19 December 2007
(pic from www.bryantdogphotography.com)
I don't know about that old saw regarding teaching old dogs new tricks, but sometimes it takes an old dog to remind you of old lessons that are too often forgotten in the chaos of these times we're livin' in.
I'm talking about Bushido - the ancient code of the samurai.
Without going into detail I don't have time enough to type tonight, what it comes down to is that part of Bushido is for the warrior to consider himself as being ALREADY dead, thus removing the fear of dying.
A handy trick for a professional soldier.
Having essentially learned that trick over half a lifetime in the saddle, I noticed an interesting side-effect of that mindset/philosophy: LIFE becomes a hell of a lot more REAL.
I learned to appreciate a good sunset. I actually LISTEN when birds sing. I MAKE the time to do the (mis-named) "little things", like playing with my son.
The past few days, work has been....well, let's just say that it's a good thing I also learned to go for days on end with only 3 or 4 hours of sleep.
So why bring up old dogs?
I was out on my front porch having a cigar - son, daughter and wife all in bed - I had the family's two remaining mutts out with me. The wife's dog is 14 years old, half blind, deaf as a stump, nearly senile (can't let 'im run without me to remind him where home is), and gettin' stiffer with each passing day. The big female is only 5 and had easily jumped the low wrought-iron fence and was struttin' down the street, but the old dog can't jump it. He was staring through the bars and whining a little.
I was half-burnt from long days, and ALMOST said, "I'm tired tonight. I'll take ya for a walk tomorrow, old fella".....
Then I stopped before I could say a word.
Because he had reminded me of the old lesson of Bushido that had slipped away from me in the last couple days - the lesson that says "I'm already dead, so I better savor the moments I still have...while I still can."
I don't know how many more "tomorrow's" the old mutt has left, so if I'd told him "tomorrow" and found him cold and stiff in the morning, I'd have to face that sumbitch that stares back at me from every mirror and try to explain it to HIM!
Hell, since I don't know how many tomorrow's I have left, the DOG could wake up tomorrow and find ME cold and stiff!
That old dog looked at me like I was crazy when I laughed and kicked open the gate.
"Yer right, ya old fart. C'mon, boy, let's go for a walk."
The best part about being "dead" is enjoying LIFE!