (inevitably) gets the location of something wrong, is maybe 5% off on his angle, even when he bumps his head on the port posts, HOW he reacts blows me away. He’s the epitome of RESILIENCE. He literally shakes it off and corrects his path, not taking it personally, never being a victim to being day blind. Finn never grumbles or growls at bumps and stumbles; he simply moves on, taking the new info into account and HAPPILY marching on.

 Finn takes the happiness of being a dog to a whole new level.

I’m trying to learn from Finn. How to take the bumps and bricks of life, my studio practice, my life practice, and shake them off with neutrality and joy. It’s the next step that counts sometimes, and tenor of how we take it. I want to be as brave as Finn, knowing there’s a giant hole in the ground with water that I could and do fall in but still testing the shape of it, the feel of its edges and carefully getting on with getting around it. I want to be resilient like Finn, sometimes bumping into the same old obstacles and accepting it with a microsecond of shock and then humble grace.

And I want to be like Finn at night. The time of day when he sees with perfect vision, bounding over the obstacles of his fun filled life and navigating around the yard like a mountain lion. And in the quiet dark of night, Finn sees me clearly. And he still loves me.

This is my greatest hope of 2024. To see myself and my world in moments of perfect clarity and love it, love myself, completely. 

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