It has been well below the freezing point in Colorado Springs for the past five days or so. Normally that would not be an issue; allowing me to remain indoors and enjoy some reflective writing. However, Xena (my Plott’s Hound and Catahoula mix dog) does not see it that way. Instead, she blames me for the cold weather, which has included wind chill temperatures dipping down to some forty degrees farenheit below zero. Given the prospect of frostbite in minutes, it has meant that she has had to forgo her daily walk in the woods of one of the city parks!
Today we actually awoke to temperatures that were already above freezing. Without even going outside, Xena was able to sense what in her mind was a tropical heat wave! She began her signature baying noise and was soon throwing herself playfully at me.
Sometimes I curse her genetics of part bear hunter and part boar-hunting pack dog. Her instinct is to lunge at me as if I was her personal game quarry. Then again, she has never shown the urge to chase even a squirrel, instead wagging her tail and trying to engage them. What she lacks in hunting ability she makes up for as a loyal pet. Then again, I am not a hunter, so it is all for the best.
Not having taken our leisurely two to three-mile jaunt for almost a week, Xena was thrilled to get in the car and arrive at the wooded park. She immediately ran out and began tracking whatever animals had passed through in the night. There was a brief interruption while she answered the call of nature several times. Then it was back to her favorite activity of following her nose.
Along the way she stopped to greet several other dogs out on their walks. She froze as she heard sharp sounds coming from deeper in the urban woods. She would be trotting at full cantor and would suddenly round about in pursuit of a new scent. I marveled at the simplicity of her life and was actually feeling envy creep in.
Stopping to clean up after Xena’s latest droppings, I came to a realization. Xena was living her life in the moment! There was no concern about the scent she had just dropped a few minutes ago. There was no worry about what turn in the path that we were going to take next. Instead, she was relishing everything around her at that very instant! I was a firsthand witness to what I can only call “Hound Dog Wisdom!”
How often do we go through the days of our lives with eyes half-closed and ears half plugged? Are we plagued with the regrets of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow; so much so that we lose sight of what is going on around us right now? Are we failing to live in the moment? I pondered which end of the leash now possessed the higher intelligence!
Just for fun, I decided to try to shut down my mind for the rest of the walk. Usually I ponder things that have happened in the past or things that I need to do as I stroll behind Xena. Perhaps today I would just set myself free and enjoy my surroundings. Habits die hard and I struggled to release every thought and combat it when it tried to creep back into my head.
Suddenly I became aware of everything around me. I could smell the gentle scent of pine trees surrounding me. The crisp snow under my feet became a symphony of sound. I spotted several beautiful birds up in the branches of old maple trees. Next I discovered a wall that had been built by the NWA in the Great Depression era. Surely I had walked past it a hundred times, but had never really taken notice of it!
The more in tune I became with my surroundings, the more relaxed I began to feel. I was actually enjoying my walk for what it was supposed to be; a slice in time, a piece of right now! Sometimes we are so busy apologizing for the past and trying to master the future that we forget the only thing we have with any certainty is the present!
It has been two hours since Xena and I returned from our walk. She is laying on her dog bed, covered with her favorite blanket, and peacefully snoring away! I am the keyboard and feeling more liberated than I have in a long time! My mind is at ease and I feel like I am the master of the universe at this very moment. The words to this blog have flowed effortlessly and naturally. In short, life is good!
In a little bit I will return to my pattern of planning out the rest of the day, the week, the month, the year, the decade, and the rest of this century. Tomorrow, Xena will once again remind me that; planning is important, remembering is essential, and that living in the here and now is critical to a life fulfilled!