Christmas was especially memorable at Las Golondrinas this year. Both of my boys spent Christmas eve, Brian coming down from Albuquerque for the night, Nathan coming from Tennessee and staying a week. I cooked a big pork roast for a day in the crock pot and a bigger pot of hominy over night, and my friend, Anna, came from Albuquerque to make red chili and put the ingredients together for traditional year’s end New Mexican posole. It was as good as it gets.
We all sat around a cheerful wood fire in the living room fascinated by my Son, Brian’s, expert Tarot Cards and Rune Stones readings.
We laughed and teased and had a Christmas to remember.
But back of it all, I learned something important from my Scotties in all the hustle and bustle this year. My dogs — especially Burnsie — have an attention quotient, which, when unfulfilled, is addressed in very direct ways.
I’m not saying they act out. Burnsie simply seizes my lap at every opportunity with purpose and vigor, as if to say: “I require skin-on-skin contact, Dad, and I’m not getting it. Whatever else you’re doing, I need to feel close, I need the touch of your hands.”
In the aftermath of the holidays, I have time to reflect on my Burnsie’s bold assertion of himself and his need for ‘Dad time.’ I’m impressed because it’s direct and honest and real. His quick leap into the center of me may be annoying when I’m dozing off, trying to grab a quick nap, but the relational honesty in that leap is a model I need to follow.
By contrast, how much energy humans waste in duplicity over our own ‘attention quotient.’ We don’t ask for the attention we want, may even deny that we want any or lie and say, “I’m okay” when we’re not … and then we blame others for not reading our minds and fulfilling our needs!
I’m learning that the soul-warming magic at the center of authentic hugs is the existential gold every human seeks in a cold world. It’s the equivalent of a bonded Scottie reveling in the warmth of his Person’s lap. It’s not ‘needy’ to want that gold; it’s the Scottie Way … and the way of humans who are fully human and fully alive.
So, as I reflect on the many gifts that came my way this Christmas, I discover a hidden one right in the middle of a little Scottie dog’s commandeering of my lap for ‘Dad Time.’ I, too, have an Attention Quotient; I, too, need my own version of that soul-warming magic at the center of authentic hugs.
Next time I’m tempted to play it Stoic and deny my need for a good hug I will remember my Burnsie’s Christmas lesson, 2012– I’m going to ‘leap’ right into the middle of that needed hug and own it!
Joseph Harvill, publisher Great Scots Magazine