My son and I recently adopted a puppy – a rescue from the local animal control. It is a heartbreaking place to visit, as all of the animals look so hopeful, so generous, so lovable. I have never before had the privilege of living with a dog, and it is different from any previous relationship that I have experienced. Ruby is about five or six months old, and she is full of life. She attached herself to us and to our home instantaneously, no questions asked. Her confidence in herself and in us is astounding. Her approach to life is so simple; she gives herself to us and to the world, including great love and affection, and she desires love and affection in return. Although sometimes she growls and play bites, she is the essence of dogginess – she lives and loves. As I observe her and how happy she is to lie at my feet while I read, draw, eat a meal, I understand why humans love dogs so much. It is a great joy and relief to have a companion who asks so little of us yet who gives all of who she is. I want to be more like Ruby!
Currently, I am reading a book by Pema Chodron called “The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness“. I am still in the first chapters, but already I am struck by her approach to life and to self. Pema Chodron (http://pemachodronfoundation.org/) runs her own Buddhist monastery and is the author of several books. The author talks about workshops on meditation. She explains that while most of us want to be better than who we are now and feel that if perhaps we improve ourselves, our appearance, our inner qualities, that somehow we will be happier and better people. Her approach is to simply enjoy ourselves as we are, with all of our flaws, foibles, and quirks. To accept ourselves as we are, to be gentle with ourselves – with our anger, our jealousy, our judgment of self and others, our whims, desires…things we like and dislike about ourselves. It sounds like a very peaceable process…and I think, how relaxing it would be to be satisfied with myself and to simply enjoy being in my own presence.
In this way, this young puppy is a good teacher and companion for me, because she enjoys my presence and does not require me to save the world, be beautiful in ways that I am not, be thin, make a lot of money, or even be funny. She just needs me to be there with her, and she is happy. I want to like me the way Ruby likes me.