I was going to have a day of feeling loving, but then I read about a thing called an integrity cleanse and decided to go with that instead. There are all types of cleanses going on today and when you have MCS/EI/biotoxicity, you read just about every article in the hope of finding something that will make you feel good, better, healthy.
I was unaware of this particular way of handling problems and I found it intriguing. Apparently, many of the people around me are doing this cleanse and I just didn't know it. In a nutshell (no pun intended), the premise as I understand it is that social compliance may mean we are living outside of our truth, who we are in perfect alignment with what we most deeply feel. When we are living from a place of integrity, then there will be joy and happiness if we stay the course and don't give in to disapproval, attack, or any other form of forced compliance with social norms that we don't feel align us with who we are. This sounds amazing so I'm thinking about taking it for a ride.
For example, I'm betting the man in the park every morning who walks his dogs off-leash is engaging in an integrity cleanse. I’m going to join him. I'm going to speak my truth to him about letting his dog run circles around my dogs while I struggle to keep them calm because I don’t want to live a duplicitous life any more. I don't want to pretend that I can control my dogs while his dogs are dashing about. Actually, it’s more than that. In all honesty, I don’t want to walk my dogs on their leashes either. The park rules are inconvenient. I’m so over it. I hate walking the dogs on their leashes. They pull. They drag me to sniff things. One goes one way around a tree while the other goes another way and I'm stuck in the middle trying to figure out which dog is easier to rein in so we can all go around the tree in the same direction. I want them to live with integrity, too.
They want to go where the other dogs are running wild and free. We always have to go where there aren’t any other dogs. We always have to go to the park at inconvenient times because so many people let their dogs run off-leash lately. I have to be super stealthy all the time and know where everyone is so we don’t have unexpected encounters. Sure, my dogs are rescues and I lovingly refer to them as special needs. They weren’t really socialized at a young age so they tend to be a little aggressive with other dogs. It’s a major pain, but you know, it’s their nature. It's who they are. I want my dogs to know what it’s like to run free, get more exercise, chase squirrels and maybe even a smaller dog from time to time. I want to walk unimpeded by a leash and look cool when Nate, and only Nate, comes back to me on my command. They have their own integrity so coming 100% of the time when I call isn’t in perfect alignment with who they are. When they aren’t feeling it, they don’t come JUST BECAUSE I CALLED THEM. They are by nature non-compliant. They act on their true hearts’ desires. Virtue and happiness is their thing.
So to the man at the park this morning, the couple in the other park yesterday afternoon, the little old lady with the peek-a-poo at noon in the wooded area, and the myriad other folks who free-range their dogs on the trails, in the meadow, and on the roads, I’m going to speak a little truth. We’ve been taught that virtue is synonymous with social rules. So what if the expectation of responsible dog ownership is and the park rules are to keep your dog on a leash. That kind of adherence is a cultural construct and goes against a dog’s nature. A dog’s innate inclination is to run. Run wild. Run free. Run all over the park unimpeded. Your inclination is to let him. Your inclination is to walk, to text on your phone, to nonchalantly drink your coffee, to engage in animated conversation with your fellow walker and then when you see someone really close, to calmly call your dog to come to you, to walk some more, to calmly call your dog again. Sometimes your dog’s inclinations and your inclinations coincide. Sometimes not so much, but that doesn’t matter because you and your dog are living virtuously and with integrity.
This makes you happy. This makes your dog happy. You aren’t a slave to the external gratification of doing what everyone else is doing, keeping your dog by your side, knowing where it poops and picking it up, of acting like a responsible dog owner as defined by some arbitrary park personnel and cultural expectation. The innate happiness of picking up poop is temporary and unreliable because sometimes it just isn’t a happy making event, especially when it’s runny or more than the bag can hold or when the bag has a hole in it. Letting your dog poop where it wants is more in alignment with what you most deeply feel to be true. By letting your dog run through the park unimpeded pooping where it decides is more virtuous. You are happy and there is an upwelling of joy regardless of external factors because you know your dog is living more aligned with it’s doggy nature and you are living more aligned with your nature as a spoiled brat.
Sure, this may be breaking the rules of the park. But this is your sense of truth. It may end your relationship with the dog if it gets hit by a car or attacked by another dog or scratched by one of the many feral cats the crazy cat lady has dumped in the park over the last two years. It may even create some vocal dissent from others who don’t fully support your new integrity cleanse. This behavior might cost you money if the park personnel decide to fine you. It might even cause some social shaming if someone decides to yell at you from across the park IN HER OUTSIDE VOICE to leash your dog— NOW!!! You may even lose your life and liberty if you run up against an angry dog owner with a gun who has decided that your virtuous living is in contradiction to her rights as a taxpaying dog owner who also wants to use the park. It might hurt. A lot. But each time you see your dog running free, running wild, you’ll increase the flow of happiness that has been blocked. And if any of those other things happen, well, I’m sure if you wait it out, you’ll feel peace through the sorrow and disappointment, because you know that while that dog was running, it was happy. You were happy. You were both living virtuously— with integrity.
Know in your heart, that if you just stay the course and don’t give into those petty, culturally driven leash laws, regardless of the losses you might sustain, you will move from misery to inner peace. You will finally and ultimately be in alignment with your true nature. You will be expressing and doing what’s true for you. There’s no duplicity in your life. You are an irresponsible dog owner and a brat, and not everyone can claim that at your age, but to act otherwise would be acting out of your integrity. You would not be feeling what you feel, knowing what you know, saying what you believe and acting on what feels most right for you.
As radical as it sounds, I support you in that. In fact, I’m going to join you. It is an unfair system and I’m not going to disapprove of your actions or attack you. I don’t feel like leashing my dogs either. I agree that it’s a pain. Sure, other dogs might die for it and some people might get hurt, but it will move us a little closer toward equality and liberty because my dogs are big dogs, special needs dogs, and they will eat your dog.
I know, I know. You might object. I"ll deal with it. You might even feel outrage, but I'm going to stay the course. Let's see what happens. You might feel like it's the end of the world, but trust me, that is illusory. The park rules aren’t going to make you happy. They only make me happy because I don't believe most people can control their dogs. They're animals and it isn't in their nature to comply 100% of the time. Those nasty park rules make me feel safe because I know that if a dog comes charging at us, I have my dogs where I can get to them, reel them in even if it takes all my strength and willpower to do it. And sometimes, they win and drag me over to the other dog, but at least my body weight is slowing them down and that can give you enough time to get your dog under control and out of our space.
Still, it's as big a struggle as trying to breathe the air when you've doused yourself in cologne. It makes me sad and a little angry, but that's o.k. I can at least smell you coming so your dog doesn't surprise us quite as often. You just stay off-leash. Free-range your dog. If there are negative consequences, you'll heal. I’ve stopped expecting good things from you just because it's the decent, compassionate, responsible thing to do. I support you in finding a way to thrive, in not being someone else's puppet, in doing what feels good to you.
I'm sure you are going to be amazed by the ultimate outcome. Of course, the reward might not be what you expect because sometimes what you put into a situation is not always what you get out of it. For example, there may be some bitterness when I start yelling at you through a bullhorn and you can't see me because I've been able to smell you a mile away and know that you have not leashed your dog. Then, you will get to experience me living my truth.
So, I’ll see you at the park. Maybe our paths will cross. Maybe our dogs will interact. If you say something to me, well, I’ll say something back to you. We’ll speak our truths. It will be great. If in living our truths, my dog eats your dog, that will just be part of our shared experience, wholesome in an integrated sort of way when an irresponsible person comes up against three big dogs and an owner doing an integrity cleanse. You'll be amazed when I tell you through my bullhorn that perhaps you should have worn a stronger cologne so I could smell you coming from farther away and gotten out of your path or better yet, maybe you should have leashed your dog.