fitness · habits

On the satisfaction of pursuing less (with or without dog)

These days I’m feeling like there is a lot more “more” in my life. And it’s not just a feeling. I’m back to full-time teaching after a semester sabbatical. And during that sabbatical, I did significantly less than I usually do– both in life and when on sabbatical. I let the cadence of my activity slow down. And I liked it. A lot.

Back on campus and in the classroom, I’m enjoying getting to know this year’s crop of students, with their liveliness and energy and surprises (mostly good ones). We’re hiring, too, so I’ve been meeting this year’s crop of job candidates, both on paper and in person. On the home front, I just finished a 9-day stint of dog sitting for Dixie, who is beautiful, high energy, and a bit of a drama queen when it comes to her round-the-clock petting needs.

I love Dixie– she’s a sweetie and a loving companion. I enjoy teaching and am happy in classrooms talking with students about topics we care about. It’s been fun spending time with my colleagues, making the candidates at ease, showing our goofy selves and learning some philosophy along the way.

At the same time, I’m yearning for more simplicity– less busyness, fewer transitions from this to that to the other thing, not so many details and complexities to attend to. Ot rather, not so many details to attend to, all in the same short space of time. Not being in a rush all the time.

Last week, there was one space where I was able to achieve exactly those desires: the neighborhood dog walk. Christine wrote just yesterday about adapting her interests for more speed or energy exertion while not rushing her canine companion, Khalee. What I found was that Dixie’s sniffing and ambling pace was the perfect complement to the hurrying up I have been doing lately. Dixie gave me the excuse I needed to amble and sniff, pause and breathe, stroll and appreciate the morning/day/evening.

Yes, all this points to me getting a dog, which I may do, but not right now. However, without a dog to walk, it’s hard to implement a consistent slow-down activity that’s as refreshing. Yes, there are all sorts of activities I do and enjoy. But these days, it feels like I’m shoehorning them into a crowded schedule. Is there a way to treat ourselves with the same care and no-other-option/gotta-do-it attitude that we do with our dogs? Yes, there are all sorts of tricks and routines and plans and incentives around. I guess I’m looking for something else– a combination of imperative and permission slip.

I’m going to see if I can give myself permission to go to that gym I just joined. It looks like a lot of fun, and I would like to take time out of my busy schedule to do just that. Once I get there, I’ll just do whatever strikes my fancy, for whatever duration and at whatever pace. Let’s see what happens by the end of the week.

Readers, how is your pace of life going?

One thought on “On the satisfaction of pursuing less (with or without dog)

  1. Thank you for this lovely post. I have an old dog and a young dog. My old man Milo needs to meander and sniff. We meander and sniff our way through our neighborhood on most mornings. If my young dog, Lily, had a motto, it would be “I go fast.” Most afternoons Lily and I wrestle and play and run around. I’m grateful to have the health and autonomy to do less sometimes and do more other times. Right now, at least, it is a good balance.

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