My coworker and her husband adopted a dog from the shelter a bit less than a year ago. The little dog had a very troubled past and came to them with a host of issues from anxiety to aggression. They have shown him only love, patience, and understanding these few months, and, along with a constant environment, he has started to learn to trust humans again. At the end of last week, however, she came into work in tears. The dog had bitten her on the arm and the leg. She was shaken up, but fine physically, although his teeth did break through the skin. It was more of an internal blow... after she had invested so much time and so much of her physical and emotional efforts, this little creature whom she loved so dearly had reverted back to his old ways and literally bit the hand that fed him.
Recently I have seen two movies: Darjeeling Limited and Crash. Two films I would recommend to most people. The first is about three white American brothers who take a train through India at the request of the eldest in order to grow closer to each other and receive spiritual insight. The second winds the racially charged stories of several citizens of Los Angeles into an intricate knot of misunderstandings and even violence. The first is artistic and dry and the second is tense and raw...
There are a lot of stories I have heard where the main character undergoes a transformation: becoming a kinder, more understanding, or more loving person. It may occur slowly or almost instantaneously, but the change always seems to occur steadily, to be permanent transformation.
My reaction at the end of both of the movies was "What??? ...ohhhhhh." While the characters in each did change and grow, their changes were not a linear process. It threw me at first, but then it resonated. Maybe it reflects this current point in my life that I am picking up on such a theme and connecting the two films, or maybe it reflects a more realistic, less idealist view towards change in the world in general. Even as we have small changes of heart as individuals or groups, we still may return to our old ways, yet with a slightly deeper understanding and a hint of promise that the next time around we might do a little bit better. Maybe that is what makes change beautiful. It is not perfect, yet we continue.
On Monday, my coworker came back into work smiling. The whole weekend, the dog acted as though nothing had ever happened. In fact, she said "he has been so much more affectionate than usual."
That is hope.