A Threshold of Expectations

Cosmo Topper got left outside the fence Yesterday, and went off to the woods for awhile.  He came back home wet and muddy way past where hip boots would’ve done any good.  He was frisky and in a fairly good mood, so that meant that whatever he was chasing must have gotten away.  He was lucky.  Sometimes the chase is the better part of the game.  Those of you that hunt are well aware that as soon as you pull the trigger, the fun is over and the work begins.  But, I doubt the dawg sees it that way: his goals probably change with the wind.

It is usually Ashley Cooper that gets out for a romp.  Normally, Top-Dawg (as the boys sometimes call him) doesn’t seem to mind being kept in a fence, and takes a kinder view of it than she does.  This is especially true now that he has a female companion.  Since both dawgs are entirely my financial responsibility, he has no idea of the potential expense that can be associated with such an arrangement.

Topper’s contentment with being in the fence is noticed by his constant territorial marking.  Not a single tree or post in the fence line escapes.  And, he does it all the time.  I’d have to drink 27 gallons of water and a keg of beer every day to keep up with him.

There are a lot of trees in the woods behind my house, so no wonder he was thirsty when he got home in spite of the fact that he’d traversed at least one creek on his journey.  He knows his rightful place is inside the fence, and considers all other male dawgs unwelcome there.  Otherwise, he takes no apparent note of, nor shows any interest whatsoever in politics.

The dawg doesn’t have to think about politics, but if you own a radio or television, the subject will from time to time come barging into thoughts otherwise designated for more fun stuff.  Perhaps I should take more interest in it myself so at least to appear socialized.  One of the problems I have is that those who seem preoccupied with it don’t appear all that socialized to me at all!  It could be that the word I should be using here is civilized rather than socialized.

I haven’t been able to find a good home camp in politics: neither major party in this country seem all that interested in the situations of folks like me.  Oh, they want our votes, but since I’m neither a millionaire or a pauper (although the local veterinarians association is working on the latter), I cannot expect republicans or democrats to toss me a bone.

Each side will from time to time come up with part of a good idea (especially good to their rich, fat friends who can write huge checks to campaign coffers), but then they screw it up with some kind of additional baggage not germane to the issue they claim to be addressing.

Besides all of the pork-barrel (pay back the rich friends) programs, I’ve often wondered if the campaign contributions are accounted for on the up-and-up.  Although I don’t have any concrete evidence, without which I probably should not judge, I cannot get beyond the suspicion that the books are cooked, and what we get from it is just the pot likker.

From my uneducated point of view it all seems like nonsense, so instead of being in or outside the fence, I just sit on it as if it were a chair.  At least from that position I have a clear point of view of both sides, and in a way that cannot seem to be recognized by those who stand only on one side or the other.

I have a similar attitude about most religion.  Some folks seem to take such a radical view on that subject.  What I mean by radical is that all religious groups see all other religious groups as misguided at best.  Heated arguments come up between them, and sometimes wars, but they do it all in the name of a loving God who loves everybody, especially if they belong to the proper sect or denomination.  All others will simply have to go to Hell.  In those situations, I guess loving has to be discounted to some degree: I wouldn’t set up a program that ran the risk of any of my children facing eternal damnation in a blazing fire.

Some of the rituals that folks claim is the Deity’s favorite kind of entertainment is mind boggling.  Some are so way out there that they seem to indirectly imply that some kind of barely marginal intelligence must have managed to create the universe.  Then, they will tell you of the omnipotence of their particular God who obviously thinks poorly of the earnest folks praying in the sanctuary three blocks down the road.  If they get any further away than a few blocks, a stink will come up reminiscent of letting the dawgs sleep too close to the furnace.

Once in a while, people have to come to terms with new ideas or new problems.  In such situations, some people rally to the occasion and show some intelligence.  At other times however, people stare into the face of obvious facts that are so contrary to what they thought before to be true, that they are paralyzed by it, or worse.  This can happen to dawgs as well as people.

I was told of an old white dawg living further south than I do that had never seen snow.  It had never thought about snow.  It had no experience with any other animal that was white, and had lived many years fully confident, and probably a little bit cocky, that he was the only white thing on earth.  Feeling that way must’ve given him some sense of significance, like being an educated person on a school board, if you can imagine such a thing as that happening.

Well, this winter has been a bit more intense here in the south than we’ve seen in a long time.  One morning, that old white dawg woke up after it had snowed all night: everything was white including the very ground he stood on.  It was more than he could take.  All of his credentials were reduced to nothing more than a raffle ticket.  His dogma collapsed, and so did he: he just gave up and died.  He just wasn’t happy anymore, and saw no way of ever being happy again.

It’s hard to attain happiness when all you’ve ever known was a happiness based on a delusion.  But, it probably doesn’t just happen to dawgs.  I imagine some people would really struggle if you try to take their delusions away from them.

The family here has been talking about happiness in recent weeks.  We’ve spoke of it as occurring not as a direct goal itself, but as a by-product of something else we really wanted to have or do being realized or attained.  We talked about how to go about making this happen, by considering some set of actions we have to take in order to get what we want.  I’ve been impressed more than once by things the boys have said on the matter.  In some instances, pleasantly surprised; in others left…thoughtful.

While talking about accomplishments of others in the face of difficulty, names like Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. came up.  Mason, having reached the ripe old age of eight, offered that he’d just soon not become too rich or too famous ’cause he didn’t want anybody to shoot him.

From an adult, I might have seen this conclusion in a dimmer light.  But from the innocence of a child, who has yet to face the realities of a world where so many nameless human beings meet with horrible situations (some worse than being shot to death), I saw it as an honest concern based on the information he had a handle on.  But I hope you can understand that it did present a bit of a dilemma for me as a parent.

I thought about this again today, this being Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday.  I wasn’t thinking about the politics of the man, or even the complex social ramifications of the Civil Rights movement, but I thought about it in terms of having a dream.  I thought about what I am to teach this boy of mine, and I think it’s good to have a dream.  I think it worth doing to strive to make dreams become possible, and to become realized.  I think greatness, if there is such a thing as that among us, is in there somewhere.

Although I could fear (and mostly for my own feelings) that any of my children become victims of ingratitude, I cannot and must not be so unloving as to impede them from becoming all that they can be.  They will set enough limitations on themselves.  A failure I admit here, is that in attempting to get them to recognize the difference between the realistic and the unrealistic; the attainable and the unattainable, I’m sure I’ve imposed, and thereby transferred some of my own preconceived notions of my own ideas about my own limitations upon them.

Although I know I’m not the only father to have harbored the thought that if I can’t do something, my sons shouldn’t be able to do it either, it doesn’t make me feel any better whenever I see that characteristic come out in me.  Maybe we don’t think that way consciously, but sometimes it does come across that way, even with the best of intentions.

I reckon it also happens in other parental relationships outside of families.  I’m sure there are some ministers who take their responsibilities quite seriously.  But the pastoral service they provide honoring the idea of an all loving and omnipotent God may fall back too often to safety zones established by the minister’s own threshold of self-expectations and self-perceived limitations.

If that were not true, then the disproportionate and very noticeable irony of shanty-like church buildings in poor repair just blocks away from well kept cathedrals might level out.  No, actually it wouldn’t: people join clubs where they feel comfortable.  It was silly of me to think such a thing.

Well, as I close to ponder the threshold of my own self-expectations and self-imposed limitations, I expect I’ll go pour myself a sip of some forbidden nectar (and not one drop more than I think I can handle).  Then, I’ll sit down and laugh.  Maybe I’ll just laugh that upon which it sit…off.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by little d on March 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Toot Toot! I know a VanTwain when I see one…they may not always arrive at their scheduled gates on time, but they always depart with or without any passengers worthy of such luxury afforded…


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