When I was in college there was a popular psychology or spirituality book called Joy’s Way. It’s focus was on reframing and refocusing your thoughts and response patterns on being in Joy.
I think being grateful can really be a form of being connected to joy.
Sometimes our focus is on what isn’t working too intensely so we miss being grateful for all the things that do work. And then there is the reframe that sometimes the thing that seems to be the worst is actually a gift for which to be grateful.
I have written about the loss of my beloved Robbie when I was in college. It was devastatingly painful and took a long time from which to recover.
It was a defining experience in my life.
I think that often defining experiences are not joyous. I’m not sure why that is but it is something that I have observed over the years.
I have endeavored to really put into my memory a conscious marker, a focused meaningful bookmark of pictures and memories of when my life was perfectly joyous, in sync, or definitively loving. I have done this to balance out the times in my life where what has happened has seared into my memory a painful event.
I have also spent a great deal of mindful focus on looking for the lessons that were positive from those painful events.
I have found that these actions bring me more joy, connection, and peace, and less fear reaction, distance, and anxiety or insecurity.
The experience of Robbie’s death created the space for me to focus on mindfulness – being mindful in my relationships, being congruent in my speech and action, and being grateful for what is.
Not much more than 36 hours ago I held my beloved dog who had been my dear companion for almost 13 years in my arms while he struggled with life and death. He died feeling, hearing, and I think knowing how much those dear to him loved him.
Some people do not connect to dogs in the way in which I connected with Joxer so this may seem like an odd attribution that I am going to describe – but for me he was my best teacher.
He was loving and compassionate and forgiving. I mean really forgiving in the way that dogs have the capacity to be – unconditional love, always seeing the beauty in me and all the individuals close to him. He loved to run and hike really experiencing in the moment all that is beautiful in the environment, and he loved to be with his people.
He was happy and alive, really alive, experiencing every step, smell, and being around him. He loved to play – barking and jumping around engaging the people close to him to be a dog and get on the ground and bark back with him. Paradigm shifting to create space for laughter and joy.
He understood how to be present without being pushy or intrusive – although he might give a gentle paw reminder if you have food on your plate and you’ve been ignoring it for 15 minutes. Or in his later years give you a little bark as if to say “hey can’t you see me here”. His being was with you in a calm, connected full way that allowed a person to feel accepting and loving, engendering space for compassion and mindfulness.
He had the capacity to find the good in every person he encountered. It was a peaceful style of connecting, like a sage or Sensai who is gently directing a student on his path. He made perfect relationships with each person in his family – perfect in that he seemed to intuitively know what they needed or how they could best connect and he matched himself to that quality so that each person felt they were definitively seen and loved by him.
His eyes were pools of understanding. Looking into his sweet face one experienced acceptance, earnest, love, and playfulness.
He had a hummingbird spirit energy – he couldn’t tolerate yelling, or fighting, conflict, or anger – so he engendered an environment of caring and mindfulness.
He tried hard to do what he perceived was desired of him and he appeared to feel bad when he wasn’t able to or broke the rules.
He was the epitome of mindfulness, compassion, playfulness, and love through his actions, connections, behaviors, and relationships. We knew he had a fear of separation but he appeared to overcome it through these actions and how he was able to engender a compassionate, mindful, accepting environment.
He seemed to fully and completely understand intimacy in relationship. He was exhaustingly patient.
He found purpose in his life through caring for Kate, loving me, individually connecting to my patients, our families and friends, loving Ron and Max and helping them trust the love of a dog, and protecting us all with his amazing heart.
He exemplified the picture of unconditional love, and the unyielding patience of true love.
Each person close to him felt special to him because every one was. He created individual loving relationships with each of the people in his life.
He was a teacher, a sage, a role model for compassionate mindful living and the great benefits of connection, being real, and being alive.
If you look at these various qualities you can see the way in which his presence in our lives increased our understanding of how to be in relationship to increase our connection to joy – to increase our connection to each other and life – to love and play and fully experience the joys in the world around us.
He was my best friend, and even though I have so many lessons and memories in my heart and mind and I can feel still feel his spirit, I will miss being with him for many years to come.
His way of being in the world led us to a living experience of Grace.
Having him with me all these years has revolutionized my picture of the world and what can be. I am truly grateful.
See you tomorrow.