A few weeks ago, I watched my brother-in-law’s dogs while they spent a week at the beach. They’ve got two dogs: Maggie and Loopy (*name changed to protect the crazy). Maggie is a middle-aged chocolate lab. If you’ve ever owned a lab, you know that middle-aged can still mean terrible twos. Labs often live a decade as a puppy then become senior citizens overnight. I guess that’s what makes them so lovable.
Maggie is the exception. She has always been calm and sweet. She’s just laid back by nature. They found out recently that she is diabetic and I had to give her a shot of insulin in the mornings. This proved rather tricky – only because I didn’t listen very well when instructions were given.
This is a recurring theme in my life. I like to think of it as a cute little quirk, but it is often frustrating when I am left to do a task with no remembrance of how to do it… and from the inside looking out, I imagine this “quirk” is mind-numbingly bothersome to my family. When I take time to consider this, I often think I should change my ways and do better. But then I forget what I was thinking and move on to more fruitful imaginings. After all, we deserve a few eccentricities when we pass 50.
Back to the dogs…
Maggie and I weren’t working well together. For the first few mornings, she wasn’t very thrilled to see me coming with the shot and even though she is mellow, she does weigh 100 pounds and is tall enough that her bucks can reach sensitive areas. But then I discovered wet dog food. Wet dog food smells like a moldy, damp cellar after a possum has crawled in and died on a hot day. But to a dog, it must be like a chocolate éclair. She woofed it down and didn’t even notice the prick of the needle on her neck. Perfect. And this became our routine (and was evidently the instructions provided had I listened.)
But where is Loopy?
When set free in the morning, Loopy bolted straight to a puddle left by rain run-off from the car. I found her licking the pavement. In a panic, I checked to see if I had neglected to leave the water. Nope, three full bowls of nice, clean h2o – and yet that dog preferred to lick the pavement. Every morning it was the same thing. I tried coaxing her with bottled water, treats, and a ball to play with. No dice, she ran straight for the puddle. With plenty of better options, she only wanted to lick dirty water from the pavement.
One day during the week, my lovely wife had a birthday. Although you wouldn’t believe it to see her, she has joined me in the half-a-century club. We took her to a fun, loud, Italian dinner. A few tables away, there was a family of four who quietly interacted with their phones during the whole meal. I kept stealing glances and at some point, it dawned on me… they’re licking the pavement. With better options all around, they are glued to little electronic devices.
I could moralize more, but I’m as guilty as the next guy. Whether it is Instagram, football, our careers, or any myriad of other distractions, we get stuck wasting time on temporal things instead of investing in things that matter – our family, friends, and other human relationships. We lick the pavement. Some things are unavoidable. We have to work and get things done. But be honest, we’ve all got the rocky, pebbly taste of wasted time on our tongues and time is a finite resource. What’s the answer?
As much as possible, let’s stop licking the pavement lick the important people in our lives instead!
Wait… that doesn’t sound right at all.