Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Missed opportunities

As of my mid-day writing this, here are some of the day's headlines from the local paper:
  • A TV reporter and cameraman were shot dead on air this morning, allegedly by a "disgruntled employee" of the station.
  • One construction worker at the Vikings stadium is dead and another injured in a morning accident.
  • Four people were shot in a "home invasion" in Brooklyn Center early this morning.
  • Two teenagers were killed in an auto wreck this morning in the western suburbs.
When you left for work or school this morning, did you hug your family and tell them that you loved them? Did you do the same thing last night before you went to bed? Are you planning on sharing hugs and kisses tonight, because, as today's news makes only too clear, we're damn fools if we take life and love for granted. We never know how much more of it we'll get to share and enjoy. And, although you may want to forego the kisses part, don't forget to give your dogs extra hugs and affection on this National Dog Day.

a younger SiSi, a dog who's rescuing us
a younger SiSi, a dog who's rescuing us
Photo by J. Harrington

a younger Franco, a dog who's rescuing us
a younger Franco, a dog who's rescuing us
Photo by J. Harrington

In her hit song "Big Yellow Taxi," Joni Mitchell wrote the telling, and frighteningly true, line "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." I've had a number of dogs, a sister and my parents precede me through the veil between this world and the next. I miss each and every one of them and regret the opportunities I didn't take to hug them when they were here.

I don't think it's too much of a stretch to point out that, almost as much as people and pets, we can miss places we care about, that we've moved away from or others have "killed" for us. Some of my favorite wild places have been developed; some are almost 2,000 miles away, some have become so overused, abused and overcrowded they're no longer the places I first fell in love with. Places can be restored. They can be "re-placed," but wouldn't it be better if we cared for them now so they didn't need to be rehabilitated at some future time, or do we need to miss them before we discover just how much we care? We're starting to learn the benefits of following the principles of restorative justice instead of threatening "justice" as a punitive deterrent. Do you suppose we could get our POTUS candidates to talk about that or is that too much to expect from our candidates and their electorate? Can't we start to be the people our dogs think we are? As far as we know, we each have one life and one planet to share. We can do better with and by them.

If today's news seems overly disheartening, consider reading Carrie Newcomer's A Permeable Life, and, in honor of National Dog Day, Mary Oliver's Dog Songs. I've found both help me live up to my dogs and my family's expectations.
LITTLE DOG’S RHAPSODY IN THE NIGHT 
He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough
he turns upside down, his four paws
  in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.
“Tell me you love me,” he says.
“Tell me again.”
Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.


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