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Many years ago, about 1965, I happened upon Ambrose Bierce‘s quip from his Devil’s Dictionary. Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum (I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.) It is an obvious twist on, I think therefore I am. by René Descartes. I had thought when pondering over these things, I think I think, therefore I think I am. That statement seemed to resonate better with me. I have no idea if my tiny variation on Bierce’s statement was original with me, a quote from some forgotten source or simply an obvious development of the basic idea. Perhaps Descartes developed it himself a little with, I think, therefore I am; or I am thinking, therefore I exist or I do think, therefore I do exist.  One can spin one’s wheels within this as one pleases, but it is like being stuck in slippery mud and no amount of wheel spinning will gain the slightest progress.

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce in 1892-10-07 - Author of The Devil's Dictionary

As these thoughts were wheeling about my brain in the throes of non-progress, my dog Tiger passed a bit of gas. He farted! Nothing particularly unusual in that to my mind, but it somehow struck him as peculiar, and he contorted himself to where he could get his nose as close to the strange noise as possible. Dogs think with their noses not their brains, as we think we think. So there he was trying to make sense of the strange sound by an olfactory analysis, and there I was, trying to make sense of his analysis of the reality of this micro-event. It took Tiger only a moment, perhaps two seconds of scientific time, to make his observations and analysis and return to his doggie dreams. I puzzled over his thoughts and came to realize that what he had done in a moment was more profound and in keeping with nature’s reality than Descartes, Bierce or me. Tiger didn’t put his thoughts into human words; there was no need for that even if he could have done it. Quite the contrary, he made a simple observation, the sound came from behind, he sniffed the source and verified that it came from his own self. End of story. I stink therefore I am. If the sound and smell had come from my other dog, Monkey, it would have been a wholly different smell. Then the words would have been, She stinks therefore she is. Once again, end of story, for them, but not for me.

Tiger was living the life I envy, for the most part; he just observed things as carefully as possible, usually with his nose, and accepted them for what they were. He responded to whatever was needed at the moment and then moved on. He was contented to let things be as they were. Striving and thus the seeking of accomplishment were only momentary activities, and the great majority of his time was just reverie and enjoying being with his human. I was so fortunate to share his wonderful life!

The best a human can hope for is to be a companion with a contented dog.

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