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Joyful freezing late night walks

It really is a game changer in life if you can remain patient with a smile when faced with the hassles of unaccommodating technology, 45 minute call centre exchanges and huge family gatherings at one of the busiest times of the year. I'm making progress here though I'll admit I'm not fully there yet.

But one of the many happy benefits of studying Mussar* is that often, other aspects of character naturally improve as a consequence of working on something else altogether. A good example is the almost effortless growth of patience when trying to improve contentment with what you have.

I was reminded of this over the last couple of days of strolling the streets of Paris with my elderly dog who has been coming here since 2010. Everything is more interesting seen through her curious exploratory eyes. But in the three years since she was last here, she’s aged a lot. I now have to carry her up and down a few flights of stairs a few times a day. She was always sniffy and slow on the final walk of the night but as an elderly dog, there are no limits to her sniffiness and slowness. Years ago, I used to resent the effort in going up and down the stairs and walking her late at night in the cold darkness. I had zero patience. And zero contentment with my lot. Yet what could be more wonderful than a starlit stroll in bracing cold, meditating over the reflections of Paris in the canal St Martin?

I look back now to those impatient, ungrateful late night walks and don’t recognise that person.

These days I appreciate every second of every lengthy pause as she carefully picks her way along the street. I’m overcome by the joy of the moment. I treasure having the means and time to spend in a beautiful city with my old companion, with the health to heave her up and down steps, and the opportunity to practice peaceful contemplation of some of the most beautiful urban views anywhere. Doesn't get much better!

So all I need do now is always remember the big picture benefits of technology and call centres and I’m there.

*Hebrew for moral conduct or discipline

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