Let’s Be Friends

We human beings are an interesting lot aren’t we? As I write this post, I am sitting among a sea of people attending a conference that involves quite a percentage of people from all over New Zealand. All around me, majority of individuals are mingling with each other, some making small talk (not that I’m eves dropping) and some actually genuinely interested (well, at least they seem interested judging from their body language) in what each other have to say.

As the world evolves, we ourselves are evolving in that how we communicate with each other now is a reflection of how technology have enabled the forging of relationships especially where distance is concerned. These days, the availability of social platforms especially Facebook, makes meeting people and getting to know
one another much more convenient and easy. The psychology of communication dictates that once someone gets onto your ‘friend list’ on Facebook, it does not matter whether the person is a new acquaintance, someone you just met at a conference such as the one I’m in, this person automatically gets into your sphere of influence so that the next time you meet each other again, because you both are friends in the FB realm, you become friends in real time as well. In that regard, perhaps without social media, we would probably have less friends. We are now more social, more available and more important (so to speak).

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.~ George Bernard Shaw

Then again, you have people like me who detest small talk, limit friends on FB and rather sit and blog…a total introvert who prefers the company of her black ‘diva’ dog.
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When the Dung Hits the Fan, I Open My Umbrella

ImageIt has come to my attention that Chloe-the-dog is very clear-cut, deliberate and intentional when the situation calls for her to…err….micturate.  To tinkle. To wizz.  To take a leak, pee-pee, have a go..Every time we go for a walk, within a period of 60 minutes she would have performed at least 8 random acts of peeing.  It is so fluky that this dog walker can only shake her glossy haired head and wonder each time, where in tarnation does all that flow come from?  Apparently, a dog tail-wagger’s size would carry with her a bladder the greatness of Navels, Valencias, Sunkists and Moros. Oranges. So just this last Monday, mellow ol’me took an orange from the fruit bowl, cut it in half and handclasped each as steadfastly as possible.  I then extorted the fruit with all of my might.  Really wringed the succker dry.  What I got was nearing one cup of juice.  Now, because it was a rainy day, exams are just over and I have nothing else better to do since my coffee girls don’t like to hang out on Mondays..ahem.. I took the effort of dividing all the squeezed juice into 8 portions and Walla! Genius!, I got the quantity upshot, or rather down shot of tail-wagger. 

Now, bear with me as I write the next half of the story. Before peeing Chloe does these reconnaissance acts. A look, a sniff and then cross-checking praxis to determine supreme spots to perform her squats.  Hilarious.  Cesar Millan says,

In some it is definitely dominance – I am here and letting you know. With others it appears to be almost friendly – Oh that smells nice; I think I will leave them a message.  Kind of like the Facebook for dogs.”

Facebook.  For dogs.  Really..I will go with that logic and claim that diva-dog is a total Miss Social when it comes to leaving her cue cards behind.  That every morning as she steps out of the house, she intentionally makes her Sunkist go into overdrive. That every morning as her and I brisk-trot that sidewalk, her side pull to pee is intentional and purposeful.  To leave her mark on earth and proclaim to those canines who had come before her and to those still yet to pass after – “Hello Snout-bookers! Newsfeed My Timeline and I Will Notify Your Wall!!”

Yet again, perhaps there is some lesson which we can drip off from Chloe-the-dog’s intentional and purpose-filled bladder.  Perhaps the lesson here is that when we take up on any sought after venture or any deliberate deeds in life, we must expect and look forward to releasing a little bit of ourselves into the situation.  Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” That just like doggie’s practice of leaving her bouquet behind for the next furry butt that comes along, we sometimes won’t possibly be around to witness what or how our choices, our decisions, our undertakings, our schtick can or will affect those around us.  And it is OK.  Because when we intentionally and willingly release ourselves with a clear intention of doing good to others without selfish gains, that decision to “lose ourselves in the service of others” can only reach out and restore the goodness in others.  Shauna Niequist said,

“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”

Perhaps the trick to any successful endeavor is to give in to that element of risk because in relaxing our grip and demands over situations, role, people, circumstance, affairs, etc., we can gaze up long enough to focus, to calibrate, to sharpen our view and then on find our bearings.  That nothing in life is full proof but the only way to come out unscathed from the other end is the ability to release life’s pressure “one squirt at a time”.  Because life is all about change and the risks that comes along with it.  Change is necessary, is inevitable, is compulsory and just like a dog’s pee that lasts only until the next one comes along to leave it’s number, we must expect to lose ourselves and welcome change.  Perhaps we just need to learn to embrace the fact that when we let go and let God, then truly can we find peace in transformation.  There is a poem written by Annie Johnson Flint and part of it sings,

“One day at a time, with its failures and fears,
With its hurts and mistakes, with its weakness and tears,
With its portion of pain and its burden of care;
One day at a time we must meet and must bear.

One day at a time to be patient and strong,
To be calm under trial and sweet under wrong;
Then its toiling shall pass and its sorrow shall cease;
It shall darken and die, and the night shall bring peace.”

Chloe…wanna go potty?

Dedicated to my gorgeous gf Rachel Lewis (whose mom still whispers in her ears) and my buddy Las (who smokes too much). XOXO..

It’s Not FaceBook But How Can I Unfriend You?

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I have pondered much lately on the passage of human friendships; the budding, the blooming, the display and soon after, the drying sojourn.  I brood and I compare the dynamics and intricacies of this person-to-person rapport against the  consanguinity of my liaison with my pet licker.  The inner workings of relationships we build with our fellow homo-sapiens, obviously very different to that with an animal because as humans, it is never that simple. 

“It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that when I’m in the company of others – even my nearest and dearest – there always comes a moment when I’d rather be reading a book.”~Maureen Corrigan

We are not that simple, people are not that simple, and motives are never that simple.  Our elaborate make-up and the nature of how we are made allows us a more symbolic method of communication in that we can reason, articulate, introspect, problem solve, and manipulate, all at our own choosing.  Choice.  We are afforded choice and the ability to choose.  And when we apply these endowments to the act of forging friendships between one human to another, the results can be something exceptionally beautiful but also sometimes unsightly.  The complexities of expectations, demands and stipulations all under the mask of ‘friendship’ never looms too far behind and when left unobserved, steps forward and takes charge.  Murray Gell-Mann writes,
“Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behavior of the whole. ”

Ahh…the complexities of human behavior.  The perplexities of the human mind.  The way we think and act paints the abstract picture for others to appraise us.  How many for us know of that one person amidst who stilly manipulates and easily takes offense?  Or another who no massive passing of time or large vessel of words can appease their quest to seek affirmation?  I can only conclude that the way I deem them to be is not what they appraise themselves as.  Which then begs the question – What landscape am I painting of my self?  Is it a pretty picture or the opposite?  Too complex.  Too multifarious.  Too elaborate.  Henri Nouwen said,

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

An apt observation indeed. The establishing of friendships is a perilous exercise because there are risks involved.   How can we safe guard ourselves from the pain and disappointment of gaining a friend and loosing them at the same time?  How can we be open to those we hold dear and not risk being judged?  How can we prolong a friendship when we know that to gain them means to lose your soul? And how can we find that one person who is willing to leave footprints in our heart?

CS Lewis eloquently said,

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Perhaps making friends is a human choice after all.  Perhaps it is not essential, non fundamental to accumulate a field full of friends because all we need really is a handful.  A handful of those who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness.  Perhaps not everyone we meet are called to be a friend to us but instead we are actually called to be a friend to them. Perhaps.

In the meantime, Chloe-the-dog sits by my side and is my kimosabe, my pal, my buddy.  She may not articulate her feelings, she may not know how to cure me, heal me and she definitely abandons me when her time is up but there is something in her stillness that comforts me. There is something in her quietness that calms me. That as she gives so much meaning to my life, one which in turn, I offer my companionship. No expectations.  No prejudice.  Perhaps that is the essentials of all human friendship.  And that maybe, is the crux of the matter…

Dedicated to my buddies out there (you know who you are) who have sat with me, listened to me, cried with me and rejoiced with me.  I am eternally grateful for our friendship..

Stop Facebooking! You Are Biting My Hand Off!

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I find myself constantly taken aback by how restrained Chloe-the-dog can be.  An epitome of ‘restrain and refrain’ indubitably. Occasions where I expect her to lose all ability to hold-back, throw caution to the wind, take that extra just because she can, she proceeds to baffle me . How? Why?. After all, diva-dog may be poochi-galore and all but she is still an animal and so very full of boundless unbridled energy.  And there she goes surprising me again and again and again.  Restrain and refrain.  Par exemple, when young bambinos visit and play with Chloe-the-dog, she can restrain herself from being too spirited and she can refrain from making them cry.  OK, maybe the little people perplexes the dog and a child’s crying is a BIG NEGATIVE reinforcement for any animal but the point here is that I can’t take the credit for having trained her ‘ankle-biter etiquette 101’.  She just instinctively knows when to take it down a few notches.  And there are those times when I am reaching into her mouth to brush that annoying canine molar.  That far-reaching tooth which can only be attained by placing my human hand into her dog-like mouth.  Pry open jaw, insert hand with brush, manipulate in all manner possible. Now if I were a dog and some mortal is placing their limb into my powerful jaw in an assault like manner with an assault like tool, I may want to chomp down.  Take a bite.  Ruminate on them. Again. Restrain and refrain. And those weak human moments where I secretly dispense table food via fingers to her wagginess.  Somehow or another, the chops inherently recognizes where goodies ends and fingers begins. Why not just keep chewing? Again, refrain and restrain.  No one had to teach fur-ball what she already knows.  Seem like an innate recognition.  A natural discernment.  Dogma of a dog..

Perhaps there is another tip we can take away from here.  Perhaps we need to stop and canvass the restrains and refrains we practice each day.  Do we even utilize a ‘restrain and refrain’ apothegm.  To restrain is to keep under control, to prevent oneself from becoming enslaved by a strong urge or emotion.  Personally, I find it a daily struggle to keep my thoughts and emotions in check these days because it is so easy to just go that extra.  To just ‘tweet’,and ‘FB’ egocentric and madcap sentiments because I have smart capabilities and I smartly can.  To just zip off and take delight in the splendor of retail therapy because them Jimmy Choos Blaniks are there and I can undoubtedly acquisition one, or two, or three pairs.  After all, Anno Domini seems to be about liberty, individuality, commonality and intellectual property.  It is a lush jungle of freedom serenaded by a cacophony of spontaneous ‘I want it now’ voices.  Unbridled energy to just chomp down.  Can we? Should we? Do we?.  Do we have the will power to restrain? Should we refrain from it all?  Yes.  I think so.  Because despite the brass tacks of it all, restraintment and refrainment is pivotal to our existence.  Adam Smith quotes, “To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature.”  It is in our nature to limit ourselves.  It is in our nature to often times, forbear.  Because we are human.

Chloe! Stop chasing your tail!!