I was out in our yard a few days ago with Ella Bella, our 2-year old grandpuppy. Ella was in her glory, sniffing and exploring, while I immersed myself in the sensory experience of raking. As I created piles of leaves and twigs, I felt I was clearing the way for spring to finally settle in, after a brutally cold and very long winter. I was doing my part to help the transition along. It was empowering to experience the transformation of the yard with each pass of the rake, and soothing to fall into the rhythm of the work.
Suddenly Ella caught my attention, as she ran to the driveway and stood like a statue, one paw poised in mid-air. What had she noticed – a turkey, a deer, a moose? I watched as the mystery revealed itself. It was Gregg, riding up the driveway on his bike, returning from his first ride of the year. Little did I know at that moment that I was about to witness a performance I will never forget.
Ella burst into a wild celebration in honor of Gregg’s return. She took off as soon as he approached and began zooming at top speed, gas pedal to the floor, racing with total abandon and supreme confidence in her athletic abilities. She ran in far-reaching circles around the perimeter of the yard, setting up a loop of celebration, weaving through apple trees and flying over rock walls, again and again with pure reckless joy in full expression.
I have never seen anything quite like it. Ella’s spectacular show was a stunning and spontaneous display of exhilaration, prompted by Gregg’s safe return. Gregg and I clapped and hooted for her throughout the show until she finally, gradually, ran out of steam. Wow. Really. Brava, Ella.
But the point I’d like to make is that I almost missed this experience. I had wanted to stay in the house. I was sad and worried, after diving head first into the news so early in the morning, and then receiving bad news about a loved one. I wanted to wrap myself in my worries and stay put in the house, rather than venture into the bright and sensory world outside. But for some reason (and that reason’s name is Ella), I put on my shoes, grabbed a rake, and became enlivened by the world.
Each moment has its own potential, regardless of the moment before. As long as we stay engaged with the flow, moods can change, sensations can touch us, and experiences can awaken us. But if we become seduced by our state of mind, nurturing it through isolation and withdrawal, we may lose the natural opportunities that life provides for us to recalibrate and to find our balance.
We can take our sadness and worries with us, if they want to come, but let’s hold them with a light touch. Make it possible for a breeze to lift them from you for a while. And be ready, with both hands, to engage or applaud as life reaches out to you.
Linda Anderson Krech, MSW, is the ToDo Institute Program Director. She is the author of Little Dreams Come True and a frequent contributor to Thirty Thousand Days. Linda will be conducting the upcoming program, Solving the Food Koan from June 1-30, 2022.