My dog Cookie loves to play catch (or more aptly, I throw the ball and she chases it!). Shortly after we got her, one of my neighbors told us that on one side of the Mormon Church (2 blocks away) was a great grassy side yard, more or less fenced in, that everyone uses to play catch with their dogs. (Unfortunately, the city has not created a decent sized dog park in which to play catch.) So, we started taking Cookie there, and she loved it. We would have her run around for 30 minutes or more chasing up to one hundred pitches. The yard even had a water faucet from which she could take a quick drink when needed. Needless to say, when she got home, she was “dog tired” and so would collapse on the tile floor and go to sleep.

Well, a few weeks ago, the Mormon Church closed the side yard by putting yellow tape across the entrance. I assumed it was so it could plant grass, or to re-seed the yard. (Undoubtedly, the parishioners knew of the ball catching because they would see not only me but others out there with our dogs on Sundays or in the evenings, and so knew why the grass was slowly morphing into dirt and mud.)

So, for a few weeks, we could not play ball. No doubt, Cookie wondered why we stopped going there… but I had no way to explain it to her.

Then, last weekend, the yellow tape was removed. The yard was open again for ball playing!

So, last night, I took Cookie to play ball again. The grass was fresh, and green and new.

I started throwing the ball and she ran after it with glee. She was having a wonderful time.

At one point, I threw the ball and it seemed to careen off of a turtarrier (“The concrete thing that is at the end of a parking spot, sometimes also called a parking block or parking breaker”) (and into the shrubbery just above it and along the side of the wall. Cookie- even though as an English springer spaniel- is a hunting dog- could not find the ball. So, I stopped the game and started looking in the shrub for the ball. I spent many, many, minutes looking in that shrub- under it, on top of it, in it, around it, over and over and over again. I even searched in the neighboring shrub- in it, on top of it, under it, over and over again. I kept looking over and over again in the shrubbery, absolutely certain that the ball had careened off of the Turtarrier and into the shrub. This search went on for 30 minutes… and I could not find the ball.

Then, it dawned on me- my “ah-hah” moment- that perhaps my assumption was wrong. Perhaps the ball did not careen off of the turtarrier and into the shrub but took a different path. It struck me, that if I could not find the ball after thirty minutes of detailed searching in the shrubs, I was looking in the wrong place! I have to start thinking outside of the box … go back to the drawing board… re-analyze my assumptions… and perhaps try an alternative logic.

So… I thought …. suppose the ball, rather than going into the shrub after careening off the turtarrier, shot off in another direction…. perhaps down the parking lot or further along the pavement. I started walking down the parking lot and …. lo and behold, the ball was at the other end. What I thought had occurred (the ball careening into the shrub after hitting the turtarrier) had, indeed not occurred. My assumption was wrong! The ball had, in actuality, hit the turtarrier… and went flying some distance down the parking lot.

I grabbed the ball…. happy that I had solved the mystery and went home. But, it brought home to me what I always tell folks in mediation…. never assume or at least test your assumptions and it pays to think outside of the box. If what you have been doing up to now is not working, perhaps there is a reason for it… and it is time to re-evaluate your actions, to think outside of the box and try a different course of action.

…. Just something to think about!

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