It is a bright, warm day in my smallish backyard. The sun is shining, new grass has sprouted, squirrels and birds flit over and between bare tree branches.
This is a wonderful place to while away a few hours — especially if you are a five-month-old puppy. There are sticks to chew on, a big, full bowl of water, even a couple of chickens to watch from the corner of your eye.
But what is our mostly cheerful rescue pup doing? Lying as close to the back door as she can, whining. Sometimes she takes a break to bark and paw at the handle.
It’s not like she was any happier inside. She was done sniffing the kitchen floor, sick of napping in her crate, bored with her chew toys.
Outside, there’s dirt and smells and leaves to chase. But Bailey cannot embrace any of the good that surrounds her. Because she is worried that her humans won’t return. Because she is lonely. Because she wishes her day were going differently than it is.
Which I totally get. Since I have pretty much spent the last eight months whining, too.
For sure, there’s been plenty to mourn in 2020. I don’t want to minimize that. The worry. The lives lost. The paychecks gone in a blink.
But if I think honestly about how I spend much of my day, there is plenty of positive.
Just like Bailey, I have sunshine and grass (and trails to hike and stars to watch and a fire pit to gather ’round). I have my humans (even if I have to connect via phone or computer rather than in person). I have books — and more time to read them. I have fresh food from the farmers market and a world of recipes at my fingertips. My kids are moving forward — not as we had imagined, but forward nonetheless.
So in this month that has been set aside for giving thanks, I am striving to be more aware of the little things that bring me joy — the hour or so of quiet I’m finding in my day to recharge, the feeling of satisfaction when my work of stitching words together turns out well, the fiery pineapple sage flowers blooming beside my patio.
And I am trying to be the kind of puppy that, when my human takes me outside and leaves me there, I move past my disappointment and loneliness. Instead of whimpering pitifully, I want to run in the open space and jump at the moth darting by. Even though I’d rather this moment included my favorite people and lots of laughter, I’m working to stop my dreaming and focus on what is.
Right here, right now, what is good?
Because soon enough, someone will walk to the back door to let Bailey know it’s time for her beloved walk through the neighborhood and a tasty dinner and snuggles on the couch. Her hours of waiting will be over.
I just want to be the puppy that finds a way to embrace the time I can’t control, not the puppy that whines it away.