At eleven years old, "Snow" is beginning to show his age. He sleeps more. He barks less. He thinks twice before making any unnecessary movements.
And so it's begun this past year, that he's even begun to cut down on our walks.
Part of the routine here at our treetop home is frequent breaks to clear the cobwebs that develop as we go about the multiple tasks involved in our home office. After several hours, our heads become so jammed with minutia, that we need to escape from it for a while. So we'll take a walk. This is heaven for a dog who thinks nothing is better than chasing after new sights and smells.
At least that's how Snow used to think.
Recently, he's started to decline opportunities. Or cut them short and head home himself, halfway through our route.
He's followed along so often that he knows the routine, even the occasional variations we take to keep things fresh. So on those days when he's perfectly comfortable where he is, he saves himself the trouble of the journey, knowing that soon enough, we'll show up right back here anyway.
The dog has learned, that no matter which path we take, all roads lead back to the place where we started.
Why is that so easy for the dog to understand and so difficult for us to see?
No matter what the journey, what the new venture, no matter how far afield we travel, we always return to our starting place - ourselves. New jobs, new relationships, new material goods, or new travels do nothing to permanently fill the emptiness that drove us to seek external changes. Under closer examination, most of these new activities in which we engage are merely efforts to escape - escape from our own fears of lack, disapproval from others or low esteem for ourselves.
We chase the almighty dollar in the mistaken belief that given enough money, we'll receive peace of mind. Enough money, we think, will allow us to quit that job, get away from those neighbors, flee that uncomfortable situation and we'll find happiness. No further worries. "Security," will erase those fears. We'll have freedom. Peace of mind.
We can't escape ourselves. We can only change ourselves. Look around. How many go from job to job, leaving behind a pattern of similar complaints everywhere they've worked? How many divorce, only to find similar problems in the next marriage? How many move, only to discover they're just as unhappy in the new location as they were in the old?
Changing an external situation in an effort to "become happy," is like putting dry pants over a pair of wet ones. There's no comfort without changing the inside pair first. Wherever we go, we bring ourselves along.
Here in the treetops, we typically walk from our home, down to the road and then return again. Snow has reached the point where he knows immediately where the trip is going to lead - and end. And he's increasingly choosing not to make the effort. Why dash about exerting all that energy if it's just going to lead back to the place he's already content with in the first place?
I used to think he was merely getting lazy. Now I'm beginning to realize, that he just might have achieved the greatest discovery of all - peace of mind.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz