This is Samuel my walking partner, coworker and constant companion.
The other day we were out walking and I thought about some things. When I take Samuel for a walk, he doesn’t count steps. He doesn’t worry about the distance we have gone or the time we have spent on our strides. He does stop and smell the “roses” (or the duck poop, whichever he finds first). He does notice the sights and sounds that surround him. When we stop, he pauses to feel the breeze on his dark chocolate nose. He says “hello” to every single person we pass by. Samuel knows how to take a walk at a level I admire. He savors every moment. When the we return home, if he is tired, he rests. If he wants more, he goes to the backyard and lays down in the sun and lets it bake into his skin like lemon cupcakes in the oven.
Because of Samuel’s ability to take a walk, he never dreads the chore. Like most dogs, when I pull out the leash he starts shaking his tail with such vigor his whole backside gets involved. He doesn’t see it as a task to be completed but as the incomparable highlight of his day.
Sometimes Samuel’s old knee injury flairs up (I’m not joking, he had ACL surgery a few years back, LOL). When that’s the case, he limits his activity and rests as much as he can. He licks his wound and allows plenty of time for scrumptious snuggles.
Really, dogs are great at living. They let you know when they need affection, to be fed, to get exercise and when they need rest.
I used to go on runs with my roommate’s dog and if she got tired she’d just lay down. Like dead stop in the middle of my stride she’d lay down on the ground. Only after a few minutes of sweet rest would she finish our run.
Samuel likes to be alone in his room (AKA our closet) sometimes but also seeks out connection when he needs it. Many times in the day my spouse will be surprised to find Samuel resting on the floor at his feet while he works. Samuel isn’t phased by rejection. He knows he needs us and keeps coming back.
At mealtimes, when he is especially interested in the family (and begging for food), I will say “Samuel, go to your room.” He will sulk away, sometimes hiding behind the couch in the hope that I won’t see him. Again I’ll say, “Samuel, go to your room.” He will continue to sulk all the way to his closet. I’ll get engaged in our meal only to find him at my feet after a few minutes. Dogs understand the symbiotic relationship with humans. Like peanut better and jelly, they know one only gets better with the other.
We could learn some things from Samuel.
We could learn some things from how we treat Samuel.
How often do we hold off hunger because we have things to do? Or not feed ourselves because we want to be skinny? How often do we put off friendships to get more done at work? When do we take a walk simply because it feels good? When do we rest? Like really rest (no TV, no phones, just lay down and rest)? How much can we learn from life by watching our dogs?
I’m not simple enough to believe we don’t have some differences. A job can certainly be a drain that Samuel will never experience. Samuel will never know the stress of completing a degree, having children to take care of or piles of laundry to wash. He’ll never lay awake at night worried about money, or Covid or tornadoes. He lives a pretty lavish cherry on top sort of life. And yet, why are we not ALL struggling, better yet fighting, for this same way of life?
We could live (sort of) this way. We are the richest country in the world! We could push back on jobs that demand 60 hours a week. We could say “no” to working through lunch. We could pull each other up instead of pushing each other down in a constant rat race of who has the bigger ________ (insert house, car, etc.) We could rest more. We could lean on each other, seek out connection when we need it, show up at our friend’s feet and ask for affection. We could sit outside and let the sun shine on us. We could savor every sprinkle of life without need for more. We could take care of each other’s medical needs and offer scrumptious snuggles even if our politics differ.
In an economy that has a huge demand for workers, we could ask for more freedom in our days. In a world where food is plentiful, we could actually enjoy eating it. In a country with beautiful lands, we could take time to walk through them. In a community with such enthralling people, we could spend time with them. We could create our own packs. Tight knit and symbiotic communities where everyone’s needs are met.
Not because everyone wants to live the same. Not because we should all live equally without putting in some work. Not because anarchy is imminent!
But because there’s more than enough chocolate cake to go around. Why not share it?
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