To My Friend, RR
When you react to a situation that has not yet occurred, you violate a principle of Nature. Your mind should be like still water. This is the quality that makes one remain calm even in the worst of circumstances. It is a matter of training. The Japanese call it "miso no koro." It is a primary philosophy of Zen masters.
If a long-awaited package arrives at my doorstep, I wait a day before opening it. It drives my wife crazy. If I miss a doctor's call with the results of a test, I return the call the next day. It drives everyone crazy. However, in that manner of training myself to be patient, I only react to real threats in my life.
When we lived in New Hampshire, we always shared our lives with multiple dogs, at least four at a time, and lost many of them over the years. They were not pets, but family members to me.
Dusty was a lobster fisherman. He was a tough canine, who boarded a lobster boat with his master daily for five years. When the old man died, the dog lamented, and was scheduled to be put down. I rescued him, and we became best friends for many years. I could not leave the house without him jumping into my Jeep. He jumped onto my back seat one morning, and departed peacefully. He died at seventeen, and his collar sits upon my bookshelf within reach of where I am writing at the moment.
My Josey was a sweetheart. I took her to work with me daily. Everyone at the college knew her, and my students loved her. She died at age eight, when a woman left rat poison outside, and my sweetheart ate it. I forgave the woman, and I was thankful a child had been spared the lady’s negligence, but it is still difficult for me. When I teach, I continue to look for her as I exit the classroom. Her collar sits next to Dusty’s.
I have eleven collars on my bookshelf. Most of them would haunt me, if I let them. The worst was Austin Louie, who peered deeply into my eyes for fifteen minutes until he departed. I dream of him often, unpleasantly.
We all suffer pain, some more than others. That is part of life. The torture depends on how we deal with it.
When I finish this post, I am heading to the beach with my Lylah. She is six now, and one of the dogs I have been closest to in my lifetime. I enjoy her every move, every day. She is part of my life, and I refuse to diminish the relationship we have with the reality that someday her collar will rest upon my bookcase. Were I to do that, life itself would be painful. I will enjoy Miss Lylah every day of her life, without any negative thoughts. It is a matter of training.
Miso no koro.