Dog’s life

Me: So. What makes a good and worthy life?
My best friend just looks at me
With fond, pitying eyes that plainly say
What kind of question is that?
Please. I need to know.
OK. First, eat. Anything and everything put before you.
Plus whatever you can find. You may surprise yourself.
Then sleep. Dream. Find the warm spots.
Let others envy your repose, so instant and complete.
Yet always be ready to respond.
There is promise in every sound and movement. You just never know.
Ignore the stick, the ball, the bird:
Mere distractions, unworthy of your speed and skill.
Not so the cat, the rabbit:
Always engage with your true work. For you will have your day.

And those I meet?
Some will reach out, some recoil.
Learn when to press for friendship, and when to walk away.

What are my watchwords?
Loyalty without subservience.
Courage without recklessness.
Fierceness without savagery.

To sum up, then…
Live enormously.
Love immoderately.
Serve unfailingly.
Be adored, remarkable, irreplaceable.

And is that enough? I ask.
My best friend’s eyes are laughing now.
You tell me.

Their greatest fans, of which I’m one, would readily concede that whippets aren’t the brightest dogs in the world – they’re born to run, not to think – but like all canines, they know a thing or two about living. Even an example as irredeemably obtuse as our beloved Viggo is consistently in tune with what’s truly important in a way I never seem able to maintain. How I envy his simple outlook, uncomplicated moral code and serene, untroubled mind, especially in times like these. N.

Personal statement

Do not talk
Or even think
Of what you will do
In the years that lie beyond.
That will come
Quietly, at its own choosing
Unlooked-for, like a bright coin
Picked up in the street.
It rests in the gift of
Forces unmeasured, equations unwritten,
The alignment of stars far out of your reach
The collision of worlds unseen.

Tell us instead
Of what you will be:
What light you will blaze
Into these shadowed times
What warmth you will bring
When the days are grown cold
What joy you will spark
When night falls on the soul.
What strength you will give
To those whose own has failed.
And more than all this
What love you will share
With all who find your true heart.
And for now, leave all else
To take care of itself.

 
 

My daughter and her friends, now in their final year at school, are starting to receive offers from their chosen universities. Understandably, given the immense financial commitment, they’re already thinking/worrying/obsessing about their futures. As someone who’s never had a conventional career, I’m in no position to advise, really; all I can offer from my own experience is that jobs come and go, and even the most meticulous plans rarely survive their first contact with real life. And in the end, I believe how you’re living matters more than what you do for a living.