Well, I’m a dog now. God accepted my application to become a dog and see what I can learn from it, so I woke up this morning fuzzy and four legged. And I really had to pee. Unfortunately, I couldn’t open the door, and I had my first longing for human traits—opposable thumbs. So I lay back down, snuggled my nose underneath myself and dosed until somebody let me out.
When I finally got out, I romped about the dewy yard, added my contribution and never noticed the cool dew on my feet. It’s the advantage of fur and good padding. Despite the lack of thumbs, dog feet work fine for dogs.
When the door reopened, I sprinted back into the kitchen and became overwhelmed, in fact completely disoriented, by a wall of aroma the like of which humanity has never experienced—coffee, so thick and mellow, doughnuts, sweet and buttery, and forks…I could actually smell forks’ being removed from the drawer. I was blinded by the rainbow of aromas.
Before I knew it, I was sliding uncontrollably across the floor and slamming into the kitchen cabinet. My humans laughed. I was less amused but still wholly excited about the smells.
The thump of the cabinet quickly passed as the smells grew more captivating. My humans had something up there, I knew it, and I wanted some. The only thing I got was a bowl of brown mush, but then I tasted it, and WOW, IT IS GOOD. Humans have no idea how exciting that is. I buried my face in that bowl, and the meaty aroma permeated my head, behind my ears and deep inside my very being with every gulp. I cleaned that bowl, licked the sides, and licked them again. It was the most exciting breakfast I’ve ever had.
Afterwards, I was ready for the day and got on with my doggy activities. I took a nap. When I woke, I played with a small human for a while. I had him throw the ball, I got to run and chase it. It was invigorating exercise. It got me ready for another nap.
Later the bell rang, and we had a visitor, and I ran to the door, and I greeted him, and I jumped up and down, and I said hello, and he scratched me, and it felt really great, and the whole thing was just grand. Now he’s my new best friend. So I napped again. What a day, what a life.
It’s been a long time since I had a day without an agenda and the compulsion to do something. Like so many other people, I’ve grown habituated with the task-lists and the calendars and the pressures and the traffic and the running about. It’s so much a part of “normal” that it’s easy to forget it’s mostly self-imposed.
Mind you, we all have to do our part and earn our keep in the world, but in our maximize-everything culture we are often pressured to grasp for perfection even in the most mundane concerns. We expect too much excellence in everything, we fill too many moments with goals, we make too much something over nothing.
Thomas Merton said it best: “Everything today must be a ‘problem.’ Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves.”
Dogs are smarter than that. During my day as a dog, I got a glimpse of their simple philosophy: Each problem is a passing matter, each joy a moment all it’s own, each person a new best friend. My simple contribution to the world is to be one of the peaceful creatures living in it.
Somehow, that became easier to accept as a dog. I think I’ll recommend it to all my people friends…right after I take a nap.