This piece must have been born several years ago when we still owned a house, and our much beloved Tucker was still with us. I hope you enjoy.
It is mid-afternoon. I am sitting on the back porch attempting to write and simultaneously play fetch with Tucker, a very attentive chocolate lab. The poor beast has been inside all day. The question is, which poor beast am I talking about? Him or me?
Yes, the brown one has been laid up in the house, probably contenting himself with sleeping in that disgusting chair of his since we won’t let get up onto any other piece of furniture. After all, this is a dog who revels in rolling around in whatever noxious things he can find, his favorite being cow shit. Nope, he’s never going to get in my favorite chair.
It looks as if for some unknown reason, Tucker has spent the better part of the day trying to chew through the area of his hide right above his tail. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t find time to bark at something or another from behind the safety of the walls of the house. Does he bark at things when we’re not around or is it just an elaborate show he puts on so that we think he could actually function as a guard dog? Regardless, he always seems so much braver when there is a solid object between himself and whatever it might be that arouses his interest. He barks ferociously at every dog he sees through the moving car window, but meet one on the street – even one of those puffy tailed, scraggly rat-like things some people try and pass off as dogs – and he’s just as likely to keep his head low and hope to not be noticed. Not too unlike myself.
So as for this beast, well I have spent my day sitting in a classroom at AB Tech Community College learning a little bit more about graphic design software than I knew before I got there but not so much more that I’m convinced it was worth the time I just spent. The whole affair left me rather lethargic and uninspired about a career in the digital arts. The drive to and from the class, though short, didn’t help my mood either.
But now I sit on the back porch of the house with the sunlight filtering through the trees and a soft breeze brushing across my cheek. I hear the rustle of the last of this years leaves mingled with birdsong and suddenly the world does not seem like such a bad place after all. Where a few minutes ago there was a sense of despair, now there is a lightness. Not necessarily joy, but a feeling of contentment, the knowledge that everything is going to be ok.
It’s funny how moment to moment our reality changes so much. We get so wrapped up in whatever mood we might be in, feeling like it’s some sort of condition we must find the cure for. But the next thing you know, without doing too much at all, we discover we’ve turned into a different person altogether. I wonder if Tucker feels the same way.
Perhaps thirty minutes ago he was thinking “Oh no, I’ve been left behind. I’ll bet they are never coming back. Who’s gonna open that thing that has my food in it and scope it into my bowl? Curse this lack of hands! Nobody cares about me. I guess I’ll just sit here and chew through my back until I get so deep that I release the emptiness inside. Poor, poor me.” But at the moment I walk in the door, the nervous release of energy from his body is palpable. Led by his tail, his rear end is swishing like a pendulum and his utterances of “oh my gosh, I thought you had left me forever, oh, I’m so happy you have returned to save me” are translated into purring sounds as they rumble through that damn skull and crossbones nibble toy he uses as a pacifier.
Now here he is, walking around the backyard chasing the nastiest excuse for a tennis ball you ever saw, a slobber soaked and dirt encrusted orb of foulness. He goes after that thing with gusto and enthusiasm, his big brown eyes ablaze with a focused excitement one could only hope to obtain for themselves. His reality changed, he has now become joy in motion.
I remember being at the beach as a kid floating on a blow-up raft in the womb-like waters of the Gulf of Mexico and feeling my body rise and fall to the rhythm of the waves. Living our lives is all about riding waves. These are the waves of our moods, our thoughts, and our emotions. Just when you think you’re at the bottom, the situation changes and once again you are at the crest. Enjoy it while you there, but don’t be surprised when you soon find yourself slipping down again. Like everything else, it’s only temporary. But be patient, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll rise again.