There is a routine, a regularity, a simplicity in my retired life. In my former existence, I often felt I was running here and there, doing this and that, solving a multitude of problems for myself and, perhaps, the world.
Today, the world appears to turn without my intervention and my own world is far smaller. Joe the Dog loves this about me. I arise early, sometimes four or five in the morning. After I’ve dressed and open the bedroom door, he’s sitting there, waiting, tail wagging. He knows that I will take the same path to the kitchen, that I’ll get a cup from the cupboard, fill it with coffee and walk to the refrigerator to get the creamer. He knows the routine so well that he will jump backwards on either side of the path he knows I’ll take to the refrigerator. He delights in this knowledge.
I am so happy that I’ve taught him where the refrigerator is. It was easy. I just jump backward like this and he does it every time.
I will usually sit at my desk for a while, scanning the news and answering e-mails and texts. Joe is very patient about all of this.
He needs rest. He’s crawled into his little nest. I’ll give him some time.
I usually can hear the newspaper being tossed onto my driveway. So does Joe, and his head comes up, looking at me. I stare at him.
Look at that. I think he heard it, too.
“Joe, you want to go get the paper?”
Yes! He’s learning to do this! I’ll reward him.
Joe jumps up and races to the front door ahead of me.
Quick. Got to do this the moment he’s thinking about it, while he’s not distracted!
I open the door and say “Get the paper.”
Hurry hurry. Out the door, along the sidewalk. Sidewalk. Down the steps. Down the steps. Where’s paper? There it is. Pick up paper. Oh, wait. Prance around, show the neighbors what I’ve done. They need to see what I’ve taught him. Up the steps. Up the steps. Sidewalk. Sidewalk. In the door.
“OK, drop it. Drop it. Good boy. Good dog.” I give him his treat.
Good boy. I give him his treat.
Joe can be annoying. We have tried to teach him that the tennis balls are his, and things like socks and dish towels are not. I will often notice him sitting at my office door with my sock in his mouth, staring at me. I get up to chastise him, but he runs to the back door and drops the sock, looking at me. I’ll use a little distraction so he doesn’t think it’s a game. I open the door for him and he runs out.
Good grief, I’ve got to go. Does he not understand that a dog can’t cross his legs? Sometimes the only way to get his attention is to pick up the damn sock and stare at him oh good Lord that feels good.
I open the door to let Joe back in and lecture him about picking up socks.
Listen to that. Isn’t that cute? He’s making that noise again. I’d swear he’s trying to bark.
All I know is what I read in the newspapers. The governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general of Virginia are in trouble and freshmen congressmen are calling for defunding Homeland Security, while their friend Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks we should be relying on attorneys rather than lawyers! (Don’t ask me; I’m just repeating what she said.)
But it appears that the world is turning without my considerable knowledge and assistance, while my own world is smaller than it used to be. And infinitely more satisfying. Right, Joe?
Simple is best. Less is more.