This I Believe

Joseph - Leavenworth, Kansas
Entered on April 25, 2007

Changing Focus

Morning in Baghdad bright and cool. The houses across the river clearly evident and within range…theirs and ours. Our team house wears a cloak of sandbags and blast covers. The house behind the sandbags had seen better days, days when its marlbed walls showed off its splendor rather than its strength to withstand mortars and rockets. The city I had just come from but a day before lay in my mind as hostile and foreboding. The rise through the streets were always done with weapons at the ready looking for the unusual, always ready for the reality that death need not call ahead. This morning marked distance from all that.

I walked the yard of the team house. I am sure a gardener once labored in love here. But no more. A few brave yellow and orange flowers had struggled against the February cold to open themselves. Such color to contrast against the drab beige of last summer’s dried out weeds. These flowers looked forward to brighter, warmer days. Perfect form, perfect shape, perfect color…perfect in the land of imperfect. All I needed to do was to change my focus, to go from macro to micro but to choose to find perfection.

My walk back to the house brought me to two dogs, neither very old but the smaller of the two with a hurt paw. We looked at each other for a short time, their tails beating the air, hopeful that we could communicate. I suspect we did. I ducked through the doors and, checking to insure others did not notice my touch of soft-heartedness, I grabbed two cans of Chef-Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs, heated them in a microwave, and took them out to my two friends. Now Chef-Boyardee makes a fine breakfast. I watched as the two dogs ate. Then I picked up the smaller of the two, the one with the hurt paw and sat down on a nearby chair. My black fleece jacket took in the sunlight and held the heat. This cold February morning, this puppy curled up on my lap with belly bulging, gently positioned her head, kneaded the fleece gently with her front paws, took a long breath, and closed her eyes to sleep. And there she lay for nearly an hour; and I was home again. I know I shall never see her again but for a moment in her world, there was perfection…one magic moment. She understood that.

So often we let the perfect moments pass because we do not see them; we focus too grand or too petty, too tomorrow or too yesterday. It’s all in knowing the focus. All in knowing when to take a breath and know…this is right…perfect.