What My Dog Teaches Me About Joy
I am in the middle of a lot of personally-invoked change, and the prospect of an unsure future worries me. And my dog doesn’t care.
It’s not that he doesn’t care about ME, it’s that he doesn’t understand why I am worried about what hasn’t happened yet.
He lives totally in the moment. If he’s hungry, he eats (or begs so relentlessly that we give him something). If he’s tired, he curls up in his bed and sleeps, only glancing up at us if the television is too loud. If he feels frisky, he carefully selects a toy out of his toy basket and brings it to us with a few loud barks to declare recess.
Last night, during our brief snow, I took him into the front yard. I was focused on knocking the snow off of our newly planted trees (the ones that replaced our fourteen oaks that went down in hurricane Irene).
As I was knocking the snow off the trees, I thought of those huge oak trees lying face-down after the storm. My heart began to hurt, and tears welled up in my eyes.
Then my dog got the wind craze. Riggins took off running around the yard like a maniac, kicking up snow and doing helicopters. While I was mourning for something that had already happened, he was living in the moment.
Eventually, he ran directly at me, hurling his 90 lbs. recklessly in my direction. He’s never really understood the art of dodging at the last moment.
As I saw him coming, I began to scream with anticipation and jumped to the left to avoid the direct hit. As I jumped, I lost my footing and fell into the snow. Riggins was delighted that I had joined his game, and began licking me in the face. I laughed hysterically, fighting to get up.
Once I got on my knees, I looked my dog in the eyes. And, I realized, he gets it. This moment was happy. We have new trees, and snow, and peace, and quiet, and laughter, and love. Why was I ruining it by remembering something that was painful?
I stood up, looked around my yard, and thanked God for every beautiful thing in my life. Then Riggins and I took off around the yard together, kicking up snow and celebrating.