It’s that time of year. The season of decline I call it. The color has drained from the leaves and the sky has been rinsed. Everything is dying. All of the vibrance of summer and fall reduced to a whimper.
This has been a long two weeks. Nothing about my routine is the same. I don’t get up as early, I’m making poor food choices and if it weren’t for Yoda, I’d have very little exercise. I’m trying to remember my sit-ups at night but I’m running at about 50%. My five minutes of meditation is often exercise on its own. It’s a constant act of shutting down an overactive brain.
But I digress.
This is about the dog.
A friend and mentor of mine, Karen Maezen Miller, wrote in her book Hand Wash Cold about her dog, Molly and said this:
“When my dog places her quivering muzzle on my lap telling me it’s time to go for a walk, I release my selfish grip on the day. So many walks around the block, and each time I come home to a very different place, all because of what dogs do. They save your life by making you leave it behind. Good dog, Molly. Follow a dog, or a horse, or an elephant, for that matter, and with every step you’re brought to new ground right under your feet. You’re brought to that new ground whether you follow anything or nothing at all, but these animals can help you notice it. If you detect a residue, a stain, or a whiff of lingering stink, you know perfectly well that you’d better scrape it off. Just now, mired in the familiar stench of an old story, my dog, Molly, has led us somewhere fresh and clear. Do you see? I love my dog.”
We have a saying in Zen: “When an object can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.” It doesn’t mean we just think of it in a new way, or assess it in a new and favorable light. In Zen, we always mean what we say, and then some. Eliminate your separate, self-reinforcing view, and an offending object ceases to exist in the old way. There is no one left to take offense. There is only love, the love that never leaves. Life is all about love. I can’t imagine what more there could be to it. We’ve all come here for love: to get it and to give it, there being no separation between the two sides of the transaction. Love is the reason we do everything, and love is the reward. Love is the spirit, and love is the form. As sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, dog walkers and cat fanciers, we are all caregivers, and love is the care we give. Actually, that expresses love in a stingy way, as though it is rationed from one to another. Love is far more than that. Love is what we are, when we drop all the things that stand in the way.”
So true, Maezen. So true.
Yoda has saved my life every day these past two weeks.
Today we ventured to Flaming Geyser Park as a treat for us both. The season of decline is here and it was begging to be explored.
The fields of bounty in the Auburn valley are done producing and are quietly putting themselves to sleep. It’s a muddy slog and will remain so until the first freeze. As winter approaches the greens and yellow will go brown in decline.
Home now and packing for a day-long hike in the Gorge tomorrow. Yoda and I are both hitting the tub. Me to loosen up, him because it’s a tough (and often dirty) job saving lives ♡