Robin Gainey, author of a novel written from the canine perspective
By Robin Gainey
As the author of a novel written from the canine perspective, I’ve spent some time speaking as a dog, looking at man. The role reversal grants an odd union: at once, simplicity of thought and deep introspection into mankind’s psyche. Thinking like a dog brings the world into clearer focus. At the same time, discoveries about man are made that seem diametrically opposed. Perhaps this is linked to man’s opposable thumb. Man opposes. He starts wars; he resists change. Mankind can be a one-word oxymoron. One descriptive word does not always connote another.
For instance, any dog can tell you that genius and wisdom are not always combined. Take the advent of the atomic bomb. What other creature even dreams of inventing something that might wipe its species from the planet?
Dogs are different. They live in the moment, not in their dreams. For a dog, “it is what it is” is what it is. For man, it’s what it will be that’s important. He constantly looks forward to the next appointment, the next paycheck or the next deal. Man plans. Things are created because of it. The world moves forward. It’s a good thing, all in all. If dogs ruled the world, cell phones and air travel would probably not exist. The iPod might have turned out to be the iSmell and Starbucks would sell squirrels in tall, grande and venti…whole, of course, not skinny.
It seems that only in the face of his mortality is man granted the true wisdom that dogs live each day. Is it too much to ask that man grasp the fleeting nature of creature-hood; the ridiculous lightness of ego and esteem before realizing that both are little more than self-reflection?
Perhaps, it matters not when he experiences that epiphany but that it is experienced.
I had the pleasure of listening to a commencement address that Steve Jobs gave just a year ago. Jobs granted us all the ability to communicate in ways we never imagined possible just two short decades ago. He lived half a lifetime. And, in all his achievement, notoriety and wealth, in the end, it was clear that he understood life’s denominator:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Naked like a dog. Living in the now. Chasing squirrels. This is canine logic.