Dollar in the Road – the worth of love
I was riding in the back seat of Handsome’s car yesterday. We were on a freeway, so I was hunkering down (let me tell you it is NO FUN to be standing on all fours when some dummy cuts in front and Handsome has to hit the brakes! Dogs were meant to do lots of things, but flying isn’t one of them!), till I saw him signal to pull down an offramp. I sat up and looked out the windows.
Handsome won’t let me stick my head out and sniff, the way other dogs will, unless he’s going very slowly, like on a country road. He says it’s because tiny rocks and such can fly into my eyes, and I might go deaf from the wind blowing my ears around, but I know there’s a worse reason – he just hardly ever can bring himself to say it. Sometimes drivers don’t look where they’re going, and drive too closely to the cars alongside them, and Handsome shivers in horror whenever he thinks of what might happen with my head out there. “Shirelle, I’ve lost a couple of rear-view mirrors in my life. I don’t care a bit about them, but they were right where your head would be!”
So I’m sitting up in the back seat, on the offramp from the freeway, and there are a couple of cars ahead of us, waiting for a light to change. A man is standing on the sidewalk. From looking at him we suspect that he’s got mental problems – jittery movements, talking to himself, dirty clothes. I don’t know if he was born that way or it’s from drugs or battle trauma (We get a lot of all of them here in California, because the weather is so pleasant to live in if you can’t have a home). He’s not holding up a sign or a cup, but we naturally think he’s hoping someone will give him some money or food.
And sure enough, the car in front rolls its window down, and the driver calls the man over to him, handing out a dollar bill. The man smiles, walks up to the driver, but then grabs the bill, curses the driver, tears the bill up and throws it onto the street, and stomps away, talking to himself more.
The driver, of course, is shocked and a little hurt.
The light changes, and that driver goes through and turns. Handsome drives through too, and pulls up alongside the driver at the next light and rolls down our windows. The driver rolls his down as well.
“I saw what you did. That was really kind.”
“That man – he’s crazy!”
“Sure, but what you did was still great. What he did doesn’t change that.”
The man smiled, and turned to me. “Is he friendly?”
“She is! The friendliest pup I’ve ever known!”
The man reached out to me, and I licked his hand. He looked at me with great affection.
The light changed and both cars drove off to their different destinations.
And this whole incident really struck me. Every day I get letters from my Pack members, asking about relationships. A is trying so hard with B, but B cheats and insults A. C tells D how deep their love is, and D doesn’t even hear it. Or the most common one of all, where E loves F and F loves E, but they want different lifestyles, or follow different religions, or want to live in places thousands of miles apart.
And, so often, the person who writes me does so because this problem has made them feel so awful about themselves. Thinking that, because this other person didn’t love them back, they’re not good enough to ever be loved. Or that, because the other person wants different things in life, they’re wrong to want what they’ve always wanted.
And this is so wrong! One has nothing to do with the other!
Your love for someone is the greatest gift you can offer them, whether they see it, or want it, or not. Or if it just doesn’t fit with their life. Your love is every bit as wonderful as it would be if they accepted it in every way for the rest of their days. Your desire to be someone’s friend is, similarly, a beautiful thing, no matter how it’s answered.
Most of you know, I was in a dog pound when Handsome found and rescued me. My little brain can’t even do the math on this, but most cages there had three or four dogs in them, and there had to be a couple hundred cages. Most of those dogs never got saved, and were put down. Now I’m sure a few of them had had such awful lives that their emotional damage rendered them unable to love in a healthy way, but all the others – all the hundreds of others – had love and loyalty and goofiness and friendship to give someone, just as worthy as what I’ve given Handsome.
And each of you has intelligence and experience and charms that no dog ever had.
So I’m not necessarily saying that anyone who rejects your love is mentally ill (though perhaps…!). But I am asking you to never forget, although we all need training on how to reach out to others and win them over (It took me a while to learn that biting people’s ankles was not the best way to make friends!), that beneath those acts, what’s in your heart is just as valuable as anyone’s.
Do you know what a dollar (or Euro, or Rupee, or Peso, or Naira) is worth that buys dinner for a hungry needy person or dog?
And do you know what a dollar torn up and thrown away is worth?
Exactly the same.
So the next time someone tears up your love and throws it into the street, offer them some pity. They’re going to sleep on the street hungry tonight. And they missed the chance of a lifetime, or at least of that day:
They missed out on you.
They’re the unlucky ones.