The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

For some reason the old Shaker Hymn, “Simple Gifts” ran through my mind today. 

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free …”

Today, two days after Spenser’s death I was wandering around the house – picking up his toys which were both upstairs and downstairs. I knew that over the years he had accumulated a large collection of tennis balls – I thought about two dozen. Actually, when the count was done there were 57 of them. I washed them all and will donate them to a local dog adoption service this Saturday. Tennis balls were his favorite. But a very close runner-up were pine cones.

We live about a two minute walk from a little neighborhood park. A number of pine trees were planted when the community was built 17 years ago. Those pine trees have flourished – even here in Las Vegas – and yield a very fertile annual crop of pine cones. Spenser, Gracie and I would often take our late night walk around midnight. I would let them off lead as there was no traffic at that hour and we would go to the park.

When the pine cones had fallen, Spenser would find one – carefully pick it up – and then find a comfortable place on the grass where he would proceed to demolish it – tearing each of the segments from the base of the cone. You could always tell when we had been in the park as we left behind us a pile of pine cone debris.

I never understood his attraction to pine cones. My first golden retriever, Dickens lived most of his life with me in Chicago where there were many pine cones and I don’t recall his ever having any interest in any of them. But Spenser was Spenser and I didn’t question his enthusiasm. Unless he tried to bring one home with him.

On occasion – perhaps I hadn’t stayed out long enough for him to finish the “pine cone demolition” job – he would try to smuggle one home to complete his work. Although he was a small golden, he would fit it into his mouth so that nothing showed and try to get it by me. Most of the time I would catch on – but once in awhile he would sneak one by me resulting in pine cone debris in the living room. It was part of his simple and endearing charm.

In our world, obsessed with the latest in technology so that we know where our “friends” are, how to find our way home with GPS, what the latest badly-behaving “star” is up to, we have managed to do everything within our power to make sure that we are victims of sensory overload.

By contrast, Spenser was simple – and now he’s free.

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