Walking the Dog

“Art comes to you proposing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass.” --Walter Pater

That quote hung above my desk, at the well-known art museum where I worked, in my late twenties. I’d left a highly creative environment in advertising where autonomy and spontaneity reined, for a much more stoic and formal atmosphere. And while centuries of creative exploration adorned the walls of the galleries downstairs, they had very little to do with my day-to-day duties upstairs, I quickly found out. 

Somewhere during that time I discovered that quote and it resonated. It was the beginning of me, defining for myself, what art was and my relationship to it. And so, when my mind would lock in a mental maze of regret, or worse, boredom, I would make the time to walk amidst the Monets and Manets. To let my mind wander, before returning to my 4x4 “office” overlooking a concrete wall.

The quote was my reminder: Take a walk.

These days, a quote isn’t necessary to remind me to walk. Now, I have Daisy, my furry affectionate, not-a-labradoodle labradoodle (fodder for another blog). There’s nothing like a four legged companion to dictate strolls at the beginning and end of the day. Walking a dog, like writing a book, requires routine dedication. Regularity helps things along.

When Daisy first arrived at our house, I read all the books. The ones that tell you exactly how to train your new pet. In each volume, there were chapters on walking. Instructions on how to show my new pup who was boss. But the endless steps required in a day already full of obligation, left me just wanting to walk, with my dog. So I did. 

Consequently I would often have to run to keep up, leash tugging against her collar. Finally, one day on a whim, I dropped the leash while frantically grasping the handful of treats in my pocket, in case she darted and I needed to will her back.

But instead, a funny thing happened. Daisy looked up at me, as if to ask: "What’s up?" Then, miraculously kept stride by my side. That’s how we’ve walked ever since. I’m pretty sure that was the intention of all the instructions in the how-to books, we just got there a little later, in our own way. 

The other night, on a right-before-bed trip around the cul-de-sac, Daisy abruptly stopped mid-walk and looked up. Which, of course, caused me to stop and look up too. There we stood, both transfixed by the most amazing full moon. I might have dutifully taken her out, mentally checking the walk off the to-do list, never seeing the bright orange harvest moon hovering above me, had it not been for Daisy. Dogs have a magical way of guiding their masters too, I’ve found.

Yes, these days, Daisy, comes to me proposing frankly that I give nothing but the highest quality to my moments as we walk.

And for that I am eternally grateful. Because all these years later, I now know just how fast those moments pass.