“For shame. You can do better.”
I mumbled this, but it was very much not like a crazy person that talks to themselves. But what does it matter? You, dear reader, are the only one observing the moment, even at this great distance, to judge it. Except for Big Dog—of course he was there too. What would an evening walk be without him? I wasn’t actually shaming Big Dog, to be clear. I was scolding myself.
We stopped so that Big Dog could do his doggly business of peeing on things, and I took advantage of the pause to breathe in the perfume of spring. A soft wind was blowing the smells of heaven from every direction to my nostrils. Between a patch of short needle pines I could make out the hazy remains of a sunset, and shooting across it was the only sign of man—a silver airplane that would have looked much more natural as a sleepy hawk.
There, mixed in the tracks of deer pressed into the sand beneath my feet and the flowers that began to appear on every formerly blah-looking plant, was where answers could be found. There was the place of clear thinking.
“I certainly can do better,” I whispered up to that wannabe hawk jetting across the sky. The day had come and gone, full of grouchiness and rushing and hushing and impatience. All unnecessarily. It is challenging day after day being patient with little kids that ask the same questions over and over again, or constantly want to inform you of some little mundane thing right when you were in the middle of a pressing thought.
In pop culture it has become the norm for parents to not be so hard on themselves. This sort of philosophy is dangerous, as it sinks in deeper and deeper. The standards lower. It becomes more and more accepted to not try. Nobody is perfect, and that certainly is true, but shouldn’t we all try to be better all the time? Of course we should not punish ourselves for our imperfections, but use them as a springboard for upward growth.
In everything we should try to do our best—by whatever terms that is possible at the moment. There is a trickledown effect, no matter how small the task may seem while we do our best at it. Organizing the pantry makes me happy, because every time I look at it I feel a sense of order instead of a nagging reminder that I still haven’t cleaned it. This results in making me calmer, and in turn improves my relationships at home and in the outside world by just a little bit.
A rush of cool air enveloped us as we trudged closer to the wet ditch and the sound of the frogs singing spring’s praises. It all sounded very religious—the frogs appeared to be at church. I drank up the sound and the smell and the feeling, growing full of hope.
“I can be a better person,” I whispered to the frogs, but then I cleared the pollen out of my throat. “Well, to be clear, I can be the better version of me.”
The frogs believed me, and so did Big Dog. Now I’ve just got to make sure that I do too.