Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yelling at the dog

I yelled at my dog today. Now, if you know anything about my dog, Duke, this is a semi-regular occurrence in our household. Usually I yell because, even though he is adorable and awesome, he has the uncanny ability to bring annoyance into my otherwise predominately calm and stress-free life. This is of course most vexing in the wee hours of the morning when he decides to bark, scratch something, or my wife's absolute favorite: incessantly lick his paw (and by paw I do mean his actual paw but also other parts of his anatomy that I don't want to mention. Okay, he licks his butt sometimes. Gross, I know.)

Today, however, he didn't do any of the above things. He slept through the night and was both peaceful and calm. This morning when I got up and made my coffee and was loud, coupled with the hustle and bustle of people waking up in our neighborhood, he remained steadfast. He was shockingly quiet. That's why I yelled. I saw him just sitting on the edge of the couch (his favorite spot) and he was staring at me. He was the epitome of being unmotivated and lazy.

So I yelled at my dog:

"Get up! "
"Go outside!"
"Chase cats and squirrels!"
"Bark at everything and everyone who moves!"
"Find something that is not yours and destroy it!"
"Go to the bathroom in the most inconvenient places!"
"Terrorize the mailman!"
"Be a dog for heaven's sake!"

This frustration came from a place of love. I just wanted him to embrace every aspect of his canine nature and live it up! I reminded him that although in human years he was only three, in dog years he was in his twenties. Doesn't he understand how quickly this life moves? Doesn't he get that in doggie years he is supposed to be an adult and he better run while he still can, and bark while his vocals still work, and eat stuff while he can still stomach it?

I wonder sometimes if God wants to yell at us in frustration:

"I created you for more than this! Get up and do something."
"Create. Engage. Invent."
"Love. Serve. Forgive."
"Run. Play. Eat. Drink. Fall in love."
"Turn off the TV and log off Facebook!"
"Stay up late once in while!"
"Dance...because it's fun!"
"Live this life to the full!"
"Be a human for heaven's sake!"

I am remembering today that I am not a machine, nor am I a robot. I am a human, trying to become fully human. Life is indeed beautiful. We face resistance from experiencing the beauty, but we can overcome it to be our true selves. We can get off the couch.

As I write this, my dog is no longer lying on the couch. I unlocked the kitchen door and flung it wide open. Duke is running around in the backyard, barking at the top of his lungs for all to hear-- patiently awaiting the arrival of the mail. For some reason that is the motivation I needed today.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Love of the Game

Brandon Jennings, an LA native, is a baller. A baller is what you call someone who knows how to play the game of basketball. You can also call him a hooper, but I like baller. When you're playing the game you're "balling." It means you have skill. This is obvious, since Jennings is in the NBA. He's a 6'1 point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. And he loves playing the game.

If you've paid attention to sports lately, you know that it is getting extremely unlikely that the NBA will have a season this year. There are disagreements about money and salary caps and stuff that a fan doesn't care about. A fan simply wants to watch people who are good at a sport playing it and playing it with passion and intensity. I think this is what Jennings wants as well.

Sports Illustrated just ran an article about Jennings. He's been using Twitter and other social media outlets to find pickup games around the country. Jennings wakes up and tweets, trying to find a location to do some balling. He then picks one and shows up and plays. After he's exhausted the venue (which means dominated), he goes back to the Twitter and figures out where he's going next. Jennings loves the game.

When it's all said and done, a NBA player is an athlete. Take that a littler further and he is a person, doing something that he loves. He was playing the game before he got the contract and was on TV and became famous...and he will probably be doing after it's all said and done.

I remember watching an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (yes, I watch it occasionally) and Lamar Odom was talking to his now wife Khloe. He was telling her about some of the tough times he had growing up and how he used to cope with stress. When things were tough, he went out to the park and he played basketball. All he would do, he said, was shoot hoops for hours until the sun went down and then he'd finally go home. Then the next day, he'd wake up and go shoot hoops again. He said something to the effect of, "I feel at peace when I'm playing ball."

When Jennings was in high school he had his mom drop him off at the LA Fitness by his house at 5:00am every day before school. Because when you're in high school, you have nothing better to do then play ball at five in the morning. The point is, basketball never used to be about the money. It was for the love of the game. Sure, most NBA players and professional athletes for that matter live extravagant lifestyles. They own mansions and cars probably like being millionaires. Even with all the perks of playing professional ball, though, there are still some who just want to play the game.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do. I think we need a reminder every now and again to help us set our priorities straight and realize the gift it is to do what you love and to live your life to the full (be it your job, career, hobbies, education or dreams). The question we need ask of ourselves is: Do we still love to play the game?