Have you ever had a moment of innocent connection with a stranger that’s brought you to your knees?
I had that moment today.
As I approached my car, I noticed a lanky teenage boy and a huge, huge dog.
We’re talking more pony than dog.
Abruptly, the pony-dog stopped and stared me down.
Dog lover that I am, I started chatting (code for nosy questioning) with the teenager – safely from the other side of my car:
Is he a Great Dane?
Is he friendly?
May I pat him?
After getting the nod, I gingerly approached the pony-dog, holding my hand out to him for a sniff (or to offer him my fingers for lunch!)
Now I’d established contact I let my curiosity off her own leash, learning the dog’s name was Henry, he was 10 years old and yes, he did eat a lot of food.
Suddenly I noticed the teenage boy had started to quietly cry, trying not to let it show.
My heart melted as I asked him: “Are you upset about something?”
“Today’s his last day” he mumbled……
There was a moment of silence as the meaning of this sunk in.
Next thing – still patting Henry- I’m in the street crying too.
There was something so moving about this gentle giant of a dog stopping for me and the gangly teenage boy sharing his vulnerable moment…it broke me down.
Turns out Henry had irreversible cancer in his leg and they were putting him down the next day….I’d crashed one of his last walks….
The teenager and I had a bit of a cry together, then I left him to his walk with Henry.
Noticing Henry’s bad limp as he walked away.
It was hard to drive home I was sobbing so much.
I’ve reflected on that encounter a lot since it happened.
As sad as it was, it felt like the boy, dog and I had shared such a precious moment in time.
And later I considered: you can never assume or really know what people are going through.
It reminded me we’re all in this life together – and frankly- some days, in the words of Mark Mason are really f#$*ed.
It was also a nudge for me of the value in holding space for someone in their pain.
To not try to fix it or repair it or offer advice.
But the importance- if you’re offered the privilege of another’s vulnerability- of simply sharing the moment together.
I felt so honoured Henry stopped for me today.
And thankful the teenage boy opened his heart and let me in for those few seconds.
It reminds me of an expression used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony to appreciate the present moment and see it for what it is- a moment that’ll never, ever happen again.
Which Ichi-go Ichi-e moments do you appreciate from today?
Reply in the comments.