It’s easy to walk around with our heads down, shut off from the world.
We shelter ourselves with earbuds and cell phones. We believe we participate in everyday reality but let’s face it – the majority of us immerse ourselves in manmade media that is the source of incredible angst.
When was the last time you felt relaxed after a day of social media and digital communications?
My guess is – never. I’m not a purist, I like to keep up with interesting social media feeds just as much as the next person. But I’ve had an interesting revelation and to paraphrase the poet Robert Frost, it has made all the difference. What happened?
I rediscovered the world through my dog’s nose.
It first happened one day about 6 am. It was a bitter cold New England morning and I was bundled up walking along the canal waiting for my dog to do his business. I was dreaming about returning to my warm living room when I noticed him lifting his nose in the air, sniffing the wind. I wondered what on earth he could be smelling. Then I realized – it was spring!
He could smell the earth turning to mud, the wind shifting, the birds coming alive and the water changing. When I followed his nose and looked down, I could see the tiniest sprigs of grass poking through the hardened earth. Well, well, I thought, look what his nose just taught me.
Then it was game on. I paid attention. What would my dogs show me today?
I began to look at my surroundings in an entirely new light and eagerly anticipate our forays outside. I stopped taking my phone with me. I stopped wearing earbuds. I looked at, and listened to, the world with my dogs as my guide, and what a wonderful world I rediscovered. It is teaching me to open my senses again, to refresh the powers of observation I had as a child.
With my dogs as my tour guides, memories of my childhood came flooding back. They were triggered by the scents and sounds of the outdoors.
- As I watched a thin skin of ice melting on the canal, I remembered how much I used to love to put popsicle sticks in the water running just under the melting lip of a snowbank.
- When I watched the leaves turning color, I remembered how the berries on the bushes outside our house would overripen and make the birds drunk.
- As I watched the grass grow, I remembered the sound of my father’s lawn mower and the smell of newly mown grass.
- When I heard the birds sing on a cold morning, a rush of nostalgia made me feel homesick, just like I used to whenever I heard that sound, at that temperature, in college.
Even if you don’t have to walk a dog, venture outside and leave your phone and earbuds at home.
Let your senses reawaken to the sights and sounds of nature. It‘s like a spa day for your eyes, ears, and nose. It will bring you back to the seminal basics of human experience on this planet – connecting with the environment around us.
I think we are all exhausted.
Exhausted from trying to keep up with the news, to react or not react, to be reasonable or let off steam, to process or reject it. The volume, idiocy, and noise of the information with which we are bombarded every day is taking its toll on all of us.
Imagine my surprise … when a dog’s nose led me to a calmer, more serene space.