Flying into Awesome!

Life is a continual flow of singular personal experiences… moments… overlapping, complimenting one another, stacking… teaching, molding…  building upon our ever-changing thoughts and wisdom.  We have little control over what moments unfold before us… Sure, we may choose to go to a park, to the beach or to walk a dog at sunset. However, there are an infinite number of variables which culminate into a moment. Life is random.  The choice we always have is our attitude… Three people may share a singular experience. One may find the experience comical; one may find it tragic and another may simply enjoy the experience. 
Galileo has become my buddy…  I currently spend more time with him than any other being.  We take walks to just walk, walks so that he can hear all my secrets… my joys and my complaints.  Galileo has good days and not so good days… but he is always eager to listen.  Until he feels a little better he wil be by my side.  In my eyes… he can do no wrong.
While walking Galileo at dusk a few weeks ago, we passed by several fireflies. We train as we walk… walking past cats, barking dogs, down a busy street… anything to serve as a distraction. Galileo had worked hard and paid attention.  The most important training lesson is to be considerate of the handler. Not being a very structured person, you may guess I would not impose customary structure on dogs. There is no need to walk at a certain rate by my side. Its ok to sniff, look around but stay in visual contact… look at me if you want to go somewhere to let me know. Don’t pull, jerk or pay attention to dogs barking from behind a fence at you… and above all… remember we are connected by leash.  “G” looked at me as if to say “Can we play? Huh?” As I gave him a slight nod and a smile, he turned to watch the magical blinking bugs.
Standing in the center of the alley I unwrapped the leash keeping my arm through the handle. Galileo had enough leash to go to the edge of the small ravine to investigate.
Galileo gently jumped up at the living lights as they would blink on… then with childlike amazement he would search for them when their visual display disappeared. The fairy-like tiny beings were a source of entertainment for us both. Watching Galileo as he exhibited the awe and wonder of a child took me far in the past as I recalled barefoot evenings chasing fireflies with my brother.
Galileo was being very considerate… looking at me from time to time to assure he was not pulling. From atop the Hill the orange glow of sunset was about to disappear, my mind drifting from one pleasant memory to the next, this relaxing setting took me so very far from being in control mode. I felt gratitude for this experience… this moment.
As if abruptly awakened from a dream… reality hit. I was no longer standing in the middle of the alley.
I was airborne!
Perception slowed as it does in an auto accident. My single awareness focused on the fact that I was flying. Literally! Wow! So many thoughts in such a short moment. I did not relate Galileo or fireflies to the fact that I had instantly overcome the effects of gravity… It was an incredible sensation... until… as suddenly as my body had been propelled into the air, I became aware that I was being hurled toward a stationary object… Oh s**t! Fence! After flying over the ravine my body slammed into the chain link fence which had been 20+ feet away. The fencing cut its imprint into my shoulder, arm and body… bouncing off the fence I landed with a thud.
Time stood still as I sat in the vines and weeds trying to determine why I was there and how I had flown. Though blood trickled down my arm… there was no pain. I only wanted to think about how this mysterious flight felt as if to permanently etch the moment in my brain… this phenomenal experience must not be lost. Reality awakened me upon hearing a dog fight in the distance.   All questions were answered in an instant and my feet began running before they were even flat on the ground. A nearby dog had gotten off his chain, shot out of the ravine startling Galileo when he tagged him. The fireflies had no longer held Galileo’s focus. Having little tolerance for dogs charging him… G’s short fuse had been lit. Game on.
The leash must have slipped off my arm in midair. Now, they were 100 yards away… fighting. I was able to get them both to settle.  Neither dog had much more than a bruised ego… and with the offending dog now secured, Galileo and I walked up the hill to home.
I told Lee of the incredible flight and spent the remainder of the evening thinking about what had happened, how and why.  I knew that I was completely at fault.  My job is to protect the dogs in our care. Frolicking down memory lane, getting lost in the moment… these are good things. However, a piece of us needs to stay present and in control when we are working with dogs.  Two dogs could have been severely injured or worse… Lesson learned.
Upon awakening the following morning, I was prepared to pay heavily for my poor judgement.  Before rising, I moved every joint, made myself aware of every muscle. I was elated! No soreness and a very cool experience! I was not 100% convinced the experience was not all “in my head”. After all, it did not seem possible to hit with such force while leaving nothing broken, sprained, torn or tattered. Maybe it was a dream. Maybe I was over-thinking. Maybe it was not as I remembered.  I stood and took one step then fell into my closet.  Thinking little of the stumble, as I am not the most graceful person, I picked myself up.  Two more steps, I fell into a bookcase. Again, I brushed it off to being clumsy and not fully awake.
Lee and I have our separate “rescue chores” every morning. We pass by one another having short conversations.  Her first question on this morning… are you hurting? Not at all, I said… Though I knew something did not feel quite right. I was nauseous and seemed in a fog mentally. When I ran my hands through my hair to push it out of my eyes, I found it.  An egg sized knot which was very tender.  I had no recollection of hitting my head… Besides, it is a well-known fact that my head it the hardest substance known to man.
Lee continued to ask if I was okay… stating I didn’t look right.  When something is wrong with me… she always knows; even when I do not. Regardless… I always say… I am fine. Taking Galileo for his morning walk was a challenge but I hoped it would clear my head. As we turned into the alley… there it was… I had not hit the fence, after all. My target had been the gate.  It was undeniably bent and there were fence posts all around. Not being a stranger to concussion, it occurred to me what had happened.
It was nearly a week before seeing my doctor. The symptoms had not subsided.  Irritability/agitation, cognitive disruption, nausea, ataxia, anisocoria, tinnitus… all were there. Had this awesome experience of spontaneous flight simply been the construct of my brain moments after impact… possibly while unconscious? I had no recollection of being out… not even for a moment. Our subconscious will reconstruct events to produce a logical explanation… Some details were fact… I flew, I hit, I ran. It was all a moment. I was very lucky. The doctor asked me to rest for 3 weeks. I thought I knew best and only slowed down a little.  When I did not get better Lee basically put me on “house arrest” for a week. Being still… doing nothing is not my area of expertise. It must have been what was needed as all symptoms have disappeared.
Though I will consider it one of the most incredible experiences in recent past, injuries should be taken seriously. More importantly we need to be safe and prevent injuries.  In rescue, it is difficult.  It is not a matter of if we will be injured, but when and how.  Keep your head in the game.  Staying focused may be our best defense. Stay safe, the world needs all its superheroes intact and working to full potential.
Embrace your moments… experiences. Even in the darkest moments we are learning… being shaped and molded. Let go of expectations… it is the single source of suffering. Whatever is in front of you right now… enjoy it.   No matter what anyone says… the moment of unexplained flight was awesome! Was it worth the concussion and its symptoms? I suppose I should say No, but those who know me understand it is a resounding Yes. Life is. Period. It simply is. Your attitude completes the sentence. So, make your attitude choice… awesome. You can make your life awesome!

Dana Darby