My dog and I were walking along the beach the other morning, as we often do. And, as per usual, we both were excited experiencing the daily beach phenomena - sea glass, little sea slug creatures, pelicans six times my dog's size, driftwood that serves as free firewood, the occasional breaching whale.
Today the ocean gifted us with a seal. She was alone, high on the shore, super adorable. As Levon gently approached her, she became suddenly mean, barking loudly and aggressively lunging toward us. Levon barked back and I scowled as we withdrew. Bad mood seal. Fine, we're out of here and back to the pelicans. As we turned to leave, I looked back and she had her head perched uncomfortably on a rock. She actually looked sad, if that's possible. And why was she alone? And why was she so high up on the shore? Something was wrong.
I called the local animal rescue. Twenty minutes later a small team arrived and quickly determined she needed medical care. Despite her loud protest, they began scooping her up. As soon as they moved her, they discovered two bullet hole wounds in her back. She had been shot twice, and they were not brand new wounds. She most likely had been struggling to survive for days. After the initial horror of imagining why and how and who would shoot a seal slightly subsided, I began to see flashes of myself being angry with people who had snapped at me. I had determined that the guy who called me an asshole for accidentally cutting him off was the real asshole, and the friend that didn't return my four phone calls was selfish, and...
Now I remembered what I already knew: We bark and snarl when we're wounded. How much better would our lives be if we remembered this? We could let go of resentment. We could see the good in others. We could look around for help rather than growling back at every cranky response we encountered.
Let's treat each other with a little more patience, a little more kindness. Let's look to nurture wounds before we choose to bark back, scowl, or withdraw.