True or False Self

You may be a wonderful doodlekit…,” a possibility I had not considered, ever. I was, however, considering what Mark Nepo calls the “never-ending task of deciding to whom we entrust our life: our True or False Self.”

But before I deliberated on “doodlekit”—whatever or whoever that might be—Cooper provided a possibility for my current struggle with my two selves, True or False.

Mark Nepo and Mira

Like any sensible being—canine or otherwise—Cooper is omnipresent to life in the now. In my last post, Trailblazing, I wrote about Cooper being ill and my glimpse of the road to the Rainbow Bridge or my False Self interjecting what may be but not what is.

In this moment in northern Florida, the humidity has dropped to 38% from over 90% and temperatures are high 40s with wind. It’s a cold, dry day, the kind that favors Cooper’s health, and he’s for it.

Dog ramp in tow, out the door we go for our ride. I open the hatch of my Toyota Scion. Cooper waits for me to stretch out the ramp and put it into place before he completely clears the ramp, as if he were a pup again, soaring  into the back of the Scion. With wide open grin, he turns and walks down the ramp. He is still Cooper; his dream still is “going bye-bye in the car” as we always have.

We take our usual front seats–I drive–before I can put the key into the ignition, Cooper licks my face for more than a few minutes. Once we settle into driving, Cooper places his paw on my hand, a dog having his day. Being human, I can only think of how hard my False Self works to prevent what may be.

We arrive at Guyte McCord Park for our daily stroll.

Again, I remember my morning’s meditation with Nepo and Carl Jung. In a dream, Jung works ceaselessly to clear a path to nowhere and to no purpose, it seems, until he reaches a cabin in a clearing, whereupon he drops his tools, and enters through its open door. He sees a being kneeling in front of a simple altar. Soon, he realizes he is seeing himself and “…that his life of cutting a path was this being’s dream.”  He has cleared the path to his True Self, his soul.

Cooper and I stop to sit awhile in a favorite area. He checks out scent. I stay with my two selves, True or False; I think we’re onto something.

Other than these daily park outings, I am no longer able to travel. This has been true for the last three years, not bad after more than thirty years of living with lupus.  Honestly, I’m still discovering what an extraordinary gift my life is but I seem to explore it only within my soul.

Dave R Farmer Image
WANA Commons

My False Self—the one that works so hard at fixing/preventing what may be—recently agreed to extensive family travel plans, relying once again on a way of life that no longer is but may be????

For two months, I thrashed through one form of fear or another over this trip: worry, stress, irritability, stress, sadness, stress—seeking any way it might be, any way except facing my True Self.

Not content with a Cooper leap of faith or a Jungian dream, my False Self screamed, stomped and swore until my online Scrabble partner (everyone should have a Scrabble partner of such equanimity) suggested I consider a drink or two, wondering whether it “would hurt that much?” Oh, out of the Chat wisdom of Scrabble partners….

KM Huber Image

I met myself not with drink but with an open heart for what is and no longer for what was. It hurt, all, but the air is clear, now.

A cold, canine muzzle nudges the limp leash handle loosely hanging from my fingers. Cooper is ready to go “bye-bye in the car,” as always.

A wonderful doodlekit? Who knows?

Rhythm of ROW80 Sunday Scheduling:

The 30-minute writing stretches have improved the overall quality of the “words I keep.” The exercise provides a way to think through material for blog posts as well as novel scenes.

As Gene Lempp mentioned in his blog today, none of this writing happens without patience. In that spirit, this week I am establishing a writing routine specific to my blog posts. I’m finding that it’s too much of a Sunday-Wednesday “time crunch” to produce quality posts. So, beginning this week, I will have two blog posts in final draft form by each Sunday.

I continue to work on my novel, using Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering and Kristen Lamb’s concept critique.  Last Saturday, I submitted an overview of the novel to my concept critique group and received excellent comments. I will work some with scenes and plots points as possible this week. This is the first substantial writing progress I’ve made in the last four years.


Guyte McCord Park

Cooper has taken up trailblazing, unusual for just-content-to-be-Cooper but Guyte McCord Park —an environmentally sensitive hideaway of creeks, ponds, and bridges—brings out the explorer in everyone. In the last few days, however, Cooper and I discovered a different trail, the one that ends at the Rainbow Bridge. I recognized it right away, and I’m marking our every step.

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Cooper has disc disease—some liver issues as well–there are meds to keep him comfortable so he has time before he crosses his last bridge. Even as an older dog of eleven, Cooper has enjoyed reasonably good health, other than taking a daily Pepcid for most of this last year. Essentially, Cooper views the world in terms of how edible it is, often deciding to take a chance. This lifelong habit seems to have caught up with him.

Appropriately, his previous owner named him Snoop but it was his handsome gait that captured my eye so I searched for a name that rhymed with Snoop and came up with Cooper. He honestly took to it, as if no longer being called Snoop could gloss over his goat-like tendencies. Cooper has always relied on subterfuge—sometimes enlisting his lifelong partner, feline EmmaRose—my rather distracted way of going through life has been a pure positive for him.

Lifelong Partners

With every animal that enters my life—especially the old ones now that I, too, am old—it feels as if we were made for each other but being older is better in so many ways. It means we dispense with the silliness of youth that plagues almost every species, and we concentrate on what matters: food, naps as necessary, “bye-bye in the car.”

Every time Cooper hears those words, joy just fills him, especially his happy ears;  one darts sideways and curls just as the other shoots straight up to flap over. Who knew joy could be like that. I’ve never captured it on camera for I cannot say the words to him without meaning them nor can I make him wait after I’ve said them.

Cooper goes everywhere with me, not much of an exaggeration, for if Cooper can’t go where I’m going, I truly consider whether I want to go. Often, I don’t go. To be honest, most of my social activity is online as my own physical activity is restricted, yet my reclusive human nature is well suited to animal life, especially canines and felines.

As long as Cooper can go along for the ride, he’s happy wherever we go. A stroll in the park is a bit more of a bonus than going to the grocery store but first and foremost, he just loves to ride in the car. Cooper would ride across the panhandle of Florida every day, with infrequent potty breaks. It might be the only time where food would not be a priority…it means that much to him.

Cooper watches the world one window at a time; these days, he rides in the back of  my Toyota Scion. When he could still ride in the passenger seat, he’d sometimes put his paw on my hand. I miss that but to keep him riding, I use his dog ramp, which makes it so easy for him to walk up and into the back of the car. With the back seat down, he has a comforter, pillows and a small bed, which he rearranges from time to time.

Conversational Cooper

We listen to classical music, which suits us both, as it allows conversation, although we don’t converse a lot. Mostly, I try to remember where we’re going or what I need to pick up at the store because my  list is still on the pad of paper. Sometimes, vocalizing items helps, often not. Cooper is always ready to respond with his brown Beagle eyes—I’m learning to look for them in the rearview mirror—he’s mostly mystified that any being could go on so but he is quite capable of relaying, “what were you thinking?”

Infrequently, Cooper initiates a conversation. He’s one for tonal nuance, that Cooper, so I am mindful of my tone, not so much with what I say. I have heard him bark just once, in response to an unusually harsh rapping at the front door, but Cooper was abashed by his behavior, as if he never meant to let that happen. We’ve never discussed it.

Like any canine, Cooper lives life moment to moment, adjusting, always ready to ride. It is comforting that he will have a long last ride to Second Chance Farms when the Rainbow Bridge is the only bridge we have left. But in this moment, he is sleeping, snuggled against me, and we are as we have always been.

ROW80 Wednesday Word Marking:

From January 2 until February 4, my goal was to write 250 words per day—as blog posts, fiction, or nonfiction–for an approximate total of 8250 words.

Beginning February 4, I started the “30-minute” stretch in which I write for 30 minutes. So far, that has generated just over 9,300 words, averaging about 900 words a day and now the writing is for longer than 30 minutes. It still takes care of the mind minutia so my other writing is more focused. I am still “keeping” between 250 and 300 words beyond those 900, which means with ROW80, I am just over 20, 300 words. For me, these numbers are really something.