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I was listening to NPR recently and caught Garrison Keillor’s installment of “The Writer’s Almanac”. He read a poem by Nancy Fitzgerald entitled, “The Meaning of Life” which I found very impactful. I offer forewarning and ask for preforgiveness from the queasy…
There is a moment just before a dog vomits when its stomach heaves dry, pumping what’s deep
inside the belly to the mouth. If you are fast you can grab her by the collar and shove her
out the door, avoid the slimy bile, hunks of half chewed food from landing on the floor.
You must be quick, decisive, controlled, and if you miss the cue and the dog erupts en route, you must forgive her quickly and give yourself to scrubbing up the mess.
Most of what I have learned in life leads back to this.
The Meaning of Life” by Nancy Fitzgerald from Poems I Never Wrote. © Poetry Harbor, 2001.
As I ponder the poem’s “aftermath”, I make connections to Habit 1, Be Proactive. Highly effective people choose to accept reality and not derail as a result of unfair, unjust, unwelcome, unpleasant life events and circumstances. Fitzgerald advises to “forgive her quickly”. The ability to forgive — and to mean it — is the mark of an emotionally healthy, highly effective person. As Stephen R. Covey writes, forgiveness is a verb – real and sincere forgiveness inoculates us from debilitating bitterness. In Joyce Meyers’ book, “Beauty for Ashes”, (1994 Time Warner), she puts it this way: “Harboring unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die! Unforgiveness poisons anyone who holds it, causing him to become bitter. And it is impossible to be bitter and get better at the same time!”
I also link this poem to Stephen M.R. Covey’s best-selling book and training program, “Leading at the Speed of Trust”. “…give yourself to scrubbing up the mess”. When we “give” ourselves to Right Wrongs, we are taking concrete action by demonstrating one of the 13 Behaviors that build, extend, and restore trust when it has been violated.
Our dog, Sparky. She is preforgiven.