Sunday, February 23, 2014

Good Morning Jessicca...

Letter to my Daughter
Sunday, 23 February


Good Morning Jessicca…

I took Jake, the dog, to a large open field a few miles from where I live.  I wanted him to be able to run about freely without being stuck on a leash.  He almost immediately got the idea and took off.  The trouble was he looked to be getting as far from me as he possibly could without any intention of coming back.  I began calling after him but he might as well have been stone deaf.  I yelled his name, “Jake!”  The truth is I don’t think he knows his name.  He was left to my care probably about a couple of years ago when he was ten.  I’ve never known him to respond to his name.  So I yelled “Come!”  Actually, he’s not familiar with any commands, either.  Finally, I just decided to endlessly yell after him as he set out on his new path in life.  Eventually he turned towards me as if wondering what all the commotion was about.  He was already a couple of hundred yards ahead and only briefly looked my way before continuing his dog trot for parts unknown.  The tables were turned.  Without the leash I was no longer top dog of our little pact.  It was my turn to follow his lead.  I began running after him.  Before long he would reach a four lane thoroughfare and he’s never shown much sense regarding cars.  True to form he left the vastly interesting environment of the field in order to race up the middle of the street.  Fortunately there were very few cars at the time.  I was horrified a car might get him before I had the chance to throttle him myself. 

I probably ran another half mile before he allowed me to catch up with him.  Thank God the dog is old.  Patience is not among my natural characteristics but I do possess a bit of reasoning.  If I punish him on the spot what chance have I to catch him the next time he springs loose?  I merely take the leash from my back pocket and snap it to his collar.  Once again we’ve become a chained tandem just like always.  We finish our walk.  He and I have some work to do.

I’m not crazy about this sort of relationship.  It constrains both of us.  Jake wants to snoop about.  I want to snoop about.  He’s a dog and I’m not.  We don’t want to snoop about the same things.  Had we been in wide open spaces of desert I would have said “I’ll see you when I see you.”  Civilization isn’t healthy for dogs roaming free.  Sure a dog can die from a rattlesnake bite but, to me, that’s more acceptable than being mauled by a car.  Rattlesnakes are an acceptable risk.  Cars aren’t.

There’s this Danish philosopher named Kierkegaard.  He talks about personal truth.  It’s not like the objective truth we associate with math and science.  Personal truth doesn’t even have to be true like the equation 2 + 2 = 4 is true.  Personal truth is more about what it is we as individuals believe.  This is important because what we truly believe determines how it is we act.  I may or may not be correct in my belief about something but the action I take based upon this belief does create a truth.  Did I or did I not walk away from an accident victim:  true or false?  The importance of personal truth to me as an individual is whether my actions are sincere.  Am I acting true to my beliefs?  Do I live an authentic life or am I dozing through one meaningful after another?

Our education is filled with objective truths – the Earth is round.  Few of them have much to do with how we live our lives.  On the other hand, personal truths are inescapable facts about us – you and me.  They not only govern our actions, they are our actions.  We are not our intentions.  We are what it is we do.  Aren’t we… ?


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