Sunday, February 23, 2014

And Then There Were Five: On Puppies, Wisdom and "Now" Life Experiences


I’ve heard the phrase “Living in the now” so much it’s almost cliché. Logically, I know what it means; it means you’re not giving thought to things past or things future, but rather tapping into a state of being that is, well... now. I suppose (by way of reasoning) this means “now” is not a logical thing, as logical propositions require a linear thought process (i.e. beginning, middle and end). “Now” by definition, cannot be all three states. It is one state—a single state of being. It’s a state of being so fully present that the past and the future are not factors, so I guess we could say "now" moments defy logic, making it a totally illogical thing. (And Western minds like logic, so maybe most don’t even aspire for this “now” thing, but I do.)
I’ve experienced the “now” in glimpses. Like walking in a dark room and flipping on the light for a split second only to have to try to remember where the furniture was when the room goes dark again, I usually recognize it after it’s happened, which means I was so caught up in the flow of the moment, I wasn’t thinking about whether I was in it or not. (In the words of my man, Trace Adkins: "This ain’t no thinking thing…Right brain...Left brain..."

But I am also aware of when I’m not in it (which is most of the time). Who among us  hasn’t been offended (or been the offendor) by someone checking a text when you’re talking, or checking their caller ID as if to say “Let me see if this person is more important than you or the story you’re telling me."  And even if not conveying our “non-presence” by way of outward gestures, let’s be honest. Who among us hasn’t zoned out mid somebody else’s story, giving a nod or an “uh-huh” while a thousand miles away in the privacy of our own minds and thoughts?
I think one of the reasons I’ve gone so overboard with this whole puppy thing is that they, more than anything I’ve experienced in a long while, have given me more understanding of this “now” concept than anything I've ever studied or read on the subject in my entire life.  Like a mother with a newborn, some things you get for such a brief period, your soul knows to hold onto every second of the instant while it can, even if your brain wants to challenge it.
Who’d have thought that little white fur clouds would provide workaholic me exercises in “now” living (perhaps a little too much some days). Time and again, with work backing up, I gave in to wanting to hold them, talk to them…breathe in their little puppy breath, even if it pushed the window on other more worldly, supposedly more important things getting done.
The concept really hit home today as my first two of seven left to start their new lives…For little human me, I dreaded the sadness, and thus I got to experience: sadness. And if I choose, I can recall the sadness still. For the remaining 5 puppies, this was not the case; instead it was, again, an exercise in “now” (which comes so naturally to them).
It was a lovely afternoon, spent with a person I know well…someone like me, who has too much farm and not enough time in her day to get it all done. While we have a lot in common this way, we also have things like farm logistics, live stock issues and coyote threats, where having a Pyr is not just a luxury, it’s a necessity. (Granted they feel like luxuries when they’re puppies, but I think God grants us a grace period for the very young.)
For a minute or two as the first two pups were leaving, my five who remained cried like babies. It was all I could do not to cry with them. But the more I observed, the more I came to realize we weren’t wimpering for the same reasons. I was sad knowing this was the last they’d all be together…recalling the day they were born and all the little puppy moments leading up to this moment. They were crying because they were stuck on the inside of a gate and the 2 that were leaving appeared to be free and they wanted to be free too. Their “now” was an interpretation of the injustice. It had nothing to do with worries for the future.

As the two headed off to their forever home, I was curious to watch the five: “Would they pine for their siblings? Would they suddenly turn sad? Would their temperaments change forever? Or did these pups even know there were 7 of themselves to begin with? (I seriously doubt they knew their count and since they all look pretty much the same, I hadn’t notice any two buddying up in any way special. To the contrary, “Whoever’s next to me gets your tail pulled or your nose bitten!” is pretty much how they roll.)
The “now” of the two-sided fence moment, gave way to the “now” of supper time, after which, came the “now” of curling up for bed.  As I watch the five, strewn in twos and threes I realized “They aren’t missing the others. They haven’t looked past their noses to see who’s missing.  So long as there was at least one pal in sight, one toy to be chewed, a familiar towel, rug, teddy bear under their little furry bodies…i.e. some reminder of their safety, their comfort, something familiar in their own little “nows”, each pup was perfectly content, after all, living in the “now” is all they know how to do.
On the other hand, I (with the human brain) came inside where thoughts reverted to what will come tomorrow and what didn’t get done last week –because “I” with my wonderful human mind can fret in both forward and reverse gears, very seldom granting myself permission to live in that neutral, foreign territory otherwise known as the “now”~ (but I'm working on it).

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