Here in Victoria where I live, on the edge of leafy outer Melbourne, our lockdown has been extended for yet another week. That’s the fourth time this past year. I’ve lost track of the number of days.
So, I’ve been out walking again. To be honest I’ve never walked as much as I have in the past 18 months. I’m sure Harry, my faithful walking companion, doesn’t mind at all. But at 15 years old he’s slowing down. He no longer has the exuberance he once had, and our walks resemble more of a sniff stroll than a power walk. But he’s always the first one out the door. Nearly everyone has nicknamed him “Hairy Maclary”, he’s well known and likewise he recognises his favourite walkers who stop and give him pats and treats.
We’ve met all sorts out on our walks.
The other day we met the Dulux puppy. For those who don’t know, here in Australia for the past 60 years our Dulux paint ads have featured a HUGE old English Sheep Dog as it’s mascot. The newest Dulux puppy, at only eight months old, was massive and exuberant. It had WAY too much energy for Harry who’d already been walking nearly two hours. But for 30 seconds he played with a star. Dabbled his paw with fame. Cohorted with a celebrity. Was he impressed? I don’t think so. It takes more than a blonde sheep dog to impress this old pooch.
Then yesterday I met a couple of council sub contractors, two guys doing some pest control work. We chatted and I met the ferrets they use to snuff out the rabbit population. Harry was only marginally interested in them. I think he’d prefer to chase the rabbits.
Later on, the same walk, I met a masked up young mum and her 3yo toddler dressed like a little fairy. When I smiled and complimented her on her outfit she corrected me. “It’s not a fairy dress, it’s a rainbow dress” she said pointing to her rainbow. Little Miss Rainbow then began to bond with a very patient Harry, while my social hello with her mum turned into a bit more of a chat. Before I knew it she was opening up to me.
I learnt she was struggling, both physically and emotionally, and especially since the lockdowns. I got a glimpse of loneliness, stress and exhaustion and my heart went out to her. In that moment standing on a bridge in the middle of nature I offered her what I could: a listening ear, encouragement, friendship and a sense of connection.
I mentioned the friendly council workers I’d passed, with their funny looking ferrets. By the time we parted ways we’d exchanged names. Carly had dropped her mask, literally and figuratively, and as we waved goodbye I swear her step was lighter.
So all this reminded me of the many people that we meet on our travels. The friendships and connections we make. Some last a lifetime, others are fleeting, but they all have a purpose, a story and a place.
Although we’re not able to travel at the moment and the timing sucks with the long weekend coming up I delved into my archives for a peak at some of the characters we’ve met on our travels. So many!
Frisky camels in the territory, smoochy dogs in pubs, thirsty kangaroos at Mungo, and plenty of humans. The people we meet along the way, the experiences we have, the camaraderie and unexpected moments all shape our human tapestry. And then there are those synchronicities. You know the ones: “fancy meeting you here”, “it’s a small world”. It’s amazing to realise how small the world really is, how we’re so inter connected. The Universe is always speaking to us, sending us signs and synchronicities, reminding us to stop, look around and believe in something else, something more.
“It’s a small world but we all run in big circles.”
I met this charmer in June last year while I was out walking. Cheeky, confident, curious, I swear he was posing for me. We all show our different sides when we’re out in the world, don’t we? We put on our best face and act like we’ve got it all figured out. It’s called cultural conditioning.
Sometimes when we scratch a little deeper, beyond the casual hellos, something magical happens. At a time when people are dealing with their own inner dramas and emotions are high, dropping the mask with a kind word and friendly smile can change everything. Who knows what impact you could make in someone’s life, simply with a tiny gesture, whether you’re the giver or receiver. Stopping, reaching out and embracing our humanness makes the world a far better place.
Dogs epitomise the greatest life lessons. Love unconditionally, live in the moment, follow your instincts and accept all of life’s treats with gratitude.
Let’s savour the journey, foster kindness and connection and live with an open and loving heart. Maybe then we’ll begin to heal the world.