When Peter at my home-away-from-home for decades now, the venerable Trident Booksellers & Cafe
(it’s where I worked on my laptop for countless years, building Elephant, it’s a Buddhist-founded cafe, bookshop, and community, a wonderful space full of maroon and dark green and dark blue and history and while it’s changing it’s been mindfully rooted in this town, instead of rushing forward into cheap change-for-the-sake-of-change)
offered to post something up about Redford,
my half-hound old dog who just died.
I had just walked quickly into the Trident and into the back courtyard to take a photo of his brick.
…I was already walking quickly back out, not yet able to talk without crying when Peter kindly called out and said “Sorry about Redford. We’d be happy to post up a photo of him.” I struggled to respond, speechless (for once), choked up.
So I wanted to share those photos and thank Trident for putting him in the middle of their mandala and acknowledging or, more warmly, honoring, Redford’s place as an irregular Trident regular in the middle of Boulder’s mandala for an era’s worth.
That’s the feeling, now—I’m “okay” if I skim just over the water like a bird, but if I dive just beneath the surf then the wet sadness is right there. And honestly that feels better—remembering him, instead of jumping back into the relentless forward motion of this present moment. And that’s why grief is sticky, and we don’t want to let go of it. It feels real, and more real than moving on.
But, too, the present moment includes all of our past, and Redford is in my here and now. He gave me and to a lesser extent so many of us in Boulder and through social media comfort and humor and joy, for many years. Boulder was his as much as he was ours—as someone noted, he was everyone’s dog—his presence and friendship was everyday, everywhere.
And again, yes, no, he was just a dog, and the rational human species-ist part of me and us wants to push this grief down and away but then, too, he was a sweet heart (that finally grew too big and broke, it had swelled from the size of a baseball to a leaking cateloupe) and grumpy and silly happy funny calm excited full-eyed old boy.
And as I wrote the love of a dog or pet can and should open us to caring about all animals [give in honor of Redford here, if so inspired] and all of Nature and, even, perhaps, one another. Because we think only humans deserve the full measure of our love but we love, let alone like, so few. And love with a capitol L is boundary-less, and can heal this world of ours and our planet both, if we let it. For if we care about animals and climate crisis well suddenly our love will turn active and caring and change our habits and make us brave and tireless. And all of that comes from simply scratching Red’s velvet caramel ear, say—being willing to learn that a pet isn’t about me, only, but about them, first—and then we allow ourselves to grow up and be trained by our pet, and our love for our best friend isn’t merely about ourselves, an inward love, but flows outward, too.
And that approach (with a debt to the Dog Whisperer), has given me so much more than a simple human-pet relationship.
And with that, thank you, Redford “Scotch” Lewis, 2007-2022. May we meet again in a bookstore & cafe in the heavens.