If you’ve ever known a husky, you know that corners or bends in the trail aren’t meant for slowing down. A husky, whether they’re pulling a sled, a skier, a cyclist or just running – will settle nicely into the straightaways but as soon as they approach the unknown, whether it is a slight bend in the path or a corner on a trail, they naturally accelerate. It wasn’t always the most comforting position – seeing the bend in the trail and knowing we were about to acclerate into the unknown. Yet time and again, we did it and enjoyed the fun and rewards that awaited just beyond the bends, the turns, and the corners.

Huskies are curious and when you’re lucky enough to know one – or a pack of them – they invite you into their curiosity and into their fearlessness. It’s a wonderful place to be because a husky’s curiosity is nothing but being in the moment – being present and focused, no time for, ‘what if I fail’ questions. Huskies are alpha dogs –  they somehow know they’re going to succeed.

Tua and Alta were my huskies. Tua had steely golden eyes – her mother ran the Iditarod and I never doubted that Tua could have done the same. Alta, with one blue eye and one brown eye, was one of the most loving creatures I’ve ever known. They lived long, happy lives filled with adventures and experiences and had a natural exuberance for speeding up to confidently discover what was around the bend. I learned a lot from those two dogs who would howl rather than bark and tip toe around a sleeping kitten. It has been nearly a decade since Alta died in my arms and Tua, a few years prior to that. I think the biggest gift they gave me was to embrace the corners of life.

Like most huskies, Tua and Alta were curious and enthusiastic and as soon as we approached a bend in the trail, they naturally sped up. They were uninhibited and unafraid of the unknown and so fueled by curiosity that their fearlessness rubbed off on me and everyone around them.

As adults, we have long been indoctrinated to plan, maintain control, be in charge, achieve certitude, solvency, and security. All of those things are nice and are supposed to make us feel good – perhaps even happy. Yet, they are also limiting and sometimes make us feel empty. When we’re so focused on being in control or achieving the next line item on the list, we can miss out on the things that actually lead to what we’re likely searching for. And while we all have our definitions of success and happiness, we know that the highest form of wisdom comes only from pain, the biggest successes are wedded to our equally large failures, and confidence doesn’t come from playing it safe – it comes from accelerating into the unknown.

Everyone is on his or her path – it belongs to you and no one else. Yet, we often allow others to dictate the directions and decisions, and many times those safe, stay-in-the-box approaches require us to slow down at the bends in the road and question – should I or shouldn’t I? What if I fail? What if it doesn’t work out? What if, what if, what if. What if we simply stopped asking those questions and stopped reinforcing the limitations that we’ve been taught? What if we do fail? And, what if we actually succeed?

Clearly, we aren’t huskies pulling a sled or a skier or even a bike but a lot of times we are pulling the weight of expectations of others and the baggage of our own fear and doubts. We’ve been taught to move toward comfort and predictability but if you’re lucky enough to spend time with a husky on a trail in their natural environment they’ll show you that it is ultimately embracing the unknown that will ultimately deliver the confidence and certitude to define your life the way you want it to be – the way you want to live it.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven

Photo courtesy of Karen Gendreau at the start of a training run in Maine with her dogs Tobin & Leika, followed by Tua & Alta.