Happiness is here and now, I have dropped my worries, Nowhere to go, Nothing to do, No longer in a hurry. — Mindfulness song.
This morning I took two dogs on a walk in Rock Creek Park. Gus is our 12-year-old standard poodle, a super chill guy, and Ralphie is my daughter’s 10-pound Havanese.
Gus can walk off leash very well. He stops to smell things now and then, and jogs to catch up with us again. He enjoys every moment of his walk. Ralphie is a different story. He strains on his leash, huffing and puffing, always trying to get somewhere. Ralphie always needs to be in front of everyone else. When he does stop to smell a tree or some dead leaves, he freaks out if anyone get ahead of him. He will even cut short his peeing in order to race up to the front of the pack.
Today while we were walking, I realized that Ralphie doesn’t seem to enjoy his walk in the woods because he is so focused on getting ahead. When we are preparing to leave the house on our walk, he bounces around excitedly. But when we get to the park, there is something in him that drives him to push ahead, and doesn’t allow him to relax and enjoy himself.
It makes me sad to see Ralphie missing the joy possible in his walk, but it also reminds me of how I behave a lot of the time. I often feel like I am driven to get somewhere, that I am panting and straining on my own leash. This prevents me from really enjoying life. Like Ralphie, I get distracted by some perceived end-point, thinking I need to hurry up and arrive. And I forget that I am already arriving in each moment. Raphie doesn’t realize that his rushing only gets him more quickly to the end of his long-anticipated walk. And I don’t realize that rushing just gets me more quickly to the end of my day, year, and life. Neither of us is really choosing to live like this, we just have strong habit energies propelling us into the future.
After today’s walk, I decided that I want to walk through my life the way Gus does. He is excited to get out of the house, thrilled to smell anything that interests him, and never gets too far behind. He lopes along at a leisurely pace without rushing or missing any valuable peeing opportunities. When we get to the end of our walk, he is just as happy to get into the house for a treat as he was to leave it. Gus lives the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, I have arrived, I am home, in every moment. He is free. And I aspire to that as well.
Perhaps even Ralphie will be able to follow in Gus’s footsteps one day.