There are certain milestones in my life that I now realize have passed without much notice or fanfare. A car pulls up beside me at a stop light, and I am annoyed by the thump thump thumping of the music blaring from its youthful and oblivious owner. "Turn it down or you'll lose your hearing," I think to myself, forgetting what it was like to be young and eager to prove to the world my coolness. "Don't you have any respect for others at all?" I wanna scream to that guy with the utmost of fist-shaking, finger-wagging authority. And that is when it hits me. Somewhere on my life's journey, I stopped listening to pop radio, stopped caring about what songs were in the Billboard top ten, and stopped "sharing" my music with the world around me. And frankly, I am happy to have passed that milestone. I am happy to have moved on to the world of public radio, taking all my gray hairs, shaking fist, and wagging finger with it.
For me, the radio station that I listen to now is a reliable source of well crafted programs which often fuel my imagination and inspire me. Listening to NPR is how I stumbled upon the This I Believe Project, and how I've carried a slow burning torch ever since then to discover and verbalize my own life's mantras.
Now, don't get carried away and think I'm a zealot. It's me we're talking about here, and I'm the kind of person that spends some time every day ignoring the world around me in favor of writing about my dog, or pretending I'm my dog writing. That doesn't leave a lot of room for ultra-any kind of thinking, if you know what I mean. Although some submitters choose to put a more spiritual or religious take on their essays for This I Believe, and although some submitters who famous people like Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt who have recorded their essays, This I Believe courts anyone to share with the world their story, their perspective on what they believe, a core value, no matter how small, that guides them through their life. Elvia Bautista's reading of her essay on remembrance of the fallen was my first taste of this world, and it made me hungry for more. Listening to the writers in two more essays, Be Cool to the Pizza Dude by Sarah Adams, and Leaving Identity Issues to Other Folks by Phyllis Allen, sealed my aspiration to write as succinctly yet as impactfully as they did in their essays. Sure I like This I believe for its content, but I love the eloquence and succinctness of these three essays. The soul that comes through in their voice when they read their writing.
And so on random occasions, when nothing else is there to clutter my mind, which is hardly ever, I think about what drives me. Hopefully I can say this without sounding morally devoid, but it ain't so simple, finding that nugget of wisdom. I've been aware of the whole This I Believe thing for at least five years now, and I've got nothing. But leave it to a little brown dog and a half-baked project to yield a tiny nugget. Something that gives a tiny voice to a part of me that otherwise guided me in silence.
It all started with blogfriend Jen, who asked on my inconvenient truce posting if prints could be purchased of the Baxter Bunnito collage. I hadn't poked around on Baxter's Zazzle shop in quite a while so the timing was perfect. After adding more images and offerings, and maybe because I was still procrastinating about making more purses, I acted on a whim to offer up some snarky larky magnets, to share little nuggets of Baxter's wisdom for the world to enjoy, one refrigerator door at a time.
The magnet project is still a half-baked diamond in the rough, but amongst the trite Baxterisms, I realize there is something there that I do believe, but sadly sometimes forget to do in favor of sloth or habit. Make new memories, everyday. My mantra isn't picky, it doesn't require actions that might make headlines on The Smoking Tail or require large sums of money. In fact, the best memories just happen by virtue of being aware, like noticing the tiny whorl of fur on each of Baxter's hind quarters, or enjoying the coziness of all three of us, warm under blankies on a cold rainy night. Remember to make new memories, so life isn't just a blur of action without pause.
I have been feeling for tiny chumley, who is not allowed to for the moment to play with his toyfriends or go on walks or chase squirrels and hunt for bunnies. These are the kinds of cherished memories we've grown accustomed to making with our little boy, the kind of stuff he reenacts in his dreams at night when his little paws thrash into our backs while he "mwoofs" after the squirrels that run from him in his sleep. Now, with Baxter's movement restricted, we are challenged to find different ways of feeding Baxter's memories so they can live on in his dreams.
My actual This I Believe essay may never see the light of day, but I am grateful to have given voice to this one little mantra. Make new memories, everyday, even if it means risking ridicule from your neighbors for putting your dog in an elevated cage by the front window. A little Tweety Bird, watching the world go by once again so he can keep dreaming of chasing squirrels.