Living in the Present Moment
Living in the Present Moment
“What day is it?”
"It's today," squeaked Piglet
“My favorite day," said Pooh
A gentle rain falls and my thoughts turn inward. I cried looking at the empty chair and dog bed where Olive lay, where I feel she should still be lying, her eyes closing as she dozes off, and opening again as she watches the birds, waiting always for the squirrel.
Olive has been gone nearly a year and I miss her still—part of me thinking it wasn't yet her time. Although a senior, she was at her prime and not old, especially by dachshund standards. I let myself feel the emotions, and she comes back to me, if only by way of memory.
Then gently bring myself back into the present where three happy beagles bounce off one another. Sasha, at 16 or 17, is the oldest and I gaze into her eyes as she climbs up on me with all the couth of a warthog. She slips then starts her climb again like I'm a jungle gym not a human attempting to meditate in stillness. She plunks her plump body onto me and tells me how hungry she is. She just ate ten minutes ago, and this is precisely what I tell her.
I am overwhelmed with love and also by the consciousness that makes life so precious: our knowledge of death. I know of biohackers (Nootropics and such) who say they'll live to be one thousand, to which I say, “Why would anyone want to?” I have always thought somewhat sadly that we needed the knowledge of death (often its imminence) to truly value life. I know of people who realize the value of life only upon their deathbed. Or realize only at death that what matters was always and only love.
I try to keep Sasha, Isabelle and Sparkle healthy, which means keeping their weight down, but on Sundays I give them a big fry-up in the skillet.
“That's all for tonight,” I say on Saturday as I feed them, “But tomorrow you'll get a lot of food.”
Or I'll be rushed on our walks, and tell Sparkle, “Tomorrow, we'll go on a long walk.” Each time they answer me back the same way: “But it's today.” For in their worlds, today is what matters. Their worlds don't consist of thinking about tomorrow. Although sometimes they do remember the past, especially when it concerns chicken dinners of yore.
I kiss each of Sasha's eyes and hold her to me, feeling her warm and lumpy, old-dog body, trying to imprint this memory upon my soul for the long years ahead when a sweet and silly beagle doesn't scramble onto me.
I speak into her ruff, “I love you beyond measure, Sasha.”
And she answers back that she “really likes her food a lot.” And that she really likes to get “her mouth around big chunks of meat.” So much for sentimentality.
Yet I know it is Sasha who misses me the most when I must leave for the day—squealing on the bed when I return as I kneel down to “play the game!” And I tease her and say, “Sasha, you don't have to cry about it.” And yet I know one day not too far off, I will cry about it again. And then, once more, I gently bring myself back to the present moment: the gentle breeze, the flowers, and soft grass beneath my feet, as well as Isabelle and Sparkle—three warm dog bodies. And all is perfect as can be.