I was having this conversation with somebody about what “unconditional” means, trying to remove it from the lineup of enigmatic words that we throw around without taking the time to really grasp the concept; words like love, commitment, trust , breakfast, etc.
I don’t think many of us, as human beings are very good at being unconditional in any setting. We’ve been reared on transactional relationships, fed by religious requirements, social mores and cultural expectations that tell us if we combine choice X with behavior Y we will receive Z. The trouble is, most of the time that math doesn’t add up. I know, because I tried X and Y for a long time and never found Z. I have been trying to reformat the equation lately, and I am thinking that Z was a lousy goal anyway.
As humans, we’re terrible at just doing the things BECAUSE. CAUSED by BEING. Doing something to do it, and not for the reward or result we expect. Do I not steal things to avoid going to jail or do I not steal things because I know it’s a sucky thing to do and I wouldn’t like myself very much if I did, regardless of the consequence? Do I cook you breakfast in bed so that you will rub my feet or because breakfast in bed is just rad and everybody should have more rad in their lives? We live in such a quid-pro-quo world, that if I do the thing I think/know you like, you sure as hell better be doing the thing I like, or this relationship CLEARLY isn’t working.
What if I do the thing you like because I like doing it, and whether you do what I like or not, doesn’t matter. Is that unconditional love or is that being a doormat? We live in such a self-serving world and we’re taught at every turn that if what we’re doing isn’t getting us the results we want, it’s ok to cut ties and jog on to the next transactional relationship that will also, inevitably, let us down. They all do. They do because we suck at communicating, and we suck at mind reading, and we suck BALLS at vulnerability. And because we’re mostly a bunch of selfish assholes.
The only ones who don’t suck at all those things and might be the masters of unconditional love (and breakfast) are dogs.
They don’t give a shit who you are, how much you suck or if you have myriad undiagnosed mental health issues, they are SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU and love you anyway. They don’t lose their shit and break up with you when you forget to feed them occasionally, or won’t throw the ball. They will still give you All the Kisses and share their most favorite and nastiest toy with you, no matter how broken or flawed you are.
Dogs bound happily into every new adventure with a tireless excitement to try anything, at least once, even walking across scary metal grates and seeing what shrubberies taste like, because they don’t fear judgement, or failure, or rejection like we do. They just are.
Dogs don’t lie awake all night worrying about next week, next year, five years from now or whether the social security system will still be doling out when they hit retirement age or whether their lover will ever learn to change the toilet paper roll. They just sleep, then they wake up and do whatever thing is for them that day. They understand the value of a good nap in the sun, the thrill of a good cat chase, the satisfaction of dirt in their toenails as they dig to China in your backyard. The sky is the limit everyday for a dog. They don’t know boredom because if there’s nothing else going on - GLORY HALLELUJAH, it’s naptime again!
Dogs are empathetic without judgement. My old dog used to sit and stare at me with great concern anytime I was watching something scary on TV when I was alone. It was like he could smell the anxiety on me and would not leave me unattended. My wiener dog has to be front and center when I am crying so she can catch my tears with her tongue and protect me from them. Dogs seem to know our needs and respond to them sometimes before we’ve even identified them. And they don’t care that we might not give them an award or a cookie or Tweet about who the Best Boi is. What if we did that for each other? How cool would life be?
Dogs don’t freak out when you don’t answer their texts. They don’t fall apart when you’re late or have to change plans or if they get the same thing for dinner every. single. night. They’re just there, waiting always for you to get your shit together and enjoy life with them. We need to be more like dogs. Dogs are the best.
Everyone is awesome.
Never turn down food. Except olives.
Sleep as much as possible. Everywhere. But especially in the sunshine.
Try new things.
Clean your butt often.
Give many kisses.
Lick the backs of knees.
Smell things first.
Dirt isn’t evil.
Run whenever you can.
Variety is the spice of life.
Repetition is also the spice of life.
Cats are the spice of life.
So are spiders.
Everything makes life spicy if you let it.
Anything can be sexy if you want it to.
Everyone loves you.
Today is the best day ever.