Stray Dogs

Telling ourselves only what we want to hear lets illusions think they can take over, and when they are finished playing with our heads, we’re left with nothing. Telling ourselves only what we find to be unacceptable can lead to defeat and despair. Fair and impartial treatment is what we need, but who teaches us how to be fair and impartial? In life almost none of the people who get here before us know much more than how to get while the getting is good or get theirs before someone else gets it.

I am no different. As I’ve said before, when I began this journey I knew nothing, now I know nothing more intimately. My plan, if I can even call it a plan, is to do my best. I read, write, search, dream, hope, and wait; there is a lot of waiting. While I am waiting, I try to listen to my heart, to what I know to be true about who I am and where I’ve been. Broke, alone, frightened, anxious, sad, confused, hungry – satisfied, joyful, confident, serene, and surrounded by love and acceptance, alternating between them all throughout my life. I learned several years ago that fear is an acronym for false evidence appearing real. That made perfect sense to me when I heard it. The first two words sealed it for me. False evidence, why would I ever allow false evidence to trick me? Fear is one tricky bastard and the second two words, appearing real, that’s where fear makes a name for itself. Fear, thy name is Destruction.

Writing something every single day is part of my attempt to do my best. Even if it ends up that I stink at it, I can comfort myself with knowing that I did my best. Yeah, right. That only works for things I really don’t care about like trying to get red wine out of a white shirt. I no longer buy white shirts because they always get stained, usually with red wine, and stains never come completely out. Maybe I need a new and improved washer that magically gets out stains or a better detergent. Maybe I need to stop drinking red wine. Oh, get back on topic!

Writing today was going to be a brief sharing of a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I was looking for a poem to post with a blurb of my own that would describe what the poem means to me and satisfy my assignment to write something. Most of Emerson’s poems, while beautiful and deliriously moving, are long. I haven’t fully embraced the day and I just don’t have the motivation to extract meaning from and then type one of them. While returning the book to the shelf I noticed on the back cover something worth sharing. Longer actually, it turns out, than if I’d just chosen a poem.

I’m paraphrasing here the note on the cover written by Peter Norberg, an Assistant Professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a specialist in New England transcendentalism and history of the antebellum period. I wonder if he’s fun at parties.

Anyway, he writes…Emerson advocated a rejection of fear-driven conformity, a total independence of thought and spirit, and a life lived in harmony with nature. He believed that Truth lies within each individual, for each is part of a greater whole, a universal “over-soul” through which we transcend the merely mortal. Emerson’s writings include lectures, poems and essays “Self-Reliance,” “The American Scholar,” “The Poet,” “Experience,” “Over-Soul,” and others that defined the American transcendentalist movement. Emerson himself didn’t like the term Transcendentalism. Maybe because labels can destroy the best qualities of our beliefs and cause us to abandon them, cause people to experience an error in their judgement of our beliefs, or worse, cause us harm. I have no affiliation with Transcendentalism. I do believe in humanity, independence, service to others, unity and universality. I cannot say that I perfectly practice any of these ideals.

I do my best.

The most closely transcendent experiences in my life have been becoming a mother, which completely takes you out of yourself, and more recently, a trip I took to Thailand, the land of a thousand smiles. I felt at peace there. There among exquisite beauty was devastation even still six years following the Tsunami of 2004. Stray dogs (and cats and chickens) were everywhere, hanging out in the streets, on the beaches, in doorways and under porches.

It takes being reminded that we are part of something bigger than ourselves to help us be better individuals. Supporting ourselves is as important as supporting each other. Before we know it, where we’ve been has picked us up and carried us to where we are. One thing leads to another.

The Fixx is in.

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7 Responses to Stray Dogs

  1. Funny how other countries seem to value Emerson and Thoreau more than US readers/writers. Americans can actually visit where they lived and wrote and came up with ideas.
    Thanks for the trip shots – nice to see nature is healing things.
    Great post

    • Honie Briggs says:

      True, I suppose people are too distracted by things and gossip to consider ideas anymore. It’s unfortunate. Thanks for your kind words. Nature does have a healing effect on me, and I can’t believe I haven’t posted more photos from that trip – I have around 3000 – : )

  2. Elaine says:

    This was the most beautiful post I have ever seen on stray dogs of Thailand. Every other one I ever read are ones where they are torturing them, because they are strays and can become destructive and bothersome. Instead of trying to capture them and either put them down humanely or ‘fix’ them or domesticate them, they choose to make a game of it and torture them. I am grateful for this post since I was really starting to feel sick about those others. Thank you Honie…these brought a smile to my face.

  3. Brigitte says:

    (p.s. wish there was a love button for this post, but that sounds kind of weird.)

  4. Brigitte says:

    Honie, I think this my favorite post of yours so far. So much of what you said resonates with me and I LOVE Emerson and am one of those nerds that have read much of his writing. You reveal yourself — the real you — in posts like these. I feel these very same things that you wrote: “I do believe in humanity, independence, service to others, unity and universality. I cannot say that I perfectly practice any of these ideals,” you just said it way better than I ever could. Love the fear acronym — I posting that up somewhere. Love the song, love the pics. This is perfect. (And yeah, just don’t buy white shirts, colored ones hide the wine stains better). :).

    • Honie Briggs says:

      Good Morning Brigitte,
      Searching for a word, there just isn’t one, to say how much your comment means to me. That you can relate, that you appreciate my writing and that your humor is so much like mine makes me too, wish there was a “love” button. No weirdness here. All comments, and wishes, accepted. : )

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