a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Getting Through Challenges

Monday, October 28, 2019

Getting Through Challenges

SUMMARY: Like The Pattern in the Amber series, sometimes things are easy, and then you hit a veil...
From Facebook: First paragraph is a comment I posted Oct 27, 2019.

Lord of the Rings: My dad loved the books, my younger sisters loved the books, but every time I tried to read the first in the trilogy, it bogged me down in, I think, extreme detail, scene setting, and expository text. But in my junior year of college (or possibly a few years later) I picked it up again, and loved every word. At that point I wasn’t entirely sure which part I had had trouble with initially.

It's not that I didn't read: I read voraciously, and much of it was fantasy or science fiction. I'm sure that, by then, I had read the first 3 or 4 Amber books, and the Pattern intrigued me; but for a long time, LotR presented a veil that I couldn't get through.

[Corwin begins walking the pattern--] Then the thing began to curve, abruptly, back upon itself. I took ten more paces, and a certain resistance seemed to arise. It was as if a black barrier had grown up before me, of some substance which pushed back upon me with each effort that I made to pass forward. I fought it. It was the First Veil, I suddenly knew. To get beyond it would be an achievement, a good sign, showing that I was indeed part of the Pattern. Each raising and lowering of my foot suddenly required a terrible effort, and sparks shot forth from my hair. I concentrated on the fiery line. I walked it breathing heavily. Suddenly the pressure was eased. The Veil had parted before me, as abruptly as it had occurred. I had passed beyond it. [Read more of this excerpt.]
- from Nine Princes in Amber, by Roger Zelazny 

I also hit a veil when learning subtraction (though addition was simple) and division (though multiplication was simple). Eventually I earned a degree in Math, so apparently I made it through that particular Pattern.

I hit many veils in dog agility, things that I had at one time or another believed that I would never achieve: Getting a gamble. Earning a title.  Earning a more advanced title.  Understanding Snooker rules. Doing a smooth front cross. Earning a championship. Having a dog in the USDAA Top Ten.  Earning many championships with 4 different dogs. Still, I often felt that I had never truly completed that Pattern.

Once upon a time, I cared enough about it that I worked at it. But, true to my life's story, I seldom worked at it to the best of my potential. That felt to me like an overwhelming veil that enveloped all others. Sure, there were days or weeks where I concentrated on some particular skill. But then I'd slack off. Over and over.

Still, I'd say that I had a reasonably successful agility career. And I try hard not to think, "If only I had worked harder at _________."  That way madness lies.

But, whenever I hit a veil in any aspect of my life, I try to remind myself that working hard at getting through could help me to achieve the power of the Pattern, and gain satisfaction, joy, and energy to boot.


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