Why Gunny and I "dared greatly"
Published on June 8, 2017 in Writing
Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be – a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation – with courage and the willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.–Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that hearing Brene’ Brown speak about vulnerability in a TED talk fundamentally changed how I viewed publishing The Endless Path. Gunny (my chocolate Labrador retriever soulmate) and I wrote our book because it was a story that our souls needed to tell. And while writing it was difficult at times, actually publishing it was the thing that completely terrified me.
If you have read The Endless Path, it is probably not hard to imagine why I felt that way. I had spent my life being a respected, dependable, and reasonable lawyer who clients trusted and fellow employees respected. I didn’t make things up. In fact, being honest about things, whether you wanted to hear it or not, was probably one of my most notable traits. And while I of course knew that I was not perfect, I really wanted to be! And I strove to be bulletproof because taking and receiving shots was part of my daily job in a male dominated world of business and money. But of course Brene’ is right: perfect and bulletproof don’t exist in the human experience – or the non-human animal experience either, for that matter.
Therefore, to publish a memoir that reveals a life of unlimited wonder, beauty, and love shared with my soulmate – who happens to be a dog – was very scary. To go further and share my view that Gunny not only was able to communicate clearly, but that he was capable of unfathomable intelligence, humor, and insight, was worse! And to be honest about the fact that losing him damn near killed me was horrifying. What would people think? What would people say? “Why would she go public with her crazy? I would keep it to myself if I thought things like that.”
But I did it anyway. First and foremost, because I made a promise to Gunny that I would. Secondly, because I believed that my experience was relatable and shared by many people who have profound relationships with non-human animals; it is just such an intimate and out of the mainstream experience that we don’t often talk about it with others. And lastly, because I ultimately decided that NOT telling our story would be minimizing a life-changing experience and I did not want to do that. Living with Gunny changed me as a person, and changed my view of what is possible. That is a fact.
The Endless Path tells the story of our two souls at their most vulnerable. Vulnerable does not mean weak. I have come to see that there is great strength in being vulnerable and in revealing that vulnerability to others. Gunny revealed his most intimate thoughts and feelings to a world that doesn’t even always acknowledge that animals have a mind and a soul, knowing it would challenge some peoples’ long held beliefs. And he inspired me to do the same.
We “dared to show up and be seen.” We Dared Greatly. And we are glad that we did. Thanks to all of you who have shared your stories in return, and told us how much our book means to you. We love hearing from you and being invited to share your vulnerability and strength. And it means everything to us that you have embraced, not turned away from, what you saw in us and in yourselves.