Monday, June 11, 2012

Carpe "Canis" Diem

A week has passed since losing my dog, Banjo, to cancer and I haven't written a word until now.  I'm not sure why, although a part of me thinks it's because she is the inspiration for Cricket in the Scarlet series and I'm not sure how it's going to feel to write her now that she's gone.  Another part of me thinks I'm just finding excuses not to have to face the inevitable.  There is a strange quiet in my mind without her goofy, lovable presence and somehow, if I turn on the creative juices and put them to paper, I'll lose that quiet.  Quiet that is keeping sadness temporarily at bay.  So I'm forcing myself to push away the quiet and reflect a bit instead.  Whether we like it our not, the inevitable always comes and it's better to face it on your own terms then wait for it to ambush you.
It occurs to me that much like in life, in death there are great lessons to be learned from the species so many of us share our lives with.  Certainly devotion, unconditional love, and loyalty are obvious choices, but with such a short time on earth, I believe dogs show us just how precious life is; life that many of us take for granted until we are too old to do much living.  It's not because we are ignorant, or even naive.  Mostly it's because we are too busy with the mundane, day to day grind to really appreciate the time we have.  We go to work, take care of our homes, maybe try to get some exercise, make sure our kids are clean, fed and generally well behaved, go to bed, get too little sleep and repeat.  Twenty, thirty years pass and far too often, that same run on sentence is really all we have to look back on.  When is last time your dog acted as if your coming home was anything but the most unique, special, exhilarating event that has ever happened?  When is the last time she looked at the same old dry kibble you put in her bowl as anything but a feast?

I'm not suggesting that we should literally live each day like it's our last; that is an impractical suggestion.  The odds are tomorrow is going to come for the majority of us and if you lived yesterday like it was truly your last, you are probably in a little bit of hot water at the moment.  A bit of healthy K-9 Carpe Diem on the other hand...
The crazy thing is, as children, this K-9 mentality is not a foreign concept.  Over the course of our maturation into adulthood, we just forget, or other things take priority.  My girls act like I've been gone for years every single time I come home from work.  Ice Cream is always an event and a trip to the amusement park is life altering.  So how do we get a little of this back?  How do we act a little bit more like our dogs and a little less like boring old fogies, without being arrested for sniffing our neighbors' butts that is?
I can only answer for myself, but I'm going to start, by opening up my copy of MS Word, and writing a chapter with Banjo/Cricket in it.  I'm going to act a little bit crazy with my kids and tomorrow, when I walk in the door, I'm going to act like I haven't seen them in years.  I'm going to play Frisbee with our German Shepherd, more that just to get her some exercise, and I'm going to teach her at least a dozen new tricks.  I'm going to hold my wife until she complains that it's too hot.  I'm going to listen.  I'm going to read.  I'm going to run and I'm going to laugh, sometimes even when it's not appropriate.  Mostly though, I'm going to be aware.  Aware that each moment, whether it's at work with a patient, or at home with the ones I love, is precious.  And from now on, I'm going to spin in a circle three times before I get in bed.  I'm not sure what the reason really is, but it can't hurt to try.  

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