A middle-aged friend of mine recently got his first dog. That statement alone is enough to make the story interesting; who of us hasn’t had a dog, at least during childhood? Maybe that’s just me, perhaps many people have never owned a dog. In any event, my friend’s adventures as a dog owner have been the subject of numerous text messages, complete with pictures, and so I’ve been able to have a vicarious dog experience. It’s been very enjoyable and has brought many a smile to my face. Oddly enough, it’s helped me begin seeing the world differently.
Why? One thing my friend said really struck a chord with me. He said, “The dog looks at everything. And the dog has to stop and smell everything. It’s as if everything in the neighborhood is new and exciting. He’s making me slow down and really notice my surroundings.”
It got me thinking about how often I look but don’t really see or experience the things around me. How often do I slow down and look at creatures and plants in nature around me, notice their texture and color, their size and shape? Not often enough. No, instead, I trudge from one end of the house to another, focused on some task. At other times—okay, most of the time—I’m dithering over my own inner narrative, oblivious to the play of light and shadow throughout the day as the sun makes its way across the sky. Or I drive to and from errands without noticing the exposed skeletons of trees, the sound of the wind, the blue-gray light of winter skies.
I’ve noticed these tendencies in myself even more often lately, as the pandemic grinds ever onward. So that’s why seeing the pictures of my friend’s dog and being able to share in the effect it’s having on him is such a lift to my spirits. It’s been a great reminder that every moment is special, and that beauty and joy surround us. Sometimes it takes the love and curiosity of a great dog to get us out of our headspace, start seeing the world differently, and get back into the life that is going on all around us.
As my friend revels in the adventures of his new pup, every dandelion is a magical game. The first romp through the snow brings delight, and even snuffling around the lawn searching for grasshoppers is great fun.
And because of what he’s sharing with me, I am making more time to look out the window in my office. The squirrels are busy preparing for winter. I smile when I see the neighborhood’s stray tomcat surveying his domain. I note the rays of the sun lighting different parts of the home through the day, and the way its rays pierce the branches of our various houseplants and turn them, just for a moment, into living stained glass.
Life isn’t perfect, but when I really pay attention to what surrounds me, it is very, very good.
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