Why so serious?

I veer to the right and step off the path. It’s below freezing so the grass crunches beneath my feet. As I cut across the playing field in the park, I hear laughter. I look up and see a couple. A man and a woman, fortified with a mass of gloves, hats and scarves against the cold. They’re walking two dogs and the dogs are whizzing around them. The dogs are chocolate labradors. This is obviously part of their regular route because the couple—and their dogs—look utterly relaxed. They all look they’ve been here a thousand times.

I take this in in less than a second and begin to walk slower. I love watching dogs play. There’s something inspiring about seeing such uninhibited and joyful beings.

One of the dogs begins to bound towards me. But the other dog beats him to the spot and crouches in front of him. The first changes direction. The second gives chase. What follows is a saga of running, changing direction, nudging, pawing, jumping, barking and tail wagging. 

The saga ends when the couple are at the exit of the park. They call two names which I don’t catch and the dogs come running back to them. Leads are replaced and the happy couple and their joyful dogs head out of sight. 

What struck me about this short episode was how the dogs played with each other. It got me thinking. When was the last time I played with someone like that? In fact, when was the last time I truly played? 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the quest for a good career, fulfilling work, productive habits, and meaningful projects. Trust me. I’ve spent a lot of time looking around at what other people are doing and beating myself up about what I’m doing. 

I imagine that if those two dogs could interrupt us while we slave away at something supposedly important, they’d ask a simple question. A question which would make us reconsider the nature of and motivation behind what we spend most of our lives doing. The chocolate labradors would ask us, “Why so serious?”