Back in 2000, my father fulfilled my wish to keep a dog. My mother and I visited a couple whose Labrador had delivered 11 pups. As aunty opened the door, that sight can never leave me. From the other end of the corridor, bundles of Golden and Black Labrador puppies with fat paws, flapping ears, and a riotous pace came running towards us!
My mother and I sat down watching them play and tumble. Aunty pointed out that three of them were already booked. They were the healthiest and sturdiest of the lot. My mother cuddled one and nudged another. She looked at me and said, “Go ahead, pick one!”
The decision was easy. I had made my choice at the first sight of the puppies running towards us. While all of them came charging with full strength, three were left behind, the last of the lot. And out of those three, there was one the entire lot had trampled over! He was the weakest. His hind legs were not strong. Yet, he was active and tried to be a part of the boisterous gang.
Something about him connected with me. I knew that he was the friend I wanted. I looked at my mother and pointed at him. Aunty didn’t verbalise her thoughts at my choice but her raised eyebrows were a giveaway, “Why this one? There are so many others way more good looking, way stronger. They have a higher chance of survival too!” My mother smiled at me and said, “Okay.”
The rest is history. Simba grew up to become one fit, active, and super handsome dog! We massaged his hind legs, supported his growth with a rich diet and regular exercise, and loved him to the core. And Simba gave us the invaluable gifts of tranquillity and innocence, infectious happiness, and inseparable companionship. He lived a whole 13 years, completely disease free, and died peacefully of old age.
When I picked Simba out of the lot, it wasn’t because I pitied him. It wasn’t because my reasoning said that it was the right choice. It was simply because my heart went out to him. And that was all.
I could’ve taken an hour to choose one out of the eight non-booked puppies. There were so many vital statistics to check, questions to ask about each one’s behaviour, references to make against the black Labrador we had earlier, comparisons to draw within the shortlisted ones, and in the end, still be less than 100% convinced about my choice.
Thankfully, I was an adolescent who simply listened to her heart. I wonder what I’d do if I had the choice to pick one out of a litter today.
As adults, we tend to give too much importance to logic and practicalities over the inexplicable and evocative. Sometimes, it is liberating to not overthink decisions. Sometimes it is intelligent to give our intuition a chance. Sometimes it is humane to put aside the clinical approach and allow our hearts to do the thinking. Sometimes it is rewarding to recognise our own unique flow notwithstanding the success parameters that others follow. Sometimes it is alright to make heartfelt mistakes and be proud to live a life of adventure.
Listen to your heart. Be generous to what it says because almost always, its voice is closest to what we truly want. We don’t die only when the heart stops beating. We also die a thousand deaths when we don’t listen to the language it speaks. Don’t not just live, be alive.
This article was published at Hindustan Times.