Fresh Outlook

Dogs are great. They are never in a bad mood. Every morning, no matter what transpired the day before, no matter if their joints ache, they have PMS, or have had a spat with the neighborhood cat, they greet you with a smile (I imagine) and wag of their tail, happy to greet the day and you. Even when you interrupt them from a deep sleep and expect them to go for a run in rain or sleet, they happily oblige.

(I want to see someone try and wake me up from a deep sleep and convince me to do the same.)

In other words, every day that greets them is a reason to rejoice, to give love unconditionally, to behold the world as if were just created, and to take time to stop and smell (or pee on) the roses.

We could all probably learn a thing or two from dogs.

So, in the spirit of the dog, I have tried to make a habit of sending a silent thank you up to the heavens for every new morning I am lucky enough to greet, to not take things or people for granted, and to try and take things more in stride. Like sending the boys off to school with a kiss and kind words instead of rantings and ravings about laundry not picked up, dishes not loaded into the dishwasher, and other things which seem, in the moment, so important but, of course, in hindsight don’t really make that much of a difference in the cosmic scheme of things. Ditto with my better half.

(And I do seem better at managing stress and taking things in stride than I did in my twenties…but then again, maybe it’s less to do with wisdom and finding serenity and more to do with early retirement.)

Of course, no sooner have I sent up my silent ‘thank you’ that I often forget all my good intentions and get annoyed at some minute thing…like the pharmacies because trying to find a product is like playing the impossible-to-win “under which cup is the ball” game (and just like the game, I suspect it’s under none of them, at least that is normally the result I get)…or the dishwasher in a death throe (its 100th), the landlord refusing to accept that the machine has lived a good life and must pass on to the great junkyard in the sky…or the fiftieth driver I stop to let in my lane just to have him (or her) block my path while they wait to go in the opposite direction (use blinkers much?). And so on. Such inane matters can make me forget to behold each day and my surroundings (and the people in it) with fresh eyes and gratitude.

Luckily, if one forgets to be dog-like, there is always the hope of visitors to set one straight and freshen one’s outlook. Like the visitors we had this past weekend, a family of five.

We have known each other for twenty years (well, we couples have; the kids trickled in throughout our acquaintance). In fact, the wife and I (both non-Swedes married to Swedes), within two weeks of each other, moved from our respective home countries to Budapest as love-struck twenty-somethings to join our Nordic mates.  Since then our paths have crisscrossed over the years and the map. We have been in and out of touch, but I can happily say that it seems that the universe wants us to stay in touch. Despite time and distance, we always meet up, as well as have some strange coincidences.

Like, after one period when we had been busy growing families, we met in Stockholm. Of course, we proudly showed off our respective offspring to each other. At that time, they had two (a girl and a boy) and we had one boy. When we got to the ‘what is his name’ portion of the show ‘n tell, imagine the surprise when the boys names were exactly the same…and I am not just meaning the first name, but the first and middle name.

(Ok, they swapped the order of the first and middle name on paper, but in practice, the boys are called the same thing. Close enough.)

Then, after another dry spell of contact, we just happened to run into each other in a café. On the large island of Varmdo. One of many islands in the many-islanded area of Stockholm. In one of the many cafes. Turns out we each have summer houses. Five minutes from each other.

Whether cosmic connection or coincidence, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just happy we can count them as friends. It’s nice to have friends who you may not see often but, when you meet, you pick up as if no time had passed.

As for the weekend, the weather was purr-fect. The company was most excellent. As were our friends’ awesome reaction to this great city and its amazing cultural and visual offerings. No matter if the source is 4 legs or 2 legs, it’s nice to be reminded, again, to not take for granted spectacular things, and especially not spectacular people.

(BTW, our friends met each other in the Brazilian jungle. They met across a chance campfire, in some obscure part of the jungle. They then parted ways, going with their respective touring groups off to some other obscure part of the jungle. Then, guess what? They bumped into each other again. In the Brazilian jungle. The Brazilian jungle, folks. Now you tell me: Coincidence? Or cosmic connection.)

(BTW, P & H, I have gotten a lot of mileage out of the story of how you met. It has got to be the best I – and my audiences over the years – have ever heard. Xoxo to the 5 of you.)

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