Reason for Being

reason for being, raison d'etreForming into this human being called Pamela, I struggled as a child and as a teen with what I was, as much as who I was. I think back to the defining moment when I determined why I’d been formed at all.

Suzy springs to mind.

On a cold winter’s afternoon, my mom came across a young mutt freezing a few blocks from our New Jersey home. The smallish mid-sized dog wore no collar and shivered on the snowy sidewalk, allowing my mom to tempt her into our warm home with some crackers and a quick greeting of, “Come on in, Suzy Q.” Within an hour, maybe less, Suzy became a member of the family. No one questioned why she was there and if we should have a dog. She just belonged.

But Suzy also became mine immediately. Maybe she was the alien contact I’d been looking for when I was 10. Now, at 13 years old, I was an alien to myself, growing into awkward bumps and lumps, feeling as loved and lovable as a turnip.

But Suzy attached herself to me as if I were her salvation and slave, her goddess and her kingdom, her muse while she empowered me with her own wisdom.

I discovered a reason to be here, at this dimension, space and time – to love.

My love cast a spell on Suzy, at first a most unattractive dog. Her short brown and white hair was wiry and rough. Her small soft ear flaps folded over in strange angles, and her tail seemed disproportionately long. Her stumpy legs were neither short nor long; they got her to wherever she was going. Her brown eyes had little expression, and her mouth neither turned up nor down.doggy love, best friends

Until I loved her. Then, miraculously, Suzy turned into an enchanted and enchanting animal. Her lively brown eyes danced in excitement when she met me at the door after I returned from school. Her mouth widened into a huge cocky smile when I walked her, or talked to her, or shared a just-baked chocolate chip cookie. Her brown fur turned more blonde, and the pattern of white and blonde hairs on her spine swirled into an intricate pattern that brought her glances from the male dogs in the neighborhood.

She began to read with me on my bed, and when she slept, she snored contentedly by my side. On the few times she was naughty and raced away unleashed in the late afternoon, I’d wait for her long after everyone else in the family went to bed. Sure enough, by 2 or 3 a.m., she’d whine at the front door with a sad tilt to her head, admitting that she’d been bad.

I always forgave her.

puppy love, rescued dogThus, I learned about love. And as that learning process grew, I transformed too, and in a few years turned heads myself – not only of other dogs in the neighborhood, but of the next-door teenage neighbor’s boyfriend.

And love grew, as did my contentment with my reason for being.

Do you have a defining moment when you discovered your raison d’etre ?

90 thoughts on “Reason for Being

  1. I love this story and it makes me think of our Dot. I didn´t even want a dog and hubby talked me into it. Now she is everything to me. Those eyes, I know what you mean. It was like when mom said she was going to have another baby when I was almost 16. I was so mad at her and said I would have nothing to do with the addition to our family. But when my little brother turned up it was love at first sight. Not sure about a defining moment, I always felt as the oldest I was here to look after everyone. I still feel that way.

    • I’ve been having a wonderful time watching your life with Dot from the beginning, on your blog, Darlene. Dot captured your heart forever. Dogs have a way of doing that with us. So do baby brothers. 😍

  2. Pam, a wonderful reflection on the power and force of love! Suzy came into your life at just the right time … for her sake and yours and the connection between you is transformative. I loved reading this, Pam, feeling your younger uncertain self growing in confidence and gaining insight as to your reason for being. Your question has me thinking and I have so many defining moments I can’t pick just one! Hope you have a lovely day. 😀♥️

    • I think this question was difficult for so many people here, Annika. I agree, many many defining moments help create the person we become. The dogs in my life have certainly helped me in the understanding of pure unadulterated love.❤️

  3. What a beautiful lesson on the power of love to transform us.I have to side with Mary in questioning whether or not I’ve still come into my own sense of being…perhaps it’s a sign that I’m continuing to grow. Great post, Pammy! ❤

  4. Your story reminds me of a quote about love. Love is a verb not a noun. The feeling of love the noun comes about as a result of love the verb. Our pets, in ways that only they can accomplish, shower wisdom on us humans and what it means to live, laugh, and love 🙂

    As far as one singular defining moment, I am not sure that there is one. But, every single time that I connect – truly connect – with another human being (or sometimes a canine, feline, or hedgehog), I am reminded of my raison d’etre – to live, laugh, and love ~ fully and completely 😉

  5. What a beautiful telling story. And I agree with you and everyone — our pets come into our lives to teach us about unconditional love, and how to fearlessly live, laugh, love… and play and be joyful and run wild and sleep deep and wait patiently…

  6. Such a beautiful story. Animals really are magical in the way they’re able to receive so totally and vulnerably that they draw the very best of us to the surface from deep within. Gosh, what a question… I’m not sure I can think of one actually. OK, something’s come to mind – but much later than your example, and it’s something about community and honesty and truth. I’m not going to go into the longer story here, but basically it was during my time in South Africa working with a youth drama group in a township there, and I had been invited to attend a party, a celebration of one of the boys who was about to go to ‘the bush’ as a right of passage. When asked by my suspicious boss why I wanted to go (he thought I was being touristy/voyeurish) I said, if I want them to understand and respect my culture which they do every time I lead a session with them, then I need to demonstrate my own commitment to understanding and respecting theirs. He understood and trusted me then, and I went with his blessing. xxx

    • WOW! Most are too fearful of answering that challenge to share a defining moment when you discovered your reason for being. It’s very personal. And there are probably many defining moments. But the one you relate here is astounding. But then again, YOU are astounding.

  7. Aww. What a wonderful story, Pam. Made me tear up! I don’t remember a defining moment or relationship (other than perhaps the birth of my daughter). The unconditional love of animals is a gift. I’m sure Suzy enjoyed it as much as you. 🙂

  8. What a heart warming story Pamela! it brought tears into my eyes!
    I could never love animals…even Twinkle (my brother’s dog) knew it as he would look at me from a distance whenever I visited… till I met my daughter’s loving pet Luke, who made friends with me by quietly coming and sitting beside me on the couch! And I was aghast as I had always kept my distance from pets yet his endearing ways won me over and even my daughter is surprised at the bond we share now. I would give all the credit to Luke for being so loving. I have shared his picture with my grand daughter at my blog in my latest post.

    • I love that photo of your granddaughter and Luke. Noticed it when I read your last post, and now it all is connected. Wow. Luke is a sweetie and an empath (my own way of saying he knew you’d love him if he just loved you). Thanks for your wonderful story of doggie love. xo

  9. Such a lovely story Pamela — one we all can relate to. I felt like I was on top of my world until about age 11, when some of my friends became part of the popular group and I was left out. Teen years are hard. Like Darlene, I was the eldest of four children and felt a responsibility to be a “mama” to my youngest two siblings. Unconditional love.

    • I wish all awkward pre-teens could have a dog to share unconditional love with – that would help them get through the hellish time of feeling disconnected and unloved. I honor you and Darlene for being little ‘mamas’ and sacrificing some of your youth to take care of siblings.

  10. Sweet story. Pets of all kinds will change our lives and show us the true meaning of unconditional love. (I just got through scolding my English setter for getting on the couch, and now I feel guilty after reading your post–must make amends! 🙂 )

    • Smiling at your comment, Kate. I don’t think I ever scolded Suzy, I was young enough to know how horrible I felt when my parents scolded me, so kept my mouth shut when she did wrong. (Thus, she wasn’t trained well, I must admit.) My last dog, Henry, the love of my life (don’t tell my guy), was such a good dog, but every once in a while he’d jump up to get the butter softening on the counter and EAT THE WHOLE STICK! Oh, I’d scold him and the sad, forsaken look he’d give me put me to shame. Ha ha. I think they’ve got us wrapped around their paws. 🙂

  11. I love this story because I post I have recently created has a comment about doggies. For a week or two I’ve been out of the blog world and have had time to ponder, “Why am I blogging?” Showing kindness is part of the answer I’ve come up with – and love (with forgiveness) too!.

    I haven’t received notifications from blogs I follow while the new site was under construction, so I went back to my “Reader” and voila – there you were – sweet!

  12. Great story about you and Suzy Q. You were both lucky to have each other. I had several dogs growing up as well as cats They were my salvation because I grew up in an isolated farming area.

    A pet is the best friend a child or teen can have. There is no better comfort or confidante.

  13. Lovely. Love transforms both the lover and the loved. A wonderful truth well told. I can’t think of a better reason for being than loving others……animal or human….and maybe a vegetable or two. 🙂

  14. Hi, Pam. I hopped here from Diana’s site. You’re a wonderful writer and storyteller. I saw much more than “a girl and a dog.” I really felt the symbiotic parallel, almost a metaphor. Your word choices created full, visceral images.

    As for my own raison d’etre, I was a child of abuse and always an outcast growing up, taunted for being an excellent student or for being a boy who played the piano or couldn’t catch a football (silly from this side of things, but very real in the moment). I really never fit in. But I found myself from the earliest age I can remember always picking out the other person who didn’t fit in and going out of my way to include them: the poor kid with dirty hair, the child with disfiguring burns, the Deaf-Blind boy who didn’t yet know sign or English. In a way, I’ve always been a mentor, which is my lifelong passion, much of which is about honest connection, inclusion and, yes, helping people feel truly loved as they are. From that springs everything else I do, including my blog writing, book, facilitating, speaking, etc.

    • I think what you show ( when describing yourself as a young boy) is a huge amount of empathy. And many times, those who suffer are those who understand the suffering of others. A friend of mine wrote an amazing book about those who rescued the Jews during World War II. What he found in his research was that people who could put themselves in the shoes of others, in other words had empathy, were those who had kindness and love for all beings.
      On another point, wouldn’t it be lovely if all children who come from fractured fragmented dysfunctional families, could have a dog to love and to love them?

      • My mother was (and is) actually enormously compassionate. So we not only had dogs and cats at all times, we were also the rescue hospital for every fallen starling, every stray baby bunny. It was a real menagerie, including everything from salamanders to skunks. And, yes, that was a huge stabilizing factor, given the other end of the spectrum ever-present in our home growing up. There was always a furry (or scaly or feathered) friend who understood, even without words.

  15. I really love this post. When my youngest of three boys was 13 we finally decided to give him what he wanted most in life. A dog to love. And honestly, just as in your case, that dog Mango literally changed his life and our lives. For the better of course and he was with us for the next twelve years. An amazing beautiful soul and we still miss him very much today.

    I have rescued many a mutt and as you so beautifully describe it truly is incredible how they from being ugly and un attractive to getting some love and turning into beauties. We are all beautiful inside waiting for a little loving to bring it all out….

    Beautiful post thanks for sharing.
    Peta

    • Thank you Peta. I think of you in your ‘far away’ world now, and how difficult it must be to see the wandering dogs who belong to no one. A young friend of mine travels to different countries who have unattended, uncared for dogs, and she helps animal rescue teams give these dogs vaccines and food and shelter. I know with each of these unloved animals, if someone took them home, they’d discover the beauty they’d just released. xo

  16. Loved this story. I had a cat when I was young. We called her “Cat.” That was her name. She was born on my bed (not planned that way!) and was the one kitten we kept after finding homes for the others. Seeing her born and watching her grow was fascinating to this (then) youngster. She always found me in the house no matter where I was…and she loved sleeping on the very same bed she was born upon.

  17. Another wonderful post. When we adopted our son he was six years old and we had a dachshund who was not happy about the new family member. My son loved him from the very first moment.

  18. I have two dogs currently.. a Springer Spaniel and a Yorkie. I can’t imagine my life without either animal. We have had a couple of cats over the years, but my poor hubby was so allergic that when they finally passed, I was living with a totally different man. So no more kitties… But I have never known the love of an animal truly until we got our first Springer in 2000. We lost him in 2013 😓
    There was a childhood dog when I was young, but she was never allowed in the house and I didn’t have enough of a relationship with her. When I went away to college, my parents divorced and she went to live on a big farm where I am sure she was much happier. I regret that I did not spend time with her and our family was such a cliche’. Get a dog and when the newness wears off, they are ignored. So many regrets I have from when I was young….. ☹
    Love your story! I am sure Suzy was a wonderful comfort in the years of learning what/who you were. 😉

    • I like the way we remember certain times of our life by the dogs/cats that were part of that life. Yes, we have regrets, but each dog teaches us a new lesson, I believe. Our Henry died almost 3 years ago, and I have a feeling it’s time to bring a new god, ur, dog, into our home. ❤

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