15 Minutes of World

I promise this will be the last time for a while that I lead with a reference to our somewhat indisposed dog. After all, I am hopeful that time and advice from others will help us sort through our options as he recovers from his cancer surgery and now faces the limitations of a torn ACL. I realized on our last outing that he’s gone from long runs on the marsh trails to fifteen minutes of a leash walk through town. And yet in that 15, he’s already figured out how this can be a window to a larger world.

Consider the sequence we visit: favorite bushes at the library; the very, very old railing around the very old town cemetery (“Absolutely NO DOGS”); every other tree on the town common; the trash can at the local fill-up; the steps up to Town Hall, and after all these stops and starts,  back to the car and home. You might say that sounds normal for a dog walk, and true enough: but I can’t help being a little amazed at how he seems to adapt, and to find enjoyment in the ‘new now’. The brevity of these walks has made me consider the snapshots I see instead of the longer panorama that feels so far off now.

Take boarding time for the train home yesterday. A steady shuffle of winter coats moves out to the platform. We enter the train, hoping our destinations match, and the seats fill up. A man walks past with the rear light blinking on his bike hat. Tickets are punched, books or e-book readers hauled out, people settle in. I gaze down the corridor and imagine I am back on the South Shore leaving Chicago. I reach down in my flat bag for the newspaper, and instead find a flat chocolate croissant from a breakfast I guess I forgot to eat days ago. A bit stale, but tasty enough, and someone is watching me eat it.

Now it’s the next day and our same train slinks into Salem. The harbor is completely fogged in. A lone comorant sits on a buoy. A fisherman readies his ship for the day. Again a steady stream of coats, trenchcoats, this time, snakes onto the platform for the short ride to town.

All this is to say that as we end April, put Lent behind, touch grief here or there, seek warm spring, ready for a graduation… I will make a better attempt to consider the shorter view, to focus on the “one day at a time” mantra I like to think we live by. One small window can still allow a refreshing breeze to come through. A small snapshot has all we can process and all we need, sometimes.


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