I’m having a secret love affair. She lives down the road. I don’t know what her name is, but I call her “sweetie.” Sweetie is my neighbor’s yellow lab. I see her several times a week when I am walking or running. She greets me with what seems like a happy recognition, “oh, it’s you! You are my favorite visitor! I’m so happy to see you!”
And she is happy, profoundly happy. Yet, I must admit, that she is not happy to see me–the particular me–she is happy to see anyone. We tend to forget this when we see a creature dancing with ecstatic, spasmodic, plaintive joy. Sweetie is like this–she writhes with delight, she grunts and snorts and roles over on her back, she seems upon the brink of bursting.
Sadly this canine commonality was true even of my own dogs. My greyhound, Cleomi, was a great lover and far more affectionate than loyal. She would have gone home in a stranger’s car. My laconic Rhodesian Ridgeback Ruki, was also an equal opportunity lover. Of course, I shared a profound connection with both of them but they loved in common ways.
Verily, Sweetie demonstrates unconditional love. She reminds me that such unbridled affection is possible–and available in any moment. She shows me unconditional love and I endeavor to show it in return. It is enough to feel this love for a few minutes each visit and then say good-bye. Her reaction will be undiminished the next time I see her. She is pure affection, pure attachment.
We’d do well to embrace the moment with a similar enthusiasm as Sweetie–energetic, non-verbal, and fresh. Whether this moment is the simple movement of our breathing, noticing the landscape, or the embrace of a loved one, Sweetie’s example can move us closer to mindfulness. When all the preconditions stop, when all the expectations cease, when all the memories are dropped, we can just be, and a happy dance may not be far behind!