WASHINGTON — In today’s society we often quibble over how much money we make, how big our house is and how much faster our car goes than our co-workers', friends' or our distant family members'. We often lose sight of the things that really matter. A wise teenager once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
OK, the author of the quote wasn’t a wise man, just slick talking teenager Ferris Bueller. While the character Matthew Broderick played made it cool to skip school in the 1980s, he might have been on to something. Too often our lives become more about petty, superficial things than for lack of a better phrase - the little things.
Yes, I know this sounds incredibly clichéd, but it’s completely true.
Instead of being thankful for the things we do have, we spend our time wondering what life would be like if we had a better job, a better car or a completely different life. Life is short, and we need to appreciate all the things we have. Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite movies and there is a sequence that completely explains what I'm trying to articulate in this column.
Robin Williams’ character, a psychiatrist from South Boston is trying to explain to young Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon, that while his wife may be gone, he will always cherish the little things that only he knew about her.
I came to think about this mindset this week when my wife, Monika and our three dogs - Maximus, Roxy and Toby were traveling to South Bend for three days.
Monika was taking our furry children to her mother's house as we get ready for a 10-day vacation to Orlando, Fla. and Atlanta, Ga.
Basically every day consists of experiences with the four of them.
When I came home from work on Tuesday afternoon, there was no one to greet me, except for Darwin, our gray cat. And Darwin lost interest in me five seconds after I walked through the door. I didn’t get the anticipated rush of three dogs running toward me, tails wagging with a look in their eyes that can’t be replicated by anything in this world.
My favorite part about Monika and the three dogs being in my life are the things that only I know about them. On almost a nightly basis, Monika will awake from her slumber for mere moments and mutter something that sounds like a mix of jibberish and a foreign language, which hasn’t been discovered, and then quickly she rolls over and is asleep again.
The best part of this is she never remembers it and therefore denies ever doing it. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.
Our three-year-old German Shepherd, Roxy, is the equivalent of an awkward teenage girl 90 percent of the time. She hates thunderstorms, and if she even senses a thunderstorm is coming she goes into “freakout mode” and breathes uncontrollably in the bathtub. She also serves as a full-time guard dog, but only inside the house.
Maximus, who has been proclaimed the “prince of the household” by Monika doesn’t do much to bring stress to us on a daily basis. When he does do something wrong, Monika conveniently tells me I can’t get mad at him, because, “he has a little brain.” His little pushed-in face brings unbridled joy to us every day.
We adopted Toby in August, he was eight weeks old and has grown up before my eyes as he approaches his first birthday. With the exception of two weekends last fall, I have been with Toby every day for the past 10 months. When Monika went to her mother’s with the dogs, she informed me that Toby was very sad and she could tell he was out of place.
She surmised that he missed me and I was feeling the same way. I won’t see him until July 3 and I worry every day about how he’s feeling and what he’s going through being in a new place by himself.
From Tuesday at 12 p.m. until Thursday at 5 p.m. my house was empty with the exception of the loving cats, but it wasn’t the same. These two days helped me see a life isn’t worth living without the people in it.
My family makes me more whole than job, paycheck or a fast car ever could – it’s important to recognize and never let go of that fact.
Dennis and his dog will hopefully be reunited soon. Until then, the dogs can e-mail Dennis at firstname.lastname@example.org.