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Travels With Maggie: Slowing Down Time

The Quest

Just a man and his dog, walking down a country road.

Life moves slower on a farm.

For sure a farmer is busier than hell but still, the mental pace is slower, more peaceful, than city life. I don’t really know how else to explain it. It’s one of those things you have to experience to fully grasp.

I call on my musical muse, the spirit of Dan Fogelberg, to best explain these walks:

Cursing the quest
Courting disaster
Measureless nights forebode
Moments of rest
Glimpses of laughter
Are treasured along the road.

Along the road
Your steps may stumble
Your thoughts may start to stray
But through it all a heart held humble
Levels and lights your way.

Shall we start down the path?

travels-with-maggie-slowing-down-time

A Time of Reflection

These walks, with my dog, are important times of reflection for me. They are my time to weigh decisions, to kick rocks and think of the past, to toss sticks and think of the future. They are my “step out of the present” time, a mental and spiritual reboot so dearly needed. I sense the same is true for Maggie. In the city, Maggie must be on a leash. In the country she is free to run wild, as she was meant to do, and it seems to me she is noticeably happier.

To run wild, with no restraints . . .

I have been restless my entire life. Dissatisfaction has always followed me, like shadows on a winter’s day. I’ve worked for over fifty years but rarely at one place for a long time. I don’t know how some people do it, working a warehouse job for thirty years. That is totally foreign to me. I don’t know how some people take on one cause and continue with that cause for decades.

There is always a voice calling me, from around the bend, beckoning to me, the siren song of the unknown, and although I can say, without hesitation, that life has never been boring for me, a little bit of stability, from time to time, might also be nice.

That’s what these walks mean to me, stability and calmness, a chance to turn my typhoon mind into a gentle breeze for thirty minutes.

“Cursing the quest, courting disaster” . . . I understand those five words so well.

That partially, at least, explains why these times with Maggie are so important for me. They are, in a very real sense, a chance to grab hold of sanity and embrace it as we embrace old friends we have not seen for years.

travels-with-maggie-slowing-down-time

No Reflection for Maggie . . . Just Fun!

It’s enjoyable just watching Maggie on these walks, always sniffing, always observing, fascination with a butterfly, mesmerized by the wind rustling the leaves, pawing at the dirt, jumping in puddles, chasing a drifting seed pod, scanning the area for more to learn, more to experience . . . but once the walk ends Maggie rests, and rests hard, whereas for me, the end of the walk means the return to “measureless nights forebode.”

Truth be told, I’m jealous of Maggie. Life just “is” for Maggie. It’s always been an internal struggle for me. I suspect that has something to do with adoption. I’ve always felt broken, like an intricate piece of electronic equipment which is missing one key component, that’s me in a nutshell. But not my Maggie girl. Life just is! She has no concept of “broken.” She does not brood over missing pieces. She simply wags her tail and begins anew the search for adventure, and man alive ain’t that refreshing?

Soaring With the Thermals

It’s all aerodynamics, they tell me, but I think there are times when scientific explanations diminish the true wonder of watching a hawk ride the warm pockets of air three-hundred feet above. Lift off from a fir tree, powerful flapping of wings to gain elevation, and finally finding that “sweet spot” in the sky where gravity is suspended and the wonders of nature do their thing. That hawk does not worry. That hawk does not complicate matters with diatribes about inherent weaknesses and frailties. He just soars above it all, an ancient drone embracing his natural gifts.

We were that way once. Long ago, each of us, eager to spread our wings and fly, the absence of fear and apprehension liberating . . . but slowly the shackles were applied . . . slowly restraints held us to terra firma . . . slowly we became prisoners and our universe shrunk. I suspect the hawk knows the ultimate truth, as does Maggie, but they are both too polite to tell me what should be obvious.

travels-with-maggie-slowing-down-time

Continuing On

Maggie likes to take her time on these walks. It’s fine with me. I’ve had my time in the competitor spotlight, always seeking personal bests, always shaving time off the clock of competition, so now, these walks, they are all about slowing time rather than seeing how fast I can do something. Truth be told, in our family, it’s my wife Bev who is always hurrying. I’m the laidback one, an odd statement for sure but true nonetheless. It’s a matter of necessity for me, really a matter of survival. Back in my drinking days, self-destruction run amuck ruled each day, stress and worry and angst and guilt all fueling an almost manic need to “do.” Today I want to live, but that desire necessitated change . . . and so I simplified.

Funny what I remember on these walks, but I’m thinking back to an old Bill Murray movie, “Meatballs,” Murray as a camp counselor in charge of a ragtag group of misfits. One scene had his wards facing a basketball competition against another camp of very good athletes, and Murray led his kids in a cheer that went “IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!” That’s how I face life today. All the silly little problems in life just don’t matter. I had to boil down existence to one simple word . . . LOVE! The only thing important in my life today is that I love my wife, I love my son, and I treat everyone I meet in a loving matter. All the rest of “that stuff” just doesn’t matter in the grand picture of life.

And Maggie understands this! If Maggie could talk she would tell you that her favorite moment of each day is that moment she can curl up on the couch with Bev and I and have her stomach rubbed. That, to Maggie, is Shangrila, sharing private moments with the two people she adores, and nothing else matters to my girl.

A Long Walk Ends

A couple Guinea hens are at the top of the driveway as we return. Maggie automatically goes into herding mode, low crouch, total attention on the task, gently guiding them back down the driveway, back to the safety of the farm. She’s just doing what comes naturally, and I wonder, as I watch her, why humans have this almost maniacal need to ignore what comes naturally. We were born, or so I believe, to love. We were born to, in the words of a long-dead poet, walk free and know no superior, and yet we continually struggle against our instincts and nature.

It’s all rather mysterious to me but, at that time, in that place, I am in harmony with Nature, and in harmony with my nature, and that brings a smile to my face.

Thanks for joining us! Maggie and I appreciate the company more than you can know. And thank you to Matthew Arnold for the inspiration.

Bill

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 17, 2021:

I am so happy you enjoyed it, Umesh. Thank you!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on June 16, 2021:

Bill, I happened to read this while stumbling through many other articles and found it quite interesting, especially the flow depicting the nature around. Thanks.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 15, 2019:

It was lovely having you join us, Rajan! thank you sir!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 14, 2019:

A lot of lessons here to learn. I truly enjoyed this walk and the reflections. Thank you, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2019:

Thank you Sha. You are much more eloquent in stating the obvious than I am. :) It is still a struggle for me to slow down, and more so for Bev, but we are making progress.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 13, 2019:

Maggie (and other beloved pets) doing what's natural and having no prejudice, are constant reminders to reel ourselves back in and just "be". There's plenty of time for tending to responsibilities, but we don't seem to take the time to allow ourselves the much-needed slowing of time and ourselves. We all need to rejuvenate, replenish, and refresh. We can't do that if we don't learn to slow down.

I'm so glad your life choices have allowed you to do just that, Bill!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2019:

Eric, speaking for dog lovers everywhere, I say HOORAH! Now good luck convincing your wife. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2019:

It is my pleasure, Eman, but I thank you for your kind words.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 12, 2019:

Bill I will get a dog this week. Mom objects over strange issues. So it will just get done. The boy is nine + We will be gone more on hiking and the like. I need her to have the love and protection of a dog.

I just cannot really grasp the need of a dog for a human. But Maggie makes it clear.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2019:

It was my pleasure, Audrey, but thank you for joining us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2019:

You are so very right, Genna. I am a lucky man, but thanks for the reminder. I need it sometimes.

Audrey Howitt from California on May 11, 2019:

I love it when a man loves his dog! Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us Bill!

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on May 11, 2019:

Thank you, Mr. Holland, for sharing your reflections. I enjoyed reading the part of soaring with the thermals so much.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on May 11, 2019:

In a way, Maggie reminds me of the child in us...the one we used to know so many years ago - chasing, playing, curious, jumping in puddles, looking and prodding with an innocence that is, for me, enviable. Your story left me smiling. Thank you for taking us along your walks with Maggie in harmony with nature. You are a lucky man, Bill. :-)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 11, 2019:

Chris, you have a writer's soul. You summed it all up perfectly, capped off by the next to last line. I'm with you, buddy.

Thank you!

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on May 10, 2019:

Sniffing, that's what going for a walk means to a dog. You mentioned it regarding Maggie. My, Darby, will sniff one spot for a solid minute, then he'll walk for thirty seconds and stop again. You also mentioned the word "learn" to describe what dogs do while walking. I've called it, "information gathering".

That is a dog's life...sniff where others have been, learn what you can about them, move on and sniff some more. I bet Maggie has no problem sleeping. Darby doesn't. I do. Too much goes on in my head. Thanks for showing me it can be done differently.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2019:

Thank you Meg! It was lovely having you join us on this walk. You are welcome any old time.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2019:

Mary, you and my wife...taking on more than is humanly possible. I understand, I truly do. I hope you find the time for that country visit.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2019:

Thank you Ruby! Middle-aged? I think I'm beyond the middle, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2019:

My pleasure, Linda! Thank you so much for joining us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2019:

I am very happy to hear that, Linda. You are always welcome to join us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2019:

MizB, the beautiful South is under flood warnings...that just needs to stop sooner rather than later. Meanwhile we are basking. :) Happy Weekend to you, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2019:

Lori, we are not living on the farm. I drive to it daily (five miles) to feed the chickens and walk with Maggie...and no, no more markets for me.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2019:

Thank you Heidi. I hope that wrist heals soon and yes mindfulness....so hard to achieve, but I'm trying.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2019:

Mr. Happy, thank YOU for sharing your thoughts with me. A 100 solo hike? Best wishes my friend. A daunting challenge but probably not a challenge if the purpose is transformation. Just allowing it to happen might be the greatest challenge, eh?

Always a pleasure hearing from you. Peace be with you always.

bill

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 09, 2019:

It just doesn't matter. I like these words. Am so driven by the things I need to do and take on more than I need to. It's time to go to the country and that's tomorrow and leave the busy lifestyle of the city. Living closer to nature might teach me to be more natural...just to be.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 09, 2019:

This put a smile on my face too. Why is it that we have to be middle-age before we learn the natural. Maggie is an excellent teacher. See you both soon..

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 09, 2019:

It's always a pleasure to see you, Irish! Best wishes to you and MIckster!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 09, 2019:

I've come to terms with it, Flourish! All is well, my friend. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 09, 2019:

I appreciate that very much, Emese! Thanks for joining us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 09, 2019:

Thanks always, Verlie! Thank you for joining us, and Happy Thursday to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 09, 2019:

It was our pleasure, Pop! Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 09, 2019:

Thank you Manatita! Happy Trails to you, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 09, 2019:

Thanks Shannon! I'm quite happy you aren't trapped in your truck. :)

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on May 09, 2019:

A walk, in companionable silence, is very refreshing. I know that if I have a problem to solve, going for a solitary walk and just kicking leaves under the trees can be the best way of finding a solution or a way through. Long may your walks with Maggie give you both, and us, joy.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 08, 2019:

This is a lovely piece of writing, Bill. Thanks for sharing your reflections.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on May 08, 2019:

Your beautiful writing is such a gift to your readers. This walk with Maggie brought me peace & comfort during a stressful week. Thank you my friend.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 08, 2019:

Enjoy your walks with Maggie, and your little showers that leave small puddles for kids, young and old, to enjoy. Right now we are under a flash flood warning and more foul weather on the way. Our little foxes have been rained out. No feeding for them today.

Seriously, nothing is more enjoyable to me than a slow walk in the country, and to be accompanied by a nice dog like Maggie makes it even better.

Lori Colbo from United States on May 08, 2019:

I love these reflections of you and Maggie and I love hearing Dan Fogleberg's lyrics which are amazing. A real poet.

I miss having my Nellie, pure bred collie and those wonderful walks. There is something so special spending time alone with your dog. Your eloquence made this piece even more delicious.

Are you now living on the farm? And did hear you tell someone you are no longer doing the farmer's market?

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on May 08, 2019:

Lovely reflection on time spent with the adorable Maggie, Bill. Enjoy and thanks for sharing my friend!

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 08, 2019:

Maybe it helps and maybe not, but we are all broken. Stories vary but you aren’t alone in your brokenness.

Emese Fromm from The Desert on May 08, 2019:

Loved this, Bill. Thank you for sharing your reflections. I always enjoy reading them.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 08, 2019:

Walks are the highlight of their day! With my wrist surgery, pups aren't getting as much walking as usual. And I can tell they're anxious for more. Luckily, healing well and will be back to our regular walks soon.

One thing I do on these walks to become more dog-like is that I don't pay attention to my phone. I have it with me for emergencies. But I see so many dog owners completely disengaged from their dog walking experience. I liken it to what Thich Nhat Hahn refers to as "when washing the dishes, wash the dishes." It's part of mindfulness.

Love the story, as usual!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on May 08, 2019:

"a farmer is busier than hell" - You made me think here: how busy is hell? Is it busier than usual now, or than in the past? Is there a "down-time" in hell, like when things are going slow? Ya, an interesting topic.

"to kick rocks and think of the past" - I still kick rocks too. My parents tried to tell me to stop because I was "ruining my shoes" when I was a kid but it didn't work. I can play soccer with rocks, with a tennis ball, almost with anything ... I tried with a ping-pong ball once but I ended-up stepping on it by mistake.

"These walks, with my dog, are important times of reflection for me." - I certainly like walks; forest walks to be percise. I am going not this weekend but the weekend after on a close to 100 miles solo walk/hike, through some forests up north, here in Ontario. Should be fun.

"grab hold of sanity and embrace it" - Ya, that's it. Trying to hold on to whatever sanity is left, in my case. City life is loco!! And it's been a long winter. My Forest walk cannot come soon enough.

"I suspect that has something to do with adoption." - I asked if I was adopted 'cause otherwise, how the #$^% am I so different than both of my parents? I was told I wasn't. Maybe I should have been 'cause like this it makes no sense, haha!!

"She does not brood over missing pieces." - She would if You just vanished and she was suddenly alone, or with strangers. She most definitely would.

"He just soars above it all, an ancient drone embracing his natural gifts." - I was showing my father a Turkey Vulture a couple of weeks ago and mentioned how cool it must be to just glide up there and simply turn the tip of your wing and boom: You can do a cool curve in the air ... with just a tip of your wing. That's awesome!

"they are all about slowing time rather than seeing how fast I can do something" - Maybe I'll get there one day. For now, I still try to fly through processes as fast as possible, while still maintaining the quality of whatever I am doing. Even my 100 miles walk that's coming up, I do not plan on taking my time. I actually want to see how fast I can do it in. Haha!! I guess I'm making it a challenge when it doesn't have to be.

"All the silly little problems in life just don’t matter." - They really don't. All that matters is our own personal transformation but we can't act like "it doesn't matter". Or, at least I can't. I'm not allowed. Haha!! I have told people in a few instances that I have no children; I am celibate and abstinent and have been so for over fifteen years. So, I got no cares in the world. No grandchildren, or children, or much family at all to worry about. The world can go to hell for all I care. Haha ... ya, that did not go well when I put it like that to people.

"I treat everyone I meet in a loving matter" - Thank You very much for that.

"We were born, or so I believe, to love." - I haven't figured this one out yet. Other than to say that there is a gigantic potential for transformation within. That's what I'm after: from catterpillar to butterfly.

"I am in harmony with Nature" - That's good. As it should be because we're Nature too, we're part of It. Even if these city dwellers I deal with on a daily basis do not see themselves as animals, part of Nature, we still all are.

Well, lovely little piece You have here today. Thank You for sharing your walk and thoughts with us. I for one enjoyed it.

May Wakan Tanka always walk with You.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on May 08, 2019:

Morning Bill, This is lovely, reads like a long prose poem reflecting life's journey.. I can relate to the freedom you feel on these walks with Maggie. What an excellent companion to have along. I enjoyed the photos, have to save Teds talk for later. Have a great day Bill (and Maggie)!

breakfastpop on May 08, 2019:

I needed a walk today. Thank you, billy.

manatita44 from london on May 08, 2019:

All the best to you and maggie in your travels. Dogs are so devotional!

Shannon Henry from Texas on May 08, 2019:

At least I don't live in the same neighborhood I used to. Whenever flash floods came out there, we were homebound until the streets went back in the creek beds. And I spend several hours caught in one of those floods in my truck. Never want to do that again! So now, as annoying as the rains can be with the puddles and messes and such, I'll count myself lucky. Enjoy your nice temperatures and the perfect walking weather!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 08, 2019:

I heard about those rains, Shannon. You guys are really getting dumped on. Meanwhile we are basking in perfect temperatures....sorry about that! :)

Shannon Henry from Texas on May 08, 2019:

Hi Bill,

Too wet for a walk here today. Heavy rains and flash floods and one really annoyed person we were supposed to do work for today. Getting into her driveway, though, would have been a risk to my car since she had rushing water rolling over the entryway. Guess she can get over her disapointment.

Your reflections are interesting today. I think many of us can relate. I could get lost in my thoughts on a walk like that, though, and lose all track of time! A protective dog is the perfect companion for much needed me-time.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 08, 2019:

Thank you Linda! More to come now that I've quit the farmers market. i have a whole day each week for creative writing.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on May 08, 2019:

A reflective Bill. Maggie girl brings out your soul, and I love it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 08, 2019:

Thank you Pamela! Yes, Fogelberg wrote almost all of the songs he recorded, probably 95% of them. Great lyricist in my opinion, and a romantic at heart for sure.

Have a tremendous week, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 08, 2019:

Perfectly stated, Eric....yes indeed, they are not ours and yet they are....love that line and thought.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 08, 2019:

If I remember correctly, Dan Fogelberg, wrote most of his own songs, which tell me he was what I would call a deep thinker. His songs have such distinct messages.

Pets love when they are loved first.They know friend from foes, and they are definitely man's best friend. Love for family sure makes life better also.

As a RN the longest I ever worked anywhere was 5 years. As for moving around, I have lived in 8 states, but we have been in this house for 19 years. Maybe that is a sign of getting old.

Your walks sound theraeutic and totally enjoyable. Have a good day Bill!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 08, 2019:

Wonderfully posed my good friend. "and I wonder, as I watch her, why humans have this almost maniacal need to ignore what comes naturally. We were born, or so I believe, to love." Count me in on this foible.

This reminded me of my query into the notion of "My". Of course it is natural and no judgment. But I am having trouble calling Gabe "my" of late. "My wife"? We know what we mean, but just to think of it is good. They are not "ours" and yet they are. As we belong to love.

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