The new year is such an easy time to make plans and promises, to think so highly and hopefully of the days to come. I am often guilty of over expecting and under performing. I looked at my “Resolutions” from last year, almost none of which I accomplished, and started to brain storm what I wanted in 2012. But when I thought about what I hoped to get out of 2012 it hit me that “Be a Better Person” never seems to make the list.
Be a Better Person.
I’d like to pretend that I pondered some hard questions, like What does it mean to be a good person? Do I treat people the way they deserve? Do I need to make more time to volunteer? Are there ways that I can be more charitable? Truthfully the idea came to me while I was taking this picture for my 365 Pictures in 2012 project.
I had gotten yard tchotchkes for Christmas and was putting the beautiful Southern California weather to good use by decorating. Everything except for the dog and the artificial grass had been a gift at one time or another and I was a pleased with the outcome. After I posted the picture to Pinterest a random woman “repinned” the picture on her board titled “Decorations.” It was so nice to see that someone thought my yard was pretty. Then I looked at my pup, off to the right, and it hit me. More than having a pretty yard, I was providing my puppy with a safe, happy, home, something she wasn’t originally destined to have. She is a rescue dog. Her mother had been abandoned near a lake about 3 days before she gave birth. My baby had been born in the pound. Her mother found a home, but her whole litter was taken in by a foster family where Ruby, my puppy, spent the next 9 weeks surrounded by the pups from 3 other abandoned litters in an outdoor dog run.
I couldn’t be happier to have her, despite her mischievous personality. She is unfailingly happy and friendly to a fault. At PetSmart one afternoon she jumped into the lap of a woman in a wheel chair just to kiss her on the face. I was so embarrassed, but the woman told me that it made her day, as dogs are usually skittish of her chair at first. This puppy, who is nothing but fur covered loved, started life out as something unwanted and abandoned.
Having pets, whether it be dogs, cats, horses, or others, is one of the great things in life. In most cases all they ask for is food, shelter and affection; their list is a much shorter one than what so many people have written out each year. More frequently than we are comfortable to admit dogs, cats, a other animals are abused and abandoned by their owners. Often times we look past this because, as conscientious pet owners, we feel that by simply taking care of our own animals we are doing enough. If only that were true.
When thinking about how I wanted to present my photo-prompted epiphany I recalled “The Walrus and The Carpenter” and the poor little oysters they lured away with kindness.
“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”
“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
Isn’t this what happens all too often to the pets bought as gifts? The litter that no one wanted? The puppy who wouldn’t stop peeing on the carpet? They are bought and bred, sold and forgotten.
Even more, taking this post on a far reaching left turn, isn’t that what happens with poetry? With our own poems? I’ve written tons of sad verse that I have abandoned. I’ve had pieces published that were never given much of a life beyond a quick pat on the back. Haven’t we all? Why do we pay more in submission fees than we could ever earn back, pushing out poems that we don’t love to magazines that won’t love them either?
2011 was a selfish year for me. Life got hard, and some times worrisome, and pretty insecure, and I neglected being a good person. I want 2012 to be different. I want this magazine to be a way to help. To go beyond just being a caring virtual home for poetry, I want Straight Forward to provide for others in the physical world. Between now and December it is my goal to both lovingly publish poetry and to raise $1000 for the ASPCA, for the animals who haven’t had the chance to live in a tchotchke filled yard with over protective parents like Ruby has.
If you are interested in helping please see our Read Books. Buy Indie. Help Animals. page, or visit our ASPCA Ambassador profile. If you follow us on Twitter or Pinterest we will also be sharing ASPCA facts, links to pet related articles, and super cute animal pictures. We have additional ways for you to help coming in the future, so please keep your eyes peeled.