My Dog Is a Zen Master

I arrive home at lunchtime with a 30-minute break from work.  I am hassled and frazzled and tired.  I dump some leftovers in a saucepan while washing the breakfast dishes, starting a load of laundry, and cleaning up the newspapers scattered on the dining room table.

That’s when I see the patch of sunlight, and the yogi.

He can’t cross his legs as human meditators do, but instead sits like a Sphinx, front legs straight ahead, beautiful gold and white furry chest held straight and proud.  His neck rises a bit as he faces me and holds my green eyes into his chocolate brown ones. The expression is wise and all-knowing, and I can hear his thoughts immediately:

Why don’t you calm down, for heaven’s sake? 

The sun is basking his body in heat and light, and his mouth opens to pant.  But actually he is trying to say something to me, like:

Stop.   Look.  Listen.  Life is only this.  Stop.  Look.  Listen.

The timer buzzes, but I ignore it and sit down next to my dog, stroking the warm fur.  I feel the sun melt my tense muscles, my frayed nerves, and my buzzing brain.  I breathe deeply and . . .

Stop

Look

Listen

Slowly, I also become one with the day.

At least for a few minutes.

Weekend Zen

Weekend S.F. Bay sunset

As the sky darkens on a Saturday night, walk me into the house, put a little music on the CD player– Rosemary Clooney, Enya, Vivaldi, the Beatles Rubber Soul– and let the fresh S.F. summer fog meander through the open window. Yes, I’m beginning to get there.

Make the telephone stop ringing, at least turn the volume of the voice mail way down, turn the oven on 350 degrees preheat, open up my closet door so I can change to my well-worn black leggings and soft cotton lavender top. Help me find my rumpled gray socks, and lead me toward the kitchen. Yes, I’m getting there.

Give me an excuse to make my homemade brownies – my son and his family are coming tomorrow for dinner, a friend’s birthday in a day, a neighbor’s dog is sick — and I’ll start to crack the eggs and melt the semisweet chocolate squares, stir in the sugar, drop in a teaspoon of vanilla. As the sweet smells of baking brownies waft through the house, I feel myself getting there.

Husband bangs into the house, racing against the fading light, washes his white-speckled hands under running water, and smiles. He’s had his Zen day out in the yard, pruning, painting, puttering. He kisses me like he means it, then asks in almost the same breath ‘what’s for dinner?’ I point to the eggplant he’s just brought in from our garden, and pick up four round, red, luscious just-plucked tomatoes. ‘Eggplant parmesan?’ I suggest. He hops once with excitement and runs upstairs for a shower. I’m so close I can feel the aura of contentment surround me like a warm coat on a freezing day.

I peel the purple fruit as I listen to Rosemary sing soulfully about love. I dance around the kitchen with a tomato, stopping short as I see the look of concern in my dog’s searching brown eyes. I slice the tomato, feed him the ends, and know he will now love me forever. Then I dip the eggplant slices in egg and breadcrumbs. The telephone rings, and with a sigh, I answer. I smile, though, as soon as I hear my daughter’s voice, just checking in, ending with ‘love you mom.’ Seconds later, my clean-faced husband checks out my dinner preparations, opens a bottle, and hands me a glass of garnet-red wine. ..we toast – “love you” – clink glasses, and I see the colors change around me – the clear lucid light of reality becomes fuzzy with soft rose and warm ivory tones. I’m there. I’ve reached my weekend Zen, and I take a deep breath and soak it in before answering the call of the oven timer.