Many years ago, in the land of San Diego, I was home with my sister’s dog, Mali. Mali was one of my favorite people. She was cute, she was smart and she was cuddly. Not a small dog, more medium, and by smart I mean that when Kelly lived on a farm, she could have Mali fetch a particular horse out of the pasture and bring said horse into the barn. So we loved Mali. She did have one flaw. She loved chasing skunks. On this particular day, she caught one. I thought she’d escaped and I pet her as I was bringing her into the house. BIG mistake. Now we both smelled like skunk. I had no car, no phone and a gag reflex that was working full time. I had to take a bus (my abject apologies to the other passengers) to get to a pay phone to call a friend for help. The friend was sympathetic and told me to call if I needed anything before she hung up. I was flabbergasted. I thought that’s what I had done. I bought tomato juice and walked home. I was not allowed to come to work for almost a week because the smell was so bad. The person I carpooled with didn’t want me in her car and I was car-less at the time.
Fast forward to last night. My sister’s dog Ben is wonderful. He’s very handsome, silly and smart. He has one flaw. And last night, the skunk got him. Kelly can’t smell skunk so she brought him in. It took me a minute for the stench to actually process. Gag reflex fully engaged, I told her to get him out of the house. Now, it’s winter so Ben can’t spend the whole night outside. He was locked in Kelly’s room. I brought out the essential oil diffuser and used what I had to save the living room. And then I put myself to bed.
Why am I telling these two stories, other than to garner sympathy for my skunk-y plight and/or throw my sister and her skunk chasing dogs under the proverbial bus? Because while the two stories start the same way, they ended very differently. My tools for handling the crisis were very different. I didn’t take ownership of this problem; I gleefully (well, as gleeful as I can be while gagging) left it to Kelly to handle. I am at work the following morning, stench free (as far as I can tell). My home is no longer a small apartment so I was able to get away from the worst of it in order to sleep. It doesn’t even smell bad in the living room this morning. Kelly had some kind of deodorant for the dog that allowed me to pet him this morning without additional gagging.
This is the difference between a life with some spiritual tools (which often translate into physical resources) and without. This is the difference between victim-hood and victory; between feeling skunked and feeling serene. I could beat this metaphor into the ground, but you get the idea.