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Maxwell's Thanksgiving Message

A story from November 2016

By Merrie SandersPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
The kind face of the one and only--Maxwell

On this lovely Thanksgiving Eve, I'm reminded of the multitude of things for which I have to be grateful. I have wonderful family and friends, a good job, and a roof over my head. But beyond this gratitude, I was struck by something else today. It was a slow day at the office, and with the permission of one my bosses, I brought my sweet Maxwell to work with me. Anyone that knows me knows that the little guy is a ubiquitous fixture in my life. He lends an ear when I need to vent, and his presence calms me in a way that I cannot quite explain. He is kind and soulful in a way I've never personally known any animal to be. He's a sidekick, a protector, a therapy dog. But he is also, as I believe all of nature to be, a teacher.

The last few months, and weeks in particular, have been divisive and frightening for many. People all across our country are feeling palpable, painful, and justified fear. I've tried to write about the subject several times over the course of the last month, but the words have never sounded quite right. When I've tried to talk about my belief in moderation and balance, I've gotten tongue-tied. Uninspired, drained...Simply: inarticulate. Being an adult in the current climate is frightening, and I'd be lying if I said I had any idea what my place in this world is. Exclusive of the communal issues, I've also personally been trying to figure out what I want as an individual and what I truly value. Growing pains, if you will. This is an unpleasant feat made all the more difficult dealing simultaneously with the present circumstances. As it seems to be becoming a mantra of sorts (I definitely need a new mantra), I'll say it again: being a grown up is difficult and complicated. Maxwell doesn't think it is though.

Those statuses, beliefs, colors, creeds, those things that divide you--they are invisible to the natural world. Maxwell sees no difference between the well-dressed, well-educated, respected attorney in the Mercedes and the man on the street with the filthy fingers and torn clothes. He sees heart and kindness.

We took a walk at lunch so he could smell all the new smells and pee on all the trees he never even knew existed when we were approached by a homeless man all too eager to see a happy face. I'd seen this man around the office. A few months ago, my co-worker graciously helped him to a meal and some money for bus fare to go see his mother after he explained to her that he's spent the last decade in prison. He's since come into the office trying to find more of that generosity, and while he has been in no way hostile or otherwise menacing, his inquiries have been unwelcome and fruitless. But Maxwell didn't see an ex-con or a vagrant-he simply saw a man sitting on a bench in need of some company. He didn't see a bank account or degree. No color, no beliefs, no creeds here. Let's be clear: Max has zero understanding of boundaries or personal bubbles, but this was different. Max is protective and guarding and would never approach a person whom he deemed to be dangerous. I trust him. I trust his instincts. The same way Max comforts me when I am down, he thought this man needed some love. He sweetly, and uncharacteristically politely, sat next to the man and let him pet him.

With all the negativity and uncertainty in the world today, we could all use more community. To learn not to rush to assumptions, to evaluate what really matters. I challenge you, look beyond your own world to see the life around you. Take notice of someone that you'd have perhaps otherwise ignored without rushing to judgment or argument. You will absolutely not always agree with everyone. And sometimes, yeah, people are just flawed in their way of thinking (i.e. disavowing entire groups of people based on fear, hate, etc.) But protect when you need to, spread love and understanding more often, and pay attention to the little lessons in your everyday life.

Max is telling me to be kind, and to remember that status is man-made and not at all the most important part of life. He's telling me to remember the importance of balance. I am thankful for these growing pains. I am thankful to be alive. And damn, I'm thankful for this dog.

Happy Thanksgiving.


About the Creator

Merrie Sanders

Writing for fun and as an escape from the everyday. After all, what is life for if not to create?

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    Merrie SandersWritten by Merrie Sanders

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