Monday, April 2, 2012

The Bulldog

Buddy and I went for a four-mile hike today. It is a glorious day...sun is out but cool ocean breezes...glorious. Today was a great day...until I saw the bulldog incident.
Now when Buddy and I walk, we have an arrangement. Whenever we see another dog and their owner walking, we always go to the leash. He has almost come to expect it and comes back to me to get on the leash. When we do not see another dog, he is free to run ahead and sniff and pee where ever he'd like. But what I love about Buddy is...he always looks back to check where I am...always comes back as soon as I call...he is always right beside me when he gets really tired. Buddy is mature and very well behaved...for a dog.
Today we encountered a guy walking with his bulldog. He was short but powerfully he could pull the guy where ever he wanted to go. As Buddy and I approached, Buddy in a "heal" position...very well behaved, the bulldog made a dash at Buddy. You could tell he was thinking here's some sucker I can bully around and show him that just because I'm short does not mean I'm not a bad dude. Just before he got to Buddy and the end of his leash, his owner gave him a very violent jerk. Into the air the bulldog flew and landed on his back on the other side of the trail. Another violent jerk and the dog was up on his feet and being pulled in a direction away from Buddy and I. No words were exchanged...nothing was said...I was kind of stunned.
Now don't get me wrong...I'm not one of those guys who think animals have more rights than humans...that dog was probably a pain in his owner's butt all morning and he just snapped. That dog will not need to go on doggie prozac or see a doggie counselor (though a trip to see the dog whisperer might be in order). That bulldog's neck was so strong and so tough...he'll be just fine.
No what bothered me was in a flash I saw a bigger picture. I saw a little bit of me in that bulldog...and I saw a little bit of what I'd like to become in Buddy. I knew right away that it was an example of the difference between Law and Grace...I knew there were times when my master had to jerk me back away from something that I wanted and yet could not have...and there were times when he allowed me to be off the leash and enjoy all that he had for me. Sunday the pastor taught a great message about the Law vs. Grace...I got to see it today in Living Color...HD...Big Screen. The Law shows us how bad we really are...Grace shows us how good He really is. I'm glad Buddy is my dog.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

With the Greatest of Ease

I have walked the last three days...twice yesterday. I have not been a slacker walker, just a slacker writer.
For three days in a row I have beheld one of the most amazing spectacles known to man. Something so amazing and simple it seems unnatural...almost weird in fact. As I have been slugging and plodding up and down the hills I hike in, sweat dripping into and burning my eyes...lungs trying to explode for lack of air...feet pounding like a pile driver ramming a log into the earth...I have seen a beautiful hawk doing a delicate dance gliding in and out and up and down over the ridge. With just the slightest adjustments of his wings, he moves effortlessly along the ridge line scouring the earth for food. When he spots a field mouse or a gopher, he adjusts his wings and his body and he dives without a sound and snatches his lunch and keeps moving over the ridge to his nest.

It is an amazing spectacle to watch. To see something so amazing without the slightest of effort. Like watching Eric Clapton play some mean and tasty licks on his Fender without the slightest of effort. Like watching Kelly Slater drop in and ride an amazingly difficult wave with just a flick of his feet and ankles...seemingly no movement at all. None of them can compare though to the gracefulness and skill of this hawk...truly a sight to behold.
It is easy for us who slog and plod along on the trails to wish we could float along just catching the updrafts off the ridges. It seems unfair and in someways almost cruel. Like those who try their very best to play like Eric or surf like Kelly...only to recognize they are so far away from that kind of skill it only leaves one conclusion...they have some kind of a gift we don' regular Joes. Why can't I do those things like they is so cruel.
Upon further review, it becomes clear that even the hawk had to practice to be so skillful it looks effortless. There is a gentle cooperation between the One who provides the wind, and the one who adjusts his wings to conform to the wind and changing environs of the hills I like to hike in. The two seem to work together as one...effortlessly. Moving in tandem...together as I plod along in amazement wishing and hoping I could float on the breeze He brings me as well.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Walk in the Windy City

I went for a walk the other was a completely different experience than I had experienced recently...but it was a walk none the less. Let me tell you about it.

I had to go to Chicago to try and rectify a problem with a company who ripped my church off for a lot of money. So I was edgy and a little tense to begin with. I left for the airport early in the morning and pulled into the first parking lot I could find. Not being familiar with the Duke's airport, I didn't realize that my airline was at the extreme opposite end of the airport. So early in the morning I walked as fast as I could in my business dressy shoes...for almost a mile...maybe more. I pulled into my airline line and then had to walk another quarter mile or so to get my plane. By the time I got to the dog's were howling at me. But they sat through six hours of airplane ride without any real relief.

So when I land in Chicago the weather was cold...I mean really cold...sub freezing cold. So I disembark from the plane and start walking about a half mile to the car rental booth. They of course botched my reservation and sent me walking to the train station and another mile of cold weather the same dressy non comfortable walking shoes. There of course I get no help, no change, and no sense of I had to walk the mile back to the airport...not happy.

Quick thinking gets me a ride to my hotel where I regroup and plan out how I'm going to get to where I need to be...without the assist of a car. So I walk about a half mile to the L Train station and get on the train. Three stops later I am faced with another mile walk to the business I need to do and then another mile back to the train and then another half mile to the room.

It is there for the first time my achin feet get some relief. If you're keeping score I walked about 6 miles that day, all of it in shoes better suited for a fashion runway than the mean streets of airports, train stations, and gritty snowy dirty sidewalks of Chicago. I was trapped in Planes Trains and Automobiles for 12 hours and my feet were suffering. Needless to say...sleep came pretty easy that night.

Upon further reflection of the day, I concluded a couple of things.
1. I'm a wooss (or wuss). I was way more complainy than I ever thought I was. Not happy about who I was while on my journey.
2. Fancy shoes are great for show...but not for go.
3. There are lots and lots of people who have to face this kind of crazy travel challenges every day and they do it without complaining.
4. It is truly amazing that someone can walk in California in the know the sunny Disneyland world of SoCal...and the cold frozen sidewalks of Chicago in the afternoon and evening. A trip that would have taken weeks just 50 years ago is now reduced to a few hours.
5. The world is getting smaller and smaller all the time. As we like to say here in Disneyland..."it's a small world after all."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Who's The Master

So I missed a week of walking while I was on a road trip last week. The extent of my walking was from my car to the front of the line at In N Out Burgers or any Starbucks I could find and then back to my car. So not much to say about that.
But I was trying to get back in the swing of things this morning so I asked Buddy if he cared to join me on a walk. Well needless to say he was more than enthusiastic. He's the right one to ask, because if someone asked me I might be inclined to say no. But Buddy never says no...he's always ready to go...not much of a social life I suppose.
So I grabbed the leash, a bottle of water, and a couple of doggie potty bags. This morning we drove over to a different trail head to go a new way...same trail system but a different access point and some new trails we had not been on before. So I loaded Buddy up into the car and put him in the back and we drove over to the new place.
We get out of the car and head onto the trails. In a flash Buddy has laid his first set of droppings for me to pick up. Now I really don't care how cool you think you are, how awesome your dog is, or what your station in life is...but it is a major humiliation to bend over and scoop up the poop with the little green bag. It's so hot and steamy and it smells bad. Suffering the indignation once was bad enough...but four times!!!! What the hey is this dog eating and why does he wait until we are on the trail to do this. Is it just to make me feel bad or what.
By the fourth time I was pretty mad...I was having a really bad attitude towards Buddy. I carry his leash, I chauffeured him to the trail, I carry water for him, I have to encourage him the whole way, and I have to pick up his droppings!!!!! Well there is just something not right about that. I am the master...he is the dog!!!!! When does he do anything for me...I mean really...what do I get out of this deal.
Just about then...when my indignation was really sharp and really pointed...I was hot and feet were sore and my legs ached...right then...a really cool breeze picked up from the ocean and I felt this wave of cool and refreshing come over me. Right after the wind I heard a voice say very softly..."Hey...welcome to my world."
I was like what??? Who??? What world???
The voice says to me again..."Welcome to my world."
It was then I recognized the voice...a very familiar voice who had asked me countless times "Who's the Master here..Me or you????"
The Voice even asked me once, "What do I get out of this deal?"
Right about then I looked at Ol' Buddy with a little different perspective...a little more willing to walk, a little bit more willing to carry the water, the leash, and even the hot load of droppings Buddy had prepared for me. Once again it was clear where I rank in the order of things...I'm Buddy's Butler.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Buddy the Master

Well tonight I went for a bike ride with Tracey down at the marina. We were having a great time until she blew a tire. I tried to pump it up and all but it literally blew the tire. So we came home and had some dinner and we were about to sit down and watch some TV, and then I got the look...if you have a dog, you know the look. It's the "I've been sitting in this house all day and I need a break...I need a walk by God." Buddy is a master manipulator...he know's we both needed a good walk. It was too late to go for our canyon walk so I opted to take him around the "block".
Now where Gigi lives, there is about 100' of flat ground and it's in front of her house. From there it is like falling off a cliff. Each direction falls off into false step and you are glissading down a slope, tumbling and scratching at the ice looking to bury the point of your ice axe into the ice (if you've ever been on a glacier you know what all this stuff means). At any rate it is a steep hill in both directions. Buddy doesn't care...he's just looking for a good bush that needs a new dose of his marking fluid. It is a strange thing that he does...well it is not unusual to Buddy...every dog I've ever known has used this method of communication. It tells all the other dogs who will come by that he was there. It's a little more environmentally sound than those guys who use spray paint to make their mark and let people know that they were there and that they exist. All the other dogs who manipulated their caretakers into taking them on a walk will come by and smell the unique markings left by Buddy.
You know it got me thinking about the unique markings we leave I don't usually use Buddy's method (though I have been known to do it once in a while), but we do tend to leave a mark or two as we pass by. Usually it is in a memory or a act of kindness...and even an act of despicableness...but people leave their mark. Buddy is a master at leaving his mark...each stop he makes he leaves just a small amount, but it is enough to let dogs know he was there.
As I have been walking these last 50 some years, I recognize people have left their marks on me...hopefully I have made a few marks on them. Now I'm not a master at it like Buddy...but I'm learning to be...just giving a little bit of myself to each one I meet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012's been a while

Well...I'm walking again. My friend Linda asked if I was going to start writing again as well. I guess this is the answer Linda.
I started walking again on January 1 2011. I walked with my wife (Tracey), my two grandsons (Jackson and Aidan), and one of my new roommates (Buddy the Black Lab). You see I have moved to SoCal to live with my mother in law (Daphne or Gigi). I had a two year stint in Hawaii (which is another whole story) in which I walked a total of maybe ten times. It was not conducive to walk there for me...for a lot of I didn't. But now....I'm excited to be walking again.
So New was a say the least. Aidan our six year old grandson was complaining...a lot. It kind of irked me a little at first. I mean come was a beautiful SoCal day, we had a great breakfast, we had a really good morning...until the complaining started..."It's too hot...I'm thirsty...the sun is too bright..." I do remember being 6 and I know it is tough...but this was a pretty great day.
But about half way up the steep hill...I kind of appreciated him more than I had before. His complaining was keeping me from doing my own complaining. I was about to become a six year old myself...fortunately Aidan spared me by filling that role himself. Acting like a six year old is perfectly acceptable if your six...a 56 year old acting that way...not so good.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the walker's journal is changing

Hey friends...follow the link to my new blog...same stupid stuff only this time it is all in lower case to make it more difficult to read.