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March 16, 2014

I come from a country home. There isn’t a lot of noise, and when there is, you know something’s going down. The biggest fear is a bad storm. Otherwise, life is pretty serene and peaceful.

In this house, there’s been one constant for the last 16 years: Chance. Our cat joined the family back in 1998, when Dale Earnhardt was finally a Daytona 500 Champion, and John Elway was hoisting up the Lombardi trophy. We jokingly named him Chance, saying there was a chance he’d live and a chance he’d die.

That young cat got put through the punishments. He’s outlived 2 dogs, and lives with 2 more now. He’s been chewed on, bullied out of the way. The dogs have eaten from his bowl and left him nothing for a few hours between meals. He’s had to deal with jealousy, being pushed away from Mom when he goes up to get petted. He’s even taken a few licks from a young me that thought it was okay to practice WWF (yes, F!) wrestling moves on the small animals. I’m not proud of it..

He’s been through a lot, but he keeps going every day. He moans for his dinner at 3 every afternoon, and wakes mom up for breakfast every morning. He drops the occasional hairball, but is otherwise healthy. He toughs out his yearly trip to the vet. He’s content with life.

I never paid much attention to that in the past, but after years away from home, I’ve come to appreciate it. In college, and life in general, everyone looks for everything to complain about, every reason to convince themselves that their lives are miserable and they deserve better. I’m as guilty of it as everyone else, it’s just easier to bail yourself out by saying life sucks when things don’t go your way.

A pet with a good owner is happy every day. They greet you at the door, tails wagging and excited. They come up to be petted and play, and always stay content with life. Why can’t we be like that? What excuse do we have?

“Oh, my day was just horrible.” “There was nothing good to eat for lunch today!” “That prick was talking behind my back again!” These kinds of things happen all the time. The sad thing is, we let them ruin our whole day. I’ve even seen people let themselves sulk for weeks over a game they watched on T.V. or a night not going the way they planned. I know it sucks, but the fact is, it’s not a big deal in the long-run. There’s no reason to let little things ruin your life.

For every bad thing to happen to us, there are hundreds of good things. We just need to put things into perspective. We still get to live our lives out to the fullest everyday. We live in a nation that gives us freedom and opportunity, food on the table and thousands of ways to entertain ourselves. Life may have it’s swings, but over time it’s still an amazing, blessed ride. Enjoy it while you can.

Next time you come home on a bad day, upset and ready to take it out on the world, think of pets. Think of your cute dog at home, your fish chilling in their bowl. Never had a pet? Think of the ones at your buddy’s house. They can teach you something you may not have even thought about: How to be content.


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