Settling

When max came into my life about two and a half years ago it was a startling thing. One day I lived by myself and didn’t know this dog, the next day we were spending most our time living together. Now, after two and a half years, I don’t even think about how weird it is that a dog lives with me. In fact, I was pretty much used to it after a couple of months.

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I find it interesting how quickly I can settle into things. Max has taught me that there is something innate in my being that tends toward settling. If I remember anything from middle school biology it is that organisms strive for homeostasis – some balance in life. And as much as I sometimes hate to admit it, I naturally seek such balance, such settling.

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And Max has revealed to me all the things I am capable of getting used to. Some of them are good – like Max’s general presence or going on several walks every day or being more in tune with the needs of another being.

But he has also taught me that some of the things I have gotten used to are not so good – like dog hair in my cereal, a pretty rank smell in my apartment, the constant mess of dog toys, and on my worse days, ignoring the needs of another.

This tendency to settle and get used to things, both good and bad, extends to every corner of my life. It can be good to settle into a rhythm of life in harmony with another being, but also I get used to some pretty terrible things in the world.

Max has illumined this reality of settling, and in doing so, he has reminded me to consider what I am actually getting used to. What am I settling with and for? What am I content to live with?

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In what ways am I getting used to a life that is wasteful, exploitative, self-centered, or closed-minded? When am I allowing the dead hair of a past I thought I shed to get tangled up in the nourishment that is propelling my present life? To what extent am I ignoring the stench of injustice to the point of training myself to think of it as normal life? When am I just avoiding the strewn about mess of forgotten problems instead of picking them up and dealing with them? To what extent am I allowing myself to live with being ignorantly removed from the deep needs of those around me?

Max can offer some stinging teaching moments sometimes.

But he has also led me to question more positively: When have I settled into a truly meaningful conversation or enjoyed the presence of loved ones? In what ways have I exercised my freedom for adventure, creativity, and discovery and settled into the excitement of those moments? In what ways have I gotten used to bending the path of my life in order to walk along with others in need? And how can I do more of this kind of settling?

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Max has taught me that I am a person who settles, who gets used to certain ways of life. And he has taught me that both sets of questions are crucial to ask myself over and over in order to make sure I am getting used to the right kinds of things.

Ultimately, Max has taught me that I can be someone who settles into love, compassion, and justice, as long as I am settling intentionally.

So thank you Max for teaching me that it really matters in what ways I am settling. Thank you for teaching me the dangers of getting used to a life of self-centered wastefulness and for helping me to consider how to settle in more loving ways.

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