Yesterday I woke up early, around 4:00 a.m., and pretty quickly realized that something in my small house was amiss. Within a few minutes, I was hunched over my phone, watching a YouTube video entitled something like “How to Get Doggy Diarrhea Out of Carpet.”
Happy Saturday, I thought to myself as I gathered the necessary supplies. I wondered which puppy was responsible, and felt a bit guilty for not guessing something was wrong before turning out the light the previous evening.
As I cleaned, I considered whether or not that start to my early morning was going to make for a grumpy day. As soon as the thought drifted into my mind, though, the answer came clearly back: No. Instead of being upset, I felt empathy for whichever puppy hadn’t been feeling well.
More than that, though, I was struck by an almost surreal sense of peace as I kneeled on the carpet. This is my life, I thought to myself. The life that I’ve chosen. I have puppies that I love, a house in which I am safe and dry. Somehow, perhaps because I was simply too tired to gather energy for something else, I understood that the moment of cleaning up poop was actually representative of the sweetness in life, rather than the inconvenience of it.
We’re often told to pay attention to the small moments; our society is full of caution about future regrets found in not appreciating what we once had. It’s easy to tune into that when the beauty found in living is obvious; I could write in glowing terms about a recent bonfire on the beach, or about the joy surrounding dinner and games last night with friends.
Yet I don’t think that placing value on only the happy moments, or those in which our contentment is made easy for us, is the point. I obviously don’t wish for many pre-dawn surprises such as the one I had yesterday, yet tuning in to the pure act of living that precise moment was incredibly grounding.
As strange as it sounds, I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world than right in my own life, taking care of the things that needed to be tended to. For someone with seemingly incurable wanderlust, that’s no small task, but it’s true: down on my hands and knees, I felt an unexpected giddiness, rooted in gratitude for every (stinky) breath I take in the life I’ve created for myself.