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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

insights: what the dog taught me

Living in Seattle, it is wet. I get what we signed up for when we moved here from Connecticut.

However, it has been wet, rainy, damp, gloomy and just plain sleepy weather for weeks on end. This weekend was Memorial Day Weekend and it was so cold and rainy that I cooked most the weekend making a Thanksgiving style turkey dinner, applesauce and ratatouille. Last night around 4pm the weather started to break and it was as if the warden opened all the cells, people started flooding out of the homes and lifting their faces up to the sun. Baby strollers and leashes were dusted off and the world was suddenly on parade.

I looked over at the dog who was as bored as I was being stuck inside for so long and I thought she'd love a trip to the park on the lake. So I said "Let's go. Come on! Let's go to the park." She languidly stretched and I swear she was saying to me "Hmmmm, that's a funny trick. I barely remember what it's like to go to that park. You kid." She stared at me form the comfort of her Sherpa wool ball. Only when I put on my running shoes and grabbed my keys did she bolt towards the garage door.

With the sun out and the temp in the 50's, I put the top down and threw on the 70's station on Sirius. Emma sat in the passenger seat doing that low growl/hum/rumble that she does when she's happy (i.e. a treat, a belly rub, a trip to the pet store. . .).

It was still cool but the warm sun felt strange almost and wonderful.  As we were driving towards the park I looked over at the dog and she was sitting looking straight up towards the sky, ears flying in the wind. I looked up and noticed the way the sun dappled through the trees, the way the light played off the dozens of shades of green. It was almost technicolor. I felt like Dorothy after landing in Oz. I hadn't ever noticed the way the sunlight filters through the  canopy of leaves in the hundreds of times we've taken this road.

I rolled down the windows and turned off the radio. The speed limit was 25mph so we were going sloooow. I heard birds singing. I inhaled and smelled the wet earth. It was like my senses were being turned on one at a time. I looked over at Emma and she was still looking straight up as we passed under the wet trees, her nose twitching.

I realized that the fun part for her was not just being at the park but GETTING to the park. It was the ride itself. And that was an A-ha moment for me. I was so used to rushing around-- 'let's go let's go, c'mon, let's go' that I never stopped to look around me and enjoy the moment.

We arrived at the lake. I parked and I got it. I finally got the fact that for years--for YEARS--that I was busy  traveling 200,000 miles a year from one interview to another that I didn't take the time to even notice the earth we were flying over. I always closed my window shade and worked on my laptop on the flights. I rushed in a cab to the hotel. I worked on my laptop in my hotel room, instead of being in the moment and enjoying what was in the NOW instead of what I was going to do, what I was rushing to do. In lines I wonder what is taking so long, why am I always behind the person with thirty items in the 10 items of less line  and why there is so much traffic. What if everyone just MOVED would there still be traffic? I spent so much time worrying about what was GOING to happen that I never stopped to "BE" in the moment I was in.

Looking at Emma yesterday as we drove and the way she just looked straight up and watched the leaves over us hit me. I need to stop and be in the moment.

I need to eat at the table instead of grabbing something in the car or eating something from a bag in the pantry.

I need to step away from the laptop and go for a walk, even in the misty rain and enjoy the way the wet ground smells.

I need to stop thinking about what is going to happen, what may happen, what I'm afraid won't happen, what I'm afraid will happen.

I will get an ice cream scoop and scoop myself a snack instead of eating from the carton. (Ben & Jerry, I think I have an unnatural devotion to you.)

There is that old saying that "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." This is a lot like that. When you are so rushed and focused on the future, you can't enjoy the moment you're in.

Emma and I sat there for a moment in the car at the lake just looking up until something caught her eye. A yellow lab, Chloe, was just outside our car with two tennis balls in her mouth. I opened the door and we went out to play in the sun.

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