September 1, 2014

Lhasa Apsos

I had a Zen moment this morning.

Walking to the train station, I saw a little dog get clipped by a car. There wasn't much to hit: the dog weighed less than a pigeon and looked like it hadn't seen the inside of a house or a feeding bowl in weeks. I was on foot so I knocked on some doors to see if anyone could help. A lady in a car finally stopped and gave us a ride to the emergency vet. The dog was DOA. I said a prayer for it. I guess I wanted to give it a recommendation to get into dog heaven.

The vet said it was a female, purebred Lhasa Apso, a valuable dog. She had no identification tags so we had no one to notify. Somebody lost a dog and will never find it now.

All the way to work I felt the urge to write about the experience. But what could I say? My elegy on a dead dog seemed like so much babble. Then I began to wonder why I couldn't articulate my thoughts.

I studied English because I had heard you could get chicks that way. But the chicks who came to my classes all had hairy legs and Birkenstocks and seemed suddenly to be more interested in each other than they were in me. I used to feel guilty about that, as if my frightening lack of poise was somehow responsible for driving them into each other's arms. I remember deciding that English was a dead language as far as I was concerned. I thought I'd learn Dutch. It's sexy. Like German on lithium. Or maybe Sanskrit - the mother tongue's mother. All those tongues had to be good for something.

The funny thing was, I don't even like Lhasa Apsos. My friend Lance the Actor's mom has one. It is as much fun to play with as a cornered sewer rat. It bit him once - right on the cuticle. The wound got infected and Lance almost lost the end of his naughty-finger.

So, of course, while I was dealing with the dog this morning I worried that it would turn nasty and nip me or worse that I'd have to give it mouth-to-mouth or something. I tried to save it while keeping emotionally distant. This was a kind of Zen detachment.

I told myself that dogs are impermanent. Clinging to them is dukkha. I am impermanent. Clinging to me is dukkha. Only cats should be clung to, and that only because if you don't they get even. That summed up the Dharma as I understood it. But how could I convey this deep truth?

I don't know when I'll find my voice and write about the DOA dog. Maybe I should consult a medium, or, in my case, an extra-large. I could try to channel Dorthy Parker or something.

Yes, the Zen business was starting to sink in.