Poor you. How are you holding up? You must be so tired. Got a lot on your plate, huh?
I’ve been hearing a lot of this lately as I finished up a rather challenging contract for work. I was receiving much more concern and pity than I needed. And every time I heard it, I kept thinking, “Wow, my life is so hard and I haven’t really noticed it. I should be much more stressed and tired.” But I wasn’t. Not all the time. Sometimes I was feeling like I had a full plate, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed. The world of people I met reflected back a much more heavy weight than I was feeling.
Yesterday morning, when I was walking my dog, he did what he often does. He picked up the biggest stick he find and joyfully carried it. He’s a Portuguese Water Dog, which is a working breed. When he’s working he is happy. He carries his stick proudly.
A few times a week I take him to Dallas Rd in Victoria which is this beautiful walkway along the water here in Victoria. There is a 5 km chunk that is off leash for dogs on this trail. His habit on the walk is to start out with playing. He prances, jumps, runs, meets other dogs and he has a general sniff party for the first 20 minutes of the walk. On the second half of the walk back to the car he usually looks for a stick and he goes into work mode and he carries it proudly all the way to the parking lot.
I noticed a few things yesterday about what my dog has to teach me. One, he plays first, then works. Why don’t I do that? What a thought! Have fun first then, when that energy is gone, settle into the work.
For my dog, Hudson, after the run and jump fest he comes to his work and he is calm, centered and ready to go.
I might need to make this shift in my day too.
The other interesting thing I noticed was how people we passed reacted to his stick carrying. On this particular walk, he found a stick that was almost as big as he was. Here he is pictured below, proudly carrying this crazy big stick. He could only carry it a little way and he’d have to put it down and start again. No one walking by us looked at him with pity. Everyone who came across him with this ridiculous hunk of wood in his mouth smiled at him and seemed charmed and amused. How come when I seem to have a big work load (or stick, to use the metaphor of the dog), I get pity and worry. And when my dog seems to have taken on a bigger load than he can carry he gets smiles and laughs and warmth?
I’ve been thinking about this. Maybe it’s my nature, like my dog, to enjoy a busy life with lots in it. Maybe I’m not suffering when to many people I may look overloaded. Maybe I’m a working dog breed and to friends who are lap dogs my life looks crazy? On the walk with Hudson I watched people delight in seeing a big dog living it’s nature and carrying his big stick. Working hard with a sense of fulfillment. It isn’t a burden. It is his nature and he is happiest doing it. It has made me question my own nature. What is my nature around work load and busy?
Next time you see me doing 6 different jobs and still inventing new projects, I won’t listen to your concern or fear for my well-being. I’ll happily tell you “I’m happy. I’m living my nature to its’ fullest”.