Of dogs, and immigrants…

Broad brush strokes…

When we refer to any group, or reference their actions as a collective, we are often making a mistake. My favorite example of this is when people refer to the American founding fathers. This is often done in the context of, The founding fathers would have…

News flash; there was no such thing as the founding fathers as a collective. Similarly, there is no such things as in nature, Hollywood, or the sports world as collective entities.  Still, there are times when it’s useful, and even appropriate to paint with these broad brush strokes. I’m about to do that – twice.

Reflections from a sidewalk…

One year ago next month a conversation took place between a dear friend and I – she and I share a daughter. We were enjoying lunch at a sidewalk café on a Chicago afternoon. The following day our daughter was to graduate from college, so the conversation was reflective on our child’s life. The slow pace of the lunch provided a relaxed dialogue, and gave us a chance to talk without hurrying our girl’s future into place.

As the conversation flitted back and forth through time, the talk was peppered with thoughts of how we humans believe we should live our lives versus we how actually choose to. The two sides of that same coin are often left unreconciled by many. In a serene moment my daughter’s mother and I distilled all we really need to know about how to live our lives into just two words; dogs, and immigrants.

On dogs…

She explained that we should all live more like dogs. Dogs, she said, live in the moment. She suggested that so long as dogs are in a safe environment, they live relatively stress free lives, and are appreciative of whatever it is they are doing at a given time. Be it feeling the warmth of the sunshine on their body, enjoying a piece of food or a human touch, dogs, she suggested, don’t look back or beyond.

Dogs love unconditionally she continued, and humans would be wise to do the same. She explained that dogs are loving creatures with forgiving hearts. Dogs hold no resentment, and when given love, they tend to pay love back – with interest.

Lastly, she stated, that dogs are humble. Though each has a unique personality, dogs tend to understand that they are here to follow, not to advise, and that humans would be wise to live the same way. A dog, she said, has no ego.

Though I could not disagree with any of her points, I explained that I feel people need more than those qualities to prosper as a society.

She may have her roaring moments, but Peachy is the most humble dog I have ever known...

She may have her roaring moments, but Peachy is the most humble dog I have ever known…

On immigrants…

I explained to her that I feel we should live more like immigrants. That immigrants, like dogs, tend to be humble, but hard working. Work, I reminded her, is what we humans are here for.

I live in a town with a large immigrant culture. Many come from Central America, and Mexico. Most of the immigrants I have come to know here are among the hardest working, and most humble people I know. I find them more inspiring than I do professional athletes or even astronauts. They also tend to be reverent, and respectful.

When I cross paths with, or interact with the local immigrant culture, they are often on bicycle or on foot en-route to their long days of picking fruit or working elsewhere in agriculture. I have employed several through the years for both short, and long-term work. There are many commonalities I have observed with them as a collective, chief among them is that I am almost always met with a smile, and a greeting.  Most often their shirts are tucked in, they say please and thank you to everything that moves, and they value a dollar – not covet it. From most of them, I sense something genuine.

Let the work day begin...

Let the work day begin…

Among the immigrant population here, there seems to be no real sense of resentment that they are on foot or on bike rather than a Lexus. I feel a genuine sense of gratitude from the immigrant culture that a dog might also have, but a wealthy neighbor probably doesn’t. Immigrants, I believe, sense and appreciate opportunity far better than most of us, having often sprung from more stark beginnings. Many I have known see little use for even a lunch break.

I believe living in this community, with its high concentration of immigrants, has inspired me to live a more humble, and harder working life. I am grateful that I have a chance to interface with these inspirational people most every day of my life.

Inspired from eye level, not from above…

I watched an inspirational video this morning of athletes who all looked like action figures. They were covered with sweat, and performing brave exercises while voices in the background increased in volume as they repeatedly offered motivational clichés espousing the merits of gut busting work as a means of pursuing achievement. I admit I felt largely inspired by the video – at first.

As I watched this video though, I could not help but think that if that same music, and those same motivational voices were superimposed of over scenes of immigrant workers picking fruit, or of stay at home moms juggling laundry, cooking, and children, they would have inspired me as much. I was taken back to that conversation I had nearly a year ago, of dogs and immigrants.

Meme picking…

Barring an advancement in genetic engineering which might enable us to splice the highest traits of immigrants with those of dogs and implant them into the psyche of the average American, I can only hope that for inspiration, we begin looking around at some point, and not up.

In the end I can’t really say we should live more like dogs, or immigrants. I will suggest though, that we should seek out qualities to improve our lives from the collectives which may seem to be beneath or beside us, and draw less those from those who appear to be above us – professional athletes in particular.

Now I know there are lazy immigrants, mean dogs, and mindful professional athletes. However, it’s my firm belief that if our founding fathers were alive today, they all would “like” this essay on their Facebook pages. Be well… rc


Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Jill Andrews. Enjoy…

7 responses

    • Thank you, Shannon. That’s one thing that should be universal. I am surrounded by far too may people who covet, and not enough who value, and that isn’t just limited to money…

  1. I love dogs but they all have emotional dependency! LOL Not something I wish for myself!

    Finding balance between feeling grateful for what we have and fighting for what we deserve is a daily challenge!

    Nice one Roy.

  2. OK, so much in here.. can I just say I LOVED reading it Roy!!!! I find myself wanting to move away from social media lately. It may be a necessity when I find a job I think I can tolerate, ;), but I will miss some of these great things I read here.. 🙂

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