This morning when my husband and I decide to take the grand dog to the dog park, the temperature is a pleasant â€“6 with patches of blue sky showing through thin cloud cover. As we stand on the deck out of the wind, I wonder if Iâ€™ve overdressed and will soon be sweating. In the car, I am too hot.
By the time we arrive at the dog park, the sun looks like an ivory disk under a gossamer veil. Out on the open field, the clouds move in, hanging low with their bellies ragged and torn. The wind blows over the land with icy cold gusts. Gooseflesh pimples the skin under my jeans. I pull down my hat and put up the hood of my jacket. My husbandâ€™s fur-lined aviator hat protects his ear, but his nose, chin and forehead are very pink.
The dog, however, doesnâ€™t care what the thermometer says; heâ€™s always up for chasing the ball. Today, his doggie smile stretches from ear to ear. I canâ€™t help but smile too. Condensation from his huffing breath whitens his whiskers with frosty rime just like the earflaps on my husbandâ€™s hat.
Iâ€™m freezing. My cheeks are stinging. My husbandâ€™s face is red and raw. All I can think of at that moment is, â€śGive me a hot chocolate and Iâ€™ll be content.â€ť Now that the dog is happily exhausted, we walk briskly to the car, and I tuck my chin into the furry collar of my jacket. My glasses fog up and my nose runs. I feel alive and invigorated by the cold. My senses are tingling.
I love the delicious feel of being alive.
So often, I hear people say, â€śIâ€™ll be happy when Iâ€™m out of debt.â€ť â€śIâ€™ll be happy when I can go on a cruise.â€ť â€śIâ€™ll be happy when I can find the right home.â€ť I wonder, â€śIs it really true that theyâ€™ll be satisfied?â€ť When those things happen (or not) the wish list increases. The desire for more is always at work. All thoseÂ Ifâ€™s and whenâ€™s take over, and suddenly theyâ€™re expectations.â€ś
If I lament missed opportunities, Iâ€™m also creating a list. â€śI wish I hadâ€¦â€ť â€śWhy didnâ€™t Iâ€¦?â€ť â€śWhat if I had…?â€ť Now Iâ€™m on a trip down memory lane!
A friend of mine calls this phenomenon time travel. The grand dogâ€™s happiness appears to be a function of time travel. He has expectations for the future when I say, â€śDog parkâ€ť or â€śWalkâ€ť Heâ€™s learned from past experience. â€śOh boy! Oh boy! Here comes a treat!â€ť Like me with a hot chocolate! Give him a chew toy. Throw a stick. Scoop out a dishful of kibble. Heâ€™s delighted.
For me, the gift at the dog park is Presence. One half hour there and my heart sings â€śHappy!â€ť Afterward, Iâ€™m aware of the savory spices in the turkey soup we eat when we get home, warm air flows from the furnace, and the physical weariness that comes from fresh air and exercise is exquisite.
The grand dog is a Teacher. I am a willing Student. Todayâ€™s lesson? â€śHappiness exists right here, right now. Not tomorrow. Not last week. But here in this present moment.â€ť Good doggie.