I take a sunrise walk with my dogs every morning. Myrna, the German Shepherd mix and SideKick Rudy, the corgi, eagerly harness up after we do our morning sing-a-long (the three of us, along with Buckles the PTSD Jerkasaurus Chiweenie mix who will NOT let me put harness on him) gather in a circle to howl for about 30 seconds. It’s a bonding time for us and is probably a little weird… okay – a lot weird.
The three of us enjoy the walks immensely and integrating them into our morning routine early this spring has been a game changer in my quest toward achieving my life goals. I use the time to clear my mind, to work on pressing issues of relationship and career, or maybe to interpret a dream the night before. I practice conversations will have later about issues I need to address. I plan meals and projects. I make notes on my phone and add things to my calendar. My feet are walking down Sewell Avenue, but my mind is always miles away.
Yesterday, after listening to an inspirational podcast – this particular one on being “present in the moment” otherwise known as mindfulness – I decided to take the sunrise walk sans earbuds. I would be present in my walk, listen to the things around me, really see my environment, smell the aroma, feel the humidity, the heat, the breeze. If we think about it, taking pictures is not being in the moment. Taking pictures is future thinking. We will look at it later. We plan to post it on social media. We anticipate what the post will say, how many likes and comments we will get. These days, almost everything we do, everything we experience, we view through the lens of how it will look on Instagram. I decided I would keep my phone in the runners pack I wear and just be there on the walk and whatever the walk would bring.
I have taken this walk every morning for months, but there was so much I was missing. There is a large house at the beginning of one street with an beautiful lawn. It looks like an English garden with manicured shrubbery, lattice work and tasteful stone statues. What I never noticed before was the house across the street. There are fake palm trees in the backyard, an out of order hot tub in the driveway, odd furniture and whirligigs. I imagine the English garden people very much resent the fake palm tree people and in my mind a story developed this hillbilly family who lived there and brought out something new for the backyard every time the English people complained. I imagined his garage filled with things from the Dollar Store just “waiting for the woman to complain.” Then I had to stop myself and bring myself back to the moment. Getting lost in the imagination is not being mindful.
Further down the street I wonder if the owner of the freshly mowed lawn realized they had a bent mower blade. If they do, I hope they don’t fix it because it created a really cool herringbone effect in the grass. I wondered if I could bend my own mower blade and create such a work of art.
Because I was not wearing my earbuds I was able to hear the little blue heeler before I saw him. As he started to bolt across the street to greet the three of us, I noticed the approaching cars. With all the authority I could must I help my palm up to him and shouted “Stop.” I was delighted that he did, indeed stop. So did the approaching cars. That felt very powerful. Using the same authority I told the pup to go back home and giggled to myself when he did just that. SideKick Rudy gave me a backward glance as if to say “Damn Gina.” I like blue heelers. They are great dogs. But sometimes they can be overpowering to other dogs and, since I don’t know this guy, it was better for him to go home. I whispered a “Good boy” to him in my heart, so as to give him good feedback but not to encourage him to try crossing the street again. I like to think I saved a life by being mindful.
I had never noticed the stand of cattails near the creek in front of the vacant lot, or the morning glories who had gotten lost on their way to the fence and were now just laying low along the road. I had never seen the stone gate that leads to no where, or the pears hanging just high enough to keep me from picking one. There is a dark old house behind a fence with three “beware of dog” signs, and it occurred to me that I have never seen or heard a dog there. There is no dog for which to be aware. The signs are bluff.
I enjoyed all the flora and fauna. Birds, lizards, toads, their sights, sounds and smells.
The grandest discovery of all? The yard with the IHOP sign attached to the fence. An actual vintage sign from the days when the restaurant was called “International House of Pancakes. How long had this been there? I have no idea. I also do not know how long this same residence has had toy Tonka trucks attached to the fence, along with the rusty scooter, the antique metal plates and sundry vintage household goods. Just…. attached to the fence. What world crisis was I solving on prior days that would have prevented me from seeing these details? And was the crisis worth solving at this price?
Of course, I had to go back today and take a picture, or two.