Dobie sits in the truck while I work on my land. I take him out for periodic walks and sips of water, as he’s made it clear he prefers the confinement of the truck to the indignity of being tied, being tethered nearby as I work.

This aversion to the tether is something we share. In fact, it may be I’m a little hung-up on this idea of becoming unbound. I see in my writings, over and over, this yearning for freedom, a taste of the wild. What is it, exactly, I long for? If I’m always involved in the search, head sniffing the ground, would I even know when it appeared?

The other day, as I cleared vines and small, bushy growth from around the dilapidated old house on my new parcel of land, I wondered whether my thoughts, themselves, are the tether. A Buddhist or devoted meditator would say it’s so. That the mind makes a trap and only when it can be emptied of thought can one know what is true, feel what is real.

When it came time to set down my loping shears and take a rest from my clipping and snipping and collecting of old limbs and logs, I took Dobie out of the truck. Surely, I thought, he’d rather sit with me and feel this breeze than be stuck in the truck. I tied a piece of laundry line around a tree and then onto his collar. I propped up my feet on the table and sipped on a drink. Eventually Dobie quieted and sat under my chair. Oh, isn’t this great, I thought. He’ll get accustomed to this.

When I felt the urge to resume my slow-as-a-turtle’s form of bush hogging, I looked down at the pooch. Quietly, without whine or growl or tugging on the tether, the boy had simply done what needed to be done: he’d chewed, with his powerful teeth, through the line. And he had no idea he was free, that he could have run off to sniff at the dead armadillo he’d found earlier or follow the scent of a deer.

It’s several days later and he’s still wearing his two-pronged cotton pendant, a reminder to me how quickly, how easily, without fanfare, I can chew through the illusions that bind me, how freedom is there, all the time, within my breath, within my reach.

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