Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Dog's Life

We have two dogs again. A big brown one and a small grey one. Big Brown is more commonly called “Teddy,” while Small Grey is known as “Louie.” Teddy has been with us for several dogs, now: Baby, Max and unlucky Lucky.

Louie sleeps in the bedroom with us, and Teddy positions himself outside the bedroom door, our sentry in the night, waiting for me to open the door in the morning and get our day started. Louie comes bursting out of the bedroom, leaping and bouncing and running to greet Teddy, and then both are similarly occupied greeting the day. I wish everyone could find such joy in each new day.

The ancients, it is said, greeted every dawn with thankfulness that they had been reborn for another day. They treated sleep and dreams as another life, one into which they were born in sleep, and on waking, embraced the dawn as a rebirth, a new life to be lived until sleep took them again to the other world.

If that were true, how different the world might be. We could begin each day not just renewed, but new to the challenges and rewards of being alive. Yesterday’s troubles and triumphs would simply be yesterday’s, not tomorrow’s.

Perhaps it is like that for infants, too. They awaken to a new world, to new discoveries and pleasures, sometimes pain, but always new. A new day, every day. As we grow up, we find that not every day is new; that some days are reruns of the day before, and that can be anywhere along the scale that has wonderful at one end and terrible at the other.

I’ve always shared the pleasure of awakening, of realizing that I have been given another day in a world where that isn’t always the reward for sleeping. Too many people awaken to yesterday’s problems rather than today’s renewal. It can be hard not to do that for some, I know. I consider myself extremely fortunate to find renewal in sleep, however short, and to look on dawn as the start of a new opportunity for me to experience sensory delights, like sunlight, birdsong, wind on my skin, ground beneath my feet, the smell of the seasons, the rain or snow, the incredible blue of the sky and artwork of the clouds. I appreciate the opportunity to learn something new, to experience the good parts of being alive, to repair or modify the harm of a previous day. Do Teddy and Louie think those kind of thoughts in their own dog way? I think they do, and that is what makes them so joyful when each new day begins.

“What a beautiful day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be happy in it.”

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