DIALOGUE WITH DOGS

“Do you ever notice, Aussie, how things emerge from the darndest places”?

“No.”

“For instance, sometimes I feel deep loneliness and longing, and you’d think that would feel terrible, right? And it does, only I also notice that if I stay with it long enough something else takes form that actually feels good. You understand?”

“No.”

“It’s like you, Aussie. You lie by my desk, get restless and bored, so you go out into the yard and there are these interesting new smells and you start digging after moles and you see our first purple and yellow crocuses which are good to pee on, and little by little you discover new possibilities in the spring that’s finally arrived, your first spring in New England. The point is, unmet needs aren’t just some black abyss into which we fall and see only surrounding blackness and a light that is far away and out of reach, quite the opposite. From our deepest needs and unfulfilled desires something new comes up, new and more life. You get what I mean, Auss?”

“No.”

“It reminds me of Israel. It always annoyed me when people said that the founding of the modern state of Israel was the silver lining of the Holocaust, that in fact it was a miracle from God. What kind of God, I asked, would require the death of 6 million people as payoff? But you can’t deny that new life comes out of terrible loss. See what I mean?”

“No.”

“Of course, that caused all kinds of suffering for the Palestinian people, a whole chain of events that has spread everywhere and continues to this very day. But new forms of life—whether we label them as good or bad—emerge out of everything, Aussie, see?”

“No.”

“I know we’re at an age of massive extinction of species, but from what I see, Auss, life keeps on multiplying and recreating itself into newer and newer forms and greater and greater complexity all the time, even now. There’s no way we humans, or you dogs for that matter, could ever catch up. We’re not wired to understand or even perceive it. See what I mean, Aussie?”

“No.”

“I’m remembering Bernie, Auss. He wasn’t much into speculation. I would describe all these thoughts to him, he would get this funny look in his eyes and say, That’s nice, or, That’s an opinion. And I’d say back: That’s all you have to say, Bernie? And he would say: Yup. And I would say, You’re not listening to me. And he would say Of course I’m listening to you, and then we’d both laugh. You get it, Aussie?”

“No.”

“That laugh was the main thing. We thought differently, we talked differently, sometimes it felt like a lost cause, but there was that laugh in the end that somehow made everything okay and brought us to a different place. Bernie admired Dogen, the Zen master, but the words he quoted most often were: Beyond these, there are further implications. Everything has further implications. Understand?”

“No.”

“That’s okay, Aussie, you’re not a lost cause. Nothing is a lost cause. Everything has further implications. Get it, Auss?”

“No.”