Focus – always easier said than done. I tend to daydream, or as my wife says, I’m always somewhere in never-never land. Not really, just taking in lots of things, a junk collector storing things in my brain for possible use somewhere down the line. It can be fun. I just have to work on the filing system, especially as I get older.
I was walking our dog a couple of days ago. It was a typical drizzly and cold day here in the Midwest. Head down, letting my beagle lead me on as she sniffed everything imaginable and then some. It gave me time to think and, as you can guess, look at trees in a slightly different way. We were on a familiar route and I stopped when she stopped curbside. She was on my left (good hunting dog training) exploring for messages on her tree. So I looked at the tree on my right in case the message she was sniffing was of a personal nature – after all, even a dog is entitled to some privacy.
I looked and then looked again. Maybe the rain brought out the green of the moss filling in the cracks in the bark or perhaps the wetness gave a special sheen, or it could have been the way the bark rolled up the thick trunks of the Siamese joined tree like a chop of waves on a small lake. I stepped around it one way and another, tilted my head up and down. Damned if I haven’t been walking past this tree at least once a week for years, but WOW, I felt elated, would have clicked my heels if I were a young guy. I whistled; I laughed; I even – I think – babbled for joy. I focused on how it was put together and was waiting all this time for me to give a sec and take notice.
I did!! And practically pranced all the way home. A couple of days later it was our anniversary. We went out for drinks at a fancy place and on the way home I showed my wife the tree – probably the best anniversary present ever!
OK. I think I learned a couple of things I’m going to share. This tree isn’t the only thing out there that can bring smiles and at least a momentary sigh of contentment – how wonderful is this or that. And it shouldn’t take a miserable day to make you pause and notice.
There are lots of trees in life. I only needed to open my eyes and let it in. I needed to focus on the little things around me that in their own way are just being what they were meant to be: a tree, a tree; the cloud in the sky, a cloud. Perhaps the sound of the bus rushing down the street, just that – be thankful it wasn’t mooing (I live in Wisconsin, we have lots of cows).
I let myself celebrate. I was part of all of this, even the litter, the crumbled curb, mud running onto the sidewalk from a poorly draining lawn. I’m here today, sure things could be better but when I focused on that moment, I had my dog on my left with its tree and on my right, a roly-poly tree, and I was in the middle, breathing in and out on a drizzly cold day. At that moment – it couldn’t have been better!
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.