mastering the moment

Joy is…

She stands, head leveled at an unseen, felt, impending stirring, and she whines a little, nothing unusual. She whines a little more, and I look up to see her one front paw rising a little from the ground as if she’s trying out a new step or offering finally to let me clip her nails. I absurdly notice that her claws are clipped evenly, at about the same time that I see that she has started to tremble and that now her other paw is coming up, and now she is starting to flop for the door.

It’s like this when she has a seizure: She wants out. She paddles down the steps on her chest and belly, flopping onto the grass. I hold her barrel, her middle, her shoulders, while she steps and writhes, panting carefully, the seizure not taking control of her breathing.

She’s drooling now. Her eyes are unfocused amber lozenges, root beer, maybe, open. She knows instinctually to surrender to the waves and gyrations, and to allow me to hold her up, then help her lower to a crouch while the last small waves shudder out in a tremble.

I keep my hands on her, one on her haunch and one on her shoulder. “Mama’s here,” I murmur, “Mama’s here,” while she catches her breath and the focus returns to her placid eyes. I put my face close to hers and she licks my muzzle. I plant a kiss on her snout, leaving her to recover on the grass while I pick up pen and resume my writing, one eye on the page, one eye on the dog. She keeps one eye on me, too, then gives up a sigh as I pick up the pen. We are each exactly where we are supposed to be.

Soon we are bathing in Tuesday, wind a-swirl around us, all of life a-stir and unsettled. We two companions, take it in, doing that look-across-at-you-and-there-you-are-being-you-oh-goody thing we have shared ever since she barked and scolded her way into my car all those years ago. I often wonder if she had already made up her mind to end her days as a runaway, or if, like me, her life lived itself out through her, despite her intentions.

I don’t feel I’ve chosen anyone, the mother I was born to and now am helping take care of, or the dog I adopted who now has seizures twice a year. I don’t feel I’ve chosen anything about me, whoever that is. I feel I am as intimate with others as I can be with the moment we share, and as related to others as the items on God’s to-do list.

Everything works better with a minimum of drama and thought, when heart and hands are free to act on instinct, and nobody understands why or how, or needs to. This is what is meant by simplicity, not that there aren’t details to untangle and ramifications to understand, but that within the myriad eventualities and actualities there can be a still, calm center that does what it does in response to what is, then simply waits, ready for the next moment.

It’s why Honey-Bear can have a seizure one minute, take a nap, then be back to digging up chipmunk tunnels the next. And why I can pick up the pen and resume my encounter with the blank page.

The last thing I wrote was, “I think I love being conscious when I am and miss it when I’m not. I love the present moment more than I thought I could love.” Today, the freedom to live in that deeper, truer place, on the page and in the moment, is my joy and all the evidence I need of grace.

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