Max is a little clumsy. Part of it has to do with the fact that he really doesn’t understand how large he is and likes to jump around on things. Another big part of his clumsiness has to do with his tail. He wags it around carelessly (especially when he is excited), and in doing so he bangs into things and knocks them over.
In fact, just the other day I had some water on my coffee table. I knew it was risky, especially as Max kept walking in front of it. Then it happened. He walked by and turned around in front of the cup, wagging his tail widely. His tail made solid contact and sent the cup and the water in it flying.
Since it was just water and it narrowly missed a book lying out, I didn’t get too mad. But I do tend to get frustrated when Max’s clumsiness results in accidents. I know he doesn’t mean to mess things up, but can’t he pay a little more attention?!
After a few minutes of such thinking, I remembered – Max is just a dog. This is just a mess. It can be cleaned. Staying frustrated at Max or about the mess won’t help it get cleaned any faster and won’t prevent accidents from happening again. The only thing frustration will do is hurt my relationship with Max and make me an angrier person in general.
Then, about a month ago, I was working on my computer. I had a glass of water on my desk. Admittedly, I have thought before that it is not the best idea, but I persisted in keeping it close. As I was getting up, my hand somehow contacted the glass and tipped it off balance. I wish that everything would have begun to move in slow motion at that point so that I could intervene just in time, but alas, the water spilled all over my computer (hence the blog absence).
I was frustrated with myself. I knew better and I could have been more careful and aware. I’m even worse than Max in my clumsiness.
I did all I could, but the computer still needed to be repaired. So, I got mad at myself all over again.
Then I remembered what I had learned from Max – that accidents happen and that the only thing I can really control in the situation is my reaction. It’s not a bad thing to get frustrated – that’s just normal, but it is also not helpful to stay mad about it. I could keep beating myself up or I could move on and learn where not to put water.
Max helped me realize that we are all clumsy to some degree but that I don’t have to persist in frustration over that clumsiness. There are more important things to worry about than the stuff I have, no matter how highly I value it. I can choose to simmer in anger over little accidents or I can choose to act in love. And only one of those options will aid my relationship with myself and Max and others.
So thank you Max, for being clumsy with me and for helping me see both the futility of frustration as well as more helpful reactions to clumsiness.