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Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie

Finding new ways to function in challenging times

These are strange times indeed. The future has been derailed, at least temporarily. Any plans we had made are on hold, indefinitely. And, it's hard to remain totally present and see each day anew when every day looks pretty much the same.

Somehow though, we find a way to adapt to the change. We may wobble at first as we take those initial tender steps, but as we did when we were children, we get back up and stagger on, gaining confidence with every step.

Life begins to take on a new way shape, and we learn to go with it, and even potentially embrace it. Then with repetition, it becomes more habitual, and dare I say it, even comfortable.

Before the lockdown, our dog, Betty, spent several hours each day alone when we were out at work and school. A dog walker would come in and take her out for a long run in the park with several of her doggie friends. On other days she would attend doggie daycare. Both of these options kept her well exercised and mentally stimulated.

It was clear though that she sensed a change when we all were staying home all the time, and suddenly the fun of being with other dogs was no longer on offer.

But like us, she's worked stuff out.

Normally, the dog never ventured into my office in the converted garage, of her own volition she deemed it out of bounds. But, with the kids home every day and the house a constant cacophony of noise and chaos, she has discovered the couch in my office is the perfect place for solitude, quiet and respite.

Now, when we can't find her, we always know where to look. Sure enough, she's snuggled on the couch, warmed by the soft, velvety throw and with her head resting comfortably on the arm of the chair, enjoying a bit of 'me-time'.

She's found her new way.

Finding freshness in each day, when the days seem to blur repetitively into one another, is an art in itself. I aspire to the clarity that allows you to see newness in things like a child does, moment to moment, rather than the cloudy vision of the adult mind which judges and compares and so destroys the ability to perceive freshness.

Anne Lamott in her book 'bird by bird' describes this perfectly, and in her own inimitable, witty way, when she says,

"I have a tape of a Tibetan nun singing a mantra of compassion over and over for an hour, eight words over and over, and every line feels different, feels cared about, and experienced as she is singing. You never once have the sense that she is glancing down at her watch, thinking, "Jesus Christ, it's only been fifteen minutes" Forty-five minutes later she is still singing each line distinctly, word by word, until the last word is sung.

Mostly things are not that way, that simple and pure, with so much focus given to each syllable of life as life sings itself. But that kind of attention is the prize. To be engrossed by something outside ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has it's head up its own ass - seeing things in such a narrow and darkly narcissistic way that it presents a colo-rectal theology, offering hope to no one."

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