Max likes to be in the middle of everything going on.
In fact, the only time I have seen him anxious are when he is in a place but cannot be involved in the main action.
For instance, about a year ago I took him with me to a day full of games with my friends, but I had to tie him up while playing. He barked the entire time and strained against the chain to be involved. He did not like missing out.
Then, just yesterday, I took him to my mom’s house so he could play with her dog. We left them both in her big back yard to play and sat down to chat in the living room. Instead of playing, however, Max just sat at the window and stared at us.
Max feared missing out on what we were doing.
And his fear of missing out kept him from actually engaging in the wonderfully fun setting he was in. He had a backyard full of toys and new smells to explore and another dog to play with. My mom even mentioned that one of the bones he likes was out in the yard, but he never found it because he stayed right by the window, wishing he was involved in a different setting.
He was stuck in a state of not getting to do what he feared missing and not taking advantage of the opportunity all around him.
Max taught me that it is all too easy to be struck by a fear of missing out. And he taught me that it is not just a matter of longing for the greener grass. Rather it is a paralyzing state that both keeps one from noticing the good opportunities all around, and also makes one believe that some amount of worth or importance is tied to being involved in what other people are doing.
Max’s fear of missing out taught me that it is worthwhile to find ways to be fueled by an eagerness to engage the opportunities afforded me, rather than fear of what I may be missing. Both set my vision on new things and keep me in just enough discontent to yearn for new ways of interacting in the world. But whereas fear of missing out paralyzes me as I look toward those new opportunities, eagerness to engage my actual surroundings enables me to live and create and experience fulfillment.
Max has taught me that as I am afforded opportunities and different paths to take, I should live with the knowledge that I will miss out on some things. But he has also taught me that I should live with confidence that when I find myself in a certain situation, I can engage it with joyful eagerness and thus experience wonderful new things.
So thank you Max for teaching me not to become paralyzed by a fear of missing out. Thank you for teaching me instead to look around and find the treasures in my own backyard.