Two little creatures in my house have taught me many lessons. You may have met them before, but if not, let me introduce them to you: This is Dolce. She is a small cinnamon colored Chihuahua. This other one is a reddish yellow canary whose name is Tom. They have different languages but they say a lot. Dolce talks mostly with her tail and eyes but occasionally with a bark. Tom speaks with beautiful song and pleasing chirps. Here’s where they are most alike: they have the same language for the words “Thank you.” That is their glad and immediate acceptance of what I give them to eat. (Whatever they don’t like, they politely ignore.)
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from my housemates:
Lesson no. 1:
If you’re truly grateful for something, use it eagerly and enthusiastically. If you are not grateful for it you might as well ignore it. It will go away.
I am learning this lesson better every day. For instance, I’m playing my piano more often. How I'd miss it if it went away! I’m reading the books I’ve been intending to read, not dutifully, but as much or little as I like at any time I like. I work with clay to mould faces of real people, not ones I know, but ones I’d like to know. And I do this when creativity overcomes inconvenience. I talk to my plants. I keep my house fairly neat. I listen to music that I like when I like. I sit out on my patio beside the creek to soak up sunshine and serenity whenever I’m smart enough to do it. I watch TV sparingly to keep abreast of the news, to enjoy my favorite channels, and to exercise the mute button regularly during offensive commercials. (I've started to work a jig-saw puzzle while the TV is on so not to become a complete sponge!) I eat what I like, when I like, and limit appropriately the amounts. I enjoy my family, my home, my car, my cane and the modest wardrobe in my closet. I like playing cards, once a week with the party bridge group at the senior center, and at home on the computer. (I have lain down the law at home. Only half an hour of this!) Most of all I enjoy writing, reading and leaving the arithmetic to my son who watches over my financial obligations. I am learning more each day about saying thanks by using the gifts I’ve been given and by giving to others what I can in return.
The doggie gives her gratitude with tongue licks and tail wags, and the canary with beauty and song, but we all say best the thanks we feel for the gifts we’ve been given by using them.
Lesson no. 2:
Keep unencumbered by too many activities outside the home.
Dolce enjoys a daily walk or two, but these are in familiar territory within the boundaries of Quail Creek with its charming park paths and woodsy green glens. Tom has the corner kitchen windows where he can look out on these and he seems content to let the cage be his see-the-outdoors home without complaints for his confinement. (I once left the door of his cage open all day just to test this theory and he proved me right. He didn’t venture out.)
While I enjoy getting out several times a week, I relish the days I can stay at home. I’ve taken several tours abroad and a number of cruise ship vacations and enjoyed them all. It’s nice to know I could do that more, but right now I have no desire to. Dolce and Tom are happy at home. So am I.
Lesson no. 3:
Live in the moment and use your days and minutes in ways that seem most appropriate and pleasing to you at any given time.
Dolce takes naps a lot in the daytime and still sleeps all night. Tom is a dusk to dawn fellow when it comes to sleep. I'm pretty much in his camp. “Go with the flow” is my motto. That is, go with whatever comes the closest to divine desire. I say “divine” because we all have the choice to think a-right, do what is right, and accept God’s blessing in these.
Why is it our creature companions don’t need to be taught these lessons? How is it that they are so innocent of evil? I’m sure I can learn lots more from my little dog and canary. House pets are smarter than we give them credit. Mostly, when treated well, they teach us how to say thanks.