Alan Findley " We’re all less than perfect; it’s time we acted accordingly
May 7, 2009
I have a little friend who likes to ride in the car with me, follow me around the house, and go wherever I go. He enjoys any activity that we can do together.
He loves to lie next to me when I sit on the couch and he lies nearby when I’m sitting at my computer working or writing ” just like he’s doing now. He never complains about what we are doing or where we are going; he’s just happy to be with me.
As you can probably guess, my friend is a dog ” a black Cocker Spaniel to be exact. His name is Tucker and he is one of many four-legged friends we have at our house. Along with a myriad of cats, dogs, turtles, fish, alpacas, llamas and horses, we’ve always had lots of critters in our life and they always bring such joy into everyday.
Dogs in particular are smarter than we give them credit for as fellow dog lovers will concur. Tucker always knows when I’m preparing to leave the house and he follows me eagerly in hopes of joining me in whatever activity I am about to embark on.
My wife tells me that when I leave to go out of town he looks for me around the house and runs to the window whenever he hears a car pull up to the house. And as soon as I arrive, he is there to follow me wherever I go ” happy to be near me. I think there is much we can learn from our little friends; much they can teach us about how to be better people.
I think what I enjoy most about having animals, Tucker in particular, is that they love us unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what type of day I’ve had, the amount of money I have in the bank, the school I graduated from, or my lack of hair; he always loves me for me. He doesn’t get hung up on my past history or numerous character flaws. He has no hidden agenda.
He doesn’t carry all the extraneous expectations and puffed-up viewpoints that people pile on to every interaction and relationship. He doesn’t care. It’s not important. It only matters to him that I am there and that we can spend time together. He loves me in spite of me.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our human-to-human interactions were the same way? No baggage, no grudges, no prejudices, no over inflated expectations. That would be a breath of fresh air, indeed. To have a relationship with someone despite the less-than-perfect person they are and to have that relationship reciprocated in the same, unconditional way. Imagine what a different place this world would be.
Unfortunately, we find it difficult to operate this way because we find it necessary to carry along the historical knowledge of the relationships we participate in. At first, we “tolerate” each other and overlook the imperfections. But as time goes by, the imperfections take a front seat to the person we are relating with; how quickly we forget that we ourselves are the same less-than-perfect beings. Though the imperfections from one to another may differ, there is no difference among us. That is not to say that we ignore offenses or deny accountability for poor decisions. It is to say that if we are to have genuine relationships within our homes and communities, we must hold each other accountable while relating to each other as we really and truly are: less-than-perfect people.
Be joyful for the people we have in our lives. Hold each other accountable for our actions in an honest and caring way. Treasure the time we spend with one another. Live in relationship with each other despite the people we really are.
I am suggesting that we not just tolerate each other and our character flaws, but that we look deep inside each person as though we are looking into a mirror at ourselves. When we see each other for who we really are, we begin to love and relate to each other the same way we want others to relate to and love us. We begin to care about others, relate to others, and empathize with others in a new and powerful way. No longer do we hide behind a veneer of prejudice, judgment, and condemnation. Instead we can reach out to one another as we wish and hope others will reach out to us ” as less-than-perfect people.
Our pets love us no matter who we are or what we’ve done; we are loved in spite of ourselves. We hold ourselves as the “smarter” of the animal species … why don’t we act that way? Perhaps our animal friends have something they can teach us.
Be caring, be joyous, be loved in spite of yourself and love others the same way.
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