November 22, 2022

We’re back!


I am not a human being.  I am a human BEING.  Just be.

-Shannon L. Alder


Waldo and I are back to walking six miles on the rail-trail – finally.  We worked up to that slowly: we walked two miles, rested a day and nothing was worse, then three miles, rested a day, four miles, rested a day then five.  After not having walked very far for eight weeks, five miles really wore me out, so we rested two days and still no adverse effects.  I still have pain when I lay down and try to sleep, but nothing new.  Now I just have to get the steroid shot in my back and we’ll slowly work back up to six miles almost every day.  Despite being worn out after the longer walks, it felt good to be getting back into our routine.

It’s pretty obvious Waldo is feeling it too.  He’s much more animated, without being frenetic, even doing only the two miles.  On the longer walks, he’s back to doing his Waldo thing in the woods.  He loves it out here.  I can see it when we get home too.  He’s less demanding of my attention, pulls less on his leash on the rail-trail days, but is still a little desperately energetic on the off days.  It’s not as bad as when all we did was walk around the apartment grounds, but he is definitely more relaxed after a rail-trail day.

Autumn changes are speeding up in the woods.  It’s a pleasure to watch the evolution of the season from one day to the next.  Many trees, mostly green at first, become more and more yellow, orange and red as the days go by.  There’s more rain now too and the leaves have begun to blanket the ground with a quilt of riotous fall colors.  Even though the trees and undergrowth are losing their leafy insulation, we’re still pretty well sequestered from city sights and noises.  Walking along the gently curving path, I can’t help but feel that Waldo and I have somehow gotten stuck in an eighteenth-century adventure story, like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, or maybe The Last of the Mohicans.  It would not take a great stretch of the imagination to believe that, if I looked closely, hiding amongst the Japanese knotweed or under a dense patch of sensitive fern, I might even get a glimpse of a curious fairy, or a gnome peeking behind a toadstool.

I enjoy these walks in nature the most if I can get myself into an open state of mind where I am only a perceiver of whatever happens.  Not a cataloguer, nor an explainer, but merely an observer.  I do my best to let the moment wash over me like an ocean wave rolling onto a beach, then soaking into the sand.  Trying not to force what’s experienced into a cage having bars of preconceived definition or understanding, I just sense whatever happens and avoid putting any “meaning” to it or even labeling it.  No lines are drawn around parts of creation, claiming this is this or that is that.  No judging is allowed, not good versus bad, nor even red versus green, nor warm versus cold.  I just let it be what it is and let it flow as it might.  The wind doesn’t blow through the leaves in the trees, then cool off the sweat on my skin.  Birds don’t sing and insects don’t buzz.  The leaves aren’t red or green or yellow, in fact there are no leaves at all.  Instead, something magical and undefined occurs; I’m bathed in an entire experience en toto.  All that other “thinking” stuff can occur later.  In the moment, I just soak it all in.

As you might imagine from reading previous posts on this blog, I don’t find this an easy thing to do.  I love to try to ideate about what happens in the now and find a way to put those ideas into my world view, connect what happens in the moment with what happened in the past through the medium of science, rationality and logic.  I pigeon-hole what I experience and do my best to squeeze that little box into a library of similar boxes that fill a library.  A library that is my conception of what makes up the Universe.  But the Universe is so much more expansive and vast than anything I could ever put into my puny brain.  Even that small part of creation that is right before my nose contains more nuance and detail than I’ll ever be able to sense, let alone remember.  But I can, with some effort and for a short period of time, stand before reality in utter and complete awe and wonder.

Does Waldo experience the world like that in every moment of his life?  I think not.  Behind those brown eyes of his, I sense a consciousness, somewhat foreign to mine, but not so different that I can’t perceive its presence.  I’m sure he puts what he smells into categories and draws connections and inferences.  I know he has a good memory and I also know he can problem solve pretty damn well.  That suggests some kind of conceptual thinking.  But, at other times, I also catch him lying down on his balcony, surveying his dogdom, calmly and quietly, as if in deep meditation.  I think he would understand what I’m trying to say.

We both love just being in nature.


The less said, the better.

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