It was subtle, but spoke volumes and stuck with me.

Driving back from Dewey Beach, the canines in tow, all three heads out the window, as is normal for them, and the passing car to our right – an older female driver shaking her head in disapproval. Don’t be mistaken, nothing about her being older or female makes any difference at all, the point all rests on her disapproval. At that moment she saw me, she saw three dogs having the time of their life, and she saw messy. Crazy. Not her. Unsophisticated.

As I finished Daniel Nayeri’s Everything Sad is Untrue, this moment flew back to me as I reflected on the stages of how I transformed from page 1 to page 351; starting this YA novel I hated the disjointed reflection, the interruptions, the interjections of one story over another – by the last page, I wished there were 300 more like it. I came to realize, that is life. THAT is life my friends. That look of disapproval from someone that deemed my ride with three canines lavishly lapping up the air as fast as they could take it in, to me, represented so much of what many will disapprove of, and yet, what makes you more whole as a person.

For some reason, I see that head-shaking disapproval, and I instantly see my canine’s eye. Dane, the night he was delivered to me from a caring man that lived three hours, THREE HOURS, outside of Mexico City, OUT of his way, in a caravan filled with his children, just to get Dane to someone that might take a chance on saving his beaten, broke, messy condition.

Did she see that? I would say absolutely not.

I see Dane’s eyes every time he looks at me and think of what almost might not have been, it causes shivers in my soul every time. This is not being said to congratulate me on being a good person, that misses the whole point. The point is to look past what makes each of us tick, satisfied, happy, and finding that extending ourselves beyond what we see, what we envision for our future, to include others, and as a result, finding a fuller sense of who we are through the understanding of others. Pretty deep.

It is interesting how chance occurrences, chance events, allow you to develop as a fuller, more understanding, and less unselfish person. I certainly never wanted nor want to be a person that disapproves of what I see at first glance and shutting windows and doors of opportunity that widened by perspective. I used to be that person that was so100% concerned about me, my future, my success, where will I be- and throwing that out those windows and doors and allowing myself to more of a person by finding what others experience, have gone through, and being understanding, it is a game changer.

I think one of the most brilliant dialogues was by Steve Irwin –

and he has it so right. I do at a fault have to receive help from others when I get taken advantage of the kindness I try to give others, and this pains me as it puts others in a difficult situation trying to support me as I try to give more to others than myself. This is the difficult part of my personality.

Yet, one thing is absent from so many. The lack of compassion, looking beyond someone that is not like each of us, looking past borders we create that are made up how others see how many pets we should have, save, or what kind of vehicle we drive, what kind of job we should be able to afford, to how we consider someone that does not live near us, confined the borders of where we live and that we create, and so much more.

A crazy thing happens when you start to open your mind, drop your expectations, and take chances to create opportunities for others. You grow. You learn more about yourself and you feel a more open sense of freedom. I want to continue to grasp every single level of recognition, honor, and opportunity and spin it around to give it to everyone that needs that same recognition, honor, and opportunity, and the respect that others deserve, at least has a chance.

Selflessness is rarer a trait occurring than being taken advantage of, disapproving at what you see opposed to approving of what you learn and discover is more common, being willing to accept what you do not agree with or like is a difficult and rare ability, and I was seeing that as I worked through Everything Sad is Untrue, stories of children having their hand slammed in a door because they were considered lesser being a refugee, treated as a disease because their food smelled different, not being believed because stories from other countries are fairy tales compared to U.S. history books, abuse at the hand of being accepted, learning the strengths of Mothers, and So many more lesson. One passage stands out to me still:

“The point of the Nights is that if you spend time with each other- if we really listen in the parlors of our minds and look at each other as we were meant to be seen-then we would all fall in love. We would marvel at how beautifully we were made. We would never think to be villain kings, and we would never kill each other. Just the opposite, The stories aren’t the thing. The thing is the story of the story. The spending of the time. The falling in love.”

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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