I’ve often wondered what makes dogs seem so happy.
At least some dogs.
But Max is overwhelmingly happy looking. So, I asked him why.
And he actually answered, though it took me a little while to understand his answer.
He lay down on the couch with a toy in his mouth and stared at me. (Sometimes the most revealing answers are not statements at all.)
So, I thought about what in Max’s life is so different from mine that joy always prevails over despair or worry or anger? What does he do that I do not?
I am a dreamer, so I make lots of plans. I understand many of those plans will never come to fruition, but I still expect most of them to happen, whether in my job or personal life. But many times it feels more like a fight to get things going. I plan and plan and plan and then fight to get the plans working and then wear myself out and get frustrated when things don’t work out.
So, Max, what am I doing wrong?
I saw in that moment of lying and waiting a disposition that naturally allows for more joy and less frustration. Max is present in a way that I have not been. He looks for opportunities to emerge and enjoys them when they happen. He may still expect certain things, like evening walks, dinner, and loving affection, but he waits patiently for those opportunities and then takes advantage of them.
He has a patient presence that allows him to perceive opportunities.
That is what I have been lacking. That is what all my unswerving planning has blinded me from.
So, it’s not about lowering or annihilating expectations. It’s not about ceasing to plan things – that still has to happen. But it is about allowing room to observe, to be aware of the opportunities already going on, to lift my eyes up from carving my plans in stone to see which mountain I am walking up, to see the beautiful world of possibilities around me, to be present.
Thank you Max, for teaching me to be patiently present.