In response to the Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Beneath Your Feet.”
I spent the weekend at a friend’s cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks. It was a wonderful place: quiet, beautiful, relaxing. I took this picture looking down into the lake at their dock, with Mia the dog perched on the edge, fishing. She spends a lot of time there watching the little fish swimming below the surface, and you can just see two of them on the left side of this picture, looking like pale blue lines. If a fish wanders too close to the surface, Mia lunges and once in a while actually manages to grab one. She doesn’t know what to do with it and it generally winds up back in the water, but then she just hunkers down on the edge of the dock to watch some more.
I started out to write this post as a general message about how lovely my time was on the lake with friends this weekend, and that this trip is why I wrote nothing on my current WIP over the last two days. I was going to note that this was the first time I’ve missed a day July 1, and how I’m anxious to get back to the novel. All that is true. But as I started working on it, I thought more and more about what I can learn from Mia. My friend tends to adopt dogs with special needs, and Mia is an anxious dog. She always has a stick or a ball that she clings to for security; when I took this picture her stick was tucked safely under her paws. Whenever anything startling happens, including her own lunge at the fish, she instantly grabs her security object to reassure herself. She loves to chase the stick or the ball if you throw it, but almost never gets the chance because she can’t bear to let you take it away, not even to play the game.
We all agree that Mia is a hot little basket of neuroses. Still, she can lie on the edge of the dock watching fish for hours. When she’s fishing, she’s totally, 100% fishing. Even if there are no fish there at that time, she doesn’t get impatient. She just watches and waits, confident that she will find a fish or she won’t, and either way it’s good. Until it’s time to go up to the cabin for supper, and that’s good, too.
I’ve decided to adopt Mia as my Zen master. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious or compulsive, when I want to play but can’t let go of my anxieties long enough, I’m going to remember Mia on the dock. If neurotic Mia can live so completely in the moment, then so can I. Perhaps I’m frantic over meeting my word count; maybe I’m pressured by upcoming deadlines. In any case I’ll picture what I’m trying to accomplish as little blue fish darting through clear water, and I’ll set myself to wait for them in patience. Sooner or later the fish will appear. When they do I’ll be there. Ready to lunge.