Monday, May 5, 2008

Only You Can Choose your Direction (You and Juan Valdez)


"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
-Victor Frankl

I've always had a hard time getting up in the morning.
I never feel thoroughly rested, and I just don't seem to have any "Get up and Go".
 But I have a Dog.
A Dog who needs to get up and "go".
So I must.

Generally,when we address the stairs,
my pace is much more lumbering than his, regardless if one or both of us had arisen during the night to "use the facilities".
But down we go, nonetheless,
through the foyer,
through the kitchen,
and address the door which leads to the garage.

 I open the screen door, and lift my finger to the button;
he's already lying down like a sphinx at the garage door, awaiting its elevation.
I hit the button, and as soon as the door begins to rise,
 he wedges himself underneath at brake-neck speed,
certain there's something just on the other side of the door to chase away. 

He's seen squirrels there before, so he's at the ready; 
he races out across the driveway, and into the side yard,
does a few laps, and finds the perfect spot for release,
but he's still at the ready.

Following this morning ritual, he comes back in for a little breakfast,
whilst I address the coffee mug, awaiting the elevation it has in store for me.
After we get the kids off to school, It's time for our walk, Captain's and Mine.
 I prepare myself for leaving, as my husband would say,
by "keeping the laundry train going".
He's right.
Once I get the laundry train going, it gathers momentum, and there's no stopping it.
 Not necessarily folded, mind you, but done.
This is the closest I get to multi-tasking:

Doing the laundry at the same time as I walk the dog.
The only one actually walking, though, is me.

This time, the garage door is already open,
 and as we walk to the car, 
he always stops. 
Always. 

He stops, and he breathes, and he feels the sun on his face. 
He twitches his nose, allowing the scents of his own back yard to remind him that he's home.

By this point, Juan Valdez has brought about his desired effect, so I'm ready to hop in the car and Go.
 But thank God for Captain. 
And thank God for my interest in Animal Behavior. 

Because, the combination of these two gratitudes allows me to learn from this humble four- legged, how to greet my day.

He knows I enjoy observing him, so he uses his behavior as an opportunity to teach me a few things about living;
about how to go about living.

There are two ways to address your day, he conveys:
You can wedge yourself out the door anxious to chase away what might be on the other side,
or
You can pause,
 breathe,
feel the sun on your face,
and allow the scents of your own backyard to remind you that you are home.

You are not in the car at that moment.
You are not at work.
You are not walking in the Park.
You are Home.

When I choose to pause and breathe, to greet my Day, My Day is much better.
When I wedge myself under the door at brake-neck speed,
anxious to chase away what's on the other side, 
I'm off to an anxious start.
And once that train's-a-rollin', it gathers momentum
And there's no stopping it.


So, We get up and go, each morning, My dog Captain and I,
and each day he shows me my choices.

He's the Captain of his own Destiny, and So am I.

So too, are You.

"The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be."

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