Wednesday, September 19, 2007

See Spot Run

On the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (yes, it is on NPR) the subject was the emotional life of dogs (the guest was Patricia B. McConnell author of For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend). I am slightly (okay, more than slightly) consumed with my dogs. I bore the hell out of people by talking about them, but since so much of my life is about dealing with them I don't know how I could not.... I do have other topics on my mind and I can converse about just about anything (notice I did not say intelligently as I am pretty unknowledgeable about an innumerable amount of things) as I am willing to learn about new things, yet I tend to come back to my dogs. You can imagine then how interested I was in a radio show devoted to what my dogs are feeling. It looks like I will be watching my dogs even more intently to discover signs of their emotions and also it would be helpful for me to watch human behavior.

I wish people were as easy as dogs to pin down and that they tolerated you to investigate them. Here is what I imagine such a conversation would go if I were to ask someone for permission: "Hey, Bob, would you mind if I followed you around and watched how you interact with others and in daily life so I can better understand you and human behavior, motivation, conversation, thoughts, emotions--basically the sum of life is all? Surely you would be fine with me taking notes and staring at your face for facial movement? And then asked you repeatedly what you are feeling in that moment? What your motivation is? You wouldn't mind the intrusion, right? That isn't really creepy, is it?" How could Bob not give me an enthusiastic yes? I have a feeling (oh, how intuitive am I?) Bob would more than likely run like the hounds of hell were after him. Still, if there were game Bobs or Jennies--their female counterparts--it would be so helpful. Yet, humans aren't like that. We aren't that open or easy to understand even to ourselves and it is certainly not simple to explain ourselves to someone else no matter how willing and nonjudgmental they are.

So much of life is hiding and masking our vulnerabilities, our idiosyncrasies, our flaws, our fears, our emotions and even our strengths that I wonder if we fully understand how we are also fundamentally alike and what makes each person an individual?

My last entry I mentioned how I often feel guilt...I am beginning to understand why I do. I try to place myself in other people's shoes and to ever remain cognizant that each person are dealing with their own set of conditions and that they are just as important in this world at large as I am. I want to abate hurt whenever possible and make people feel they are understood and to help them to either realize or reaffirm that they are valuable. I like to be a peacemaker. I strive to be a soothing influence and this is a colossal ideal--to be beneficial to everyone I encounter (of course the extent would vary greatly--for a stranger I might just be a girl who smiled at them or opened the door for them and for a close friend I ideally am someone who accepts them for who they are and they trust will value who they are). That is who I want to be. Yes, I desire to be liked by everyone because of the opportunities it affords me. I am welcome to ease troubles amongst groups or friends because I am on good terms with each party and I care about each of them. For me to not feel concerned about how another feels and how something I did or did not do impacted them would be analogous (in my little world) to me dismissing them. It would betray a sacred truth I rely on to define who I am.

Yes, there is a certain arrogance in my assumptions and the role I have cast myself into, but we must all aspire to something more to make a contribution.

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