22 April 2022 - lessons from the dog, jazz

22 April 2022

Hey there,

I write letters home every now and then to ~20 of my family and friends.

This is my way of inviting conversation and staying connected. I'm writing this because you matter to me and I like you having a window into my life.

This email comes expectation-free: no need to read or respond, though it means the world when you do.

Lessons from the dog

Recently, I did about a week of house-sitting for a friend of mine, staying in her townhouse and caring for her beautiful great dane. The dog is so large that when she's standing, I cannot step over her.

As well as being large, she's strong and she's loud. And she is very sensitive to outside noise.

Even with the radio blaring and the whole place closed up, she'll bark like the world is ending when a distant dog yaps or a car goes past or a helicopter moves overhead.

Letting her into the backyard was also fraught. If she started barking, she was fast enough that I couldn't catch her and wrestle her into the house.

She taught me a few lessons:

  • What I'm thinking can often be louder than the words I say
  • I have an irrationally large reaction to irrationality large reactions
  • When I'm caring for another, it's up to me to prioritise them and their needs...over my need for peace and quiet and to keep going with what I'm doing
  • I need to think really really hard before ever getting a pet


I was once at a business event where they were interviewing a jazz singer about the idea of improvisation. The host asked the singer about how they make choices about what happens next. The singer responded with a question 'Well, how do you choose what to do next when you're sitting at your desk?'

I loved this answer. How interesting to look at life through this paradigm. I wonder how I can take this into my life more. In some ways, all of life is improvisation.

Somewhat related is letting go of the idea of right and wrong.

"Uncomfortable without a standard for right and wrong, the judgmental mind makes up standards of its own. Meanwhile, attention is taken off what is and placed on the process of trying to do things right." --Timothy Gallwey in The Inner Game of Tennis

My hope is that I can keep my attention on what is.

And maybe make more jazz with the people around me.

Talk soon,