What do our dogs teach us? Can we learn new tricks from them?
Our terriers, Flash and Cowboy, have started a new morning ritual. After breakfast and some free-range roaming in the backyard, they come into the sunroom and settle down together for a side-by-side morning coffee break…without the coffee. As I see them lying together, I become aware of their way of being in the world, which is becoming my mantra for how I want to be in the world:
- Playfulness – Nothing brings them more joy than playing with their favorite toy: THE KONG. This indestructible rubber ball is both serious business and serious fun. How can I bring a sense of playfulness to those responsibilities that feel burdensome? How can I infuse my work with the fresh exuberance of a child or my dogs? My intention is to make all of my serious business bubble over with serious fun.
- Pace – Our dogs move at the pace that is authentic for each of them. For Flash, our old Airedale, that pace is unhurried, like a sumo wrestler lumbering through a marathon. For Cowboy, our Fox Terrier, that pace is frenetic and hyper. Neither is right/wrong or better/worse. They move at the appropriate pace for their temperament. I have come to accept that my natural rhythm is closer to Flash’s pace than Cowboy’s. Yet, it seems like the world I live in wants me to move at Cowboy speed. I recommit myself to a pace that is authentic for me and own that without apology. The world is not best served when I fly at breakneck speed, multitask myself into a tizzy and feel the anxious weight of being constantly behind. The world needs me to be me: thoughtful and spacious, persistent and tranquil, forward moving yet with a sense of the deeper reality penetrating each moment. My intention is to own, accept, and celebrate my authentic pace.
- Presence – Our dogs give no thought to yesterday or tomorrow. Only this moment has any meaning for them. Can I meet the inevitable interruptions and not-according-to-plan moments with compassionate attention and welcome rather than resistance, anger, and judgement? Can I focus on what is happening rather than what did or might happen? Can I be grateful for and open to what is, as it is? I intend to shift more and more of my attention to this present moment.
For our dogs, playfulness, pace and presence come naturally. For me, those traits require practice. Perhaps, some day, with more training, I will become as wise as they are.