Old Dogs and Puppy Mistakes

I am no longer young.   I am no longer that pup who bounds enthusiastically and indiscriminately in search of new ideas and paths.  Youthful enthusiasm has been replaced by a learned caution and well-honed sense of spiritual direction.  I have learned to scent the winds carefully and step confidently and lightly on my own path. I am becoming an old dog.

There is a sense in most spiritual communities that old dogs are sage and wise.  Often they are.  Sometimes they are not.  Even the wisest can take a misstep and stumble like a leggy pup.  The difference is that an old dog can take longer to recover from its faltering steps than a younger one.

I am still becoming that old dog, but I’ve felt recently what it’s like to falter and not instantly rebound with boundless enthusiasm.  Instead, I picked myself up slowly, tried to lick my wounds, and found myself unsteady on my feet.  I’m stumbling forward now, having to stop to rest every few paces, finding that I am gnawing and worrying over the bones of my own failings.  What came easily to me in the past is now a struggle and I have to wonder if this is what the future holds.  I’m not quite ready to retire permanently to the shade of the front porch, but I know that these changes mark a sort of rite of passage. 

I am becoming an old dog.

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