On Leash

Cappy and LuciI had both dogs with me today, and decided to take a path back from the lake edge rather than retrace our steps on macadem, our usual hike. Off the group camping area, the path is two dogs and two persons wide, narrowing to two dogs wide with human behind, narrowing to one human with dogs kinda off to the side wide. Rocky and rain-washed, the path was a mindfulness exercise.

Avoiding leash entanglement pulled my attention totally off bird song ID. Fortunately I am so into birding right now every little movement captures a modicum of my brain so I caught the sight of a few sparrow-sized birds about 10 feet ahead of us, odd for mid-forest, in time to halt the dogs, who were super cool nosing around while the LBBs (birder lingo for little brown birds) moved with confused deliberation off the path.

Whoosh! Out dashed a mom Ruffed Grouse, feathers wide, tail fanned, belting a piercing whistle warning. I choked up on the leashes but the dogs only lifted their heads in mild curiosity. I waited a few seconds for her chicks, the LBBs now identified, to get deeply buried away from the path and mom settled down a bit. Then we continued on our way, accompanied by a whistling, pissed off Ruffed Grouse for another 100 yards or so. Like a Killdeer she traveled away from where I suspect her chicks crouched waiting her all clear.

Really cool experience, and a deep reminder of why I never let my dogs off leash. Had they been free roaming, I am certain that curiosity would have led to working dog mind games within seconds, disturbing the chicks and the adult.

No Dirt, No Tree

Log Designs1

No Mud. No Lotus.

ON a cloudy September Sunday, I attended a Day of Mindfulness, led by the incredible teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn.  His dharma talk examined the nature of suffering, that most human experience that grounds us all.  By focusing on the present moment, he said,  we provide the space in which we can focus on our suffering, to cradle it as we would a small baby.  By paying attention to what pains us, we can transform that suffering, into compassion – for ourselves.  This compassion is the foundation of happiness, joy; a base for healthy communication and compassion for others.  Without this mud – this suffering – there can be no flower – joy, happiness, and compassion. 

This last year has been very, very muddy, and I am looking for flowers, for trees, in fact, with root systems to stop the erosion of this rainy life season….And I keep smacking into the words of Thich Nhat Hahn.

The suffering inside us contains the suffering of our ancestors, who may not have been able to transform their suffering…and transmitted their unresolved suffering to us.  If we are able to understand that suffering and thereby transform it we are healing our parents, our ancestors, as well as, ourselves.

The Art of Communicating

No Dirt, No Tree

I have found the mindfulness exercises to be moments of peace and comfort.  I focus on my breathing and in that space acknowledge my sorrow.  I don’t always feel better, or happy, right then.  But I can tolerate the pain, and see a path forward, and with relief know that I will heal, and joy will come.

This Thanksgiving day I am grateful to have experienced human compassion, a listening ear, a tight squeeze of love.  I am grateful, too, for the opportunity to offer that compassion to others, and to my ancestors, as well.  Their suffering is the dirt of my family’s trees, and with mindful genealogy perhaps I can transform their suffering into understanding and compassion – for my grandparents, my parents, for me, for my present companions.