If I could give each of you a gift, the gift I would give would be a unique and wonderful pet to take care of. I think that all of us could gain from looking after a living creature. This little creature would be lovable in its imperfection. One floppy ear, bright eyes, bald spot on the rump, teeth not entirely straight, yet always ready to play, a little bundle of energy that could not help but be loved. My name for it would be “Eunice”, you could call it whatever you want; after all, it’s yours if you accept it. I would be really curious as to the name you would choose; I hope you’ll tell me.
There are some conditions to the gift, however; you must take responsibility for looking after it properly as every pet owner should, so please be responsible. There will be rainy nights when you don’t want to get off the couch and go for the dreaded walk. You will have to control your pet’s food intake to prevent it from over-eating. Occasionally, a leash may be necessary, even though “Eunice” won’t like it. You know, however, that it is for the protection of someone you care about, so you willingly exhibit some tough love. I really don’t think that these conditions will be too difficult though, because this critter loves you back completely and unconditionally, easily accepting whatever comes along in your respective lives. Such total acceptance is an uncommon virtue in this day and age, but you deserve it. Mischief will happen without your guidance; the little devil will get into things you’d rather it didn’t, chewing stuff and doing occasional damage to the house when it’s lonely. When this happens, as a good owner, you won’t punish “Eunice” harshly, but, instead, will give stern but loving guidance, knowing that little “Eunice” will respond.
As challenging as all this might sound, there is a wonderful side to my gift: your pet will suffer and sympathize with you on your bad days, and bring you to your knees with laughter and joy over some of its crazy antics at other times. It will always be there just for you. The final thing prior to giving you this gift is the following request: You must acknowledge that one day “Eunice” will die, that’s inevitable because all living things die. The best you can do is make the most of every living day with “Eunice”, and put away as many good memories as you can for yourself and others; this you must accept.
My wish for you is as follows: I wish that you could treat yourself as you would treat your bright-eyed little friend. There’s beauty in your imperfections. After all, you like “Eunice’s” not quite straight teeth, don’t you? You wouldn’t feed your pet cheap food that promotes illness, but might you consider doing that to yourself? To ignore that need for exercise is like not listening to your pet scratching at the door; you might get up for the pet but will you get up for yourself? I also wish that you could lovingly correct your mistakes and missteps without beating on yourself. Beating up on yourself will only make your insides cower. Correct what you can with love and good humor, and that which cannot be improved must be accepted, as you would have done with your little friend.
In the end, my wish for you is love, especially for yourself. That is the well from which a sweet unconditional love for others springs. It will make the world a better and more peaceful place and add a deep resonance to your life.
PS. I misspelled “Eunice”: it should be “You-ness”.
About the Special Guest Author: Dr. Ken Pepperdine is a Chiropractor who has been in practice for over forty years. He has completed research residencies in Stress Management, Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, and has a 700-hour degree level fellowship in Applied Nutritional Education. Dr. Pepperdine has a special interest in helping us to understand the principles of healthful living, as well as how to simplify daily health choices.