Snow Spotting

It’s hard to say whether dogs are philosophical observers of the universe around them, wondering at the world as it flits past their existential mindset … or if they are simply easily distracted.

I think I’d like to think it’s the former.

My dog and I go on three walks a day lately. This time last year, just as the snow was starting to fall, she was a two-month-old puppy and was limited to exploring the world on a short leash in the containment of our backyard.

A year later, and we’re touring the neighbourhood by foot with regularity, often meeting new people and new dogs, stopping to sniff virtually anything … well, she does most of the sniffing.

I’m not oblivious to the world around me, but after forty-five years something as mundane as a patch of grass sticking from the snow or a blue jay sitting on the branch of a tree is ordinary enough that I think my brain just naturally tunes it all out.

But not her.

Everything is a curiosity. Everything is worth stopping and savouring. If that’s not the definition of existential delight at the world … and if we can’t learn a even just little bit from that .. I don’t know what else there is to say.

I Don’t Know Much About Buddhism but…

I’ve been using the name Bardo as a username for a few years, and it turns out that this is a word that I inadvertently borrowed from Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

I write “borrowed” because in real life my name is Brad.

Brad becomes Bard becomes Bardo just so easily.

Yet, having used it for a while and then thinking about it a lot since, there is a significant degree of existential overlap between what I intend to write about on this site, and what the metaphorical expression of the original term loosely means.

Used loosely, “bardo” is the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one’s next birth, when one’s consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. Metaphorically, bardo can describe times when our usual way of life becomes suspended, as, for example, during a period of illness or during a meditation retreat.

Wikipedia on “Bardo”

Given that Buddhism is a religious philosophy and not a culture, per se, I’m going to make a huge assumption and say that I don’t really view co-opting philosophical ideas and constructs as appropriation any more than trying to learn a foreign language might be cultural appropriation. It’s about communication and understanding.

And if I think about the overlap of the idea of bardo (as much as my undertrained mind can process it) as a kind of transitional purgatory between everyday life on one hand and a kind of idealized state of existence on the other…

… well, that seems a bit like a campout in the woods to me.