This morning I got up early and did my usual Saturday morning routine when I’m at home: Coffee and some contemplation, followed by the outside chores.
Step one as I sip coffee is to look around the house and yard to take stock of what needs to be done. Once my coffee is done I’ll get to work. This morning that meant putting on my boots and winter gear and heading outside to shovel shit. In summer? Eliminate step one. This shit’s not going to take care of itself.
Chores are a form of meditation if you approach them the right way. Tasks done repetitively, and done well, are a reward in and of themselves, even when that task is shoveling up dog crap. I don’t take pleasure in the process, but in the result it brings. Clean yard, walkway, deck… wherever he’s done his business. Winter with an old dog is tough.
Despite having responsibilities in my teens and twenties, I can point to one event that accelerated my journey to adulthood. I was married to the wrong woman at the time, and had moved to Connecticut with her — literally meeting her halfway between where she’d lived and where I’d lived prior to that. She got a job before I did, and while I looked for a job I worked part-time at Guiding Eyes for the Blind cleaning dog kennels. Nothing offers perspective like realizing you’re in a bad marriage while shoveling the crap out of 30 kennels, hosing them down and then going outside to clean up the outdoor kennels they occupied while you were cleaning the indoor kennels. Day after day while you look for a job in a place where you know next to nobody.
I thought that, until I became a parent, thankfully in a great marriage the second time around, where changing diapers became one of my primary roles. Explosive diarrhea blows out a diaper? Clean it up and change their clothes. Son’s explosive diarrhea up the entire sleeve of your dress shirt? Clean it up and change your shirt. Daughter’s barium enema leaks out all over your dress shoes? Clean it up and buy new dress shoes. Shit happens.
So now, with an older dog who tends to shit while he’s walking somewhere to take a shit, there’s a lot of cleanup again. But I have perspective on what cleanup can be. Not optimal but not so bad. Bodhi is one of many to teach me a lot about myself over the years. Certainly patience was a key lesson as he went from his adolescent years to his adult years to his senior years. He’s teaching me a final lesson. Today it’s him. Someday it may be me.
But not today. The shit’s cleaned up, the bird feeders are filled. Snow is falling now, adding a coating of white over the places I’d just cleaned. Looking over at the feeders I see three bluebirds taking turns at one of the feeders. It’s going to be a good day.