My pals and I go outside to play every day. Yesterday Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog and I went out and played for a long time. It was a magical clear beautiful enchanting calm-wind day. My pal is a great playmate. She always wants to play and when we get to the playground, she knows just exactly what she’s supposed to do. She’s supposed to smell things and roll in the snow. She’s also supposed to pull suddenly on the leash when a very fresh scent hits her nose, but she’s never supposed to pull me down. When I stop to enjoy the scenery, she is supposed to lean against me and I’m not supposed to move away so fast that she loses her balance. When we near the end of our play time, and I say, “OK, Bear, let’s go home,” she’s supposed to walk peacefully beside me while I rest my hand on her back.
I’ve been playing in this way all my life. It’s amazing what can happen when you go out to the playground. Lately, in one of our playgrounds, we’ve had the pleasure of watching a small herd of whitetail deer watch us. Among them is a very large buck who vigilantly cares for his wives and children. He’s a little scary, actually, and I’m glad we’re never very close.
What I’ve learned over all my years of playing outside is that there is always some reward (though play itself is reward enough), a destination (in terms of destiny).
I always see something. Sometimes it’s light on the trees. Sometimes Kris Kristofferson’s face in the clouds (seriously and it was weird). Sometimes a rainbow. Sometimes hawks hunting low over the chamisa or desert broom. Sometimes bald eagles in the trees. Sometimes deer, elk or some other large ungulate. Sometimes a wild cat, a fox or coyote. Sometimes a friendly person. Sometimes the litany of night written in the dust. Sometimes an amazing bird. Yesterday my reward was a Great Blue Heron.
I thought of a poem by Jack Kerouac the moment the heron revealed himself by leaping into the air, taking flight.
Kerouac was kind of a Buddhist. For a while he was a happy person, too. During this time he wrote/recorded some lovely stuff. My favorite is The Dharma Bums. Anyway for a while I had a bunch of CDs of Kerouac reading his work and some of his interviews on TV in the 50s.
In one of his poems he says, “Like kissing my kitten in the belly, the sweetness of the reward that we’ll get. This I know.”
And it’s true.