Back in the Bad Old Days, when I was a practicing real estate broker, I used to drive around the country every day showing land to customers. I’ll not trouble you with the disadvantages of that system, but one of the interesting windfalls was that I got to meet a LOT of pretty unusual characters.
One I remember in particular was a lady, probably in her early forties, who told me that, prior to her trip to my office, she’d never been outside of Los Angeles; had never gone before where no traffic lights or sidewalks exist.
Another thing that I remember about her was that she called home three times a day to check with the woman who was sitting her dogs. Not that there’s anything WRONG with that, mind you. It just sticks in my mind because I never saw anyone check on their kids that much. I guess this seemed a little odd to be because it was a few decades ago. Nowadays, children are kept at heel lest they wander a few feet from the helicopter… er… home… and pets have replaced actual human offspring in many parts of the country.
Well, I drove her all over creation, or at least the Ozark version of creation, for two or three days. During the middle of one afternoon, we were passing down one of the zillion or so little back-county gravel roads hereabouts, past a small farmhouse, when a large collie came running out of the yard barking at us.
I was just about to deliver the punch line of one of my remarkably humorous stories, when I turned to my passenger, not wishing to miss her appreciation of my profound wit.
To my surprise instead of eager anticipation, her face was frozen in terror. Her eyes were as big as saucers and she was making a strange “ACK-ACK-ACK!!” noise deep in her throat.
This was not the sort of reaction I’d been hoping for.
As quickly as I could, I pulled the truck to a halt, preparing to administer artificial respiration, the Heimlich maneuver, or whatever weird incantation seemed most appropriate… assuming I could determine exactly what the situation was.
By that time, she was sobbing uncontrollably.
After several moments, I managed to calm her down enough that she could, sort of, talk.
As it turns out, she thought the collie was going to run head-first into our vehicle and end it all.
I explained to her that rural dogs just aren’t under that much stress, and that they were probably far less prone to fits of depression, ennui, performance anxiety, and all of that sort of thing than their urban counterparts.
Apparently, dogs do not chase cars in Los Angeles, I thought. Maybe it was a city ordinance or something.
It’s moments like this that I realize what a simple bumpkin I am.
Angeleno dogs, in fact, do not chase cars, or if so, only in their dreams, because big-city bowsers only see the clouds and sunshine from the end of a leash. They’d love to chase cars and cats, and dig up the front lawn, and chew up most everything, and pee on most everything else, but they simply are not allowed. Not, not, not.
It makes me think of the way that kids today are sheltered and protected from so much that used to be considered just normal life: playing outside in the neighborhood; walking home alone, that sort of thing. So if folks are so protective of their kids, nowadays, you can imagine how they must feel about their pets who, unlike your pain-in-the-neck human offspring, don’t talk back, don’t roll their eyes, and don’t ever complain about much of anything.
That’s why, when this dear lady sees a collie living a life of wild abandon; eating trash, chasing anything that runs, drooling, licking, and urinating with wild, euphoric rapture—just like we’d all like to do—naturally, she thinks he’s psychotic, and bent on self-destruction.
I wonder if we humans couldn’t take a lesson from this… and I call this exercise The Rule of Fido, which states, that the more we insulate ourselves from nature in our antiseptic little boxes, the less real life we get to live. The more time we spend watching the (supposed) lives of others on television, the less time we spend actually living our own lives. So instead of enjoying satisfying personal experiences like hiking the Appalachian Trail, or seeking higher education, we’re watching politicians making even greater fools of themselves on Dancing with the Stars.
Maybe that’s some people’s idea of a life well lived, but to me it looks uncomfortably similar to a bulldog in a pink cashmere sweater who’s never felt his heart race with unbridled ecstasy while terrifying a squirrel; a poor bowser who eats “gourmet” canned food even though he doesn’t speak French, but who has never tasted the heady elixir of fresh, warm blood.
People, this is not for us. Rather, we should all be doing everything we can to make our lives more wild and natural; to feel our hearts pumping with excitement instead of watching our existence slowly crumble into the sofa cushions.
Look, as long as you’re still breathing and sentient, it’s not to late to redeem your life. All you have to do is to stop babying yourself with what’s easy and acceptable, and start doing the exciting, dynamic things you’ve secretly always yearned to do.
And if we all start doing this, trust me, our lives will all change for the better.
C’mon, give it a try, what’s the harm?
You can show solidarity with us today by enjoying the wild adrenaline rush of digging up the neighbor’s flowerbed.