"Let's see what he notices if we let him walk at his pace," my daughter said. We were at the local reservoir, a popular place for walking, and it was sunny and (relatively) warm. We both decided to take a break from our work and take Okie for a walk.
At six months old, the whole world interests our little black lab. Sights, smells, sounds--they're all fascinating. When we let him set the pace, Cecily and I did a lot of waiting. We even let him stray from the pathway when there was a particularly enticing scent. Here's what happened: we slowed down and lingered, laughing and paying attention to the world and to each other. A puppy pays attention to so much more than people who are focused on completing their walks. Sometimes maybe we should be more like puppies.
When I came home, I went back to work on my model lessons for literary essay. My work involved reading and re-reading a short text by Cynthia Rylant, leaving patches of thinking--the results of all I noticed. Even though I've read Spaghetti many, many times, I came up with new ideas as I pushed myself to linger with different questions and concepts. Maybe it was the thinking stems, but maybe it was the change in pace that Cecily and I experienced when we let a curious puppy be in charge. Probably my new ideas were the result of a combination.
So often, I'm in a rush, even when I know I'm supposed to slow down. I even try to rush through a close read--this seems like an oxymoron as I write it! Tonight, I noticed the different work that I do and the different ideas that emerge when I slow down and really, really take notice, ask questions, and linger.
A puppy pace can be a good thing.