when i was growing up, a pink, laminated piece of paper was displayed on our refrigerator. a relic of my days in pigtails and ribbons, the paper was titled “everything i ever really needed to know, i learned in kindergarten.” the basis was that all of life’s key skills, such as compassion, sharing and kindness are learned alongside nap time and finger painting.
and i agree. to an extent. that many integral, vital traits and lessons in that classroom. that as we ride with training wheels, we are traveling at the speed of light. toward realization. maturity. heartaches and exultations. and kingergarten is the place that prepares us.
but last night, as i entered our little cottage and heard little paws on the wood floor and felt the soft impact of fur on my skirt, i realized something else.
everything i ever needed to know in adulthood, i learned from my dog.
being loyal means being there. plain and simple. even when what you see or know is ugly. pablo whimpers outside my bathroom door when i’m inside, scratches at the covers when i’m in bed and he’s on the floor, and serves as my shadow no matter where i go. i leave the room for one second, he’s behind me on my heels, lightning fast. if you want someone to love you, the first thing you’ve got to do is be loyal to them. gain their trust and ensure them—there’s nowhere that you can go that you will lose me. i swear.
you only get what you give. for every belly rub, extra dollop of peanut butter, and game of fetch i give to pablo, he gives me slobbery kisses, nose nudges under the covers, and smiles as wide as his face in return. because he knows a concept that is so difficult for humans to grasp. you can’t hug someone with your arms crossed. only when you open them up, wide as the sky, are you in the position to embrace and feel love.
when it’s time to rest, rest. don’t try to do a little play/rest juggle. just lay down, cross your hands under your chin, and let out a deep sigh from the bellows of your gut. because it’s beautiful and normal. and you’ll be ready to play with ten times the fervor when you’re done.
trust. even if it means you might get hurt or lost. just trust in people. every day, i hook on pablo’s leash and gently tug him outside, to a world that is new each morning. i lift him up, spin him around and even sometimes tie his ears in loose bows. and he can’t do anything about it. so he trusts. as humans, we have more of a choice. so choose trust.
God sends rain on the just and the unjust. no one is immune to sad times, hard feelings or even, bad hair days.
celebrate the little things. every little achievement, victory or half birthday. because life’s too short, yes, but also because that’s what life is. life is not work. life is not play. life is those little moments and celebrations that happen in the middle of those two extremes. it’s a gorgeous thing, too.
when you’re scared, don’t be afraid to show it.
no matter how unbeautiful or unworthy you feel right now, you are. you are special. there is no such thing as a lost cause. we picked pablo up looking like this.
never be afraid to add a little flair to your wardrobe. it’s what keeps life interesting, colorful and playful.
i have a college degree and i'm getting ready to start graduate school this spring, but the best education i’ve ever received came from a bichon with four paws and a tail.