Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

If you love something, puke on it.

Or so I was told by an ex-girlfriend of mine who, by that criteria, was apparently very fond of me. I am grateful that this was not her only, or even preferred, way of expressing affection, but nonetheless never before or since has vomit carried such a meaning.

This comment has been on my mind the last few days because of an ordeal I've been going through with my dog. I've written about my wacky animal before, and have explained that she is a three-legged ball of fury. Indeed, this dog has an absolutely staggering amount of energy that shows no signs of abating as she ages. Like many other dogs, she also shows no particular tendency to be picky when it comes to eating. She is more than willing to consume several varieties of trash, vegetables, fruit, cooked meat, raw meat, week-old slices of pizza sitting in gutters, orange peels, and the occasional small rock. I have, in fact, never really observed a vaguely organic material that this dog will not eat, save, fortunately, for the feces of other animals. I am rather happy that my dog lacks that particular predilection. In any case, as a high-energy all-purpose garbage disposal I have to pay close attention to her during our morning walks, lest she eat something a little too questionable.

Alas, some of you can already see where this is going. I have unfortunately mastered the ability to walk my dog and sleep at the same time, and thus am not always aware when she slurps up some particular morsel. As a result, we sometimes have nights like last Saturday night. Whatever it was that she ate, my poor canine companion came down with a bad case of diarrhea. I spent the night being awakened every forty-five minutes or so by a whining, desperate dog who wished very much to be let out. This was, it goes without saying, more than a little disruptive to my sleep. Still, I didn't really get angry at this process: it was preferrable to let her out over and over, to waking up the next morning to a dozen or more oozing piles on the carpet. I am thankful that her housebreaking took such deep root that, even when she is sick, she does not have accidents.

Yet, my recent adventures in dog shit didn't end there. The next day and, believe it or not, for a few days thereafter I found myself paying special attention to her feces. I looked it over for consistency, color, and, especially, for signs of blood that might signal the need for a trip to the vet. As I'm writing I'm well aware of how acutely unappealing this sounds, and it wasn't a walk in the park, but as a dog owner it didn't really bother me to do it. My concern was with my dog and her health- unpleasant tasks and aromas were of relatively little concern.

I don't think this mindset is particularly unusual. When I adopted my dog there was a fairly lengthy period of adjustment. This included a period of severe separation anxiety where I might come home to discover that my sweet puppy had soiled herself in panic, and then rolled around in it within her crate. Needless to say, washing her and the crate was not a joyful experience. Yet, as I have grown to truly love my dog, these intermittent tasks have decreased in their unpleasantness. (For the record: she no longer has that particular problem, but dogs have a way of finding new and revolting messes to get themselves into.) I imagine a similar situation obtains among parents: we have all seen mothers and fathers aiding their progeny in personal hygeine tasks that seem, at best, disgusting. This includes the changing of diapers, but goes far beyond to the tending of sickness, the wiping of noses, and other tasks. Parents seem to perform these tasks with an easy and simple grace that betrays little, if any, disgust. This is not to say that parents wouldn't prefer not to handle their children's excrement, but merely that it doesn't seem to bother them all that much. When you love something, your tolerance for its bad qualities seems to vastly increase.

Interestingly, however, I think the true significance of love goes beyond a mere tolerance for unpleasantness. We are all familiar with the idea of loving someone in spite of their flaws. I'm sure many of us have even been there before, spending time with a special someone who had a few little... quirks, that annoyed the ever-living hell out of us. We may find ourselves sighing quietly and accepting that they simply were the way they were. Yet, I think true love goes beyond the level of mere acceptance. Those who truly love something do so not in spite of its flaws, but at least in part because of those flaws.

This is not to say that we stop seeing certain things as flaws, but rather than we become fond of those imperfections. Perhaps in an ideal world we might change those things that annoy us without changing the remainder of the person, but we do not live in an ideal world. If the imperfections were gone, then the person would probably differ in other ways as well. Something special and charming about the person, or the thing, might be lost in the elimination of an otherwise undesirable feature. I think we learn to love imperfections because without them the object of our affection simply wouldn't be that thing that we love.

On a basic level, I know that I feel this way about my dog. She's extremely active, and she can make a real pest of herself with hyperactive, over-protective barking, but part of what I love about her is her curious, optimistic exuberance. Could I train her to be calmer and more controlled without eliminating that boundless enthusiasm I so treasure? Maybe- but I don't know that I'm willing to take that chance. I love her for the imperfections that make her so goddamn annoying sometimes, because those same imperfections are part of what makes her uniquely her.

When it comes to other people, I think the same rule applies. However long we may live, we shall never find another person with whom we agree in every possible way. Any relationship with another human being will involve conflict, anger, and annoyance from time to time. Yet, to truly love someone is to love their flaws and their annoying features, because those are some of the very things that make that person special. If one would not change the other person's flaws, even if one had the power, then one at last knows the real power of love. All this is not to say that you should make yourself love annoying people, but rather that you will know the depth of your love when it is not in spite of, but rather because of.

This is a belief that I will be keeping in mind over the next month or so. As I travel home to see my family- predominantly conservative, religious, and Bush-supporting folk- I will be exposing myself to a considerable amount of annoyance. Yet, my family are the people that they are, and many of them are people that I respect and love. My parents' misguided support for Bush may frustrate me, but I love the deep commitment to personal responsibility and fairness that impels them to it. I do love them because they are independent people who make up their own minds, even if I don't agree with where those minds have taken them.

It is a worthwhile lesson for all of us in the holiday season, as we encounter people that we love, but may not always like. Without our imperfections we would be very different, and perhaps lesser, people. The same can be said of our friends and loved ones. Let us try to remember that, and treasure those imperfections for the precious gifts that they are.

And if that doesn't work, just spike the hell out of the egg nog.


Blogger Brayden said...

Very optimistic Drek. What the hell's wrong with you? Are you fishing for a guest spot on Doctor Phil?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004 9:50:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

Hey, just because I refused my Hypothetical Roommate's advice on how to seduce that engineering chick (i.e. Show up at her door in a bathrobe with a box of condoms and say, "Yo, baby, let's go") it doesn't mean I've gone all soft.

Let's just remember that I've seen Tubgirl, aiight? Weenie.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004 1:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a quick correction. You say at the beginning of your post that your dog will eat pretty much anything vaguely organic. That’s not totally true.

In as much as Ramen noodles can be considered vaguely organic, I’ve witnessed your dog’s unwillingness to even sniff them let alone eat them. So, in all honesty there are two vaguely organic things your dog wont eat.

-- The Hypothetical Roommate

I would also like to point out that I believe I may have just past Slags word cout on the Blog thus far. Hay, slacker! Get off your ass and post something more than a promise to post something.

Thursday, December 16, 2004 1:47:00 AM  

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