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Finding Joy

November 3, 2007

This is a portrait of one of my favorite ‘clients.’ She is, without reservation, one of the most charming dogs I’ve ever met. I looooooove this doggie. When I come in to take her for a walk, she nearly jumps out of her skin in ecstacy. When she runs around her backyard, she prances like a deer, every inch of her on high alert. And then turns and races back to me, leaping into my arms with such intense joy and happiness, it causes my heart to literally skip. You can’t help but feel happy around her. She’s one of those dogs who is intensely focused on both the outer world, and at the same time, the people around her — which means that while we’re out for a walk, she’s constantly checking out every single nook and cranny and chasing every leaf, and then quickly checks back with me every few feet, to make sure I’m still there. I feel like I’m essential to her experience of the walk.

But really, what’s she so excited about? A walk to the park. Running around her back yard. Flopping on the couch. Getting some chow. A treat. Some snuggles. She’s thrilled with this life. She’s the luckiest, happiest dog in the world.

I’m thinking I could learn a few lessons here. Yesterday and this morning I have been feeling very sad. Lots of unknowns, weighing me down. Unsure how to proceed. Then I went and walked this little doggie. I felt a little better. I came home and looked stuff up on the internet. I felt worse. I started thinking about the little cutie again. Felt better.

You can make yourself feel pretty bad by thinking of all the things you’re “never going to do.” Sometimes, you gotta go there. But I don’t want to live there. I’m thinking about all the things that bring me joy on a daily basis. What’s my park, my walk, my yard, my couch, my treats?

Fiddling around in the kitchen. Drawing, having lots of art supplies around me. Making stuff. Working out (I have to get over this gym thing, because I like doing the weights). Seeing friends for dinner. Making the house cozy. Reading good books. Snuggles with Terri and the girls. Being the victim of Terri’s pranks.

These are things that bring me joy. The other things, the Big Ticket Items: travel, house, kid, etc. — who knows? I love travelling, but it is tiring, expensive, and requires a lot of energy. House and kid… we’re getting there. And there’s no guarantee that either of those will make me any happier. But my life? It’s not so bad. When I think about what really makes me happy, I’ve got a lot of it already. It’s totally within my power to choose to do those things that make me happy. Isn’t there a saying, something about how the key to happiness is to stop comparing your self, your life, your job, your house? Something like that.

So anyway. Sometimes life hands you things you don’t know how to handle. Sometimes they’re wrapped in pretty yucky packaging. I don’t know what’s around the corner. But I’ve got a pad of paper and some pretty rockin’ pens, and a holiday card to design and draw. And a gym to jog to. And a sweet partner who loves to hide underwear in my purse. And I get to visit this little doggie, who just shines with joy, just walking to the park. Just flopping on the couch.

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