photo credit westcoastwoman
A place exists somewhere between the edge of campfire light and the surrounding forest that cannot be named. Distant enough from the laughter and storytelling that the draw into the surrounding darkness is tangible.
She awoke to find herself rooted in this unnamed space and unable to remember how long she had lingered there. Her feet moved towards the familiar light of the fire until she stood close behind the gathered circle. There was no notice of her presence and it appeared the circle was unbroken, she would not be missed.
A turn and movement into the utter darkness of the path ahead, the inability to see her foot as it moved forward made it clear that for some time this journey would be without light or destination.
written in response to a word prompt, the word “clear”, limited to six sentences.
photo Charles MacKinnon
This is where I humbly confess that I have been ‘sheep dogging’ for longer than I care to admit. Not that I did it consciously mind you, I would have been surprised and likely offended if anyone suggested I attempted to “force or nudge someone off their intended path”.
I stand here, hand raised, yes I am guilty.
This revelation came to me at a retreat I attended recently where one of the facilitators Dan Hines described part of his upbringing. His childhood included time spent on his grandfather’s sheep ranch observing sheep dogs doing their job by forcing and nudging reluctant sheep to their intended destination. Dan then described the perfect metaphor of how as humans we also tend to want to ‘sheep dog’ others in the direction that we see as right for them.
We are all probably guilty of ‘sheep dogging’ on some level or another, especially if we have raised children. Young children are easy to ‘nudge’ without them being aware of what is being done. Teenagers will see you crouched to the ground in herding position, call you on it, bolt off and break away before you have a chance to rise to your feet.
I am very aware of my need to be ‘right’ and the great difficulty I have in changing even the smallest imperfections in myself. Why would I want to take on the impossible job of trying to convince someone else to change direction?
This Hindu proverb states it perfectly:
There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everybody that his or her path is wrong.
And so, it is with great relief I will attempt to give up ‘sheep dogging’ completely, both in written and spoken word.
There, done, everyone on their own………:)