Limits

Max here again, hehe! Patrick could only distract me for so long, because I’ve got plenty more to say…

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But today I must be very humble. I have to admit that Patrick does quite a bit for me.

Now, I would do all these things for myself if I could – I have the motivation. But it really comes down to the fact that he has thumbs and I do not. He is tall, and I am not (though I am much taller than that Chihuahua!). He can read maps and drive a car, and I cannot.

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I have many limits, which means I cannot refill my water bowl, or open the door to go outside, or drive to cool places that have fun lakes. Patrick tries to make me think I cannot feed myself either, and though I cannot refill my food dish, I do sneak some tasty bites of things I find for myself on walks. (I think it annoys him, but come on – I gotta do something for myself, and it is just too tempting.)

And so I am very grateful for Patrick. He has taught me how to still live fully with these limits and he is there for me when I need that helping hand.

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When I get down on myself for the fact that I cannot do many of the things I want to do for myself, Patrick supports me and shows me that I have many other gifts, like running much faster than him, sniffing out things and hearing things that he doesn’t see coming, and being compassionately present in joyful and troubled times. Patrick has taught me that while the limits are a real part of who I am, they do not fully define me. He has shown me that I have some wonderful gifts and that even in my limits there is some beauty in how I can depend on him and others.

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Ultimately, he has taught me not to disparage these limits, but rather to appreciate how they draw us together. Because we are gifted in such drastically different ways, when we act together we can engage the world in a much more holistic way. And our dependence upon one another only strengthens bonds of care and love. Patrick has taught me that such dependence itself is far from a limit, but rather a wonderful strength that gives our lives more meaning.

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And Patrick has taught me that we all have limits. He can’t seem to smell or hear much of anything, so I always have to keep a look out for what is around us. He does have a pretty good sense of adventure, but often he is too cautious and needs that extra tug to explore what is around the next bend. And he depends on my companionship in fun and troubling times.

So, thank you Patrick for teaching me that my limits are not such a bad thing when they are complemented by our mutual dependence. Thank you for trusting me and depending on me and allowing me to do the same with you.

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Cut the Crap

Max poops a lot. I mean, I guess we all do, but since I am witness to almost all his poops it seems like more than necessary.

And not only am I present for them, but I also have to deal with them. Since I live in an apartment, I cannot just let him out back. I have to pick up every one of Max’s poops.

And Max poops a lot.

There is nothing dignified about this process. I have tried my hardest to think of ways to make it sexy, and this is the best I’ve got:

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Nevermind the fact that I am dealing with dog poop, but I also often fumble around trying to open the little bag, have to bend down to the ground while an eager dog is ready to move on to the next exciting thing and tries to pull me over, and then find a way to tie up the little bag without getting a whiff of what’s inside or making a mess.

And then I usually have to carry it quite a distance because Max always seems to find the one spot of ground that is furthest from any other trashcan.

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It’s hard work having opposable thumbs and caring about the cleanliness of a neighborhood.

And while I am often not grateful for having to participate in this process, there is something unbelievably humbling about picking up another being’s poop.

I have learned that sometimes my role in life is to clean up after people. It is an expression of loving service to clean up other people’s crap (literally or figuratively). And while it is by no means a fun or glamorous job, it keeps my ego from getting too big.

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Plus, I have realized in cleaning up Max’s waste that there are many wonderful, humble people that come along behind me and clean up my crap – those people who walk around in the background of my life tying up loose ends, dealing with my emotional or physical messes, and those who make my world a nicer, cleaner, better place to live.

I don’t mean to imply that there is value in debasing oneself or that some people deserve nothing better than to clean up the waste of others. But I do know that I have found it incredibly valuable to perform the humiliating act of cleaning up after Max.

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It has taught me that I am not the center of the world. It has taught me that I am not so important as to be exempt from certain less desirable duties.

But most importantly, it has taught me the value of humble service. It has taught me that I can show love by giving of myself to perform the most menial tasks for others. It has taught me that I can cut the crap of self-importance, while remaining confident in my self-worth as one who can serve others humbly.

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So thank you Max for teaching me that I am no better than one who picks up your poop, but that I don’t have to be ashamed about it. And thank you for teaching me that I can show heartfelt love through the humble service of such acts.

Persistence

Max is obnoxiously persistent. I’ve already shared how persistent he is on walks either when he catches the scent of something he just must smell or when he is ready to sprint around.

But he is also surprisingly persistent around the house. When he craves attention he will try to climb on top of and over people to be right in the middle of things (which is why more of the pictures I take look like this rather than the nice ones I typically post).

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While Max may be calm most of the time, when he really wants something he will stop at nothing to get it.

I begrudgingly admit that this must be some sort of virtue he is teaching me. I do so begrudgingly because it is really annoying. The couple times it is humorous are far outweighed by the times I will do almost anything just to get him to stop.

But then I think of what he really wants at those times – to lay outside, to get some loving attention, to play. Self-centered desires perhaps, but still ones that are innocent and honest and ultimately lead to mutual sharing of affection. Max is persistent because he wants to be an important part of my life.

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And maybe I begrudgingly admit the value of his persistence because if I do so it reveals my own lack of intentionally spending that little bit of extra time with him. His persistence brings to light not only my lack of persistence, but also my often-present apathy.

Max has learned that there are some things not worth giving up on, some things in which we have to invest a little extra energy, some things we have to do over and over again because for whatever reason it is worth it and for whatever reason those around us do not seem to get it.

Max has taught me to persistently seek the things that matter most, especially when they do not come readily. Max has taught me to push for things that I care about even when I think my efforts make no difference. Max has taught me that persistence is a form of love when someone invests in others regardless of whether or not they are open to it.

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But I think I am right to be at least a little hesitant on lauding persistence in whole. Max does not always incessantly strive for the best things. There have been times when his insistence on eating decaying things outside resulted in sickness the next day.

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Thus, Max has also taught me that persistence must be tempered with humility, for I do not always have the full picture and what I insist on may not be the best thing. I must take the time to consider (with others) whether what I am consuming and promoting with zeal is life-giving or death-bringing.

So thank you Max for teaching me that there are some things worth pursuing persistently. And thank you for teaching me to incorporate humility in those persistent pursuits so that I may seek to align what I value with what is truly the best for all.