When was the last time you stopped to watch the squirrels? Or some other little critter out in nature? Most likely you've heard the saying "stop and smell the roses." But what about "stop and watch the squirrels"? You probably haven't heard that one, because I just made it up. Not that it's outside the realm of possibility that other people could have had that thought or said those words. ;-) But that's a whole other topic. So I'll get back to the squirrels.
A couple days ago, I took my dog Buddy (yes, that's his name, the name that he came with) to walk around Green Lake here in Seattle. Usually I let him stop to sniff around and look at squirrels for a little while, but then try to keep him moving so that we make it around the lake in a "reasonable" amount of time. But on Monday, I didn't care about going all the way around the lake, even though it feels sort of strange not to. Monday was a beautiful, sunny day. And in October, you never know when it will be our last for a while. So I really just wanted to be outside. No agenda.
So when Buddy would stop to look at a squirrel, instead of trying to get him to keep walking, or instead of taking that moment to check my phone, I just stood there with Buddy. Watching him. Watching the squirrel. Watching him watch the squirrel. Looking deeply into the squirrel's eyes. And it felt so good!
Now, I'm someone who loves animals. I always loved watching the birds and squirrels play in my yard. But since getting Buddy back in March, I guess I wasn't really giving squirrels much of my attention, at least not in the same way. Now Buddy was my cute animal to watch and squirrels were just something that made Buddy yank on the leash or not want to keep walking.
Like most dogs, Buddy is very interested in squirrels, but he rarely runs after them. Usually, he just stares. Stares and stares. Stares into their eyes, if they're close enough and willing. And at Green Lake, most of them were! So I got to watch a few staring contests. I also saw a squirrel drink from the lake. I don't think I've ever seen that before. And to be honest, I don't know for sure if the squirrel was drinking from the lake or washing something off or what, because the squirrel's big bushy tail and rear end were blocking the view a bit, but it was probably one of, if not both of those, actions. And it made me smile.
I felt really happy feeling so patient and present and available to seeing more of what was happening around me. Imagining what it's like for Buddy. His mind isn't filled with a bunch of thoughts. He doesn't care about walking around the lake in a certain amount of time. He's just taking in all the smells and sights as fully as he can. Totally in the present moment.
And through that state of presence comes the opportunity for communion. One of my favorite feelings. Communing with nature. With other living things. With the elements. With other people.
Speaking of other people, as I stood there, in these various spots whenever Buddy would stop, feeling patient, relaxed, in awe and amused by what I was witnessing, other people started to stop. They'd stop and look. Curious what Buddy was looking at. Maybe even curious why I was standing there smiling and laughing.
Several conversations with strangers took place that day. One woman who stopped to talk to us (ha! yes, me and Buddy), was a woman who had sat down with us on a bench at Green Lake about a month ago. It was the day I found out my grandmother died, or perhaps the next day. And this elderly woman and I had a lovely conversation back in September and now again in October. Connection. Connection is so easy to find if we're just willing to see it all around us. Be open to it.
So if you're feeling a lack of connection, take the time to stop and watch the squirrels. Go out into the world and keep your head up. Make eye contact with others--squirrels and humans too! Smile. Say hello. Treat the people you encounter in your day as if you've known them for years. Why not? It's fun. Or at least it can be if you decide it will be regardless of how others respond.
Some people will be delighted to interact with you. Some won't even realize you're trying to interact with them because they're so not used to it! So, don't worry if your "hello" or smile goes totally ignored or even makes someone look concerned. Just continue on, and I promise you you'll get more smiles and hellos in response to your own the more you do this and the more you feel at ease with it. :)
That's all for now! Now go out there and watch some squirrels. And while you're at it, smell some roses too.
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."