March 22, 2022

And it’s snowing again…



I do not want the things I do to be easy and predictable.  I want them to be real.



It snowed about eight inches.  A series of warm temperatures and rain finally got rid of all the snow and ice, but Mother Nature was not done with us yet.  I don’t know whether Punxsuawney Phil saw his shadow or not on February 2, but clearly, we’re in for longer than six more weeks of winter.  Waldo and I stuck around the apartment complex for our walks — he bounding in wide arcs like a playful porpoise in the wake of a passing vessel and I trudging with sweat, huff and puff and toil, plowing a trench through the stuff with nothing more than my footsteps.

Waldo loves routine.  At certain times of day, he has certain expectations.  He doesn’t need a clock to tell him it’s that time we usually go outside and he waits for me at the bedroom door when the clock hits 10:30 PM.  5:30 PM is dinnertime and I’m expected to awaken at 7:30 AM or he’ll vociferously let me know I’d damn well better.  When we are on our walks, if we are going down well-known paths, he bolts out ahead, knowing exactly where we’re bound (granted, when we’re on a new trek, he still runs ahead, making a guess as to which fork to take – getting it wrong 90% of the time).  Waldo’s out front today in the snow.  His path is correct, but the holes he leaves behind give little respite for me and my plodding progress.

Waldo does not live life by habit alone, however.  His course is set, but then, navigation responsibilities done, he opens up to whatever the moment has to offer.  His nose is to the ground, his eyes are open and he’s listening the world around him.  His response to what he senses is not at all fixed.  Sometimes he’ll spot a stick and lurch forward to grab it.  At other times, he could care less and ignores the same stick.  Even squirrels elicit different reactions at different times.  Sometimes it’s the obvious “Squirrel!” bolt for a gray fuzzy blur racing over the ground and then up a tree, and, at other times, it’s “Yeah, a squirrel.  Yawn.  There’s gotta be a good stick around here somewhere.”  For all of his routine, I don’t believe he lives life out of habit.

I try to follow the same plan.  Much of my life is lived through habit alone.  I get up, I walk the dog, we eat breakfast, we take a nap.  I get up from the nap, take Waldo out for a six-mile jaunt, then eat lunch.  We go out for a poop and pee jaunt, then come back and chill.  We walk again, then come home and eat dinner.  Another walk and it’s time for bed.  But there’s also some TV watching, some reading, some studying (I’m currently trying to learn French), some baking and some writing that’s not exactly routine, but it’s not exactly spontaneous, either.  The days all have the same rhythm and, for the most part, the same content.

In a way, that’s kind of reassuring, knowing what’s coming next and all.  But it’s not the way I want to live.  It’s fine to have a routine so the things that need to get done get done on autopilot without much thought.  When I’m on the rail-trail with Waldo, for example, I don’t think about how to move my feet or try to decide where I’m going.  I automatically plod, one step in front of the other and, thoughtlessly, just follow the asphalt.  Inside of that routine, though, I’m not asleep.  I open myself up to the universe and explore what’s out there, like Waldo.  If there was nothing but routine, I would be living life on autopilot, my life would be thoughtless, unengaged and reactive, rather than proactive.  I’m in the last decades of my life.  I want to taste what’s left deeply and thoroughly.

Much of my current life revolves around Waldo.  Thank God, because I can take my cue from him and pay attention, really pay attention, when we’re out and about, to the wind in the trees, the songs of the birds, the chattering of the squirrels, the smell of the air.  I can relish the warmth of the sun on my bare skin, and endure the numbing bite of the cold in the wind.  I can relax into the moment and let the world carry my soul to wherever it leads.  A predictable life is not for me.  I yearn for the freedom of unpredictable spontaneity.

And Waldo and I have plenty of opportunity for just that.


Waldo can find sticks anywhere.

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