There are two paths we take as one year passes into the next; one looking forward to the coming year another looking back on what just transpired. Some face firmly in one direction or the other, some do both, a moment of reflection before planning another year. I used to take that two-faced approach, looking back over my shoulder then looking ahead to the unknown. This New Year’s ritual I found mostly depressing as it forced me to focus on what I didn’t accomplish looking back. Then along with setting new goals for the future I found myself putting the same items back onto the resolution list all over again. So, I stopped doing it! Instead I followed my dogs’ advice, which was staring me right in the face, usually after they just licked it.
My dogs’ advice is simple. Live in the moment. When you spend a great deal of time observing your dogs, you watch them in a variety of moments. I watch them eat, I watch them sleep, I watch them play. I watch them steal bones from each other. I watch them run outdoors. I watch them ‘nest’ before lying down on a blanket. And to borrow a phrase my grandmother, “When we work, we work, when we eat, we eat and when we sleep, we sleep.” This phrase used to come up when someone tried to do something like read at the dinner table or take a nap in the afternoon. In fact, to her, all waking hours were devoted to either work, eat or sleep. Kind of like my dogs. And if you notice that when dogs are eating, they are not trying to play or do basic commands like sit or down. They are focused on the getting to the bottom of the ceramic bowl, to eat every morsel in sight so they can lick the bowl clean and find that blue paw print on the bottom. Then, the bowl is picked up, and eating is done. Fully lived. Finished. Forward. All of us should aspire to live life this way.
So like my dogs, I too live in the moment, I don’t dwell on what just happened and try not to think too far into the future. This has worked out pretty well for both me and my dogs. It also includes not making any resolutions because that would be focusing way into the future where what I’m planning to stick to may never actually happen. Actually, sticking to those resolutions has never happened. So watch and learn from your dogs and discover how they live, from moment to moment to moment. By doing this they create a journey of life moments that flow with ease and take no emotional baggage with them. Besides baggage is heavy, cumbersome and we tend to trip over it. I find their zest for life curious as dogs also thrive on routine, while us humans tend to get bored by routine, especially a dull routine. But to dogs, that routine is again nothing more than lived moments, enjoyed to their fullest, and then moved on to the next one.
While I don’t make resolutions anymore, I do still have hopes. Buy my hopes are bigger for all dogs and the owners who love them. Here are my New Year’s Hopes for 2015 and that if you find yourself in these moments, no matter how good or difficult, embrace them fully.
– To be in such a still place with your dog – so close, so connected – that you feel the canine-human bond and it becomes the moment.
– To be reminded of the joy your dog feels during the daily walk, evening playtime, couch potato hour watching TV, weekly grooming, and fun training sessions and you don’t let those moments slip by.
– To be considering getting rid of your dog because you made a bad judgement in getting it – and it was just too hard to keep the dog – that you changed your mind in a moment to keep the dog and work it out.
– To be in the position of having to say goodbye to an old or sick dog and you finally found the right moment to do so – and you did with grace and compassion.