I have been focusing on recreating a new life and way of being, and part of the Reset is to slow down, see the moment, pay attention to the beauty and greatness each moment brings.
A couple of weeks ago, after autumn had made her presence with rainy, windy days and cool damp nights, there was a brief return to the dog days of summer. On that day, I took Alice and Wil to a private beach on Camano Island near where we were living in our RV. This day was special for so many reasons:
For so many years I found myself so “up-to-my-ears” in duties, responsibilities, and commitments that I lost the precious time I had with my horses and dogs. I changed my life—sold my ranch, downsized my belongings, parked my horses at a training barn in Tonasket while the dogs and I set off to find a new home where life could calm down and we could find Time again.
And so the day on the beach gave us the opportunity to hit the Reset Button.
On that day we walked on the stones just below the grand old trees and other beached debris. We had no plans and no destination.
Wil did not understand our mission. In the 3.5 years I’ve had him, we had never had a day like this—not even an hour. Alice, who grew up with this rhythm, fell into step naturally.
Wil chased seagulls. He stared into the water, fascinated by the rocks that at one moment were exposed and in the next, cloaked by the waves. He was frustrated by the footing in the water—where rocks were not all the same size and he stopped to try to figure out what was tripping him as he waded along the shore. I spent some time teaching him the word “rock” and trying to explain “big” and “small” rocks.
Alice walked close to me, in part because that’s who she is, but compounded by her insecurity as she loses her sight and her hearing. When Wil got too far ahead, we ducked behind a fallen 100 year-old tree—now living the life of beached driftwood. Alice and I squated quietly behind the truck or roots of the great old trees as we waited for Wil to realize we had vanished. Two years ago, he would not have noticed. A year ago he would have noticed, but would not have had a clue what to do about it. For him, these “hide and go seek” moments were impossible to solve—like knowing that the people you love were beamed into Space by the Starship Enterprise. Why bother to look? It was hopeless. But that day he grew another synapse in his brain and somehow discovered that we were still on Earth and therefore he could succeed in finding us.
And he did find us, over and over again. And pretty soon, his range shortened, and he began to look over his shoulder more frequently.
When we were nearly back to our car, I stopped and sat on the beach. The sun was warm, the sky blue, and the water clear and salty. The oceans—Pacific and Atlantic smell differently. The Pacific smells of seaweed—sea lettuce and kelp. I now cannot recall the smell of the Atlantic. I thought about this as I sat with my back against an old snag in sand I’d combed the rocks out of.
Wil did not know what to do. He did not know how to handle this stillness. He paced. He whined. He walked toward the car, then to the water where he watched the waves and tripped over rocks. He returned and circled Alice and me. And after a half hour of this frantic pacing, he collapsed. And he too enjoyed what may have been for him the first time in his life when he had a day where he could just be a dog.
I am thankful that Alice has lived a long and productive life and could help teach Wil what it means to be a human’s partner and best friend. And I am thankful that Wil has figured out how to connect the dots Alice and I have placed for him.