Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.
Honey is a sweet and gentle girl. And she’s a little on the fearful side.
Everyone in the neighborhood knows this about her. The nasty cat that rules the neighborhood slowly ambles through the yard in a way that shows she knows Honey is no one to be feared. And even the squirrels take their time scampering up the tree.
On her bravest day Honey is no threat. But sometimes she likes to channel her inner German Shepherd.
Honey gets her bark on.
In the morning, while she’s waiting for her walk, Honey likes to put her front paws up on the back of the couch and watch the world go by outside. Sometimes she’ll turn back to look at me before barking ferociously at something going by outside.
Now remember, this is a dog who normally doesn’t bark.
Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing but I think Honey’s trying on her big girl bark to see what it feels like. Of course, only in a safe setting.
Testing a dream.
I’m ready for an adventure. Life is short and I can’t imagine looking back at the end of my life and feeling satisfied with more days spent wearing a bra and shoes than not.
Sailing fills many yearnings that I have, for:
- learning new things;
- using my body as much as my mind;
- living with very little stuff;
- not relying on internal combustion engines;
- meeting new people;
- seeing new places;
- being more self-reliant;
- experiencing a little more danger (not a lot more danger—don’t expect me to take off for Tierra Del Fuego any time soon);
- spending lots of time in a compact environment with the human and canine I love most;
- and, of course, a barefoot and bra-less life.
Of course, there are a few things holding me back from hopping on a sailboat and taking off for realms unknown:
- I’m not a very good sailor, yet;
- I don’t own a sailboat:
- I can’t afford to buy one;
- I wouldn’t know how to pick one even if I could afford it;
- I have no idea how to support myself while living on a boat;
- and Honey is as much of a ‘fraidy-cat as I am.
So, like Honey channeling her inner German Shepherd and sounding the alert while protecting the house (she’s doing it as I write), I’m channeling my inner sailor.
I prepare all my meals in a 1 foot x 1 foot area comparable to a sailboat galley. When I’m riding my bike to work, I try to tell where the wind is coming from and remind myself what point of sail I’d be on if I were on a boat. I look at the objects in my house and imagine living without them. And I try to get through the month spending hardly any money.
See, it’s just like living on a sailboat—without the tropical breezes (C’mon, do you really think my dream is to explore the Canadian coastline forever? To paraphrase the patriot Patrick Henry, “Give me Bimini or give me death.”)
It’s a safe, affordable, and easy way to try a dream on for size. After all, if I don’t like living simply and in tight quarters with all the luxuries of a house, what makes me think it will be more fun on a boat?
And of course, if it’s good enough for Honey, it’s good enough for me.
Honey’s living her dream.
Honey has finished her barkfest at the window. She lying quietly at my feet while I write. This is the Honey I usually see. Not a territorial guard dog but a faithful friend.
The next time I take her outside, she’ll look placidly at the cats. And if they don’t take off running at the sight of us, Honey will eventually start dancing on the end of her leash and go into a play bow. When she spots a squirrel in a nearby tree, she’ll give a friendly wag.
After all, she’s a Golden Retriever, no one’s idea of a guard dog. Except maybe in her dreams.
Do you think your dog dreams of being someone different than he is? And how about you? Have you ever “tried out” your dream for size?