Experience

I almost get the bends thinking about it, but Max just heard N Sync for the first time. 

Something that added such meaningful spice to my life, that really did shape me (for better or worse), was not even a thing to him until now.

And I hate to admit this even more, but he taught me that one can have a meaningful life and not experience N Sync. Or BSB. Or any celebrity from any millennium. 

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True, these different influences on my life have value and I think it is good to go back and experience what was crazy sexy cool in generations past, but when it comes down to it I can have an equally meaningful life whether I experience them or not. At least Max was still supa dupa fly before listening.  

And this goes for all experiences. Life is more than just experiencing everything for its own sake. We don’t have to be experienced people to be fulfilled people, wise people, loving people. Building significant connections with others is not centered around sharing pop culture experiences until we are black and blue. 

Yes, I think everyone should that know I am beautiful, no matter what they say, but nevermind if you don’t. Max has taught me that we can still be friends, no strings attached. 

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But I think Max did enjoy what I made him listen to, even if he enjoyed it doggystyle, by subtly ignoring it.

And in enjoying the music, Max has also taught me that it is fun and meaningful to grace the lives of others with these songs and the memories they invoke. Maybe that is the important part of having these experiences with music or activities – that they provide an opportunity to share the joyful things in life with others. 

We are not better for having experienced them, we are better for growing closer to others while sharing that experience for the first time or, baby, one more time.

So thank you Max for listening to my 90s music experience. And thank you for teaching me that that experience will not necessarily make your or my life qualitatively better but that it can be a catalyst to deepening relationships, which is well worth it.

By the way, there are at least 12 album titles in this post, in case you didn’t notice.

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Grounded

Max is a dreamer, I’m sure of it. I see how he peers out into the distance, dreaming up ways in which he can finally catch that rabbit taunting him.

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But Max is also very grounded. He doesn’t spend long standing there before he is off again.  

I, on the other hand, get lost in dreams of what could be. And this dreaming is heightened even more as I venture out with Max. 

Now that the weather is nicer I like to take longer walks with Max.  And he seems to enjoy it too.  In being outside more, I realize how captivated I can become of things in nature around me.

During the day time, Max and I share a fascination with birds. I think he usually just wants to chase them, while I stare and marvel at how they function and how cool it would be to be a bird, flying high in the sky.

At night, I often look at the stars. I can see more of them where I live now compared to the past 7 years, and though I know I still can’t see even a small fraction of the depth of beauty of the night sky, it always captivates me.  I don’t think Max gets quite as much out of the stars, but he enjoys being with me.

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As I stare out into the sky, I begin to think again of how cool it would be to be out there, exploring the infinity of space and time, to be lifted out of this world, this reality, and jump right into something totally unknown…geronimo!

And as I get stuck desiring to enter into those experiences of flight or space, Max often tugs me to move along, pulling me out of my reverie.  He keeps my feet on the ground, wherever my head may be.

In doing so, Max has taught me a valuable lesson about dreaming. I am still a fan of getting lost in the wonder of fantastical reverie, but there’s something to be said about staying grounded.

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Max has taught me that as important as such dreaming is, perhaps it is more meaningful to appreciate my reality and allow myself to stop and enjoy space and nature just as it is from my perspective.

For there is nothing unfantastical about what I actually experience everyday.  Space is still a beautiful, unbelievable thing witnessed right from where I stand as I stop to admire it on a nightly walk.  Birds are still incredible and worth a certain degree of amazement even without imagining that I am flying with them.

So thank you Max for dreaming with me and for teaching me that grounded dreams are no less beautiful. Thank you for teaching me to stop and see the wondrous world around me as it really exists, without an escape to made up experiences.

Staying Cool

Max is one hott dog. 

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Now that it is summer, he is especially hot. Despite serious efforts on his part to shed as much hair as possible all throughout my apartment, he is still very hairy and I’m sure that is not very comfortable in the Texas summer heat.

His struggle with being hot has kept me humble and taught me not to complain when I feel hot – especially when I am complaining in shorts and a t-shirt. He, as well as many others, have a much harder time dealing with the heat in the summer than I ever will.

But equally importantly, Max has taught me how to stay cool as the heat continues to increase over the next several months.

He has a rather simple recipe for staying so cool. It involves water and mud.

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He has taught me this lesson several times now, and has also taught me that it is important to employ this method of being cool at the beginning of an outing, not the end.

The first time, we were walking down a long, dusty path. I brought water for him to drink, but that did not do enough to keep him cool. So on the way out he dragged me to a big creek and jumped right in. 

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Then, he finished it off with a nice mud roll.

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Then we had to get in the car, and he taught me that next time we must get wet and muddy at the beginning so that we dry off by the end.

This week, I took him to a dog park and after running around for a while, he found the one mud puddle in the park.  Upon seeing it, he went straight in and dipped the bottom half of his body in like he was in a dog-sized chocolate fondue pot.  

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I guess it feels really nice and it is definitely stylishly cool.

So, thank you Max for teaching me how to stay cool in the summer. And thank you for teaching me how best to deal with you when you decide to cool off. I may or may not employ your method, but here’s to many more muddy memories!

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Inviting

Max is always excited and ready for whatever comes next. He bolts down and up the stairs, eagerly anticipating going out or coming in – especially if he perceives we are going to do something special, like go for a ride in the car or eat dinner.

But lately I have noticed something else he consistently does when rushing to the next exciting thing. He stops and looks back at me.  I notice this most as we come back in from a walk. He runs up the stairs but then almost always stops on the last step and looks back, making sure I am coming along too.

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Even if it only lasts a split second

Even if it only lasts a split second

I interpret this action to mean that he really wants to share with me whatever experience is awaiting us at the top of the stairs.  I guess it could also be that he realizes he cannot get his own food, but I like to think he’s just being a good friend.

I know dogs are social by nature, so this is not unique to Max, but I have still learned a significant lesson from Max’s behavior.  Max has taught me to turn around and invite others to join me.

I enjoy doing things alone, and being in large social settings exhausts me. But with Max’s reminder I see the value in community, the value in inviting others to join me in fun adventures or meaningful work.

Such an inviting attitude makes the activity much more enjoyable and meaningful by means of creating new memories that many can share. But it also changes me for the better. It makes me more welcoming and caring, more attentive to others around me.  It breaks me out of self-absorption and attunes my eyes and heart to the others with whom I share my life.

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Yes, there are times when I need to go lay out on the balcony alone, but when an opportunity arises to invite other along in my life, Max has taught me that I need not pass that by.

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Not only does Max exhibit an attitude of excitement, but he also proves that such excitement is heightened when others are invited along.  He is not merely ready for whatever comes next, he is ready for others to join him in whatever comes next.

So thank you Max, for inviting me to join you in your life’s adventure. And thank you for teaching me to cultivate an inviting attitude and welcoming presence in my own life.