Today I took my dog, Tinker, outside at his insistence, interrupting a bothersome household chore. Is there anything more annoying than getting interrupted when you just want to be done with a task? I hope I hid my annoyance from Tinker. He’s a timid little soul, and I never raise my voice with him. Love makes us patient.
But when we got outside—oh! I realized it was a glorious day. A sky of deep, pure azure arced overhead, traveled by the kind of fluffy white clouds that make you want to throw yourself on your back, and search for flying animals. The temperature was perfect, at least for me. My optimum running temp is around 72F, and so it must have been. A soft breeze traced its way through the boughs of the trees, and tiny birds, bursting with song, flitted from branch to branch. All unexpectedly, I’d found a moment of happiness.
Sages and wise men say there’s only the present moment. The past doesn’t really exist, save in memory. The future is something we never quite reach, because we’re always here—inhabiting this one instant of time amidst a storm of other instants. And that’s why we need to be present in the moment.
Easy to say. I find it a lot more difficult to accomplish, when I’m distracted by things I want to do, like a story I want to write, or things I have to do—that unending train which seems to claim, always, my attention. But if life consists of only moments, what’s to say we don’t owe it to ourselves to step away for one—or several—of them? To look at the sky. At the weeds in the lawn that masquerade as beautiful flowers. At the dragonfly patrolling the yard and keeping the mosquitos away. At the perfect fall of sunlight, and the balance of day and night, and the sheer, aching amazing wonder of being alive?
I stood in the grass while Tinker performed his little trick of lying down for no reason, and refusing to move. He has a reason. He’s a dog, and perhaps far wiser than I am. Deep in his doggy soul, he may know the value of seizing this moment, for the next one might be frightening, or full of hunger, or danger. And anyway, the next moment doesn’t really exist.
Happiness may not be a constant, after all, no matter how hard we search for it. Instead, it may be a string of moments, precious as the beads of dew on grass, and as fleeting. These moments are what we will remember when it all ends, and we flow into the sea of infinite light.