July 30, 2006
Part 1 - Long Day's Journey
They tried to tell me, but I tend to trust my nose and eyes and experience over the endless verbosity of humanity. As all the animal kingdom knows, humans tend to talk and talk and then talk some more. They talk when greeting, talk when parting, and talk most of the time in between. They turn on their televisions to watch other people talk and, when they're done with that, they listen to talk on their radios and iPods and computers and engage in more talk on their omnipresent phones. It's all about the conversations and exclamations and intonations and declarations and insinuations. Oh, let a dog bark at a stranger at the door and we're told to pipe down, but the humans chatter away like mad squirrels 24/7 as if the rotation of the world depended on it.
So, I didn't listen. There was just too much else going on. There were suitcases, sure, which usually makes me sulk in a corner with my chin on my paws. But there was also the beach bag. The magic beach bag, which holds only that which is good in the world! The sweet tang of sunblock, the lovely grit of beach sand, the large striped towels that are used to dry the Labrador and the big bottle of water that quenches the salt-chapped lips of dogs and humans alike. Best of all, of course, the beach bag holds my well-worn Booda Soft Bite Floppy Disc, my boonest of beach companions. My joy, my love, my very heart's desire.
Yes, I couldn't quite tell what was going on, but I knew it was no time to sulk. When Mike put on my harness, I was as sure as a dog can be that this was going to be a fine day, suitcases or not. And so I lept into the packed station wagon, the very incarnation of panting anticipation.
They tried to tell me, but the wind was whistling through half-closed windows and my tongue could almost taste the beach in the breeze, and so I could not listen. I huffed and puffed and sat upright and ignored what Molly was saying. But then time went by, a lot of time. The back seat was getting hot. I figured this was going to be the best beach trip ever, because it was the longest ride I'd ever been on. Still, it should be soon, I thought. I would not lie down. I would not stop panting. Because this was going to the Mother of All Trips to the Beach, I was sure.
The exasperated humans asked again and again if I were going to pant all the way, and I looked at them and panted some more. Why not? I always pant all the way to the beach. It is my habit, my nature, my very job. And yet the job became harder through the hours. I still panted as the sun set, having been to the beach in the darkness before. But perhaps I panted less now. I was getting tired. I still sat up. I would not be cajoled into lying down, even as the car sped through the darkness.
But I was beginning to lose my confidence. Perhaps, just perhaps, there was to be no Big Beach at the end of the road. My eyes half closed and I had a strange impression, perhaps a dream, that this was the whole of my life -- indeed, the lives of many, many of us. We speed through darkness toward grand adventures and great expectations and yet somehow never arrive. A human bard once said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” And so it is during this inexplicable odyssey, sailing fast in hot metal ignited by burning gases, that I missed the fleeting moments, failed to see the landscape transform right beneath my nostrils. Perhaps life isn't a beach, I thought. Perhaps it's here, now. And so I stopped my panting, finally, and began to breath in the mystery of new places. The adventure, however strange and sometimes frightening, had finally begun.
July 16, 2006
Home is where the dog is,
Life is here on the hard wood floor
reflecting light through a
window of ceaseless animation,
listening for starlings, watching for cats,
at home in a brilliant, seamless
moment of joy.