It wasn’t hard to fall in love with Gabby. I always loved her eyes. When I sat on the sofa, she watched with this deep anticipation and hope. Then, when I patted my hand for her to get up or come a little closer, jubilantly she did so.
For the impact she had on me, you’d think, first of all, she was my dog, and secondly, that we’d known each other for close to a lifetime. You’d be wrong on both counts. But it didn’t matter. The short time we had together was long enough to learn a lesson that will be with me until the end of my days.
She was my brother’s family dog. Her name was officially Gabriella. Although, I’m not sure if anyone ever used that name. While it may have sounded very sophisticated, she had humble origins. As an orphan, Gabby was a stray who lived in an elephant camp in Thailand where my sister, a vet, was doing her Ph.D. research.
Apparently Gabby would hang around where my sister was working. Over time, as you’d expect if you’d known her, she charmed her way into my sister’s heart. When they finally left, so did Gabby. Fast forward to their home in Britain where I met Gabby.
Gabby by the canal where we used to walk.
Whenever I visited, one of the highlights was always taking Gabby for walks. We’d go in the morning and then, once again in the afternoon, before supper. I remember watching Gabby while we’d be walking. From one side of the road she’d go to the other. All along she’d pause for a while, sniffing, gleaning a wealth of information I could never hope to comprehend. I always referred to the times she’d pause and sniff as “Gabby Moments.” It was at that time when I realised just how simple life truly is.
We’d go for our walks and aside from times when she’d be playing with my brother when he took her for a walk, she’d just sleep. It was so beautifully uncomplicated. I know, the first thing anyone reading those words would say, “sure, but she’s a dog. Of course her life is uncomplicated.” Yes, I know. But it’s more the simplicity in which Gabby was pursuing her life. There was an uncanny “nowness” to it that granted a feeling of peace to the entire time we’d go for a walk.
While we were walking our attention was on where we were and what Gabby was doing. At other times, I’d be looking at the places along my walk, consumed by an array of pastimes and activities. My family lived near a canal and my walk would take us along its journey nearby the town.
Importance of Not Thinking
There were farms and the animals ambling about, boats, people fishing and all sorts. I know many people value the time walking a dog as one in which they can think about different aspects of their lives. There are some who apparently make significant decisions about the path of their lives while on a walk with their dogs.
Yet, for me, I valued it as a time for not thinking. You could say it was a type of peace of mind. I was so consumed by everyhing I was experiencing on the walk. And watching Gabby enjoy chasing smells, exploring interesting bushes or just walking along made me aware of how simple life can be. Any animal with whom we share some of our time would be the same.
The Simple Life
It may mean not cluttering up our lives with things we don’t really use. For instance, for me, most of my time I’m working from home and so, I’m almost always near my computer. Therefore, why bother complicating my life with a so-called smartphone. I use a simple antiquated flip-phone and that’s more than enough.
There are so many other ways we can simplify our lives. We often have too much stuff. Maybe we don’t need that twenty odd pairs of shoes. It might be possible to get by with only one or two. Ditto with the clothes. We can ask ourselves, when last did we wear something? If it’s more than three years ago, it may be time to pass it on. More than enough places would welcome your donation. There’s Salvation Army or The Gathering Place in St. John’s, NL. Wherever you are, I’m sure there are an ample number of places for you to donate some of your abundance.
Thinking even larger, perhaps we don’t need that large a house anymore. Ultimately, we may spend most of our time in the kitchen, bedroom and sitting room anyway. Maybe there’s only only one or two of us. So, there’s little need for a vast amount of space. Again, same things for our vehicles. Our cars can be a straightforward affair. If there is no need to haul large items, a small car would do. Keep it simple.
For some us, our homes are filled with a host of appliances, entertainment do-dads and more, all of which we may rarely use. Maybe it’s time to pass them on.
Making Decisions — They Can Be Simple Too
In other ways, too often our decision-making grinds to a halt with numerous “what if’s” or “you never know’s.” And many times when this happens, we realise we didn’t really want to do what we were contemplating anyway. A lot of times, we’re complicating the decision-making process.
Our decision-making process can involve a fairly elementary process. Begin by writing down the problem. It could be ‘do I want to have some surgical procedure’ or ‘do I want to take a holiday?’ Then below, form a list of pros and cons which are then rated based on their importance—give it a ‘1’ if it’d not be that big a deal or ‘5’ if it’s crucial.
Afterwards, sum up the numbers and whichever is highest is your decision. Go or don’t go. Do it or don’t do it. But critically, as a final step, what does your gut tell you? Whatever your gut says, go with that, even if it’s counter to your earlier decision-making. Simple.
Simple to Try
I could go on, but I think you’ve got the picture. We often complain our lives are too complex. But how much of that is our own doing. Some of the methods to simplify our lives are more involved and longer term. Yet, others are uncomplicated and easy.
I touched on only a few methods. However, there are many ways we can simplify our lives. Still, the first and most important step is to recognise that life could indeed be simpler. Again, walking with Gabby was always a delight. In so doing, watching her just simply live and thoroughly enjoy her life was my signal for a change.
It’s never always that easy. Sometimes, the complexities of life catch us up. Sort of a “where do you think you’re going so fast?” After taking a few measures to pare down our lives, however, our response to the potential complications of life get easier.
And then, it’s worth our while to just sit quietly and listen. Maybe we’ll hear the wind blowing, the waves washing onshore, or the song of the birds in the woods. All are a wonder, simple in their majesty. Give it a try.