Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Lessons from my dog

It's been a while since I've posted here because I've been spending a lot of energy coming and going. First I drove to Ohio to see my parents and sisters, then I flew to Washington, DC to visit my aunt, and tomorrow I'm driving to Virginia to visit by blog-bud Fred. If you are a faithful reader of my other blog, you've seen various photos from these trips.

As I mentioned, tomorrow I leave on a car-camping trip to Virginia and back. Since I'm driving, I'll be taking my dog, Reggie, with me. Reggie's a veteran traveler who's been to and from Ohio more times than I can count...and he's also gone on long road trips to Arizona and even California. Reggie travels well: he gets tail-waggingly happy at the words "car ride" and has made friends and fans at rest stops all over the country. In short, Reg is a traveling dog. If there's something going on, Reg wants to be part of the action, and if I'm going somewhere, Reg wants to come along.

What Reggie doesn't like, however, is the preparation before a trip. Reggie's something of a mama's boy, so when I'm bustling around the house packing or doing a hundred things at once, he has to follow me every step of the way lest he miss out on some of that aforementioned "action." Today as always before a big trip, I started the day with a long list of to-dos: laundry, shopping, paying bills, answering emails, packing. Now as darkness is about to fall, I still have a list of to-dos to accomplish before tomorrow's departure, so my brain has kicked into Don't Forget overdrive: the state of flurry where your brain is racing through all the things you have to do before you stop or sleep.

Just now, after getting back from the grocery store where I bought food for the next few nights' camping, I started packing the car. One by one, I carted any number of things out of the apartment, going in and out, in and out, in and out while Reggie stood on the porch and listlessly watched my comings and goings. After packing the first round of stuff in the trunk of my car, I came in the house and started rooting through things in the closet, gathering my sleeping bag, bedroll, backpack... All the while, my flurry of stuff-gathering was accompanied by that Don't Forget chorus, repeated ad infinitum.

Through this all, Reggie watched me, but he no longer followed me around like he usually does. Instead, he kept whining and pacing, trying to keep an eye on me while simultaneously trying to keep out of my way. Finally I went into my office to gather more stuff, and Reg's whining was getting louder and more frantic.

"What?" Of course I didn't expect the dog to answer, but I was at a loss for what was wrong. I'd given Reg his dinner, and he'd just had the opportunity to "do his business" outside while I was packing the car. Although some animals get stressed when they see their owners packing, Reg had watched me put his things into the car: surely by now he can recognize the steps leading up to a doggie road trip!

Finally I sat down to make an updated list of things I needed to pack...and Reg plopped on the floor with a sigh. "Finally," his body language seemed to say. "I thought you'd never give it--and me--a rest!" In all my to-do listing, I'd forgotten to take a break, and my frantic preparations were stressing out the dog. Surely now that it's night, I can quietly make a list of things to do first thing tomorrow; surely now that it's night, I can sit and rest a spell, giving Reggie the peace to do likewise.

And you know what? Now that I've sat down and made my list, I don't have nearly the number of things to do that I thought I did: it turns out my Don't Forget cantata is actually a short and sweet ditty, something I can easily (and peacefully) accomplish before we leave tomorrow.

So while I'm in Virginia, I hope you take a lesson from my dog. Hurrying only leads to stress, pacing, and lots of whining. Why not take a break (or, better yet, a nap) and let tomorrow worry about tomorrow?


At 1:31 PM, Blogger Brett said...

Good post. By the way, do you think it is good luck to find a Buddha! I found a small one in a parking lot the other day. Gotta be some good karma in that, right? :)


At 9:09 PM, Blogger Nan said...

Wow, here I have been bemoaning my stay-at-home existence and you're just constantly on the go. But, you know you've kind of worn me out enough to be content with my lot in life. I guess I'm just an old dog trying to learn something new.

At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Melinda said...

This goes for small children too. Even when they "understand" what's happening. Great post!

At 9:27 PM, Blogger shyloh said...

Beautiful words, an site here.



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