Even I don't always agree with my opinion

 

Creatures Of Habit

1
Posted July 6, 2009 by jim young in Lifestyle

– anon

Yesterday I arose from bed at 6:45am just like any other morning.  I dressed and made myself what I consider to be acceptable enough for a simple drive to work in my car. Incidentally, that involves washing may face and throwing on the closest clothes to my bed; sometimes yesterdays.  Another creature of habit, one of my neighbors, walks her brown dog each morning; an American bulldog mix I think.  I lovingly nicknamed him Happy Dog, because of the jolly way he trots around with his tail curled high in the air and his nose vigorously investigation every scent; so happy to be outside and grateful for his walk.  The sight of Happy Dog always makes us feel wonderful and happy. 

We watched the sunrise on the way, like we do every morning.  Only this morning it was a brisk 41 degrees outside, so the sun was ever more welcomed by all of us.  We hoped this unusual, bitter Florida cold would be gone by noon.  I followed my normal return route home along International Speedway Boulevard.

True to it’s name, International Speedway Boulevard (ISB for locals) is eight lanes wide and rounds the speed way on a bank; not as steep, but similar to the speedway itself.  Many people, including me, can’t help but get heavy on the pedal on this road because there’s so much room and bank.  Not to mention the checkered flags and signs everywhere.  You feel like Richard Petty himself rounding turn 3. 

I zoomed down ISB, which has lights timed so perfectly, you may never stop at the six or so on your way to the highway.  No doubt, perfectly programmed for the thousands of creatures of habit which utilize this quick thoroughfare during their morning rituals.  But this morning, a caution light flared, which brought me to a stop at the entrance to the speedway.  I glanced over at the entrance which was on my left.  At 7:15 there was already a crew of people working. 

The parking lot there, has landscaped islands and in between the bushes on one of those islands, I spied a dog.  He was a happy dog; blond like a lab, but definitely a mix of some kind.  It looked like he too was enjoying the crisp morning, just like our Happy Dog near home.  Immediately I thought he was lost, but as I watched him standing between the bushes, nose steaming and overcome with stimulant smells in the air, he looked so content. I still figure  I had best go over there and see where he belongs.  But he wasn’t running around.  He was just standing tall in the same place, on the same island, between the same bushes, with his steamy nose in the air; smelling like crazy.    I smiled a big smile while I watched him. 

Dogs always make me smile.  They are so happy at the smallest things in life; like smells and being off a leash.  They are satisfied with the normal walks and everyday events, and will do every habitual thing you want them to do, happily. And like us, many of them live long, healthy lives doing just that. But they are also completely excited about something totally different; like a new person to meet or something new on their walk.  They smell everything and take it all in deep; embracing each new moment as blissful and full of opportunity.  That’s probably why they like car rides so much.  Imagine getting 10,000 stimulations per second that shot directly to your brain and excited you just for hanging your head out of the window or standing between some bushes.   

Surely, this happy dog belongs to one of the workers I could see in the parking lot.  He was probably forced to be a creature of habit, and was used to this morning ritual of going with his master in the car to run errands at the speedway.  What a treasure a good dog makes to every day normal mundane errands.  Even though he wasn’t my dog, and I wouldn’t get the warm love and companionship in my car with me this cold morning, he warmed my heart just the same.  And it was a wonderful little surprise to my habitual drive home. 

Today, the day started like Ground Hog Day, exactly the same.  I got up, got dressed and headed out the door at 6:45am;.same time; same route…different sunrise.  Unlike most mornings, it was colder; 31 degrees and very rare for Florida. I had to scrape the ice off my windshield and as I did, I spied Happy Dog; same time, same place.  His owner, also a very chipper nice lady, laughed at the fact that I was using my driver’s license to scrape off the ice.  We don’t have ice scrapers in our cars in Florida; we are used to warm weather.  While Deana shivered inside the car, waiting for it to warm up and dressed in 70 degree clothes, Happy Dog looked as happy as ever.  Like the cold wasn’t even affecting him in the least and his normal, habitual morning walk was going to be even more splendid.

We headed off down the highway and onto ISB.  As we banked around the speedway, we were approaching the traffic light that I had been stopped at the morning before…but no need to stop this time, it was green.  I was almost through the light, when to my surprise I saw the ‘other’ happy dog again.  But this time, he wasn’t in the parking lot; in the same island, between the same bushes, with his happy, steaming nose in the air.  He was dead in the road; cold and lifeless.  I gasped and quickly tried to hide it, so as not to draw attention to what I had seen.  It looked like he had been there for a while; quite possibly a whole day.  And just like everyone passed him by yesterday, they were passing him by today. No doubt more noticeably this time, as the sight of his lifeless, bloody and mangled body had to be having more of an affect on the comatose public zooming by. I immediately had the most overwhelming, sickening feeling of regret.  Why didn’t I follow my first instinct that he was lost?  Why didn’t I go see him, and try to find out where he belonged?  Why didn’t I try to keep him safe? 

The terrible realization was, ultimately it was out of my way.  It was not the same route, same road or same anything.  I was reluctant to go check on him because it was not my habit.  I rationalized 15 reasons why not to go over there in the few seconds I had stopped and spotted him.  Instead of lending a few minutes to go see him and make sure he was okay and with his owner, I stayed the course of my day.  Just like a typical creature of habit.  I love dogs with all my heart and I still could not wake myself from my coma to save him. Now he lay cold and alone in the road, with cars racing by, all no doubt on the same route, to the same place, at the same time as yesterday; and trying there best, just like yesterday to avoid the inconvenience that now blocked one of the eight lanes of traffic.  I realize that I missed the opportunity to make all the difference in the world for this happy dog.  What astounds me is how many other people missed the same opportunity that morning so we would all stay the course.  The people in the parking lot, the workers at the speedway, and every person passing by in their cars were too patterned to stop and do something different. Are you missing opportunities left and right because of your self-induced creature of habit coma?  What opportunities are you missing today? What perfectly good ideas are you discarding because it would require you to do something different to bring them to fruition? What happy dog are you overlooking?

I took a different route home today.  And instead of jumping back into my warm, down comforted, fluffy bed for an hour or so of additional slumber, I changed my morning.  I didn’t go straight home.  I didn’t go back to bed.  I’m actually avoiding my habitual day today.  I’ve never stopped to write a story before 9:00am and on my own accord.  Today, I make a vow to myself:  to never become a creature of habit and miss the opportunities before me each day.  Even if the opportunity is simply making sure a happy dog, stays warm and safe to sniff another day. 

Save your dog today!!  Do something different!!  Find your opportunities!  They are out there! You may just have to go out of your way to catch them. And please say a prayer for the happy dog and the missed opportunities of yesterday.


One Comment


  1.  
    Jim

    Regretfully I have to admit that I am one of those guys that often let these important moments slip by. I am too quick to assume that the dog or cat wandering through the neighbourhood must surely belong to someone.

    My wife is quite the opposite and will take in every stray that comes by. And when you think about it – isn`t erring on the side of caution the much more honorable trait?

    When my wife was once on a mission to rescue a “lost” creature I reminded her that she couldn`t save them all.

    “Maybe not,” my wife told me. “But I can save THIS one.”

    And I was humbled by the generosity and loving in her heart that, afterall, was what attracted me to her in the first place.





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