I've awakened early after a restless night, too early to feed our diabetic dog, who must be kept on a rigid schedule dictated by his insulin doses. He follows me downstairs anyway -- his hungry stomach doesn't understand this dependence on the clock -- and scratches noisily at his jingling collar every few minutes to remind me of his hunger.
I pour and nuke my cup of coffee, then head to my chair for the morning's reading. Eventually, after several pages have elapsed and the coffee is gone, the dog settles down. I decide to go straight into meditation without lighting the candle, so as not to wake him.
But now a bug bite, acquired in Seattle two nights ago (can a theater have fleas, I wonder?) begins to itch on the back of my leg, and a large fly buzzes, noisily, intermittently, banging its head against the window behind me.
It's all good, I say to myself -- "ten thousand opportunities to return to center." Each distraction, I tell myself (and now the dog is scratching again), is a way of pulling me back into the present, into the presence...
But of course that's not how it feels: I want that deep dark silence within that helps me center my day. Instead, around and around I go, trapped in the wheel: the itch, the fly, the dog... and then even my feet get restless, and I tell myself perhaps I need to feel more grounded, so I slip them out of my shoes to feel the cool wood floor against my skin.
Moments later a huge yawn erupts, complete with a stretch that lifts my arms above my head, and so I think, oh well, might as well give up, at least I tried -- 10 minutes isn't much but it's better than nothing. And so I deepen the stretch, throw off the blanket, and slowly open my eyes and glance at the clock.
It wasn't ten minutes, it was twenty after all.
I shake my head and rise, feed the dog and give him water and his insulin shot.