Tuesday, January 24, 2023

January 24: "Percy (One)," Simple Things, Still Positive

Mary Oliver's new dog . . . 

Percy (One)

by:  Mary Oliver

Our new dog, named for the beloved poet,
ate a book which unfortunately we had
     left unguarded.
Fortunately it was the Bhagavad Gita,
of which many copies are available.
Every day now, as Percy grows
into the beauty of his life, we touch
his wild, curly head and say,

"Oh, wisest of little dogs."

It's good to trust in the wisdom of simple things like a hardboiled egg or glass of cold water or spring robin or puppy joy.  These kinds of things bring us pleasure.  Fill our stomachs.  Quench our dry tongues.  Remind us that winter is over.

Of course, we don't live in a world that values simplicity very much.  That's because most of our modern challenges are multi-faceted.  Take climate change, for instance.  The human race is destroying the planet.  Polar ice caps are melting.  Extinction occurs daily.  Air becomes unbreathable.  Water, undrinkable.

Now, each person can do simple things to combat climate change.  It's a matter of changing our habits.  We could drive less.  Recycle.  Eliminate fossil fuels.  Focus on renewable energy.  That's just the tip of the iceberg, which itself is disappearing at an alarming rate.  Our ability to embrace these changes depends on what we value:  Clean air or an SUV?  Clean water or an oil pipeline?  Miles of forest or miles of highways?  Take your pick.

Percy gets it.  The beauty of his life is all about living in the moment, focusing on simple pleasures.  Barking at the squirrel in the tree, car driving down the street, snow falling from the sky.  Chewing up that book lying open on the couch.  That's Percy's wisdom.

And that is drastically different from what usually resides in my head most days.  I thought I was going back to work tomorrow after five days of quarantine.  Sure, I still have a cough, but I always get a persistent cough this time of year.  It usually lasts until spring.  After I dropped my son off at school and wife at work this morning, I drove home and decided to take another COVID test, just to prove that I was better.

The first positive COVID test I took last Friday showed just a very, very faint second line.  If I hadn't looked closely, I would have missed it.  Today, there was no mistaking the second purple line.  I am still positive.  Which means, unless I test negative tomorrow morning, I'm probably going to be teaching online and working from home for the rest of the week.

I am not happy at the moment.  This weekend, I'm supposed to play for three church services and host a meeting of my book club on Sunday night.

As I sit on the couch typing this post, my dog is sleeping next to me.  She is fully stretched out, her legs twitching in some kind of dog dream, probably about chasing a rabbit or waves on a beach.  She's not stressed about work or dinner or school.  When she's hungry, she will eat.  When she's tired, she will sleep.  When she's bored, she will nose my hand with her snout until I reach over and rub her ears.

That's her contentment and wisdom.  The beauty of her life.  The future doesn't really exist for her.  She's just concerned about those tempting pages in the Bhagavad Gita--the ones she can put in her mouth and chew right now.  After that, who cares?

Maybe I need to take more naps.  Chase more squirrels.  Jump in more snowdrifts.  Maybe I need to stop thinking about tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  It didn't help MacBeth or his wife.  

Instead, at least for the rest of the day, Saint Marty is going to think about now, and now, and now so that tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow will be much brighter.

1 comment:

  1. Hope you feel better soon.

    And speaking of simplicity, the background makes this post hard to read.