How Can We Coexist?
In spite of the Shelter-in-Place ordinance, we have been allowed to take our dog Max to his dog sitter, where he goes three times a week. This has given us the opportunity to focus on our work. When I recently brought him to his second “mum”, Jennifer was ready to go to the park, along with her eight “babies”. In the afternoon the dogs go to a different park with her husband Jim. When she opened the door of her van, Max jumped in and settled in on his favorite seat. Typically, when they get back from the park, Max settles in his big chair in her living room, and if some young dogs try to challenge him, it is enough for him to growl, and the order is established.
If you recognize your own behavior, you are not alone. We all develop our own patterns and habits of behavior until life brings us surprises. Not every dog is so fortunate. Many adults and children have had to stay home together over the past few months. Someone else was sitting in our familiar chairs. It is not easy to be with other people and dogs twenty-four hours a day. We all have to learn to coexist, and it can be challenging. Perhaps since we are forced to stay home during the pandemic, we’ve had the opportunity to focus on what we have in common and to learn how to live together. When I mentioned to Jennifer that we all behave like Max, she told me that she and Jim have been together for almost twenty-five years. In spite of their different upbringing and the way each has behaved (even the different ways they eat), and now working from home all the time, they focus on their love of dogs and each other.
I think that love is the answer (or solution) for co-existence. I have easy proof of that statement. On August 8th, my wife Elfa and I are going to celebrate our fifty-third wedding anniversary. In our lives, we are always together. In September, we are going to celebrate thirty-five years since we jointly started our mortgage company, Pacific Bay Financial. We both have different personalities and different interests, and do not always agree (at least not right away). But our love for each other, our family, our friends, our co-workers, our clients, our city, and our country has help us compromise and find what is important and lasting.
Any action of love starts with us loving ourselves, which is probably the most difficult to accept, since it might feel egotistical. My wife taught me long time ago that if you have a conflict/disagreement with someone, connect with your heart, which only contains love. Do not let your brain interfere. But at the same time, ask yourself what you want. If the answer is co-existence, the heart will guide you.
P.S. Nature is the best place to see co-existence in action. You can see it clearly from these four images, which I encountered in Golden Gate Park.