Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crystal Balls and Time Machines

I’ve always said: if I had a chance to know what lay ahead, I wouldn’t. It seems wrong on so many levels. That’s partially too many movies about the inevitability of Fate, partially a disbelief in Fate itself. I just don’t like to think that my life is set- I want to know that my choices mean something and I'm shaping my own outcome.

I live my life based on this belief and it’s what allows me to be so open to opportunities; say ‘yes,' and there is no telling where you will be taken and what you will learn along the way. I’ve no interest in knowing the future now or skipping ahead. Not only is the unknown half the fun, but it’d be like cheating on a test. You’re missing the lessons!

However I DO consider myself one to reflect. If I could hop into a time machine to go back, I might. I would love to finely trace the path I took and spend more time in those impacting yet instantaneous moments. The things I would learn! But I worry about what I would whisper in my own ear. It would be so hard not to help myself, but if we’ve learned one thing from TV and movies, it’s that you don’t mess with the past!

So when the Dog Agility Blog event was determined it got me thinking: Is there anything I wish I knew when I started agility that I know now? Would I cheat on the test if I could??
My perspective may be a bit skewed. I started agility when agility and I were both young, neither having met a decade yet. It was a different world back then- no one really knew anything! Just that it was FUN. Of course I can think of a long list of cards I wish I would have had in my hand to play then:

Running dogwalk- who knew?
Collecting? On purpose? No way!
Rubberized contacts: I’d be rich now!
Minimal shoes and running pants=Comfortable AND practical.
Foundation! (Hey, I said it was a different world…)
Tricks! I could have had dogs bringing me things all this time?
Conditioning. It’s not just for humans.
And on and on and on…

But we had an amazing time and were a great team without ANY of those things. Sure, my first agility dog and I would have been unstoppable with just a bit of knowledge in collection from Future Me. But most of what we learn is learned for a reason and more importantly, leads you down yet another path. I wouldn’t have bothered to find out that there were ways to get tight turns,etc, if I hadn’t needed them. And that search led to jumping skills, shaping, running contacts...So it goes. Er, you know, live and learn.
I know the point is to just share something intelligent that can help an up-and-coming team, but I get stuck in this loop that comes back to having to live life and shape your own path as you go- no crystal balls allowed. Too much luring and you end up not learning anything. And sometimes you just have to learn the hard way. But. It doesn't need to be that way EVERY time...

My intelligent something would have to be: If I did have a time machine, I’d have to tell myself to go be a proactive learner. A lot of what I did and learned between then and now was as a result of…something. Reactive. I always waited for there to be the question to say yes to or the problem to solve before I tried to learn the answer. Which in this age of information and opportunity is just...inexcusable. But I figured out in the last year or two that it was time to get proactive and since then I’ve felt a lot better about everything. Confident, capable, prepared, adventurous. My path is still my own and one of shaped learning, but when I encounter a new issue that I have no solution to, I'm already steps ahead- but without skipping ahead.

So no matter what anyone tells you today, it doesn’t really matter WHAT you learn, just that you learn as much as you can. While you *could* wait for the lesson to present itself in due time, you can chose to get proactive now. Say yes when you can, and learn the lessons life presents. But the rest of the time, don't wait for the question. Go looking for any and all answers!
Since we are on the topic of fantasy impossibilities though - while I'd probably say no to Time Machines and Crystal Balls I'd have to say YES to a teleporter.

I've got a lot places to be- think of the travel possibilities! So much more agility...

Someone should get on that.


  1. Yep, yep and yep!


  2. Have to say the title alone "drew me in". I mean who doesn't like Crystal Balls and Time Machines ;) actually it made me think of Harry Potter and Back to the Future (be it the original or any of the sequels). Great post Shenna!

  3. This is a fabulous post. I think the lessons learned along the way are a big part of the reason we stick with something and really become DOG people. I know this isn't about reactive/issue dogs but think of the huge number of people who became interested in dog training because of their "special" dog. Learning the hard way can fuel that desire to learn more and be proactive in the future.

  4. I know, actually cueing collection, what a concept. Though some days I sort of wish I'd never heard of running contacts.

  5. GREAT post and great reminder to be proactive and learn all we can! THANKS, Kathy with Liz/Breeze/Cricket

  6. Great post! Times change, and will keep on changing. Who knows what the "next" best thing will be.

  7. Speaking of things we should have thought of and made a million dollars - MARVIN!!!