A Walk in the Woods is open to interpretation. Last weekend I attended a concert at our local university. In this essay I work through understanding how to experience a new musical form and how it relates (as everything does) to canine massage. The concerts entire program was original compositions created by faculty, grad students, and incredibly talented and distinguished visiting artists. It was all very new, very fresh, very avant-garde.
One of the compositions was for trumpet and horn. The 2 musicians played at their own paces, sometimes their patterns blended, sometimes it felt like they were attempting to join up but with stutters and squeaks they defaulted into their their own paths. They were both accomplished musicians but listening to them, I was uncomfortable. It was disturbing. It seemed unpolished. Unprofessional. My conditioned expectation is to hear musicians playing with each other, in sync. You know, like in classical, jazz, rock, R & B.
During the Q & A, I asked the composers how they felt when their compositions were played in ways that were in variance with what they were hearing when they were composing. Was there a musical intention they felt they wanted to express? They all agreed that interpretations of their compositions are up to the musicians. They elaborated, saying that they are often pleasingly surprised and learn from, the new interpretations they hear. They likened it to writing a poem. Once it is created they have to let it go. Then, it takes on a life of its own.
I thought about this. I’ve been a musician my entire life. I follow my grandkids: one plays clarinet in an orchestra and another sings in musical theater. I didn’t think I was that disengaged. Could what I heard be the result of lack of rehearsal time? Could it have been played as intended? Was the composers intention expressed through the veil of the artists interpretations? Am I a troglodyte in the strange new 21st Century? Has music gone the way of visual arts? The piece was called “A Walk in the Woods.”
I took the dogs to the park for a walk in the woods. I watched them as they experienced their walks by themselves, with each other, and together. Their heads, noses and ears were busy; very busy.
So many delicious distractions. The leaves and dirt are seductively dappled with aromas of animal traces. Deer, squirrels, chipmunk, birds, hikers, other dog walkers, and the sticky testosterone-sweat of joggers. I could almost see it all wafting up from the leaves.
The dogs gaits revealed another level of language. They indicated where their attention was directed. They often walked stride for stride, heads turning in unison. When their pace differed they were in their own thought-scapes. They were each on independent journeys. They walked and paused, sniffed, scratched, and moved on.
Wherever the dogs meandered, whatever they did, they maintained a slightly turned ear to me and the other. We were connected.
A key to my uneasy understanding of the musical Walk in the Woods came in the comments of another composer. His piece was a slow gradual slide from the deepest low to the highest squeal, up the entire range of a cello. It was a relentless continuous interplay, played 2 strings at a time. The rising progressed as one tone lagged behind, then slowly caught up, and overtook the other.
He announced that his piece was intentionally written without a time signature. Artists are free to play at whatever pace they feel is appropriate in the moment. It could be all slow, it could be all fast. It could be slow in some parts and fast in others. It could pause. He provides no indications for bowing, volume, or inflection. It was the observers impression and the musicians experience that was important, not the written music. The composition was the map. It was not the journey.
What are the Helpful Hints? If you took your dog for a walk in the woods and refused to allow her to sniff and investigate, she may as well be on an indoor treadmill. It’s exercise but uninteresting and offers no significant opportunity for shift and growth. Life happens in the excursions.
The PetMassage session is a map for a dog’s walk in the woods. It’s a romp of the dog’s body, mind and spirit. Our beginning PetMassage training teaches a basic form and set of skills. That’s your map and vehicle. These will get you and your dog moving in unison. The PetMassage form is open and free to interpret. You and your dog will set the pace, determine the inflection, volume, depth, and length of session.
Your dog has her own timing and agenda. She is walking in her woods. And, these are her woods. If she is refusing to accept the light pressure you’ve learned to use in palpation, sink deeper. Meet her where she lives. Descend to the tissue level where she is and can accept you. That’s the depth where her investigational slide response will move her toward balance.
Then, bands of marauding tightness unravel beneath our fingers. Floods of brilliant intuition flow in, catch up and flash by. We are working together and we are each having our own separate experiences A Walk in the Woods is open to interpretation. .
Your dog’s interpretation of her massage experience is the factor that enhances her quality of life.