Thursday, November 8, 2012

Second Impressions

Buster and I made the drive back home, arriving last night. I introduced him to the house and yard. (There is a verb I've been seeking to describe his movement, but it's just not coming to me. It's not prancing, not leaping, not running, not walking, not trotting. Darting, perhaps? At any rate, he was excited, quick, and agile.) It would be tough to get any work done while watching him, but I hadn't planned to get any work done last night anyway. He threw his ball, chased it down, and threw it again. He wildly slurped the water offered and then shoved his face into the food dish, sending kibble flying in all directions. When bedtime came, he slipped readily into his crate and slept well through the night. I enjoyed his energy, though felt a little weary as I imagined it 24/7.

Buster has been quieter today. He was manageable on our early-morning walk. Back at home, he has gone joyfully outside a few times, but mostly curled up and slept at my feet. He clearly has energy, but has been so well-behaved. I've been encouraged today; this will be easy!

It seems too good to be true. And, as it turns out, it probably is too good to be true. My snuggly, sleepy, well-behaved puppy went today to the vet, who agreed with my assessment that Buster's behavior is unexpectedly lethargic; he's probably feeling kinda lousy right now due to an upper respiratory infection. We came home with medication to treat it, so he should start "feeling like himself again" -- I'm still not sure what that is like -- within a few days. I imagine he'll stay snuggly and sweet, but there may be some adjustment to the sleepy, well-behaved part.

And I am reminded again of people whose paths I cross just briefly in the course of everyday life. It is natural to form impressions quickly, as if momentary encounters are reliably representative of an entire person. Yes, they sometimes are, but not enough to hold such judgments tightly. Like with Buster, I want to be attentive to the wholeness of the people I encounter in everyday life, alert to both "positive" and "negative" signs which may sprout from deeper layers of experience rather than just allowing little snippets to define their character in my mind.

Perhaps it is true that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression," but we can give each other the grace of choosing to develop second impressions.

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