Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Moment

Every now and then, I'm blessed with a moment; an aliquot of time apart from the usual hustle and bustle, the endless rushing here and there between appointments and obligations to just stop and be, quietly at one with the universe.

It was one of the those glorious days last week when the spring sun was warm but not prematurely stifling. I stopped at the post office on the way home to pick up the mail. There wasn't much money in the deposit that day, so I didn't feel compelled to get it to the bank. I was meeting the NinjaBaker and NinjaCutie for dinner later, but didn't have to be anywhere for a good half hour. So I took the Rolling Peke out of the car and went for a walk.

The post office is a quaint little stone building just outside Valley Forge Park, surrounded on three sides by occasionally tended greenery. Its next door neighbor on the fourth side is a tiny church, complete with a graveyard in back. Separating them is a falling-down fence consisting of low concrete posts connected by metal pipes.

Although the Rolling Peke still uses a wheelchair for her daily toileting walks, she can actually walk quite well on her own now, four years after her back surgery, so it didn't matter that I didn't have the cart with me. She wobbled off into the pasture, fervently inhaling the grass like Bill Clinton never did. I walked ahead a little, doubling back after her as she veered toward the cemetery. The lower of the two pipes that made up the fence was maybe twelve inches off the ground; the dog doesn't clear nine, so it was no barrier to her at all. The other pipe wasn't more than two feet up; not much of a barrier to me either, as we moseyed into the cemetery and wandered among the headstones.

RP galumphed along gaily until she reached the shade of a small tree, where she planted herself and waited patiently for me. I have no idea how long it was -- not long, but long enough -- that I meandered up and down the rows of headstones, taking in names and dates. I didn't calculate actual ages; rather I got a sense of who had been really old and who had succumbed earlier in life. From names and dates, I extrapolated families. Several graves were clearly those of servicemen. There were few epitaphs, all the more memorable for their paucity. One said simply, "He was a nice guy."

As I meandered, I noticed that there were no specific emotions flowing through me. I noticed that it was neither too hot nor too cold, that the breeze felt good, and that the RP was smiling as she panted in the shade under her tree. The grass was freshly cut, and very green from the preceding week of rain. I noticed everything, yet as soon as anything came into my conscious mind, I let it go. Almost like the description of meditation, when they tell you to stop thinking. It's impossible to do that, but it is possible not to pay attention to your thoughts. That's what I did. For a few minutes, I wasn't thinking about the office, that day's patients, or the next day's. I wasn't thinking about what I was going to make for dinner, or whether or not the dishwasher had been run, or the last time the cat boxes had been emptied. I wasn't even thinking about life and death, even as I wandered through the very essence of its distal terminus. I just was. On a gorgeous spring day, with my dog lying in the shade smiling at me.

Eventually the moment passed. I picked up the Rolling Peke and nuzzled her in my arms as we returned to the car, back to our regularly scheduled lives; grateful for the moment.


At Mon May 25, 09:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You painted a vivid picture in my mind. Older cemeteries have an atmospheric like none other. I visited a small cemetery of old mining town of Sunshine,Colorado. Walking slowly through the scrub grass,skewed headstones,wooden crosses. One I never forgot,3 children's names on one stone 5yrs,3yrs,1yr. Prob.infectious, no available treatment.

At Mon May 25, 11:46:00 PM, Blogger Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...


At Tue May 26, 02:54:00 AM, Blogger Sara said...

That's a great thing about pets, I'm coming to discover. I think they sort of always live like that.

At Tue May 26, 01:24:00 PM, Anonymous birdie23 said...

I find a walk in a graveyard very peaceful and helpfull to calm down all the chatting in my mind. big hug to your Peke.

At Thu May 28, 04:30:00 PM, Blogger ShrinkingDoc said...

There's nothing better than a nice walk on a beautiful day with a smiling, happy dog!

At Wed Jun 03, 02:07:00 PM, Blogger Marie said...

Thanks for sharing your moment. You painted a lovely picture.

I enjoy your blog. As a nurse who works in managed care, and as a reluctant patient with a chronic illness, I don't always agree with you. But I have enormous respect and admiration for the care you show your patients. They are lucky to have you as their physician.

And you have to admire anyone who loves their dog that much. :)


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