"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this." ― Henry David Thoreau
This is Murphy. Murphy is our 6 year old schlab (schnauzer/lab mix). He came into our lives a few years ago, when we thought that our son might benefit by having a dog. He's been a wonderful addition to our family. Puppies are adorable, but adopting a grown dog has many benefits. He's never had an accident in the house. Ever. He's never chewed up shoes/furniture/etc. He's fiercely loyal and I have no doubt in my mind that he would lay down his life to protect any one of us. I can't imagine our family without him.
Murphy the Dog
When I look into his eyes, I swear I can see into his soul.
Our end-of-day routine usually goes something like this: My wife and I are watching TV downstairs, with Murphy curled up in his bed at the foot of the couch. We turn off the TV and head upstairs, and he follows us, curling up and taking his place in his other bed at the foot of ours.
The other night, as my wife and I wrapped up our TV time for the evening, we headed upstairs. Murphy had had a long day, and I think was in such a deep sleep that he didn't hear us get up. I whistled over to him from the base of the stairs, at which point he reluctantly got up. He seemed to limp over to the stairs so that he could follow me up. I realize that this was not due to any injury or issue, but rather that he had just woken up and was a bit stiff. But it did make me realize...
There will come a day when the sun goes down and the TV goes off, and as my wife and I head upstairs, I'll whistle over to Murphy who will be curled up in his bed dreaming of chasing bunnies or fetching his ball. And he'll look up at me with big brown eyes, and realize that he's quite comfortable where he is. He'll realize that time has taken its toll, and that the effort of hiking up the stairs just isn't worth it. And in those big brown eyes, I'll realize that he's saying, "No, Charlie. I'm just going to stay down here from now on. You go on up, and I'll see you in the morning."
And with that realization came the understanding that one day he'd be gone. And whenever it is, it'll be too soon. And when that day comes, I'll think things like, "I should have taken him for more walks", or "I should have taken him to the park more often", or "I shouldn't have snapped at so often when he was just looking for some attention and love", as he tends to do.
I realized that it's only after we lose the things that are important to us, that we understand and appreciate their importance. And we wish that we could have just one more day to do the things that we should have done.
We tend to take for granted those things that we have around us that fulfill our lives. We get wrapped in in work or chores and think, "I'll do it tomorrow". But before we know it, that tomorrow has been taken away from us. This clearly transcends four-legged friends. Things that we love are transient in nature, even if the love that we feel for those things is not. Pets pass away. Friends move away. Children grow up and move on.
While we may not always be able to make the time for grand gestures, I don't think that they have to be grand. I think that just stopping for a few seconds each day to appreciate the things that we have in our lives, to be grateful that they're there today, that goes a long way towards making us feel fulfilled and spills over into our actions. I think that making sure to allow yourself to feel that appreciation and gratitude steers you towards those grand gestures naturally. And they probably won't even feel like they're all that grand to you. But to the person, or to the pet, it just might make their day.
And that's important, because nobody's guaranteed a tomorrow.