If it is possible, epiphany unfolded today in the pungent scent of my aging dog. Swept up in his loving haunting of my steps, drawn into memory of my grandmother’s loving gaze, and the grief wrapped around both of their passing. As these beings slip away from me, I remember most strongly how they loved. Under my grandmothers gaze I could be loved unequivocally, unconditionally. Utterly. This was her talent I most adored, and most remember after her death. And my smelly, sedentary, snuffling Staffy? He has both the talent of loving, and being loved. This small smelly being! How his daily existence evolves around being attended to and loved. And even now that his legs give way and he walks always at a disorienting angle- still he lifts himself up to greet me, and falls a thousand times to follow me around the house.
So this perhaps is what life is about. How well can I love? I am learning that this is a daily practice that starts, and must start, by first extending this love to all the parts of myself. To sit with, and accept, all my own thoughts, neuroses, waves of emotions, and experiences with grace, humour, equanimity and love. Love cannot be a setting aside of self, rather, an opening into a more expansive understanding of Self, boundless and entirely unseparated from the world around me. From this place, love is not a task, or an effort, but reflexive, a natural and unconscious response.
So clearly my 15-year-old Staffy is more enlightened than me, as he sits, and snuffles, at the end of his life. He reflexively exudes love, and does not shy away from the adoration I cuddle into him.
He does however, have very bad gas.