Friday, October 29, 2010


 by Billy Collins 

The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her doghouse
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment
she would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.
 Post Script:

I got word yesterday that after careful consideration, Gampo Abbey decided NOT to invite me to Yarne, the 3-month winter retreat in Nova Scotia.  They are concerned both with my physical stamina (sitting for 8 hours a day is not as easy as it may sound, folks), and with my having to come and go for treatment during the time I am there (they actually prefer for participants to not have even email contact with the world beyond the Abbey for those three months).  They encouraged me to come under other, less rigorous circumstances.  I trust their desire and ability to make the best decision for all concerned, and am not as disappointed as I might have guessed.  
It does mean I get to spend the winter with my dog...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Thea,
    I guess it might be the right decision for you not to go to Nova Scotia this January. Would hate for you to out of touch with all your peeps just now! And, hey, maybe the next chance will be in a warmer place.
    Hope you are still celebrating your previous good news!