Stop. Think. Listen.

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For some reason we have become so worried about compromise or losing our lofty position that we draw a line in the sand and refuse to acknowledge that there could be anything of any value on the other side.

And, God forbid, someone on the ‘other side’ should make overtures and offer a few steps in our direction, we get so rattled that we step farther from the line and now even refuse to acknowledge that where the line was had any merit.

Polarization and finger pointing and demonization of opponents helps no one, and only costs us the opportunity to learn something. Even if all we learn is that the other side has fair reasons for their opinions, though we can’t possibly share them. And it costs us the opportunity to share the information we have, potentially swaying, if only a little, one or more from the other camp. At least we might educate a bit.

It does us no good to rant against injustice if we cannot define justice. And how do we weigh the facts if we refuse to listen to them?

We must at least admit the humanity of those with whom we might disagree, however vehemently. And there, in our common humanity, is at least *some* common ground. Who knows what else we might discover if only we took the time, opened our eyes and our ears and our minds, and listened.

We don’t have to agree. We just have to quit disagreeing simply because of who said it – whatever ‘it’ may be.

I know, I’m dreaming. I just can’t help it.

The little things

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Watching a puppy so happy and excited he can barely stay in his own skin

Feeling warm sun and a breeze on your face after a storm

The scent of honeysuckle wafting through the yard, mixed with new-mown hay and clover

The feeling of hitting a tennis ball exactly on the sweet spot of the racket

Hearing the birds greet the morning before the sun is visible

Feeling the presence of those animals I have lost over the years – seeing their shadows settle on my feet, only making way for one of the living dogs

The soft silky fur or a Berner – so unlike any other tactile experience, exuding peace and joy and unconditional love.

We call them the little things in life, but these are some of the things that make the difference between an ordinary existence and a life of joy.

My parents taught me to appreciate the little things. My sons gave me a chance to pass that wisdom to another generation. My dogs make sure I never let go of that wisdom.

This moment, right now, is all we have. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may happen as we expect it to but then again maybe not. Though we can plan for it, it will be gone again before we know it, and if we forget to pay attention, if we are so focused on other times, other places, other plans, we lose this moment and we can never reclaim it.

I would rather live with joy than exist with lots of plans.

A plan can’t turn the evening landscape into a performance of lightening bugs. A plan can’t appreciate the sweet crunch of a fresh-picked apple. We can do things now that might make those things possible later, as long as we don’t forget to enjoy the digging and planting and watering and watching the blossoms and the buds and the ever-ripening fruit.

Just as there is joy in watching a dog learn to play, learn to work, learn to trust, so there is joy in sometimes just letting those moments happen, without forcing or coaxing or pushing them, just laying some groundwork and trusting yourself and your dog.

The colors of the sunset today will be different from the colors yesterday or tomorrow. Absolutely lovely.