Jonathan Foust

August 16, 2008

Living with Change

Filed under: Observations — jonathanfoust @ 3:11 pm



Suited Up for a New England Winter



Suited Up for a New England Winter




This is from a recent email I sent out to the “Year of Living Mindfully” group after our exploration on Annica or Impermanence.


When my dog and I were both younger we lived near what was about a square-mile of old growth woods in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.

To get there we had to walk across a railroad trestle spanning the Housatonic River. He learned how to navigate the railroad ties as a puppy and was fearless about crossing the span even when it was iced over.  

Twice a day, no matter what the weather, we hit the woods. 

Once we reached the other side he was on his own. He would race off for the ridge lines chasing deer, squirrels and meeting up with in a the occasional bear. 

He ran at full speed, all the time.  I would hear him barking, running after deer on distant ridges.  About every 20 minutes he would come flying by from the opposite direction I had last seen him. 

He must have run at least 5 miles each time we went for a walk.


I knew all his barks. The small yips were treed squirrels.  

The frustrated flat ‘on the run’ barks were when he was chasing deer.  

Deep, throaty insistent barking meant he was face to face with a bear.  

He was one of the most alive and athletic dogs I’ve ever known.


These days he often wants to turn around and head home mid-way on our walk down to the river. 

While he used to run in ever-widening circles around me, now I do walking meditation while he often stops, smells and marks trees and bushes.

I know that change is inevitable. 

To see this once 110 pound animal 25 pounds lighter and getting increasingly old, stiff and grouchy brings a poignancy to my breath. 


He is getting old and will die. 

        Me too. 

                But it looks like he might be first.


All of this reminds me of the five daily reflections:

I am of the nature to age and decay

I have not gone beyond aging and decay

I am of the nature to become ill or injured

I have not gone beyond illness or injury

I am of the nature to die

I have not gone beyond death

All that is mine, dear and delightful, will change and vanish

I am the owner of my actions

I am born of my actions

I am related to my actions

I am supported by my actions

Any thoughts, words or deeds I do, good or evil, those I will inherit


Embracing change, we transcend it.

Embracing death, we celebrate what we have right now.



On a Good Day When He Made It To the River

On a good day when he made it to the river.


1 Comment »

  1. Seeing Jonathan’s noble Hakuna here reminded me of a recent lesson shared with me by my own dogs.

    My wife and I own two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, sisters from the same parents, born one year apart. On the surface they are as different as night and day, but their common geneology shows in many ways. It never ceases to amaze me when, for example, they lie on the deck in the exact same position a couple feet apart. It can be like seeing double.

    They are ten and eleven now, and over summer began to age noticeably. The older, F, has had a weak hind leg for a couple years. She’s always been slow about everything but playtime. She’d just as soon sit and look around for a while before taking care of her duties when we go outside. She’s often called pokey butt, sometimes lovingly, sometimes in frustration. Her sister, B, is quite the opposite – energetic, runs to get to the grass, and can’t wait to complete her duties.

    I’ve recently noticed that B has developed a weak hind leg as well. She skitters on the tile, legs flailing everywhere underneath her. F follows behind at a fast, but controlled, walk. I thought B would learn and adjust as her sister clearly has, but that hasn’t happened.

    Not long ago, I put in an extra long physically demanding day. I’m in good shape, not so young anymore, but physically sound. I was sore and stiff the folllowing day, then the next, and the next. I thought of F.

    A week later I went to finish the job I started. I worked more slowly, easily. I couldn’t complete the job that day and realized I didn’t care. I restarted the next day, not sore or stiff, but not done with the task either. I didn’t care. F came and sat watching for a long time. I still wasn’t finished. I slid over and slung my arm around my friend, sat there with her. The job still wasn’t complete, and I felt good.

    Comment by CB — September 30, 2008 @ 3:51 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: