Wednesday, July 05, 2006

On dogs, cats, health, being happy and other annoying facts of life

I never thought I liked dogs. I always thought that there are at least three major reasons why I would always hate them, in fact: they smell, they lick and they bark! Of course, there is the need to wash them, board them when you go to Europe, and of course, how can we forget: they need walking, too! How inconvenient on a rainy day when all you want to do is nap?! The lack of independence, the high maintenance… all of it - I thought I’d hate it… But then I met Dakota, and everything changed! He is an extremely high maintenance dog, mind you, needy as an 80 year old man, bed ridden and with Alzheimer’s! Everything revolves around HIM, and him alone. But he taught me how to read his body and how to take the licks as a sign of love, the stench as a new flavor of life, the barking as a bonding attempt of him telling me about his day, and the high vet bills as a sign that he is indeed human!
And the rest is history: I cannot say no to dogs anymore. I think for the rest of my life, I will call any dog that enters my life Dakota! He will always be my one and only, the one who opened my eyes to a whole new universe.
Now, I find myself on that boring side of half of the population that woo’s and aaah’s about the furry-noisy-stinky 4 legged “people”. I am still on the fence, very much so, since my love for cats has not faded one bit. I just see myself as richer and with a more expanded outlook on all things life. I shut no door nor eye to the dogs anymore.
This past weekend, I went for a long hike, with a new 4 legged friend of mine, Floyd, and his endurance, and even gratefulness on the trail made my heart melt! He didn’t ask for much, if anything at all. Tongue to the ground, feet to the trail, he stopped pulling at the leash after about 2 miles. Almost 100 degrees and another 2 miles more later, back at the car, without so much as a whine, or even a bark, he collapsed in the back seat, on the blanket, and I swear he fell asleep smiling. I just wanted to kiss his muzzle and drown in that stinky breath!
At home, I was happy to return to the clean, crisp smell of my cats. Quiet and elegant, they know how to step not to disturb me from my nap, or where to lay just so, so as to get enough sun for their comfort, but to give me enough visual pleasure for an entire lazy summer afternoon. At home, I soak in their beauty, elegance, and I am reminded, with their every gesture, how much I love freedom!
So, on days when my heart is racing, and my docs are sending me grim reports, and my dear family is sick or in need, and the bank account is on the negative, and the people I am surrounded with are so difficult, and … hard, and demanding, and more whiny than a menopausal woman, and not worth a damn, I return to these pools of peace, to the Floyds, and Dakotas, and Gypsys, and Feros and Kitties of the day, and I breathe and I find my breath one more time; for at least another day.
On another note: are you bothered by the things you used to do with no problem when you were younger and now feel like an idiot even attempting to do them, much less not being able to carry them through?! What happened with hiking for a whole day in 100 heat without complaining? Or having beers throughout the hot days, and partying till dawn? Or spending a whole night chatting or watching a movie marathon with your friends, only to be up and about and ready to face the new day freshly in the morning?! What happened with 2 AM bedtime?! Long gone for me… and by God, what am I going to do when I am 40?! So, so disappointing!
Whatever happened to my calves over the years I wonder?! A 4 mile hike and they’re dead! Need crutches for another week to get around; a crane to pick me up from a chair.
I wish some days they would invent a way to bottle up the feeling I have after an hour and a half meet with the (yoga) mat! That invigorating feeling of joy, and beauty, and life worth living, and love of my own self, that beatitude of health and energy, that rush after a good practice followed by a deep savasana … THAT joy…bottled up, so I can have a sip after a 4 mile hike and feel like I can so move on!
The peace and calm I feel after a good pranayama practice, I want to feel when in the doctor’s office and they tell you your pressure is too high and by Gosh they tried it all and they don’t know what’s next! You want to just breathe and not feel your heart pounding. You want that feeling, because you know that that feeling will carry you on, through the high BP! I guess it’s good that you know where to find it, though, and this way you will never throw away your mat! All the rest of the clutter will be eventually thrown away when you move, but not that mat.
Someone asked me the other day, a novice in yoga, a “tester” with the yoga thought , I’d say, “why they need a mat”?! Well, for that: it’s a spiritual delineator! It keeps you mentally as well as physically away from this poisonous world we live in every day. It sends the message to your brain that all things worldly have to stop, and a new era or frame of mind rather has to start. It offers the visual escape into the “sacred” space. It’s the visual oasis in this dry world we live in. Something palpable to remind us the breathe and slow down.
And thanks to oases like these, despite of all the penury of good things in the day, the aches and pains, the heat and the human mental stink, I choose to always be happy. Or joyful. I choose to smile when I smell the dogs, and smile when the cats scratch or meow in the middle of my nap, waking me up; and smile when the heart is racing … It’s all going to be good. I am here now, and alive, and there is so much to see behind every door! Behind every bend in the road… So many reasons to smile. So many dumb people, you can’t help but crack up! So much good food, and good times! So much music, and so many purple mats! So many stinky muzzles, and so many pulled leashes, and long, sharp cat nails to be cut. They just all make me smile. Always. So many reasons to be stubborn enough to live long, and choose to live happily, too.
And this is JUST the beginning, a mere sliver of the huge cake of life… Enjoy …

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