Tell Me Not What Lies Ahead

digital illustration from a photoEven if I could I would rather not see the future. If it’s not to my liking, then I’ll despair and give up all attempts to improve upon it; if appealing, it will tempt me to live in constant yearning and not invest my heart and hands in my own present.

That doesn’t stop me from persistently trying to scry any hints of what’s to come in whatever handy crystal ball I can conjure. We’re curious creatures, we humans, and impatient at that. I wish and want and hope and dream, along with all of my fellow mortals, thinking that if I just knew what lay around the next bend of the road, surely I would be content, or at least if not content then prepared. But few who have access to dates and deadlines, foresight and certainties actually prepare in full, and once the approaching events are known they so often become the sole focus of the journey, not a point along the way, in fact distracting us from all of the possibly meaningful points that do exist en route.

I would rather not give myself any excuses for being even less attentive than I already am, and to be honest, I think it would take a fair measure of the charm out of discovering my life with a degree of surprise as it happens. Do I hope that what comes will be pleasurable and kind and fulfilling? Naturally. But whatever it is, I will let it keep its secrets for now; there is a lot to be seen and felt and done long before I get there, wherever there is and whatever it holds.

What We Can Learn from Dogs

So it’s Monday. All. Day. Long. One of those times when you can easily believe in the purported accursedness of the day; one unlucky, frustrating, impossible thing after another and not a coffee break in sight. We’ve all had ’em. Rotten, rotten Mondays, no matter what day of the week in reality, are the bane of humankind.

Dogs, however, rarely let a Monday take their essential doggy happiness away. It takes, in fact, quite a lot of horribleness to take the equanimity and enthusiastic canine capering down to a level recognizable as sad, and once cheered up again, dogs are remarkably good at forgiving and forgetting. Barring ill-treatment or illness, every day is the greatest day ever to your average dog.

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Why lie around counting the time until your human will take you walking farther, when you can back-scratch your way headfirst right down the hill?

It’s not that dogs are stupid. Far from it; some dogs I’ve known would beat some people I’ve known at any IQ test, and the average dog is a pretty clever problem solver and able to perform all sorts of magnificent deeds, accomplish numerous astounding feats. It’s more that dogs, simply, seem to have a highly developed power for living in the moment, finding the good in the small and ordinary and letting unpleasantness drift past them as quickly as the turning of the world will allow. They’re not much on sulking, self-pity, or wallowing and very rarely hold grudges–and these, as far as I’ve seen, only when pressed to it by persons or events truly deserving of their scorn.

What dogs seem to hold among their many fine and useful instincts is the one that tells one to be thrilled when a maple seed helicopters out of a tree in his path, to slurp lustily at a handy puddle of water when thirsty, and to leap into the air rather than toddling through the weeds when crossing the parking strip to get to the park for a romp. The wisdom to nuzzle the hand that pets him, to lie like a shaggy, comforting blanket on the cold feet of a human companion when he’s sad and to shoot across the house like water from a fire hose when the other human gets home from her long day at the office. All of this is noble work, and keeping as busy at it as any good dog does makes him far too busy to mope and snarl and bemoan his bad fortune. Even on a typical Monday.

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It’s a good day to be a dog!

Memento Quod Vivitis

The longtime artistic tradition of the ‘memento mori‘ has always appealed to me. I think it’s valuable to recognize our mortality and the limitations of our time on this plane to devote to earthly enjoyments, the better to value them fully. Not to mention that I love skeletons and a lot of that stuff so often used symbolically in these works. I’m not disheartened, horrified, or unsettled by death and the subjects surrounding it, under everyday circumstances, in the way that some people are.digital illustration from a photoThe main thing is, I think it’s even more important to (as my guesswork-Latin post title suggests) remember that you’re alive. It’s not enough motivation to live a full, meaningful, rich, purposeful life just to know that you’re going to kick the bucket one day; everybody knows that, and it’s probably not even a majority of our kind that actually give serious thought to being fully present in their lives and making the most of their life spans. I know for certain that I haven’t always been especially good at such things.photoSo I’m rather happy to have an eye-opening, soul-tweaking glimpse of my little collection of death-defying totems, kept in view around my home and work spaces, at any moment when they happen to some into my field of vision. Not a bad way to refocus me and make me feel especially alive.