Moments of quiet contemplation and reflection, so simple in concept have become rare in my over-connected daily life. A lack of self-discipline plays a part in that, but I prefer to blame my smartphone, tablets and laptop for any lack of meditative time.
Fortunately, we have a dog. Even better, we have a dog without a fenced yard.
At Poppy’s house, doggie biological functions cannot be accommodated simply by releasing the pooch into the backyard, then waiting a few minutes at the door before welcoming her back. Over the years our dogs have proved to be no more focused than their master. Without a fence, any number of distractions: squirrels, stray cats, butterflies and elusive scents, would have any of our dogs gone from our yard before you could say, “dog gone.”
So, we go on walks … long slow walks … long slow walks with leashes.
I am wary of dogs who might be smarter than myself. We have no Border Collies, Airdales or German Shepherd Dogs. Not to mention those breeds would require real exercise. Instead we have had a succession of Pugs: Norma Jean, Zsa-Zsa, and Tootie. And now Mimsy, a Japanese Chin.
Walking the dog gets me out of the house and away from social media, news (fake and otherwise) and any number of electron-driven distractions. It provides me the opportunity to interact with neighbors, fellow walkers and dog walkers, but not joggers. Our dogs have always viewed joggers with suspicion. I believe that is because they are so accustomed to my pace and gait that when they see humans running who are not being chased by bears or lions they view them as guilty of something and up to no good.
Dog walking allows me to soak in the natural environment along our routes. Spring brings the smells of new growth and fertile soil. Summer offers up the sounds of distant ice cream trucks and the symphony of cicadas, crickets and tree frogs. Fall presents a kaleidoscope of colors and the crunch of fallen leaves. Even winter has its own unique charms, the scent of wood smoke drifting down from chimneys and the patterns of bare limbs against the ultramarine skies of the season.
Amble is a good word to describe the pace of these excursions. Ambling yields the real benefit to these walks. Time. Time to think. Time to contemplate the news and social media that I left behind in the house. Time to remember and reflect on friends and family.
These constitutionals have never produced the secret to world peace or the cure for the common cold, but they have on occasion provided topics for this blog. That may be as good as it gets.