There are things I learned that I do not want to know. I have biases and prejudices (as do we all), but I don’t wish to retain them. I have failed to appreciate things that bring joy to the people I love. This is not who I aspire to be. I have long sought to be more patient and tolerant. More importantly, I seek to be more loving and supportive.
I spoke with my son recently about how it’s not really about what you do; it’s about who you are. That’s any easy thing to say and a difficult thing to live. I believe that one can live artistically and that in so doing, one creates the greatest expression of all – a life.
I have always been a bit envious of people who love their pets. I never got that. I learned that animals are to be eaten (sorry to those of you who just cringed). I learned that cats and dogs are a nuisance and a chore.
My children had cats growing up. I dislike cats.
Animals and children truly are the best judge of character. They’re intuitive and they know how you feel about them. The cats always knew I disliked them and so they would do their best to be underfoot when I walked by, or to scratch at the door and then refuse to go out when I’d open it.
I have been ambivalent toward dogs. I know other people receive unconditional love from them. I just don’t get that. The problem is…my wife loves dogs.
And that’s the point – the problem is not that my wife loves dogs. The problem is that I have failed to support something she loves and this is unacceptable to me. That is not the man I aspire to be. It was selfish of me to resent something that brought her joy. Instead of being happy for her I was endlessly put out by the nuisance I saw the dog as being.
It’s easy to find the faults in things we resent. It’s effortless to maintain a limited view of things we don’t appreciate. Shit, we do this with people – how much easier then to do it with politics or religion or addiction or the needs of those that differ from our own?
I thought that being tolerant was enough. The truth is I failed at that. My wife thought I would come to love a dog because I am a loving person. I was neither open nor receptive to that possibility and so I did not get it, no matter how many times the shaggy thing tried to get my approval, attention, or care.
I just saw it as me and the dog disliking one another (which is stupid all by itself). I didn’t get that I was actively failing my wife and seeing that in retrospect f@cking wrecks me.
And so I am pleading with my wife to please go get a dog. Please go do the thing that will bring you joy and provide you comfort. Please do things that make you happy and know that I will support them even if I do not in any way relate to them. This is an epiphany. This is a lesson I could have learned long ago and I am truly sorry that I failed to embrace it, much less learn it.
I love my wife and I am just wise enough to know when I have been a damned fool. I desperately want to buy a purse for carrying a lap dog. I want to buy expensive pet products and know a dog groomer on a first name basis. I promise to be kind and patient with an animal that I cannot eat because more than anything in this world:
I love you.