We awake together, lifted by the first light and birdsong. Before leaving the bed, she licks away the night wrinkles in my face, urging me to arise and enter the experience of something that has never happened before -- this amazing new day.
We walk and talk, each in our own way, and I sometimes fall prey to thinking about something I should be doing later in the day. Sensing my distraction, she freezes and refuses to move further until I close down my chatterbox mind and return to this sacred moment and place, not the place down the road, but this place, where something wonderful has left clues of its nocturnal presence. It is a mystery that requires our full attention -- here and now!
Later in the day, after I have returned home from my separate adventures, I find her sleeping in a pool of dappled sunlight that falls softly through the window. It's not surprising to find her so unproductive, for she has told me on many occasions that productivity can be a fool's errand, and that it is often better to focus upon fulfilling one's own destiny -- in my case, that of a human being.
She, of course, is not the least bit concerned with her own destiny as a labrador retriever. In her wisdom, destiny is an abstract folly that does little more than corrupt the eternal present. "Retriever," moreover, is simply a convenient name-tag created by an alien species that prefers role-playing to authenticity. It's a matter of individual integrity, she tells me, and she will not mortgage her true self for a shilling's worth of approval.
As the sun declines, we move like dancers, sometimes together, sometimes apart. Shortly after nightfall, however, we find ourselves back in the bed, pleasantly exhausted from the day's journey. We have done this thousands of times before, but every evening feels like a new experience. Could it be that T.S. Eliot was talking about all creatures, including my Zen master, when he said:
"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
The Four Quartets