Hacking Bliss

It’s been a long time since my son has been asking for a dog. We are thinking about the prospect of adding a new family member  carefully. There are many considerations at hand. The size, the characteristics of the breed, preferably adopting one from a shelter, etc.  But the single reason we haven’t chosen one yet is the long hours our new family member would spend alone in the house. Our schedule is so that we spend a good 10 hours away from home a day. And it breaks my heart leaving the dog alone such a long time.

My son is going bananas about having  a dog, and he is particularly kind and protective of all animals in general. His little heart is always touched by every pet he sees. Dogs, cats, parrots, even reptiles, rodents and fish. At the same time my heart is squeezed with the wanting to please my son. I know he would take good care of any pet and, since my daughter doesn’t live with us, I am sure the company would bring both dog and kid great benefits. I don’t doubt that the dog would even improve the health of my son given an increase in outdoor activity.

Last Sunday, we were having lunch at a friend’s house. He owns a big, intimidating, black dog (Chow Chow and German shepherd mix). Even though the dog was more into the adults and enjoying the attention everybody was giving him, my son persisted until he started playing with him. We went to walk the dog and play with him at a nearby park entirely covered in snow. We enjoyed the fresh air, the run and even the eventual falls in the snow.

When we get back to my friend place a very interesting inter-generational conversation took place amidst coffee and Sambuca. At some point we were all talking and laughing while my son was just following the dog crawling in four legs. I asked him –What are you doing? – to what my seven year-old replied “I’m going to be his best friend, that’s why I am on four legs. He doesn’t play too much with me so I’m going to just follow him, do what he does and be his best friend.”

I just let my son be and watched while the rest of the adults continued their own stories, ignorant to this interesting forging of a friendship. At some point I just felt the happiness of my son when out of the blue he came by my side and hugged me sideways, squeezing my waist against his shoulders and then continued following the dog. I saw in his eyes the “this-is-it!” moment; I saw happiness that is blissful, silent and durable; happiness that goes beyond excitement and adrenaline – I tried to catch that in the picture you see at the top of this post.

It was contagious. I was sitting in happy silence, witnessing the scene, almost paralyzed in wonder, thinking if this is the bliss the Dalai Lama and other wise men were trying to tell us about. Surely I was feeling something special, peaceful, quiet, yet exhilarating. The silence was an Opera in itself, and it was so contagious that one by one, the other 6 adults started fall silent and just watched, until all of us had a big smile, looking in the direction of the dog and the kid. For a brief couple of minutes, the house was full of mute bliss, until his mom exclaimed brilliantly –Hey where is my phone I need to get this in a picture – and the jovial noise re-started.

What if that is the meditation blissfulness we aspire to? What if it is all in front of our eyes and all we need to do is to shut up rather than to start pushing it away with the air we blow when we speak?

I don’t have the answers, but the bliss was very similar to what I feel after a long period of meditation or prayer, or even when I used to conquer a new summit in the Andes!

What do you think? We are very interested to hear about you. Any advice for my dog dilemma? Leave us a comment.

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