There is freedom in discipline.

IMG_1872The first snow fell today, well “official” snow, one worth mentioning. And I’m one of those kids…if they say it is going to snow during the night, I wake up every couple of hours to peek out and make sure it has started falling. Not only is it in my nature, it’s in my blood (I am part Swiss). I love snow.

So out we went, the dog and me, for our morning walk. And she kept pulling on the leash, spurting this way and that, she was excited too. I really wanted to let her go, to run free and be crazy. Because if there’s one thing about walking an excited dog on a snowy sidewalk…it’s called “dangerous”. The dog pulls, you slip, and you are on your ass. A broken ass is not a laughing matter. Not when there’s shoveling to do.

Dog ownership has always been interesting to me. I love to philosophize about it. It’s a balance between providing discipline, but also acknowledging a dog’s true nature. If you give a dog what it needs, within the structure of discipline, you can end up with a well-behaved and happy dog. Of course, it’s easier said than done. But I think this approach can be applied to life overall. In particular when it comes to the mind. A friend of mine once said, “there is freedom in discipline”. I even have the piece of paper where he wrote it down, many years ago. Another friend laughed when I told her the quote…how Swiss of you. Discipline. It sounds so militaristic.

Exactly! That’s why I love the quote. Two complete opposites that shouldn’t be able to co-exist, let alone co-operate.

But my mind, ever since I started dealing with grief, has been going crazy. It runs rampant to an extreme. I usually end up washing my hair twice when I shower, because I can’t remember from one minute to the next if I already washed it. I know meditation would help, but I can’t sit still yet. Or I am not willing to sit still yet…probably out of fear, that if I allow my mind to settle, my emotional injuries will become more evident.

So as I was walking the dog, I was thinking about the importance of discipline. And also the importance of allowing our true nature to exist. I was also thinking about a discussion I heard on NPR on a great show called “To the Best of Our Knowledge“. An author was talking about meditation, the mind, and consciousness. She said, try to ask yourself the following question throughout the day, “Are you conscious now?”. If “yes”, then were you conscious the minute before you asked yourself the question? She claimed that by even asking the question, we are changing how our mind works.

Am I conscious now? Yes. Am I “conscious” all the time? No way. I honestly can’t even remember what I did last Christmas. The last Christmas with my husband. But I know what I will be doing this Christmas. I am already planning it. I will be continuing on my path, the one that is starting to circle back on itself: because a year ago, I was questioning why my husband was acting strange, I was also deeply worried and wondering about my dad’s health, and unbeknownst to me, in a few months, both of these questions would be answered.

But this year, as the first delicate snow falls, and my mind is yanking me around in all directions like a wild young puppy tethered to a leash, I am heading toward this path with intention. The intention to be conscious through the process. To remain conscious as I face the pain of certain milestones. But also to honor the true nature of the puppy inside with firmness and compassion. To be the disciplinarian, and the disciplined.

My puppy doesn’t know her needs, she just “is” her needs. Sometimes she needs to run free and crazy, barking, digging, hurling things around, but sometimes she needs me, to help her calm down, to keep her from running out into the street where there are cars, to quietly put her in her crate, where she can just sit, or sleep. Just be.

I am done writing. Almost. It’s snowing. Beautiful. And gentle…for the moment. It could become a storm. And if it does, I might shovel, or go to the dog park, or cozy up and watch from inside, or build a snow heart…

And you? Are you conscious now?

(Photos of some other snow lovers…who, sadly, are no longer here to enjoy it)

spring_06_079Vati DSC02300Shi DSC00083Art

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One thought on “There is freedom in discipline.

  1. The gentle dusting of snow added to your page made me smile. Snow is very rare where I currently live, but I grew up in Michigan and can recall doing the same ‘get up and check’ thing as a kid. I am 2 years out from my husband’s death and must admit that I still have times when I’m not conscious … I’ve had the ‘did I shampoo my hair’ conversation more times than I care to admit, I’ve arrived at home after work not recalling any of the 30 minute drive it took to get me there. We can learn from your puppy. It’s important to just BE.

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