Embrace You and Your Life
"And then his teeth broke and his jaw broke and it fell on the ground!" Lisa's words hung in the air with a shock and gruesome tone amid all the screams and hollers of the other children in the playground. I just hung from the bottom bar of the monkey gym, toes dragging in the gravel, my knees barely skimming the dusty ground. I tried to imagine this boy and his broken teeth and broken jaw falling to the ground.
I wondered out loud, "Did he get in trouble with his mom?"
"WHAT?! I don't know!", Lisa yelled back. "I just know he tried biting a jaw breaker and that's what happened." Lisa was scrambling to the third bar height on the monkey gym which I had no intention of doing. I never went higher than the first bar and I never bit into my jaw breaker candy. Safety first. I already knew that in the fourth grade.
Jaw Breakers are amazing hard balls of layered flavors and colored sugar. They come in all kinds of threatening sizes and colors. But the color on the outside is never the color for long. Every lick gets you to a new colored flavor. You can't cheat a jaw breaker. You have to do the work and you have to save what you've done for later. Jaw Breakers are a work for sugar kind of candy.
I fell in love with a different candy not long after this recess conversation. The Ever-Lasting Gobstopper. Too bad it's not real. It's a Willy Wonka idea that sounds amazing, looks amazing and is not real. Basically, it's a Jaw Breaker that never shrinks, but it also doesn't change shape, flavor or color. You just have this candy that goes on forever the same way forever. I loved the idea, and I really loved how Willy Wonka described his invention. "It's for children with very little pocket money!" I appreciated that. Later in life I'd find a pearl of wisdom in that Gobstopper. Very little investment gets you very little anything.
What's this got to do with companions, life, expectations, and the reality of our lifestyles? Time.
Our lives are Jaw Breakers. Limited in lifespan, surprising, a little dangerous and always ever changing until the end. As simple and real as a layered round ball of colored sugars we can enjoy it for what it is, or we can try to cheat it and bite hard down on it to get to something we hope is better. It's not necessarily better, but always different.
Life isn't an Ever-Lasting Gobstopper. It was never intended to stay the same while never ending.
Wanting to keep a companion animal, friend, or family member acting like "they used to". It seems to be a state of being where an eternal goal is to fight the evolution of personality. Our companions, human or animal, change over time. It's mandatory to remember we are all changing and reforming personalities. It's part of the life.
Creating your Successful Companion Animal Lifestyle isn't about creating an Ever-Lasting Gobstopper lifestyle. We aren't trying to create stasis, but better, synergy and communication, trust and growth, and a bond based on experiences not successful tricks. A lifestyle with a companion animal is messy, loud, active, demanding, colorful and ever changing, if we're doing it right.
Honor the changes. Our lives are short, we are meant to be as colorful as a companion parrot's feathers. As loyal as a loved dog. As diva as any cat. As ultra-goofy as a guinea pig.
THIS IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL.