My Soul Is A Dog

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Only recently I learned that my soul is a dog.  IMG_6723IMG_4618

I’m thrilled because that’s what I’ve been hoping for and it explains a lot about my project of taking selfies with all the random dogs I meet out walking. This project has brought me so much joy, which is hard to explain to most people. When I followed a friend’s writing prompt, I discovered first what my soul is not. Then what my soul is and it brings comfort to my unsettled, worried, self-doubting heart.

Sitting in a downtown interior design studio with one old friend and one new, I was curious what might come out of my pen as we wrote to various prompts, between the snippets of conversation about film projects and politics. Taken from a book for writing with high school students, “My Soul Is. . .” seemed easy to begin—before we began. As the conversation settled out though, and it was time for my pen to move, I found that I couldn’t get past those first three words, ‘my soul is’. I kept writing them over and over, hoping my subconscious might kick in so that I could know, finally, the identity of my soul. Nothing.

So I began to write what my soul is not: not quiet or soft, not ethereal, not what you might think. Then it was easy:

My soul is outside running, wind against fur, panting,
and still running along the secret border the tidewater,
snuffling sea-foam and sea weed, eagerly digging
for whatever is just below the surface of the sand.

My soul is eager. It flies to the next sea treasure and
then on up the sandy hill to a better vista—the best vista.

In time it will rest, philosophically poised, a silhouette
against the sun sinking into the Pacific Ocean, blinking
slowly before curling up to rest against a bank of sand,
heated to its core by a day’s worth of golden sun.

Yes! My soul is eager, like the lovely souls of the dogs I’ve met during this past year. And I’m happy to share some of their qualities.

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Glass From Sand

They make glass from sand, a fact I just barely believe because it is when I feel like sand that I am at my lowest, most dry moments of my life; my plainest, ugliest times–times when I feel like I am one in an infinite number and it would not make an impact at all if I slipped on out to the sea and disappeared under the weight of the ocean and the world.

What I know about the ocean floor is that they have yet to explore much of the deepest parts, and that there are fissures in the crust where edges of the earth allow molten core to escape up into the ocean–a meeting of fire and water. If my grain-of-sand self reached these dark, unexplored waters by floating unnoticed through currents and doldrums, it would be what they call a ‘non-event’.

But they make glass from sand

and if my single-grain-self rested there at the bottom of the bottom of the ocean, even though no one knows this from experience or exploration, most likely I would find myself resting among an infinite number of other sand grains, all of them ancient, some of them content–maybe–I would bring them the news, quietly (perhaps in passing): “you’ll never guess that this is true, but they’re making glass from us up there.” They’ll look at me quizzically, some of them, as if to say, “glass?”

Then I’ll launch into a big tutorial about how glass is made. Of course I’ll have to start farther back than that by describing the properties of glass: its reflective and refractive qualities allow the light of the sun to shine through. Ah! I need to start with sunlight of course. This is getting complicated. When I get to the description of how fire is used to create the glass transition no one will be buying it. “We haven’t seen fire in these depths for eons,” they’ll say. And it’s true–how could I expect these salty folk to believe in fire and glass if there’s never a chance for them to see either?

So I do what I’ve come to do: rest, without bothering the world with my plain self.

But they make glass from sand

and while I settle myself among an infinite number of other fine grains–“pardon me while I get comfortable”–I feel an undocumented rumble below. One next to me notices my startled look, “Don’t worry. We feel that every once in a while. Nothing ever comes of it.” I let it rock me and I imagine a warmth spreading, passing from on to another around me. Then I realize it’s not my imagination. What happens next seems to startle every one. Such a heat is reaching us that I curl up next to one near me, quivering.

But they make glass from sand

and I am no longer my single-grain-self but something larger altogether. Before we know what to think, multi-grain partners are becoming more common all around. Some notice what happens when more and more are joined. We are transparent; we reflect some of the fire around us, but allow protected viewing of the earth and ocean event below. We have become glass.

They make glass from sand

and an element of fire which turns out to be ingredients found at the bottom of the ocean, where I came to rest. I marvel at our combined beauty and strength. We are clear and crystal-like. Beautiful.