Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Slower Consciousness
My hero Spalding Gray said in one of his monologues that people born in Los Angeles have "a 25 mile an hour consciousness".  He reasoned that from birth they view the world on wheels.  First, it is the baby carriage, stroller then the tricycle, bicycle, skate board, the automobile and finally wheel chair, or to be more politically correct a senior stroller. Spaulding surmised it was just evolution of the west coast human retina.  Their retinas could neither register, see nor become conscious of any image going past them slower than 25 miles an hour because they have never experienced it.
I think Professor Gray has observed correctly, however, I believe it is an environmental and not an evolutionary change. West coast people don't observe their surroundings because our surroundings were designed to drive through and not walk through.  Although I am not a native Californian I can attest to the fact that this power of slower observation can be retrained. 
For the first time in my life I have a dog.  Oh, I've had plenty of pets in my life and some of them were dogs, but this is the fist dog that sees me as the alpha.  If I am around she stays with me and follows me around the house.  Even if I get up in the middle of the night she will follow me around until I go back to bed.  She likes to explore the neighborhood and I get to go with her.  It has been a real eye opener.
You don't really comprehend things when you are driving just as Spalding observed.  I have discovered many things about the houses and business in the area on these long walks with Boo. I have passed them many times but never really saw them before now.  One of the houses in my neighborhood has a putting green in the front yard.  The house is on a small hill rising from the street. You wouldn't know the artificial turf was there unless you were walking by. It looks like a resort installation, very professional. In some cases what I thought was a drive way from the street was really a tennis court. There are homes with gates closed when you drive by, but walking you can see the hidden castles behind the shrubbery.  I am coming to a whole new idea of  where I live.  Since I have lived here for almost two decades you would think it would not come as such a surprise. 
I have found that when I am walking the dog, older people are friendlier. If you say hello, they will greet you in return.  Younger people try not to get involved and won't always offer back a greeting. Most of the time they are engrossed in listening to something with earbuds; Or they are talking on the phone as they walk. There is a chance that they can't hear my greeting, but there is still a distance.  I think the older folks have grown up with a world that doesn't come at them so fast.  They have a slower consciousness and absorb more of the moment than these young digital denizens. 
Thanks to a dog named Boo I have learned that slower is better.  You really do have to stop and smell the roses even if you are picking up dog crap at the same time. I look forward to our walks together almost as much as she does. 
Boo is very much in the moment. She senses a trail and follows that sent until it either ends or no longer interests her. Then she looks around to see if there is some other adventure in the moment.  I have always heard the phrase "a dogs life" used as a negative. Based upon the other dogs we meet on our walks, dogs seems to be living quite well. They have a better way of experiencing their world. They are only concerned with the squirrel of the moment. They don't spend much time on the one that got away, because in the next moment they find a new excitement.
Although Boo looks to me as the alpha of the pack, I am learning more from her than she knows.  She helps me stave off evolution of a "25 mile and hour consciousness" at least for awhile.  I highly recommend this therapy. You really don't know where you are unless you stop and really look around. 
As you were,


Roomie said...

I have been recommending the "Boo" therapy to you for years.....just sayin'.....
Carry on,

Bob Conrad said...

I have two rather large dogs, Labs one yellow and one chocolate that take me for a walk most days which keeps both me and them in shape both mentally and physically.