Since I completed my book this past March, I found that I haven’t felt motivated to write. Maybe it is the wrist arthritis that kicked in right about that time. Maybe it’s postpartum book depression. Whatever it is, my writing has taken a vacay for five months. And that is long time to go without posting a blog, without sitting at my computer, or writing in my journal.
Here I am, today, ready to see the words dancing out of my fingertips. And what was the inspiration? A prompt, a movie, a good book?
No. My dog.
Some of you have met our wonder dog, Paolo. He is a noble poodle guy, about 15 years old and a beautiful reminder of impermanence. Last year, Paolo developed eye ulcers. He cannot see worth a damn. He finds his way around through his nose, his intrepid courage, and familiarity with his surroundings. If something changes in his environment he may run into it. I saw him trip over a hose in the wrong place, do a full somersault, and keep on going. Despite his lack of sight, there is still a spring in his step and a waggy tail. He may not be able to see us, but the love that connects us is still present.
To add to this complexity, Paolo recently lost his hearing. (Well, he is 105 in human years.) If I clap my hands very loud, or shrilly whistle, he hears. But regular speaking is lost on him.
It is challenging watching him age. I cringe when he doesn’t know that the wall is looming and he is heading straight for it.
There is nothing I can do to mitigate the persistent march of time and his inevitable demise.
Eventually, he will pass on, and reincarnate as the Tibetan lama he is… but for right now, he is our precious, aging dog-ness.
Last night, before bed, I wished aloud that I could wake up at 4:30 in the morning. My fantasy was to be wakeful, inspired, and ready to write. To have that magical quiet time– when the sun is beginning to rise in the Northwest. I imagine myself developing the ability to write for hours, instead of minutes. I will write novels, articles, blogs, simply by getting up at 4:30 in the morning.
In reality, I have slept in. My wake-up is around eight-thirty. I take my time, languidly rolling around, before I greet the day. I get in the hot tub, make an espresso, take vitamins. And an hour later I might be ready to deal with the computer. But I answer emails, track down correspondence, and shop.
But, I conceptually yearn for the hours of the breaking day, the introspective time, the quiet magic, mysterious dark.
Last night, my dog stood next to my side of the bed sneezed, shook his head, jangling his dog tags. Like a mother listening to the sounds of a child in the night, I heard Paolo through my haze of my sleep and bolted awake. The call of nature for senior dogs might be pressing. Pups and I went to the front door and he trotted out.
Paolo stepped on the grass lawn and sniffed the air with his elegant snout, then continued to establish the perimeters of his watch: all four corners of the yard were safe and contained. He peed in the requisite places. He went into the rhododendron den. I watched Paolo jauntily prance across the yard, stopping from time to time to sniff the air and listen to what only he could hear. His investigation lasted more than fifteen minutes. I was fascinated by his carefulness, listening to the wind, inhaling the scent in the air, and his stillness. The mindfulness of dog.
Then, he turned and came back inside, walked to the bedroom and laid down to sleep on his dog bed. I was tired, too. As I got back in bed to go sleep I looked over at the clock. 4:45am.
My dog was listening to me.
And here I am writing.