I followed the dogs into the woods this morning well after sun up. The road there was quiet, yet lacked that hush which comes with dawn. A compromised solitude? I felt gelid and tired, thoughts moving stiffly or not at all. Repeated doses of bug juice kept the mosquito’s off my skin yet they still hovered, that persistent hungry whine.
I brought ACIM with me, reading a bit while walking, which no longer works very well (note: it might if the font were bigger). Ended up pocketing it and just walking, slowing at each bend to be sure the older dog was still on track. He leaped and bounded, or tried to, being thick and bumpy and slow now. His dark fur, like a bear’s but his body is more narrow and flows rather than tumbles, is such a joy to behold, so familiar a totem. Again I wondered what I will do when he passes, crosses over to where – so far – no dog has returned from. Last night bandying all these metaphysical ideas about grief and sadness (you invent it – you invent all of it!) seemed then – and seem now – sort of beside the point. What’s wrong with loving and then missing what we love?
Yet I opened the book again once we found the brook, nestling in a little copse of new ferns, my back against a crooked tree. Still couldn’t make much sense of the language, which happens sometimes. Are you giving your brothers and sisters lilies or thorns? Well what the hell does that mean anyway? And I know the answer of course but petulance suited me better this morning – yes, petulance, that’s the word. And so after a half hearted glimpse at several paragraphs I reviewed the day’s lesson – something about blessing the world as I bless myself – and dropped the book in moss. The older dog couldn’t work his way up the steep bank having gone down for a drink – it is always easier to go down than up – and so I waded in to help him find his way. The mosquito’s were so dense about his face that I immediately shelved plans to sit and meditate by the brook, and headed back. Well, I was looking for an excuse. There are days like that and this was one of them.
And yet – because I held no expectations – the walk out was pleasant, modulated. The light was bright, spackling the forest, and the fluorescent newts scrambled at my feet, ducking in and out of moldy leaves. My thoughts settled and I said aloud, Yes, I’m a fool, but at least I want to be kind. And to the dogs at least, I am. What did D. say the other day over coconut milk, in one of those conversations that isn’t sure of its boundaries and so leads us in ways we don’t expect, fruitfully, about dogs? Something about witnessing.
Dogs, trails . . . what am I really saying? What is the point of this sudden Shiva energy? Split open and leaking and wanting more of it . . .