Friday, April 4, 2008

Walk with Everything

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
(Henry David Thoreau)

I let Duncan lead the way again today––this glorious, bright and beautiful April day––and he walked me down Pierce, past Columbine to Polk, where we've walked before, but not since the heat of Summer had just passed and Autumn was on its way. We'd bypassed the trail there and walked through the neighborhood instead, where we could smell grilling burgers and hear the sounds of families sitting down to dinner or TV, or both, and came out just south of Clement Park, near the lake and the hillside prairie dog town. Today, however, Duncan pulled me up the trail through the Lilley Gulch greenbelt, which follows the path of a narrow creek, not full but babbling and trickling over rocks, wending its way through tall yellow and red reeds, under small bridges, and between grand willow trees, their long vines hanging low, swaying softly and just beginning to bud. The sun was in my face and my sunglasses kept slipping down my nose so I closed my eyes and did that thing I sometimes do when I pretend I'm blind just to see how well Duncan will guide me.

Our discovery of the park had seemed rich enough but blind it was like the whole world opened before me. The sun was still bright and warm on my face and even with my eyes closed I could "see" a yellow glow before me. The calls of the birds magnified, as did their rustling in the tall grass along the creek, their hops and skips along the wet rocks and downed branches lining its shallow bank. I wish I knew birds better so I could share, give them their proper names so that even in print their voices could be heard. There were flitting, nervous little kilddeer, though, and sparrows, robins, doves, poetic and cautious, woodpeckers drumming the trunks of trees. There were so many birds, so many sounds that the symphony of them brought a smile to my face, something that could not be contained and burst from me as a sudden and surprising laugh that seemed unnatural for a moment and heard by anyone else would've labeled me as crazy, but even it was beautiful and harmonized almost perfectly with the chorus around me. The creek didn't mind, nor did the birds, and the squirrel, who lounging on a low branch in a tree, draped and lazy, unmoving, only yawned and continued his meditation. It was joy, simple and fine, sudden and perfect.

I was recently asked how I'm able to take something as mundane as walking a dog and turn it into adventure and discovery, even on those walks when nothing happens. "It must be your words," I was told. "You're a story-teller; it's something you've learned to do." The secret is not the story or the language, the secret is nothing. Nothing is what I strive for, the whole point of the walk. Being empty means you can only be filled. It's the something that leads you astray, that distracts and bends your spirit away from the poetry of exploration and discovery. Walk with nothing and you walk with everything.

That is the wisdom of dogs. That is why they are our best friends. They have many lessons to teach and we have much to learn.


Murphy's Mom said...

Reading your entry today made me take a deep breath and sigh, and smile. Thanks.

Lori said...

In the book "Bones Would Rain From The Sky," they discuss the experience of walking your dog. Most people just attach their dog to them by a leash, both in their own worlds, and if the leash has any role at all, it is to control and restrict. The author says you have to BE with your dog on the walk, and that cooperation and emotion needs to travel both ways on that leash. You are WITH Duncan when you walk. That is the goal, and it's priceless.

Charlie said...

What super walks you two have. And Duncan's beautiful!

Charlie, strangely enough, is afraid to walk very far from the house. The farther we get from it, the more often he looks back as if to assure himself he can get home.
- Anne

Lori said...

Well said. I recently discovered a new book about a golden retriever and the beauty he brought to the author's life. It's "Mostly Bob" by Tom Corwin. Neat book.