“Be the Scout.” “Attend.”

This about sums up my recent conversations with the dog on my walks this past week and a half. He’s older now, and dawdles down the path sniffing his familiar places (everywhere) and taking his own sweet time. In the early days he was the one running forward with abandon, leaving me trailing behind and shouting for him to slow down, wait, stop…all manner of directions that meant “stay close” (that was another command.) I realize the beauty of the recent warm days beckons us to a slower pace, but…really?

Thus I found myself saying “Be the scout, Probie” as we headed across the flat tidal marsh area where the sandpipers like to find their morning snacks. We dialogued: “Aren’t you supposed to be the scout for me?” “Aren’t you supposed to lead the way and protect me?” That day we left the conversation there, content as we were to enjoy the breeze and proceed more or less in fits and starts and stops all the way back to the car.

The next walk some days later, quite near the same wide place in the path, I was deep in day dreams and had not paid attention to just how far back the dog was behind me. It was though I heard his voice instruct me this time, with this one word: “Attend.” And yes, I thought, I should come forth from my cocoon of the “undone” at work, at home; the thoughts of family far and near; the errands and tasks I was queuing up for the day ahead. Instead of all this flotsam, I should be attending to all that was around me: the dog, yes, but also the noisy jay, the mown field, the water strider.

Fast forward to the workday of today and the on-campus presentations I attended all morning. The plan had been to stay all day, but after the provided lunch and a walk around the exhibits, something just told me to go back to the office.

When I entered the library one of the desk staff hurried over to me with a student in tow. I hadn’t been on email all day so I’d missed her note asking if she could stop in for a research tune-up at 2:30. And wouldn’t you know it? A glance at the clock revealed: 2:30pm and here we were in an unplanned meetup that actually happened without electronics.

Or was it unplanned, really? Only one of us knew it would (hopefully) take place. The other of us was lost in the day. Yet I’d like to believe that sometimes, even when we don’t realize it, even in the smallest moments, we can hear our intuitions and act. Perhaps it’s just called listening. Perhaps, it is to Attend.

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