Speaking of staying in the present (my post for May 10), it occurred to me that animals other than ourselves have no trouble living in the present.
Years ago, my family owned an apricot standard poodle named Doc. He was a brilliant, spontaneous comedian and performer. If you rolled a tennis ball down the long hall in our apartment, he would give chase, and just before grabbing the ball in his jaws, he’d do a theatrical little “Ah-ha!” move, just for show. Or he’d lie with his blanket between his forelegs, and look away as if to hint, “Say, this would be a good time for you to swipe my blanket.” If you took the hint, he’d have the other end of the blanket before you could even begin to pull, and the tug of war was on!
As far as I could tell, Doc never strayed into the past, and he had only the most immediate possible sense of the future. Sometimes he would sit in front of the cupboard that contained the doggy treats, straightening his paws and his haunches in an attempt to sit as neatly as possible in hopes of a reward that might come in 30 seconds or less. Other times he would hear us approaching our building, rise up at the window, and then rush to the door, anticipating our immediate arrival.
The farthest Doc saw into the future was on occasions when we were going on a trip, suitcases packed and already trundled to the car. Someone would have to walk him: 1) prior to putting him in the car, or 2) prior to putting him back in the house, because he wasn’t going with us, and our neighbor was going to be walking and feeding him for a couple of days.
This walk was almost impossible to accomplish, because Doc, knowing the trip was about to start, knowing he might or might not be going, refused to go anywhere except as close as he could to the car. Now that I recall this, I wonder why we didn’t just move the car around the block temporarily, but it never occurred to us then.
On trips when Doc was going, and finally got walked and finally got into the car, the future simply disappeared. And there was that smiling dog in the rear view mirror, totally in the glorious present.