Every Sunday after Church my wife and I walk home a certain way and pass a house where a dog barks at us. As we walk along the fence line, the dog continues his barking as he follows us til we leave him behind. The fence restrains him from following us further on our path. And, thank goodness, the dog stops his raucus barking.
Now, what is so strange about a dog barking? Well, actually nothing. That’s what dogs do. They bark. My wife and I just expect this dog to bark at us. And because we have to pass this house on the way home, we just know what to expect. The dog goes nuts when he sees us coming!
This past Sunday we again start the ritual, begin to pass the house, and right on schedule here comes the dog. But, he’s not barking. What? He follows us without barking. My wife and I look at each other. We both know that this dog is supposed to be barking. What happened? Amazing things do happen. We are the same people who do this ritual every Sunday. Doesn’t he know what the ritual is. All dogs know that they are supposed to bark. Not only has he lost his bark, he has also lost his identity of the ferocious dog.
I believe there is a metaphor here that we might use for our own purposes. People expect us to behave in predictable ways. People likewise respond to us in particular and familiar ways. But when we no longer respond in a predictable manner, friends wonder, what’s up with him? Who is this person who always was the “glad hand Charley” now has turned into the isolating and reclusive person who no longer wants us around.
We ourselves. myself included, have at a time in my life, lost my bark, so to speak. It was at that time that I retreated from life and took the defense of depression to lick my wounds. I constructed my own prison and lived there for over a year. My mood had become sullen and responsive to all those who wanted to cheer me up. My thinking turned to thoughts like “what is happening to me”, “who am I” “Why am I wearing this mask of Mister Happy Jack, when I am dying inside. I felt I was losing my identity as well as my purpose in life. There was no meaning to my mental, physical and spiritual life.
Today, my life does have purpose, it does have meaning. Because of losing “my bark” so to speak, I found that my life needed a change. And now, here I am trying to help others “get their bark back.” My depression experience changed my life. The “who I am” now is much different than the “who I was” before my emotional, physical and spiritual crash. I sort of hope that dog gets his bark back, because that is who he is.