Dreaming Big

Max really wants to chase rabbits.

And there are so many rabbits out this year that we usually see two or three a day. They seem to be getting bolder too, because they are not hopping away as quickly and are venturing closer to roads and sidewalks.

No rabbits in here?

No rabbits in here?

As we walk by, Max becomes very alert then dashes toward the rabbit. Sometimes he even hops around straining against the leash trying to pull me on his hunt.

While I have occasionally run along with him, I have never let him freely chase them (you’re welcome rabbits). I honestly don’t even know what he would do if he got one, and I doubt he would know either.

Either way, his desire to chase and/or catch the rabbits will remain a dream, an ever out-of-reach goal.

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But Max does not give up on that goal, however many times he fails.

And he has taught me that it is worthwhile to maintain those lofty dreams. He has shown me that it makes no sense to give up on such a goal – he may actually attain it someday, and it doesn’t hurt him to keep trying, even if he fails.

Moreover, he has shown me that the goal is important (whether or not he attains it) because it provides much needed excitement, newness, and challenge to his daily routine. He can too easily fulfill his goal of peeing on every bush he passes (at least until I get fed up with his moseying around). While this minor goal does make him excited every time, he also needs bigger dreams that inspire him to journey to new places in new ways.

I reckon his dreams of chasing rabbits are sometimes even very literal. His sleep is often interrupted by muffled yips and twitching legs that I imagine are signs of him living out that excitement of the chase in whatever version of doggy dream imagination his brain can handle.

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But I think the most important lesson I have learned from Max’s big dream is that he does not let it distract him from making the most of his daily activities. Yes, he would love to chase some rabbits and he jumps at any opportunity that passes. But when I pull him back to the normal path with boring, static bushes and grass, he maintains a healthy level of attentiveness and interest in the plain walk itself.

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He does not despair for not getting to chase the rabbits, but he also does not despair that his whole life is not a rabbit chase. He maintains his big dream without trying to escape into endless sleep in pursuit of it.

So, thank you Max for teaching me to stay steadfast in my big dreams, even when I may never achieve them. Thank you for teaching me to find a way for those dreams to bring excitement to my daily walk. And thank you for teaching me not to become overly absorbed in that dream so as to miss the beauty of the rest of the ordinary journey.

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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.