I have two Shih Tzus, about 10 months old, from the same litter. Sweetest and dumbest things ever at the same time. Actually, the girl is pretty cunning. The boy is happy-go-lucky but not high on intellect or training abilities. But we adore their different personalities, because, just like the kids in our house, they each bring something different to the table. We named them Samson and Delilah. She is very lap-seeking and intense. He is very carefree and low-maintenance, overall.
One fine day I was sitting on the couch with Delilah on my lap enjoying a good Shih Tzu massage, and SAM-ssss* (our nickname for him with emphasis on the first syllable) was perseverating on the plastic wheel of my elliptical (the wheel used to move it from room to room). He was having the most fascinating time spinning that thing. Really, who was I to interrupt this mindless, drone-like activity? And, yet, it fascinated me because Samson loves to run around, chomp on a chew stick, and show us his belly, hoping it’s a nice hint to rub it. Spinning a plastic wheel was a new trick. I almost associated that kind of behavior more with Type-A Delilah.
And I thought about how profound that is because we humans resent when we spin without getting anywhere. The few times you even find me on an elliptical (usually after a week of unhealthy eating when I am attempting to compensate with one workout on the machine), I want to get somewhere. I obsessively check the distance “travelled,” time spent, calories burnt. We don’t feel like we can take a minute to stop at a long traffic light without checking our texts. Our society is spinning endless wheels like Samson, only we are frustrated when multitasking all at once doesn’t propel us somewhere.
So I found myself admiring my tiny-brained dog for being content in the moment, with only one thing going, and not pursuing endless distractions at once. And also that spinning that thing took him nowhere but relaxing and burning energy. Unlike Delilah, who usually exploits those moments when Samson is distracted to grab his chew stick or pull one of his favorite toys into her crate, Samson could focus. On one thing. And not have to get or be anywhere but in that moment. It made me wish for a few moments I could lay on the floor right next to him and bat at that wheel.
An excellent book for how to stop being so busy is:
DeYoung, Kevin. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.
*We also have been known to call him Samsonite or Samsonian.