Awe of Dogs
The other day Aria said, Mama, you know how I learned to talk to the dogs? Listening to you. I can’t do it exactly like you but I keep trying.
My 13 yr old daughter is referring to the ridiculously flirty baby goo-gooey way I talk to all furry creatures but none more so than dogs. All dogs, not just mine.
I have 3 and feel the itch for another one or two. What’s a farm for, if not for a pack of muddy waggers gallivanting all over the place? Doc and I have had many dogs. Our first was a beloved black lab--Elzia. She had the softest ears and got into messes, the likes of which, I had never seen. That is, until I had children.
Over the years we’ve had the privilege of knowing 9 dogs for various lengths of time before they departed this earth. All of them have taught me the same lesson.
I don’t know if I can put into a single word the essence of this teaching. I suppose that’s the Awe of it. Words attempting to describe the experience of awe only prove to reduce it. Better to just be in and with awe than try to word it out.
But for the sake of this practice, I want bring you to the awe of dogs starting their eyes. The eyes of a dog don’t lie. They don’t hold back. They don’t project. There’s no false bravado or questioning confidence. There’s no doubt. What you see in a dog’s eyes is what you get and what you get is who they are in that moment. If a dog is feeling angry or upset, you’ll see it. If there’s any insecurity or fear, it radiates from their eyes. If they’re guilty their eyes say it all. And when dogs are happy, oh my, just one look in their eyes is enough to make my heart explode.
Looking into the eyes of a dog forces me to wonder, what do my eyes reveal?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a dog’s tail. Asia, our largest and oldest is ½ lab and ½ border collie with a tail that speaks volumes. When he’s happy, he wags in a wide sweeping arc with a toothy grin. When he’s nervous, he sits on his tail tucked tight between his legs. Only three things make Asia quake. Gunshots, thunder, and something in the shifting energy related to weather—a sense I do not possess. Then there’s my favorite wag of his. I call it the tail-tip wag.
Every morning I sit on a little stool in our laundry room and talk to my wagger friends. This and a cup of coffee is how I greet my day. Asia, when he’s completely content, will sit at my feet, wrap a paw around my arm and with his tail, lying on the floor sticking straight out, wag only its very tip. I look into his eyes and experience nothing but friendship, trust, affection, and pure happiness. Asia doesn’t tail-tip wag for everyone, so when you receive it, you know you are being granted a gift.
Noticing how a dog wags forces me to wonder, what does my body language say?
The awe of dogs is about coming into the awareness that so much of what we say needn’t come through our mouths in words. In fact, we’re probably more true when we learn to speak with our eyes and wag just a little bit more.
Eventually I'll write about the Awe of AWE but this morning my mind is on birds.
It's last day of winter holiday and sleeping in. Morning is my favorite time to write. Before I sat down to the computer, I was in the living room with the eastern sun to my back illuminating the pages of an old spiral notebook Aria used for her 6th grade reading class. At the time, Reo occupied the computer seat as he ate a bowl of Lucky Charms for his breakfast. Something about the chime-like sound of his spon against the bowl puts a smile on my face. Awe is always the little things that punctuate the most profound and inexplicable moments.
Sitting on the couch, I turn my head to the left and crane my neck slightly, gaze out through a disgracefully filthy window and see two sour cherry trees. The branches bow to the snow-blanketed earth that sparkles in the sun. Staring at glittery snow on clear blue days is one of my favorite ways to pause.
The cherries on the trees are not frozen solid despite the frigid temperatures. They've cycled through chill and thaw enough times that they are now mooshy and have traded their bright blood red color for a cranberry orange.
Soon one of my favorite winter time events will happen. The migration of the Cedar Waxwings! I will never forget the first time I experienced their arrival. It was a quiet mid-January morning and out of nowhere the tranquility of the farm erupted into a frenzy. A cacophony of bird song from Cedar Waxwings, by the hundreds, perched on every branch of every tree surrounding the sour cherries pierced the quiet. Bird brawls and boozey flight punctuated the 20 minutes or so it took for them to strip the trees bare of every last fermented berry.
As mysteriously as they arrived, they vanished. Presumably flying off their drunken stupor until the next cache of winter deliciousness.
What makes me anticipate their arrival this year with such glee is their noticeable rare absence last year. I can count on one hand the number of times they have not danced in my trees in the 17 years of living at No Worries Farm. January 2016 was unseasonably warm and instead of Cedar Waxwing gluttony, we had Robins. Countless everyday Spring-time robins, which was totally disconcerting. They aren't typically due to arrive until April but with two years of drought-like conditions, I wasn't completely surprised.
So far we are experiencing a more normal winter season with plenty of snow and cold temperatures. I check everyday for these noisy fickle friends to return. They leave a mess on the ground, to be sure, but it's worth the party they have in the trees and the way they elevate my spirit for just that fleeting moment of awe.
Happy New Year!
New Year's Resolutions. I've never resonated them. Specific goal setting to accompany one's intentions. Now, this I can relate to better. However, goals are second to intention, so let me begin there.
My New Year's Intention is to bring awareness to AWE--my word for the year.
Awe-sibilities People! Let the infinite unfurling begin.
And everyday I might add. That's the thing about Awe. It's ordinary and yet here's the mystery. Once you step into Awe's awareness nothing is ordinary.
I know you know this. But do you live it?
To write about Awe on a daily basis. A lofty endeavor, full of talk and good intention, which is, ironically, empty. I'm not remotely certain I can pull it off. In fact, I likely won't, but that's my goal nevertheless. I want to tell you that I will try, but I keep hearing the great Sage, Yoda, in my head saying, There is no Try. There is either Do or Do Not.
So here it is folks; I won't bother to try and achieve this goal. I'm simply going to Do my Best. I can't wait to see what that will look like!
The first day of this new year has me in awe, thinking about pins. Regular ordinary pins. Pins with big round yellow heads, small beady heads, flat heads, and bent heads. Long straight pins, and short blunt ones. Pins. Not safety pins, mind you. Those are different kind of awe. And not needles either. Just plain ol' regular pins.
They prick, poke and pierce. They combine and gather. They hold.
If I were to personify the pin, I would say they behave with enormous humanity. I'm sure you've all known people who prick, poke, and pierce. People who combine and gather. But it's the ones who hold, that are the greatest source of security and trust.
People who are able to stand straight and firm in the middle of a storm are the ones to whom we all aspire. The rides of life are tumultous and we need people to pierce through the roughest parts and hold. We need people who can gather strength from combining talent and anchor an ideal.
Pins also often reside at the point of balance. Balance--a popular New Year's resolution and word. What does it really mean? To have balance. The illusion is that we'll have everything perfectly in place, eliminating the highs and lows of life, so we can be comfortable forever and ever amen. We all know this ain't gonna happen and yet we pursue this notion of balance with a fervor.
Balance. Highs and Lows. Pins.
A harmonious life is one that is pinned to the holy knowing that weaving opposites is what creates the whole of one's life. Even the humble pin knows this. In order for it to hold, it must go through a fabric's front and back piece in order for it to be balanced, strong, and secure.
The Awe of pins. May you never see them the same again.