Same water. Different bowl.
It’s been a little over a month since I last wrote. I decided to take some time after my dog died to mourn. Thank you for all the emails and cards and plants, flowers, mementos and texts. I have felt very supported since Fonzie passed and it has been overwhelming, in a good way.
(I can assure you that Fonzie won’t be the subject of every post from now on, but he is the indirect inspiration for this one. Hang tight, it will relate to you and your life soon. Keep reading.)
Fonzie liked to bark at dogs as they walked by the house. Sometimes they had already passed the house but by the time he smelled them, they were out of sight, and by the time I showed up to see what all the ruckus was about, it appeared that he was barking at … nothing … very excitedly. He wanted to let me know that his friends were out there, somewhere, and if I would just hurry up, he could go sniff some butts. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what he was thinking.
Fonzie also liked to go to other dogs’ houses and drink their water. Mind you that we had PLENTY of fresh water at home, in multiple places in and around the house, but he still liked other dogs’ water. It was such a habit for him to drink at other peoples’ houses that in the summer, my neighbors set out a big pot of water, filling it daily. Their little dachshund didn’t need that much water — it was mostly for Fonzie.
And so to honor him and all the dogs he’s barked at through the window, I made this stepping stone (pictured) for him. Now I’m the neighbor who sets out the big bowl of water daily for the all neighborhood dogs who prefer someone else’s water to their own.
It reminds me of how, as a kid I used to like to eat at other peoples’ houses, just because it was different. I thought it was better, even when it really, truly wasn’t, like when I was over at the Smith’s playing, and stayed for lunch, I got to have Velveeta! So. Gross. But it was different, therefore, better.
And I think it’s easy for us to look through a similar, “different is better” lens when we see other people's lives. When we are dissatisfied, we tend to romanticize someone else’s life, believing it’s easier, better, happier, more fun, etc. And we conclude that the reason their lives are easier, happier, more fun, etc., is because they have this job, partner, weather, commute, salary, life, house, etc.). So then we go about trying to figure out how to change our job, partner, weather, salary, life, house, etc.
It’s what we tell ourselves because it gives us the illusion of control. Our brains like straightforward answers: Change this and you will get X result. If we just change this one thing, then we’ll be happy.
It is a fool’s errand. It is how we chase happiness rather than being happy. It’s just like Fonzie drinking from a different bowl. Changing the size or shape of the water bowl doesn’t change the fundamental properties of the water; it just changes the look. It’s all coming from the same pipes, i.e., the same place.
What matters is where we are currently and what’s driving us. If all our decisions are coming from the same patterns of thinking, then nothing truly changes on the outside. It might look different, but the same pattern will eventually emerge unless we do the inner work, the hard work, on our emotions, thinking and yep, spiritual stuff.
Our challenge as humans is to
1) Realize that EVERYTHING is a shape-shifting perception and perceptions can change in an instant; and
2) Find happiness within, so that when we do change our job, partner, life, etc, they are the natural result of our inner work, rather than changing how things look in the hopes that it will change how we feel on the inside.
People are often surprised when they come to me for career coaching and want to start looking for a new job right away and I say, “Let’s wait on that.” But this is why: Until we have awareness about what we’re doing to contribute to our dissatisfaction with life, going somewhere else won’t help because, you know, where you go, there you are. The real work I do with people is finding the thought patterns that got them stuck because unless we untangle those patterns, they’ll just get repeated.
Same water. Different bowl.
Thanks for being on this journey with me. :)