I am thrilled to welcome Jeff Flodin today as our guest on Touching Landscapes. His story will reveal a treasure he has discovered when walking with his seeing-eye dog, Randy. Come with us as we mosey on down with Jeff and his canine companion to absorb more of life in a very special way…
“I’ve never been much at meditation. Back in 2004, I was invited to drop out of a beginners’ class. My ineptness offended the master. Or perhaps she objected to my guide dog sharing my mat, but I doubt that. The dog was more meditative than I.”
Calming this mind becomes a test of will. I get too hung up on superficial details — soft lighting, mood music, comfy cushions. I am too controlling to allow connection to any power other than selfism.
So, when my friend described her habit of walking meditation, I listened. And it came to me that walking with my Seeing Eye dog is meditative. When I grasp his harness handle, we become a team. We trust one another. He guides. I direct and correct. Our roles compliment. He does what comes naturally.
I relax and go with his flow. We get rhythm. I feel tension dissolve. I let my mind wander to sounds and smells and textures. I am aware but receptive. I absorb more and transmit less.
Serenity in acceptence
This is the serenity of surrender and acceptance, of allowing a power to do for me what I cannot do for myself.
Years ago, hyper-vigilence was my default state of mind as a blind person. I stalked the streets with furrowed brow, hunched shoulders, rigid joints and stilted gait. Even coupled with my white cane, I remained the white-knuckled student driver, fraught with fears I would crash, run off the road or knock myself silly on a tree limb.
With my dog, I throttle down and become more the Sunday driver, calm yet attentive. My stick-figure strut softens into a loose-limbed mosey.
Dogs aren’t for everyone
They shed, drool, steal food and sniff people impolitely. For twelve years, half my blind life, I have chosen the responsibility of guide dog ownership. I have been richly rewarded with physical safety, emotional companionship and spiritual connection.
Spiritual connection you ask? Yes! Any guide, whether human, canine or cosmic, who leads this wandering soul to peace – is a gift and a blessing.”
Copyright © Jeff Flodin 2015
“If we know how to listen to our own hearts, we can listen to the hearts of others.” Anon
Jeff Flodin is the author of ‘Jalapenos in the Oatmeal: Digesting Vision Loss’
He is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Access Fellowship. His writing has appeared in Kaleidoscope, Chicago Arts Journal, Magnets and Ladders and The Rockford Review among others. He is a licensed social worker by the State of Illinois (U.S.A.). Jeff has lived with retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) since 1985. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Seeing Eye Dog and two cats.
Jeff is also the co-founder with Stella de Genova at Vision Through Words
You may also like to read other guest posts in the series:
Blind Traveller: an impression of London and Paris by Stella de Genova
Mobility Matters: stepping out in faith by Amy Bovaird
Feel the Vibrations by Kerry Kijewski
Travelling Blind: a sensory experience by Audrey Demmit