If we had the lifespan of a dog,
would we be more grateful?
Chester, our older mixed collie,
can no longer hear, and tires
quickly now on neighborhood walks.
It’s more of a series of slow steps
between spots to sniff and signposts to mark
but he so loves his familiar role
in the canine social order of things.
On warm afternoons lying in the lawn
peering into the air with clouded eyes
he is so content to rest his weary body
and breathe deeply of all that passes by.
I am reminded that there is a scent to sunlight
and everything that grows from it
how his coat smells when he enters the house
and his enjoyment of being scratched.
He has a lot of small tumors, benign but itchy,
and loves a rubdown, use fingernails please.
He never pushes or wants anything more
than to be with his pack, hanging out.
And of course to be loved when convenient.
He moves about slowly but with purpose,
placing himself on my route strategically
so that, coming out of the bathroom,
should I need his unconditional love
and heartfelt appreciation for my being,
he is there for me, one of the pack.
While he still has this day to live
there is no greater joy than just to belong.
He paws his big round bed into a nest,
circles twice, and settles with an umph,
expels a deeply happy somewhat sleepy sigh.
Would we more easily find peace within
if every day was 7 times more filled
with complete awareness of just this?
Would we learn to adore those whose path
becomes known and entwined with ours?
Would we trustingly rest without worry
as our senses settled into haze and silence?
Would we then learn that this moment is it?
©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 20180512