An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of May 15, 2011
issued from Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 km north of Mahahual
on the Yucatán Peninsula's eastern coast just north of the Belize border,
in the state of Quintana Roo, MÉXICO

DOG GURU

Each morning a little before dawn, when I step from my door and begin stretching before jogging, Helado (eh- LAH-do, meaning ice cream) the Dog bounds up the steps grinning, expecting to be scratched. He especially likes to be scratched beneath his collar, and right above where his tail connects to his backbone.

I'm always impressed by how satisfied Helado looks while being scratched. He just stands there with an uncomplicated, blissful look on his face, as if he has every right to such attention. I could never accept such grooming and affection as graciously, and I envy that dog, envy his ability to accept the moment's pleasures just as they are, right now, no strings attached.

In a sense, Helado exhibits "living in the moment," a concept extolled by lifestyle gurus in many books. "Live in the moment and don't worry about what's happened or what might happen," they advise.

But, I wonder: Is "living in the moment" a good general living strategy for a human?

If "living in the moment" means what I think it does, people doing it   wouldn't study hard or work, because they wouldn't care much about the future. Yet, in this world, studying and working are necessary if we're to escape repetitive, dead-headed, spirit-defeating jobs, and instead position ourselves in life where we can experience and feel to the maximum the world around us.

Maybe one reason Helado gets away with "living in the moment" is that he never overdoes it. After about a minute of being scratched he gets distracted and wanders away.

In fact, sometimes I think that maybe each morning Helado comes to my door to instruct me on the matter of enlightened living.

"When something feels this good, go with it," he woofs ecstatically as I scratch, even as his eyes begin wandering with inattention. "But, once you get the general idea behind something, go on to something else and find what delights you there... "

Then he trots down the outside stairs to sniff the tires of a visitor's rental car. Enraptured with a certain tire's fragrance, he slyly rolls his eyes up to where I'm stretching on the stairs.

"But, you know, really it's more nuanced than that," he whispers between deep, tire-studying snuffles. "What I said up there works for life's beginners, the ones with little sense of reality's endless possibilities and layers of meaning, and no clue as to what long-term fulfillment is all about. Fact is, if you study and work yourself to where most of the time you're doing what you want, like us, that whole matter of whether to 'live in the moment' becomes rather moot... because you're already doing it!" Facebook Icon.