I just got back from a walk with my dog Floey. It’s a beautiful spring day in southern Wisconsin. I felt the gentle breeze on my face, and smiled. The birds were singing again. A few weeds next to the sidewalk were beginning to show the first hint of green. Yes. Spring is really coming.
I watched Floey chase a leaf as it drifted across the sidewalk. There were no more mounds of snow to jump on and bury her face in – so she had to make up new games. She timidly approached a sewer grate and sniffed it. Then she heard the rushing water and jumped back. She gave the grate a wide berth as we continued walking down the street.
Floey caught sight of a pair of mourning doves about thirty feet ahead of us on the walk. She ran up to them and they flew away. Definitely new things to see, hear, smell, feel, and chase on this walk.
“Floey, you have the gift of mindfulness,” I said to her as we continued our walk.
“What’s that, Mom?”
“Mindfulness? Oh that means being fully aware of what’s happening in the moment, and appreciating it. Whenever we go for a walk, you find joy in everything that’s happening around you – what you see, what you hear, what you smell…
During the wintertime, you galloped over snowdrifts and then pushed your nose as deep into the snow as you could go, then jumped up and ran around in circles, smiling from ear to ear. I couldn’t help but smile with you. Now that it’s spring, you’re discovering new sights and sounds and smells. I get happy just watching you. You delight in noticing everything.”
“Of course, Mom. Why wouldn’t I notice what’s going on around me? Don’t you?”
“Oh, sometimes troubling thoughts pop into my mind, and they distract me from noticing all the beauty around me. But, you know, I think spring is the best cure for the disease of distraction.”
“I think you’re right, Mom. If I understand what you mean by mindfulness, I think you were being very mindful Sunday evening. Remember, we were both out on the deck. It was my first time out there. I watched you take a big black cover off the gas grill. Then you fired up the grill. While we waited for it to get hot, I saw you lean on the deck railing and look out at the pond.”
“You were really watching me, Floey. Did you notice that almost all the ice is gone from the pond? And did you hear the birds singing? It was a beautiful time to be outside.”
“Yup. And then it got even better. You grilled hamburgers. They smelled so good I could hardly stand it.”
“I know, Floey. There is no better early springtime smell than the first hamburgers on the grill. And then we eat them! A perfect treat for taste buds.”
“Well, I didn’t get to eat anything, but I did get to lick the platter, and that sure was good. I’m not complaining, I’ll always be glad to do the pre-wash on the meat platter, but I wouldn’t mind if you fixed me a hamburger next time, too.”
“Would you promise to savor every bite, and not just swallow it whole?”
“You said I’m good at mindfulness, Mom. Of course, I would thoroughly enjoy the hamburger – although I might have to eat it fast so that I’d be ready to exuberantly enjoy my next moment of life. Maybe I’d have to run out on the deck to listen to a new bird song. Spring is filled with wonderful experiences!”
“Floey, although you still have the energy of a puppy, you can teach me about being mindful any day. You already seem to understand what Thich Nhat Hanh said:
When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love.