Snakes and Ladders
So, we start another year. 2022 was not the best year of my life, more like one long game of Snakes and Ladders. I don’t really like Snakes and Ladders. I am more of a Cluedo girl.
I started thinking about my past. How maybe my best year was the one where I got a Girls’ World for Christmas (and the ten minutes I got to play with it before my brother’s ripped her hair out and drew all over her face). Maybe it was the year I first became a mother. Maybe I’ve not had my best year yet. Life comes with no guarantees, and since Covid, no complimentary tea and biscuits anymore either. We have lost so much and we are being charged more than ever. Everywhere I look it’s all bad news. Doom and gloom and increased direct debits. So many snakes.
So where do we find joy? When we are hurting, or unwell. Poor, or sad? I turn to my dogs. To our daily walks in the park. I watch my labrador, Buddy, discover a knobbly stick. Bark at it in delight. Gallop along with it, tongue flapping with joy. I watch him roll on his back in the mud, grunting in pleasure. I look at my dachshund, Wiener, sitting at the bottom of a mighty oak tree, patiently waiting for a squirrel to come down so she can eat it. Even though one never has before and never, ever will. I watch my griffon, Enzo, so keen to pee up a poo bin that he falls over. I love his weakness for lady dogs with snazzy tails. The way he unabashedly cries when they ignore him, looks to me as though I can do something about it.
I like the way my dogs never learn. The stick will cut Buddy’s mouth. It is too big to fit between the trees in the forest. Still, he tries. The squirrels laugh at Wiener and her little legs, snickering over her head. Still, she waits, focused, ready to pounce. The pretty shih tzu with the pink collar is never going to give Enzo the time of day. Still, he runs up to her, fast as bullet, yipping a ditty of undying devotion.
My dogs remind me to have hope. That there is beauty in life. In the simple act of being alive. Even when it rains, especially when it rains. I like the sound of it, falling on my hood. I like the way it lands on leaves; the way Wiener avoids the puddles while Buddy bathes in them.
I like to put the heater on when I’m back in the car. How the windows fog from panting tongues and muddy paws. The smell of wet happy dogs, the promise of a nice cup of tea when I get home, maybe a quick half hour on the sofa, lost in a book.
There are worlds we can escape to when this one is too much for us. Ladders easily climbed. It’s good to remember that at times.