A Dog’s Life ...

It was once possible to stroll down the forest path to the dam, extend your arms and find your hands had vanished from view amidst the lush foliage on either side.  Sure there were ruts and rocks, thorns and mud puddles to be navigated but that just added to the sense of accomplishment at the end of the trail.  After a recent upgrade, the term trail is no longer appropriate.  Two lane highway, now comes to mind.  Sure it is still dirt beneath a sprinkling of gravel but the width and more even gradient makes for a different kind of walk. 

While the distance remains the same the effort expended seems less.  The mental effort is reduced as well.  Hardly any need to watch your step to keep your balance.  With little need to look down I suppose one is freer to look up and across the landscape.  Cookie shows no sign of being incensed by the forward march of progress.  She bounds ahead with her unrelenting enthusiasm, undaunted by a break with the past and intently focused on new sights and smells.  The mental health and balance of a dog is perhaps something to be aspired to.

Speaking of health, we spent much of yesterday in the corridors of an unfamiliar environment.  I am guessing it had been eight or nine years since our last physicals and thought it was perhaps time to let someone check on our internal heath.  I seem to remember a tonsillectomy as a child and a broken leg as an adult but that is pretty much the sum total of my hospital experience.  Since coming to Thailand in 1975 I have been a devout self-medicator (my own word).  A little reading and a close relationship with a skilled pharmacist and I was good to go. 

The recent rash of family and village deaths has left my wife a little rattled and thinking more about things like health and life insurance.  Even with an uncle retired from the business, I have never trusted insurance companies.  I view them in a similar light as the large casinos.  The odds seem overwhelmingly stacked in their favor or they would not be able to build such obscene edifices to their grandeur.

As a first step down the road to helping my wife cope, a checkup seemed the way to go.  We did get impatient by afternoon and left with one remaining procedure for her and the reading of our results by a doctor.  We will reschedule the completion on another day when it might not be quite such an inconvenience.  Overall I found the scene that unfolded around us in the hospital quite foreign and unpleasant.  It reminded me a little, of the time I have spent in my parent’s retirement home.  Unhealthy, unattractive and unhappy people meandering around in a desperate slow-motion dance with death but representing a broader range of age groups, from newborn to very old. 

Perhaps it is all down to luck and good genes but then again my distinct lack of vices may have played a part as well.  Whatever the reason my preference is to focus on getting as much joy and experience out of living as I can.  Trying to avoid or postpone death indefinitely seems to me to be a sucker’s game.  I will, however, find ways to comfort and reassure my wife as she goes through this period of grief, questioning and uncertainty. 

With the inevitability of death, it seems clear to me, that how we live is the only thing we can exert control over.  Accidents do happen and living a “perfect” life is no guarantee of a long healthy existence, but high-risk habits and behaviors are nonetheless, not in ones best interest.  Of course you would not get that message by looking around and observing how others live.  I think I will continue aspiring to being a little more like Cookie everyday.  The here and now of a dog’s life seems pretty good right now.