Death and Lessons from my Puppy


I received an email this morning from a cousin letting me know that her brother just passed. I have a lot of cousins because my grandmother was one of 14. I don’t really know them. But still. The news sat heavy in my heart. I had just begun clicking through my emails and this one was at the top. I paused. Suddenly everything I was doing felt really insignificant.

His sister was holding his hand when he passed. I could feel it and picture it. In the end, that connection was the most important thing.  I doubt that anyone cared whether his email box was cleaned out or how many Facebook friends he had. I’m guessing he was not wishing he had worked more or stressed harder. I had to pause and slow down. Once again, I questioned what I thought mattered.

Deep breath. A little voice whispered “connection.” Hello wisdom.  How I show up, who I am for each interaction I have during the day from the phone solicitor, to my daughter, to my son, to my husband, to the grocery clerk… you get the idea. Who I am during each connection is the only thing I can control and probably the only thing that really matters. And often the outcome or ripple effect is unseen and unknown. I create my own experience here.  Phew, I know, heavy heavy stuff.

This felt like a heart/gut wake up call.

And then there is my puppy, Oliver. He has completely stolen my heart. Oliver loves to chase the laser light. He can’t catch it (obviously) but when it appears that he does, it slips through his paws and is confusing and exciting at the same time. The laser makes its way up walls and on furniture, always illusive and highly enticing.

The point is he loves the journey, the game. He delights in the chase for the sheer joy of running and turning and  “going for it”. Full out. No holding back. He doesn’t seem disappointed or frustrated (do dogs get disappointed?) though sometimes he may be confused when the light suddenly disappears. But even that is met with curiosity and a wagging tail.

He’s a joy to watch as he plays this game with his lighthearted puppyness. Heart heavy after reading of my cousin’s death, I watched Oliver. I wondered about living life with the passion and joy of playing full out. What is the human version of tail wagging? And how can I get some of it?

And then the voice of wisdom whispered  “presence.” And how I show up in pursuit of whatever I choose to do and whoever I choose to connect with. Wanting passionately to catch that laser but being so in love with the game that catching it is just the bonus.

gayle nobel