The Art of Recognition

Cropped version of Image:Dampier Red Dog, West...

Image via Wikipedia

I am sitting here on my couch, and I have a labrador in my lap.  Her ear is resting on my keyboard which makes typing…interesting, I have to keep lifting it up to get to the “K”, “L”, “N”, “M”, “,” and “.” keys.  I don’t normally let her up on the couch with me.  I am trying to minimise claw scratches in the leather but I think I am fighting a losing battle.  Tonight though, I invited her up.  I needed a furry cuddle.  I went to the movies today and saw Red Dog.

Having grown up in the Pilbara myself, I found it rather nostalgic (have been having a few trips down memory lane in the past week or so!).  However, being a rather dog tragic, this was a movie I went to see with both anticipation and trepidation.  Being a dog tragic, I knew the moment I read an article about the movie 8 months ago, that it was going to be a tear jerker.

Regardless, I would highly recommend seeing it- just don’t forget the tissues- and though painted in a humorous light, it’s depiction of life in the Pilbara in the 70’s and 80’s was not far off.  If I had a scanner I would be able to show you some real life photos of my childhood growing up in Port Hedland and the adventures we had in the outback on the outskirts of various towns like Dampier and Karratha and Broome, but alas, I have no such device and besides, I don’t know how I feel about sharing with a worldwide audience, photos of my 5 year old self in a terry-towelling shorts-and-singlet combo, complete with flip-flops (otherwise known as “thongs” though Americans have a slightly different definition of “thong”), and giant ribbon in my hip length hair (yes even as a 5 year old in the middle of the outback I was still somewhat fashion conscious…bows were big in the 80’s).

I remember a particular camping trip to one of my favourite spots.  It was my favourite spot because at night you could hear the dingos call to each other for hours.  I loved listening to them.  My sister hated it, the sound scared her.  But whenever we went camping I would always request that spot- though I dont remember where that was now…

The last time I remember going I think I must have been about 7.  I lay there listening and wondering if one day I would bring my children to this place to camp.  It’s strange now when I think about the dreams I used to have for my future.  They were a far cry from the reality of my life now, though I never dreamt of anything spectacular.  I had no wish to be a movie star or a singer or an astronaught (ok I may have at one very short period had designs on space travel but it lasted about 2 weeks, hardly a lifelong dream).  I wanted to be a vet. I wanted a house and land with lots of animals and I wanted a gorgeous husband, who in my dream must have been a farmer because he was always looking after the land and the animals while I was out driving around in my Landrover tending to cows, sheep, horses, dogs and any other sick animal in the area.  I would come home from work and we would perhaps go for a ride, or we would feed the animals together before sitting on our verandah with a lovely meal and talk whilst gazing out over the landscape.

I had that dream well into my teens, even up until the age of about 16, by which time I was beginning to have an inkling that perhaps veterinary medicine was not going to be the best choice for me, I am far too soft hearted when it comes to animals.

But just like life in Dampier as depicted in that movie, my real life is a far cry from the life I had planned for myself in my fantasies.  Regardless, there is one thing that was always present in any dream I had for myself and any dream I have still- and that is having someone by my side to share that life with.

There are plenty of people (and four legged friends) in my life who love me and who I love in return.  People I can count on if I need them, people to tell me things I dont want to face up to and make me laugh when I really need it.

But I wonder…will I ever outgrow that little girl fantasy of finding that one man who will bring me so much joy?

Is it just a fantasy?

There are a lot of lonely people out there, who’s to say I wont wind up being one of them?

I saw an interesting documentary the other day- they were saying that people are now so focused on being happy with themselves and being independent, that we have forgotten how to be together, in a long-lasting, devoted partnership.

I cant help but wonder if I am one of the worst offenders. Here  I am, so focused on doing my own thing, being content with myself, that perhaps there is no man on earth who could possibly fill the gaping hole in my heart- because I am constantly striving to fill it myself.  Am I so far gone that I no longer have the ability to love unconditionally? Whenever I think about any of my exes, I torture myself with thoughts of “could I have done more” to keep them.  Could I have fought harder, sacrificed more, and if I had…would I be happier now??

Red Dog was happy to go his own way for a goodly portion of his life, tied to no-one, answering to none but himself. Many tried to claim him, but they only had their own selfish motives for doing so, and they would at times even appear to turn on him for their own entertainment.  But Red Dog did meet his true master, and then his loyalty was unwavering, his love so great, there was no limit to the sacrifice he would make for that bond.

With the grim reality of the documentary in mind, the story of Red Dog has given me hope.  It has given me hope that I can be simultaneously independent and devoted, but I need to trust that I will recognise the worthy recipient of my loyalty and love, and not make unnecessary sacrifices to undeserving, but willing, recipients who cross my path in the meantime. I need to stop wasting my time on trying to make the wrong relationships, right.

I need to have faith in my ability to recognise the right man when he finally does decide to grace me with his presence.


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