Today will be a manic day of spring cleaning. I live alone, all by myself. (Actually, there are 2 German Shepherds here whose rations I have reduced and are an extra bit hungry. Just an FYI in case you fancy my frozen burritos or can of Clam Chowder.) Living alone means putting off those little chores, because I mean, who cares really? My dogs do not care. I drink coffee, read, surf the net and sleep. What do I care? I will share with you that I am house embarrassed. 4 years ago now I had life threatening heart event. I spent 3 days in ICU and the remainder of 2 weeks bedbound in the hospital. The fear of death gripped me. It changed my perspective and altered the way I behaved in the world. The effect of that year has mostly subsided with one great exception: my house. It is not suitable for company. So, follow along here, in a twisted form of logic, I will spend the day dusting, scrubbing, mopping, organizing and in every other way . . . make my home ready for guests. (Permission to laugh out loud.)
I have been accused of solving problems that do not exist. I cannot seem to help myself, I am burdened with at least 6 separate voices in my head. The old story about which is the strongest wolf? The one you feed of course. Well, my voices will feed themselves, or sometimes on themselves. True, if I meditate, I including reading as meditation, the insight I gain may perhaps quiet one, while feeding another. If I succumb to the tiresome temptations of ego and vanity; the overly bloated, fat one will whine and spit; while the angry 3 year old disgorges the patently unapproved Webster dictionary at his object of disaffection. With humble honesty, I cannot even proclaim perfection in my sleep for I snore, loudly, even before my eyes close. While I love my dogs, that too is not limitless. Coincidently, their favorite person is my favorite person. While I find them to be obnoxious, slobbering, never-take-a-day-off mess makers, I relish looking into their eyes every morning and, in that moment, commit for one-more-day, to be the man they believe me to be.
But today my heart hurts. I was born to a pale shade of life. My burdens rise entirely from my inability to read social cues. (Another voice in my head sometimes tells me that, ‘Tom, you actually do see the social cues, it’s just that the rest of us in here think they are shit.’) I had the good fortune to learn at a time when education was better funded. My mind was bent (Permission to laugh here as well.) towards those things mechanical. With a fair grasp of the basic laws of physics I pushed forth into the world and fed myself well enough to become 30 pounds over-weight. (This last point was intentionally made to impress the ladies so that when they do notice my girth, they will see me as a good provider, dad-bod and all.) Where the hurt comes in is in the knowledge that we have neighbors who do not have homes, whose pets are always on short rations, and who will most-likely succumb to the worst effects of any social disorder that you and I weather with a precocious glass of Grenache.
At best, their conditions are awful. I dare not speculate as to the rest. Far too many of us already socially distance ourselves from the Great Unwashed. In our minds stream visions of hobos riding the rails looking for work. “There’s work to be found!” my judgmental, pale voice cries out. (Just for fun he said, Get a job.) “Not so.” Dog Man quietly shares. What really ever happened to, and please pardon my Western references here, the lessons we learned as children: The Good Samaritan; The Prodigal Son; and none-the-least, “What so ever you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me.”
For the last decade or so, when I travel, and people ask me where I am from I say California. Governor Newsom correctly called CA a Nation State. We are larger than many countries and boast of the 5th largest economy in the world. With whatever grace we are blessed with I am proud to say, recently, that the State has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to address the plight of homelessness. It is a start. Here is where our part, the Dog People’s part, comes in. We need to put our minds together and solve this problem that does exist.
Aside: Quick question – What is unarguably the best part of an argument? . . . The other side. I share this one thing with you all. None of us, not a single solitary soul, can make a wise decision in a vacuum. Each decision requires relativity. To a point, we must understand as much as possible by learning the other side(s) of the argument. From that, create a working plan. And when that planned path does not follow the trail? We adjust the plan.
Those most vulnerable of us will suffer this time harder than . . . well, us. Already distant in our society, only those truly committed will brave proximity but then, only from a distance.
For now, look to yourselves, in this time of quarantine. Reach to your friends and look to make yourselves whole. Very soon, sooner that you might imagine, we must each find that Dog Person within us. For we have so many problems to solve. So feed that part of you now. Send the child and the pale faced putz, to their rooms. Use the tools that you have available to you right now and lend your voice to help solve crisis of humanity.