The Dude

White fur, tawny ears that point up like Yoda’s. Brown eyes that are soft and sweet.

This is my true love. My best friend, my Duder.

My dog.

I hesitate to call him “mine,” because I don’t like the idea that we as humans own dogs. Any more than we own the people we love in our lives. The Dude is my companion, one who just happens to be a dog, and probably even closer to me because of it.

I have a new habit while driving lately. Makes me very happy. It gives that kind of glow I’m sure something like human parents feel when they gaze in silent wonder at their babies in cribs, or watch them take their first steps or graduate high school.

If I tilt the vanity mirror just right, it’s not in my way and I can see Dude in the backseat as we ride. He has a seat belt harness that keeps him secure back there, and while he used to fight it he seems to be more docile about it lately. In fact, if I’m lazy or forget to strap him down, when the ride starts he’ll sit right there in that spot as if he were buckled in.

What a good dog.

So, I glance at Duder in the vanity mirror as we ride. I watch him at stoplights and in traffic, careful to stay mindful of the road and all else important that’s going on.

But I’m sure I’m a better driver while I’m smiling like that.

Dude looks completely in the moment while he’s riding along. He uses all his senses to scope the scene: sniffing at the air, twitching his ears at every little sound, closing his eyes against a breeze if the window’s open. Sometimes he looks a little nervous, but most times he’s smiling. He’ll pant and wag his tongue, point his nose into the air, and at moments look just blissful that we’re doing such a wonderful thing as riding in the car.

He can’t see me watching him, of course, and that’s the beauty thing about this. Normally he’ll connect with whatever person is looking at or talking to him. But the Duder I see in that mirror is just natural, the calm, sweet, zen Duder that I know and very much love. Just breathing it all in and happy to be alive.

What more could a girl ask for in a best friend?

He’s waiting in the car for me now, so it’s time for another ride.

Later, Dude.

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Sing and Swim

Regrets. Regrets?

They say – not good to have regrets.

Regrets are simply things not done that should have been. And there’s often an assumption that there’s no going back again, when something that needed or wanted doing hasn’t been done.

I have very few official regrets in life so far. It’s not that there aren’t things I wish I’d done and hadn’t, it’s just that if I feel that pain – of the NOT doing – I try hard as I might, to do it anyway. Even if much time has passed, and it seems silly/unreasonable/time-consuming/whatever. What’s the sense of having, you know , REGRETS?

So – in terms of personal interests and activities, I officially have two main regrets. I have another (not staying roommates longer with my best girlfriend, while we were in college), but there actually IS nothing I can really do about that now.

The other two?

(1) I wish I’d been on the swim team in high school

(2) I wish I’d followed up on music school while I was

….young enough it still was practical

….on the waitlist at my school of choice

….green enough to pursue it without a second thought.

But alas. In the past, I didn’t actually do either of these things.

What I’d tell my 14-19 year old self now:
DO these things. NOW. And don’t look back.

The past doesn’t work that way, of course.

So, what can I do? What do I do, not to carry these two main (personal) regrets around like a bunch of old stale baggage?

One option is to let them go. Just forget about them, as silly pipe dreams of a past that doesn’t really exist anymore, except in your own imagination.

OR – I can sing. And swim.

This phrasing occurred to me just the other night, while I was doing a kick turn, swimming laps at the local high school pool.

Sing and swim. A mantra for now. I like it.

If I do these things now, it doesn’t matter that I’m not a full-time professional singer or music teacher. Or that I never went all the way to States with my high school swim team, or had one of those long red parkas that I realized (AFTER graduating) that I always wanted.

Just being here now, loving the life I have, and feeling grateful for it all –

I can just sing. And swim.

And be happy for it.

Regret is a handy tool. What a lesson.

The past calling out, “Hey – there are things here that still need doing.”

And the sadness fades away, replaced by sore muscles, swimmer’s ear, scales and warm-ups and chances to sing, sing, sing.

And I’ve found – it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Zen / Not Zen

How do I deal with those days when not feeling all that “zen”?

Usually, my first defense is just to wait it out. Do something to distract my body and mind until the feeling passes. Sometimes it’s just chemical.

The difference between zen bliss and nothingness can be a small shift.

A feeling of emptiness and worry, replaced by attention to something worthwhile.

A beam of sunlight, a loved one’s face. The dog sitting in your lap and begging for attention.

A realization that yes, everything is just fine, doing okay, right in this moment.

Then another moment comes, and another. And though you’re not “zenned out,” you’re fine.

Helps to relax. Breathe. Accept that it’s impossible to feel right on, all the time.

Take a nap?

Maybe.

Just zone out.

Appreciate the pleasures of the moment.

Appreciate the gifts of the not-so-pleasurable realities of the moment.

Whatever I need to do, to get past it, and just remember that it all

Keeps moving on

Keep going on

No matter what,

And I need to just let it

flow.