I have often thought (as have others apparently) that we can learn a lot about life from dogs. Of course, with our creativity and dexterity, we can accomplish things that dogs would not only not think about, but would be incapable of producing any way! I cannot see any possibility of a dog thinking about boiling water and using the steam to drive machinery.
I am certainly not going to downplay the potential advantages of being human, and the invention of the steam jenny was the beginning of the industrial revolution, but we do have an odd habit of fixating on the irrelevant and immaterial. We do have a tendency to focus on things that, in the overall scheme of things, really should not matter.
As I noted in an earlier Post, most of us (perhaps all of us) have some desire to be remembered after we have “gone”. If we cast our minds back to people who are recorded in history, I would suggest that 100% of them are famous/infamous for what they did. I cannot think of anybody at the moment who is famous solely for what they had materially and/or financially, and yet we are a very materialistic society. We generally endeavor to follow the “bigger and better” trend, and possibly invest more and more. It may well be appreciated when our will is read and our estate distributed accordingly but… after that?
It would be unrealistic to expect all of us to become famous, but there are no reasons why we cannot be remembered for who we were and what was important to us. For that to happen, we must reflect back on history in general, and recognize that our estate will be forgotten as soon as it has been spent, but it is what we did with our life that is likely to be remembered.
I can remember listening to a speaker, a long time ago, in the context of decision making and the time we can spend on it. His philosophy was really simple. When you are confronted with a situation where a decision has to be made, you ask yourself a simple question “Will my decision impact the rest of my life?” The answer will invariably be “No”, in which case just make the decision and move on. It is not that routine decisions should be taken lightly, but that they are put into perspective relative to the importance of your ever decreasing time on this earth.
I love the late Leo Buscaglia’s view on life and listened to many of his presentations. One that made a huge impact included the following, which was written by an 85 year old man who was dying of cancer
“If I had my life over again I’d not be afraid of more mistakes next time. In fact I’d relax a lot more. I’d limber up. I’d be sillier than I’ve been on this trip. In fact, I know very few things I’d take so seriously. I’d take more chances. I’d take more trips. I’d climb more mountains. I’d swim more rivers. I’d sit and watch more sunsets. I’d go more places I’d never seen before. I’d eat more ice-cream and fewer beans. I’d have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.
You see I was one of those people who lived prophylactically, and saintly, and sensibly, hour after hour, day after day. Oh I’ve had my moments and if I had to live all over again I’d try to have more of those moments- in fact I’d try to have nothing else but wonderful moments side by side by side – Instead of living so many years ahead of my time. I was one of those people who never went anywhere without a thermometer, hot water bottle, gargle, rain coat and a parachute!
If I had to do it all over again, I’d travel lighter next time. I’d play with more children; pick more daisies. I’d love more if I had my life over again but… you see… I don’t.”
George at theoffkeyoflife (link below) recently posted an article which included comments from palliative care patients as they reflected on their respective lives, and the messages were pretty much the same.
There is so much evidence to suggest that our priorities can be totally inconsistent with our ultimate goals. Perhaps we should revisit what is really important to us. Perhaps we should put a value on our basic needs such as food, water, warmth and rest, security, safety and relationships, and then decide how much of our time should be spent in other pursuits.
All this brings us back to our dog friends. They may not be as complex as us, but they certainly know how to focus on what is really important. Ray has regular food, water, warmth and rest, security and a social component… and he appears to be a very happy dog. There is a message there, and it is not in any complex code!
Food for thought!