Rock ‘n’ Crow: Pausing to Look Around

6 Jun

Slow down. Look around. Be “present” and “in the moment.” I read this stuff in books about Buddhism and mindfulness. But it’s difficult. So I draw symbols and words on my wrist to help me remember.

While walking the dogs this morning, I stopped to spot the crow that was “Caw! Caw! Cawing!” at me. I stood still and searched the tree tops while the dogs sniffed around for scents of dogs long gone.

What I first determined to be a big black bird was an odd branch crooked in two sharp right angles. I looked higher in the tree right above me and took a few steps.

Caw! Caw! Caw!

I stopped and saw the bird right above me looking around like birds do. He didn’t look down at me. I thought about the odds I’d get pooped on. 5 percent? Probably lower. I walked from underneath to get a better view and wondered if I was the cause of his anxiety (like I was out to steal his blackness) or if I had taken a different route the bird would be sitting in the same spot making the same cries. How much did I change the order of the universe by walking down Buchanan Street?

Dexter whizzed on some weird bush. Sammie tugged the leash–almost out of my hand–wanting to move on. A crow on the ground would get the dogs’ attention, but not the cocky crow way up in a tree. The bird flew away to caw at someone else and I walked on.

I paused again before a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar wrapper on the sidewalk, considered picking it up, but stepped over it. The dogs sniffed at it. I wondered how it came to be here at my feet. I pictured a young male–anywhere between 8 and 24–ripping the paper off and tossing it over his shoulder, something I might have done at that age. But not at this age.

I imagined a boy littering, not only because I know myself, but I know my own girls. They occasionally carry sacks around the neighborhood picking up others’ trash. Our street is heavily traveled by pedestrians and bicyclists; we’re on the edge of downtown, so it’s common to find liquor bottles and a variety of food packaging in front of our house.

When we’re together, all trash gets handed to me. To them, my pockets are the most useful thing ever invented. Unlimited trash and storage capacity.

Of course, females litter too, and maybe my girls, whom I’m bragging on, will grown into litterers before growing back out in their twenties. I’ll say “Remember when you used to PICK UP trash?” God, I’m getting emotional thinking about Chloe at 17.

I approached the intersection of Buchanan and Hillsboro and heard the hiss of sprinklers. The drenching of decorative plants against an office building made me think of my own yard, in need of attention. I thought I heard more flowing water across the street at the Episcopal Church. Its impressive landscape is so abundant, extending so far from its walls, that hidden sprinklers deep within the foliage wouldn’t have surprised me.

In front of a fourplex I saw a gray rock half-buried in the dirt. It was smooth, the size of a sensible cookie, probably displaced from a nearby sea of rocks. It looked like a rock Ainsley would dig up and slide into my pocket. I almost did myself. But I’ll wait for a future walk and I’ll say “Whoa, look at that awesome rock.”

I’ll be sad when she stops sliding “treasures” into my pocket.

So, yeah, the drudgery of life, reexamined, can be more fulfilling than carrying the metaphorical bag of feces.

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