The horizon beckons to us all. So why should I be surprised when our dog, Karma, off her leash, heads to the woods? She is obviously pursuing that tree line at the far end of sight. I don’t blame her. I would go there too. On this day with fresh fallen snow, I too would like to be the one to make the first tracks. Of course, she will find that she is not the first one. Others have been through the field and forest already; Deer, turkey, and fox have been awake for hours. Their tracks will tell stories of patient and attentive walking. They are likely looking for food or shelter or both. There is food here. It may be a little harder to find under the blanket of new snow. There are hiding places. They may even be better hidden now that the weight of the snow on the branches curves them toward the ground. I imagine that the critters walk through the woods with keen awareness of potential dangers and opportunities all around them. Karma will follow all of these scents like I read a book, with curiosity, excitement and disregard for the rest of the world. In her absorption, Karma will forget about the horizon and attend to the tracks below her nose.
She will not hear me calling to her — and I will not follow her.
For today, I will not follow the call to head straight for the horizon. I have other things to do this morning. There are breakfasts to make and a lunchbox to pack. There are words to be written and a commitment to be kept. There’s a meeting to prepare for and others to schedule. I suppose that attending to these details of my life is how I follow the tracks below my nose. With my head down, I am attentive to the needs and call of the moment, taking only the step that is in front of me, and then the next. This attention to what is here, no matter how stimulating or mundane, is a practice and a discipline. When I am doing it well, focused on the people around me and the work that is mine to do, I feel grounded and in alignment with my place and purpose. But to maintain that sense of right place and purpose, I need to remember to look up too. There is always a beckoning horizon. Noticing it and, potentially, even yearning for it, provides balance. Some days, I will even take a running leap or a few deliberate steps towards it. But not today.
Today, I will follow the tracks beneath my nose. I will tend to my work and my home. I will feed the slow and steady fire in the wood stove as well as the one in my heart. I will be here when Karma’s adventure turns her towards home.