This weekend I was at an animal shelter and one of the staff members showed me a newborn puppy. They lifted the puppy out of a cage and pulled in away away from his brothers. They set him on a high table for me to see. The puppy was both adorable and shivering in terror.
Observing this terrified puppy made me uncomfortable. I felt like I had to leave. I was consumed by horror, to think that a being could be born aware and afraid of life’s pains. What if the puppy wasn’t afraid of the human staring at it on a table, but the puppy was afraid of life’s loneliness, struggle, absurdity, joy, and pain. Afraid that hope both springs us our dreams forward and crushes them. What if the puppy felt that time and gravity were a thick tide they had to struggle through.
What if the puppy was already terrified of his absurd struggle of pushing the bolder up a hill for its little blink of eternity.
What if I had been born knowing that life was a constant challenge.
That love was both sweet and poisonous. Time was precious, worthless, wasted and stolen. I probably would’ve not wanted to step out into the world. Humans are lucky to be born ignorant, open, and loving.
I imagine that once the puppy was adopted, house trained, accustomed to its toys and the placement of its water bowl, excited by the visits of new smells and new people – it would forget it’s existential crisis.