Well, as I predicted yesterday, I wound up getting a tetanus shot today. This was due to a dog biting me on the leg during a bicycle ride yesterday afternoon. At least, I think he bit me. I was riding past his house, he ran out at me, I got past him, and then I suddenly felt a sharp sting on the back of my right leg. Not wanting to stop and risk further canine confrontation, I didn’t examine my leg until I got home. There was a small gash there, but since I didn’t see what happened I don’t know if it was caused by tooth or claw.
This was, obviously, not the relaxing ride in the country I had hoped it would be. Bike riding has been an excellent natural way for me to reduce the effects of depression by combining exercise with exposure to sunlight. It’s one component of keeping myself in check, though, so it usually doesn’t do the trick all by itself. Throw in an unexpected factor, such as, say, a dog bite, and a normally positive activity can quickly turn negative.
After my wife helped me clean up the wound (You’d surprised how difficult it is to see the back of your leg. Then again, maybe you wouldn’t.), I found a phone number for the house I had passed by and called to ask if the dog had received its rabies vaccinations. A tetanus shot may be inconvenient, but a rabies shot is some serious business for a human. After briefly explaining what happened, I was told the dog indeed had been properly vaccinated, and I was given permission to “smack him” if he ever tried to bite me again.
Upon hearing I would not require a rabies shot, I felt a flood of relief wash over me. My leg was still stinging, but I felt a tremendous sense of calm in knowing my worst fear wasn’t going to be realized. It didn’t occur to me until later in the evening that I had every right to be extremely ticked off about the whole situation. I mean, this was supposed to be a pleasurable activity for me, and it was nearly ruined by someone’s overzealous pet.
I didn’t go there, though. I didn’t exactly choose to be happy, but the more positive thought eventually won out in the end. I didn’t even realize what had happened until I was reading an article on the internet that mentioned Rabbi Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. I still don’t know much about the man, but this particular article explained how he was of the firm belief that two thoughts could not occupy the brain at the same time. In other words, a positive and negative thought could not coexist at the same moment. One would eventually win out over the other.
Nachman believed choosing the positive thought was the key to overcoming depression. I’m still not sure I line up exactly with this theory. I am notorious for weighing positives and negatives to no end, sometimes to the point where I can’t make a decision at all. In yesterday’s instance, though, Nachman would have been proved entirely correct. The positive thought of things not turning out as bad as they could have made me forget to be angry, and in turn caused my mood to not sink into melancholy.
Of course, if I wake up in the morning with a sore arm I might be whistling a different tune. For the moment, though, all I have is a Band-Aid on my arm, an understanding that dogs can sometimes do stupid things, and a desire to get back on my bike as soon as I can. Maybe that rabbi was onto something after all.