Hello, my friends.
"I was hiding under your porch because I love you. Can I stay?"
- Dug the dog, from the movie, "Up."
At the Bowling house, we have our own version of "man's best friend" - his name is Buster, he's a little shih-tzu, and if he makes it to Christmas Eve, he'll be 16 years old. He's essentially deaf, dumb and blind now (always was dumb, but these days the hearing and sight are getting pretty poor as well).
One thing Buster hasn't lost, though, is his capacity for simple love and loyalty. He follows us around the house for no good reason, other than to be in the same room as his "masters," and if I sit down in my recliner, he comes over and looks at me and makes a little noise until I pick him up. I suspect that if I stopped feeding him and started kicking him, he'd probably quit following me around, but I prefer not to think about that.
I sometimes wonder if the so-called "dumb" animals, and even the plants, aren't actually smarter than us. Perhaps they've figured something out that we, in our educated brains, have not, or that we've forgotten along the way - a capacity for an unencumbered life.
Many years ago, I read a book called The Secret Life of Plants, in which they hooked plants up to sensors, had a guy come in and hack one of them up, and then measured the reaction of the others. The plants freaked out, and when that same guy showed up in the room a few days later, those same plants went crazy again. In other words, they recognized him, and were afraid.
So I wonder if my big 100-year-old oak tree in my front yard isn't actually more intelligent than us humans. I wonder if maybe it's figured out that the way to be happy, the way to be at peace, is simply to put down some roots, stand tall, weather the storms, and accept whatever life brings.
I've read about these really spiritual guys who sit in a cave or a crude dwelling, have nothing, and do nothing but meditate and pray all day. They believe in the interconnectedness of all beings, and their lives are based on the idea that they can do more good by quietly focusing on pure consciousness, pure awareness of God, than all the striving and working in the world. Some days that sounds pretty good to me.
Maybe a more practical approach for most of us, though, would be to follow the advice of Robert Downey, Jr., one of my favorite actors, and a man who's had some struggles of his own. I love this RDJ quote: "I used to be so convinced that happiness was the goal, yet all those years I was chasing it I was unhappy in the pursuit. Maybe the goal really should be a life that values honor, duty, good work, friends and family."
I've always been a big Norman Vincent Peale fan, and I've never forgotten his six-word formula for success: "Find a need and fill it." I also like Deepak Chopra's advice, which is to constantly be asking ourselves, "How can I help?" and "How can I serve?"
In our regular staff meetings at the office, we're trying to create a Wellness Center that will uplift, inspire, empower, and lead our patients toward a better life. Maybe the answer is easier than we realize. Maybe instead of fighting so hard for what we think we want, we should learn to relax, see inside one another's hearts, and simply love. The meaning of life might just be closer than we think after all. It might just be a matter of taking the time to look (or hide) under the porch.
Wishing you health, happiness and peace,
Dr. Frank Bowling