Rob Taylor: Lifes Pop Quiz: How ya DO-in? Really
Its the stuff of fortune cookies, a nickels worth of psychiatric help and any noteworthy call to war: seizing the day. Whens the last time you did?Been a while for me, but I remember what it looks like, thanks to Tuffy, a Boston Terrier with vision.My landlord and I walked in on his creation one day: a shattered canister and sugar strewn across the entire length of the kitchen floor.What the my landlord said.The sugar revealed canine footprints, nose prints and numerous burrowed trenches. At the end of each trench: dog food crumbs. How the 16-inch-tall terrier hopped a 3-foot kitchen counter, knocked the sugar canister down, then got the idea to coat his dog food by nudging it across the granulated heap with his tiny black nose, one can only speculate.Smart dog probably inspired by Dead Poets Society, the Robin Williams film that trumpeted the virtues of carpe diem seizing the day. Then again, such brilliance may just be intrinsic to dogs. After all, when nature calls, the world is their toilet. Every possibility is sniffed out. No leaf is left unturned. Satisfaction guaranteed.Somehow, for 2 decades, I forgot all about Tuffy, forgot all about seizing the day. No one to blame but me, I guess nose buried in spreadsheets, filling my free time with mundane tasks and too few distractions. But recently fate hurled a curveball named Gianna my way. How ya DO-in? I asked her, expecting a fine, OK, maybe even a well if she was in a grammatically correct mood. Perfect. Pfft. Good one, I said, waiting for the hammer to drop.But she was serious. I stared back at her like the village idiot, needing an explanation, needing her to connect the dots. Perfect? Serious? Did you win the lottery? Did you put in your two weeks? Going on vacation? Surely it wasnt the Weight Watchers lunch which, curiously, she ate with chopsticks.Nope.None of the above. Perfect was par for Giannas course. Perfect happened almost every day. She had the smile, the fire in her eye and the laugh to back it up all pointing to something resonating from deep within. I kept her talking long enough to discover that in college, she and friends had scaled a Taco Bell at 2 a.m., unhooked the bell, transported it three blocks and placed it in someones front yard. But the fun didnt stop there. As an adult, she confiscated friends cameras by stealth, snapped shock-value photos and gobbled up their reactions when the pictures were developed. She succumbed to midnight Ben & Jerrys cravings, knew how to use a squirt gun, ate fortune cookies before reading the fortune (otherwise they wouldnt come true) and, most importantly, seized the moment one day at a time. Life is too short, she said.After hearing her story, I couldnt help but examine mine suddenly feeling half-alive, suddenly struck with How ya DO-in envy, suddenly feeling the Big Empty. Ive been fine for 20 years. Just fine. And why not? Fine rolls off the tongue better than good, sounds more intriguing than OK, and is nowhere near as abrasive as rotten. Fine does not interrupt the ebb and flow of life. I say fine. Everyone nods and moves on. End of conversation. But that was before perfect slapped me in the face. Suddenly fine feels lame. Fine is a midlife crisis waiting to happen. Fine is an illusion. Fine isnt living. Life, indeed, IS too short for fine.Thats when I remembered Tuffy, the canister, the sugar-coated dog food and decided to kick fine in the teeth, starting with lunch a lunch I hadnt eaten in 20 years: a PB&J sandwich on Wonder Bread. I really shouldnt, I know. But I must. From now on, I must do better than fine. I must have that smile, that twinkle, that laugh myself or at least try. Where it will lead, I have no clue. For me, it begins with Extra Crunchy Skippy: roasted peanuts,16 grams of fat per serving, hydrogenated oil the good stuff. The stuff that a Boston Terrier would have upended even Martha Stewarts kitchen for, then hid under the bed afterward, without for a single moment regretting that he pulled the trigger.
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