Am I Sentinel to My Own Thoughts?
by Soul Places | Diane Ludeking
My dog Dallas and I begin our daily morning trek up the snow-blessed hill with zest in our laurels and secrets in our ears. I am cocooned in three under-layers, Smartwool socks and Carhartt bibs and coat. Dallas only wears a coat of exquisite strawberry blonde hair with distinguishing gray around his eyes and muzzle. We follow a trail made by our equine friends – occasional hoof-shaped indents left in the snow to prove they trod here once. As we round the bend, I notice the horses are blinking curiously at us – having been warned by the movement of Dallas running amok with nose to ground.
In each hand is a bucket for my beloved ponies. They eagerly leave the comfort of their herd and meander my way. Lots of stroking, hugging and murmuring greet them. Their contented munching becomes meditative so I sit beside them on the angelic cover of ground. Dallas is a few yards off now – sitting – looking out at the world around us. He is sniffing the air – I wonder what he finds – friend or foe. He is vigilant to his surroundings as though danger may arrive if he were not. The horses are alert to the strange squealing in the woods – their ears and eyes swivel to assuage their instincts that it’s nothing life threatening.
In my serenity I am struck by the though that these creatures are sentinels of their own survival. They are students of their surroundings, making sure nothing of harm will come to them. If danger should ever arrive, he will be quite challenged by his greeting of fight or flight. And although I do not have the same concerns of survival as my animals, I certainly have the dangers of my own mind. It is necessary for my health and perhaps one day, my survival, that I become sentinel to my own thoughts and agreements.
How will I respond to danger? How will danger feel when I greet him? Will I even see him coming, disguised a million different ways? Am I gatekeeper of my own thoughts, experiences and reactions? Do I sit as Dallas does, with nose to the wind and catch my own scent of self-deprecation. Are my own thoughts friend or foe? Am I vigilant even in mundane tasks like my horses with an ear and eye to what may be lurking around in the forest of my mind?
I scratch my horses, pick up their empty buckets and walk with them to the water. I thank them for what they’ve shown me and walk back down the path with Dallas, pregnant with reflection. I thank Dallas for his wisdom too as he bounds on ahead of me. I find that there is room for improvement and I vow to treat myself kindly in order to make room for awareness. And as I come to the end of my trail, I snort and laugh out loud at the recollection of a bumper sticker, “Don’t Believe Everything You Think.”