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5 May 2010 / Liz Johns

Making Space for Life: One Dog and One Yellow Ball

I took my dog down to the river this morning to play ball. With a tremendous effort I chucked the ball over some bushes and an old culvert with the aim of landing it on the other side. But never being blessed with sporting skills I just heard a damp plop. It was in the river. By the time Zoe the dog and I were down the drive and across the river it had gone. I concluded that it was bobbing merrily downstream and out to the Otaki sea.

This was a great shame. It was Zoe’s favourite ball (she is a ball-obsessed dog) and I had lost it. But trudging back up the drive together, I saw a yellow ball that I hadn’t noticed on the way down. What a lucky find. What a strange coincidence. Zoe snatched it up happily and we played.

Making space for life to flow through

As I threw the ball for her, a little more carefully this time, I thought about the lost ball taken by the river, and the found ball appearing unexpectedly. From this I pondered the idea that perhaps

we have to lose something in order to make space for life to flow through us bringing with it the next new experience.

As humans we are wont to hold on tightly to all that is important to us – our friends, family, home, jobs. Whatever provides us with the most identity in life and gives us a feeling of love and security. But this hoarding of people and things, events and memories, can often lead to stagnation in our lives, though this is something that we don’t easily recognize. In trying to create this permanence in our lives, in trying to build up a secure, predictable place for ourselves in the world, what we unconsciously end up doing is stopping life from moving through us.

Rider-Waite tarot card: The four of coinsThis idea is symbolised on one of the Rider-Waite tarot cards, the Four of Coins. On this card we see a man dressed in his finery, securely holding his four coins. He has reached a point of comfort and security in his life, and he really doesn’t want to let go of it. But being so tied up with protecting what he has got means that he cannot move. He is bound to himself. Life cannot flow though him.

Floating by on life’s wave

Life is bigger than us, and nothing is going to stop it going where it wants to go. We’ve got a choice. We can be like the Four of Coins and hold as tightly as possible onto all that we’ve got right now. Or we can gently accept and appreciate what we have for the time it is with us and be ready, happy even, when it leaves. If something is moving out of our life, we need to let it go. We need to let it float down the river. The fear we have is that once something has gone, we won’t get it back. And that’s true, we won’t. But what we will do is create a space for something else to happen, something new or something unexpected, something familiar or something crazy. Whatever happens to be floating on life’s wave at that time.

Perhaps that is why at times in our lives, we all face upheavals and disappointments that seem to ruin our happiness. It’s like a dam bursting. All our efforts have gone into keeping everything safe around us that the external lifeforce has no choice but to break it all down in an often painful way. Its aim is not to defeat us, but simply to clear our path of debris to enable life to flow through us, and us through it. If we so choose.

So all that from the simple loss of one beloved ball and the ‘lucky’ find of another. I’m not sure my dog Zoe would be so interested in my spiritual musings, she is simply happy to forget the old ball and welcome the new. She doesn’t need to learn the lesson, she knows it already.

This article is also posted on the Happyzine Good News website.

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