Lessons From My Dogs,
Nothing I ever saw washed off the sins of the world so well as the first snow dropping on trees.
Danny at our local hardware store has been telling me to buy Bitcoin for five years. Back then one Bitcoin was about $31, and last check it was $17,000—not a bad return. Perhaps I should have bought in then (we all have should-haves like this, if not necessarily digital currency) and it wasn’t that I didn’t trust his advice. It was more a question of spending that time getting the Coinbase account set up, the Bitcoin Wallet, and all that other techy stuff that would keep me inside and tied to the computer.
But finally I decide, why not? (What financial adviser would ever suggest buying when something is high? And crypocurrency, at that?) And so begins the process that allowed me to see my way of life here with the birds and the trees and the dogs was so completely antithetical to the world in which more and more humans choose to live. In order to set up an account, one needs a two-step authorization, which means texting my mobile phone with a code. No problem, right? Ah, wee bit of problem when one has no Wi-Fi.
On my way to the signal-less mobile phone, I walk by Sparkle curled in a ball. “Sparkle, you don’t have to deal with any of this. You’re just a little dog.”
If I thought she was sleeping, I was mistaken. From the alacrity of her response, I guess not. Either that or she is frustrated with indoor endeavors, mundane insights and humanness: “I know I’m a little dog. I never tried to be anything but a little dog.”
"I know I'm a little dog."
I clear my throat to speak, think better of it, and stroke her silken ears instead. “We’ll go out walking soon,” I say, thinking about the joy of just being who we are—no more, no less.
I go back to the computer but am thwarted at every turn. Silicon Valley our home is not. Our home is high in peace and joy, but decidedly low in tech.
Isabelle rolls her eyes up at me. There is wisdom in the look she bestows, as well as a solid grounding quality, perhaps due to her inactivity, but perhaps also evident—existing and enduring—even if she had all her legs for more momentum.
Isabelle's solidity grounds me.
I succeed in opening a Coinbase account but don’t succeed in getting further than that. Perhaps the universe is looking out for me. The value of Bitcoin has since dropped and reports say it’s due for a crash. Then again, isn’t everything?
And so I step outside instead. The vast sky absorbs my previous distraction, and my mind stills. A titmouse perches on the bath, drinking and seems pleased to find this warm water in the midst of below-freezing temperatures. I stand breathing in the outside air, and all at once I'm restored from that other world that makes no sense to me. Here, outdoors, is the world I love. Here is the only world I want to live in. I watch the nuthatch descend the trunk of an elm then peck at seed. If I close my eyes I can smell the resiny, evergreen scent of the white pine. Like Isabelle, she stands solid and there is a timelessness and eternity in her limbs that is absent from fleeting start-ups and bubbles.
Now the dogs are happy—happy I’ve left the confines of computer and stepped outside into their preferred living room—they just require me to be out with them. We’re all outside except for Olive who, injured, has been restricted to a crate. I slip in and carry her out. And holding her close against my breast, I understand what’s important in this world, and where true value lies. I watch her nose twitch sniffing the fresh, cold air. And all around us the pulse of life goes on quietly feeding the world, heedless of stock markets and hedge funds.
The sun hides behind bare trees and I stop and stare up at its timid light behind a gauze of white sky. I am not a tree but something in the beauty of the black, bare branches moves me and renders us—tree and me—the same.
I walk without thought, feeling earth and air, loving earth and air. Sparkle races ahead, hunting. Sasha stays by my side. Isabelle finds a patch of dried, brown grass and plops down, watching us. And Olive is carried, like Flash was so long ago, feeling ever more like the Princess she thinks she is and getting rather used to portage.
Olive accepting her injury.
Back inside, we watch the birds from the warmth of our home. All at once, I’m watching bright stars of purple, blue, green, red, orange and yellow. Brilliant colored sunbursts filling my eyes and head. Am I a latent hippie tripping on LSD? No, I am merely standing before the crystal as it catches the sun’s soft, winter light. I let these vibrant rainbows wash over and into me, searching for a meaning or a sign. But I find none; they are just colors and, like the flowers of spring, beautiful unto themselves.
Late in the day, I'm putting more logs on the fire, when I feel a presence. Another seemingly supernatural experience? Only if we want to call Sasha a supernatural being. There she stands staring at me, as if this habit of hers could hasten the Feeding Frenzy (dinner). She tells me she’s hungry, and I say what I always do.
If Sasha stares hard enough, perhaps dinner will be served all day.
“Sasha, you’re not hungry.” But maybe she is. I stare into her beautiful, old Sasha eyes to sense what she is saying beyond her stomach's normal refrain. To me she seems to be saying, “What use is Bitcoin? You can’t eat them. And you can’t buy dog food with them, either.”
“Yet,” I offer. To which Olive chimes in:
“But we're here now. This moment.”
“True.” I nod in agreement. “Invest in the moment.”
“Or,” joins Isabelle. “Invest in kindness. Goodness and love.”
Olive pushes her nose against me. “Invest in fresh air and sunlight.”
Ah yes, solar, I think to myself.
“Invest in dog food,” adds Sasha. "Lots of it."
“And long walks outdoors,” says Sparkle.
Perhaps by the time this goes to print, I’ll have my first Bitcoin (or Ethereum or Ripple, the better investment now). Then again, perhaps not. Which is the way I like to think it will go. The dogs are right, of course. My investment is and always has been with the earth and her stewards: the birds and the squirrels, the deer and the coyotes, the rivers and trees—and these domesticated dogs who, a moment later have forgotten all about investing, and are telling me, it’s well past time for dinner.