Sunday evening, the grocery store was crowded, as expected. I was in a tightly packed line, waiting to check out. All of a sudden, chaos erupted as a woman squealed. People pushed each other to step out of the away, shoppers further off stopped what they were doing to look in curiosity. The woman looked desperately around her, searching for whatever had startled her.
We found the culprit very quickly because he was right there. A puppy dog was running between a sea of legs, his tail wagging happily. He moved around cheerfully, trying to make friends among the strangers. He was unaware of the consternation with which some folks were now looking at him nor the shock on the woman’s face at his unruly behaviour.
Soon enough, his owner got hold of him, looking apologetically at the crowd as he pulled the puppy out of the store. The puppy looked confused. Why was he being dragged away from this wonderful place, his face said. However, he allowed himself to be taken out, trusting his owner. Order restored itself, the humdrum of grocery lines regained itself, and we went back to the banality of standing in line and paying for our groceries when it was our turn.
As I walked out, I saw the puppy. He was chained to a bike rack, sitting on his haunches, looking inside for his owner and probably at the people that were milling in the grocery store. He had a relaxed, friendly expression on his face. Ears were up, eyes were soft. He looked curiously, openly at the world around him. What struck me most was the complete absence of the previous episode. No guilt, no remorse, no lingering self-reproach.
It made me think about how we humans, by contrast, tend to dwell on stuff, especially the painful, embarrassing, painful stuff. We mull over it, chew on it endlessly, and refuse to let it go as we parse it and analyse it to groan-inducing, excruciating detail. We talk about it, endlessly, in a recurring loop like Groundhog Day.
Why? That moment is gone. A new moment is here. It is all that deserves our attention. The puppy dog seems to get it. We could learn from it.