I don't remember where I first heard this little nugget of wisdom, but it has served me well over the years, though usually in that oh-so-wonderful clarity of hindsight.
To me, this sentiment speaks to the importance of discernment.
So I have a kinda creepy story that illustrates this perfectly.
Living where I do, in the country, near a community with little regard for spaying and neutering pets, half-starved, inbred, degenerate strays are not uncommon.
You can probably guess where this is going.
So on a cold, late-winter day a few years back, one such canine critter appears on the property, and feeling sorry for him, I do what of course should never be done: I feed him.
This, as any idiot knows, immediately, and quite officially, makes him my new dog—further solidified by the witnessing of this act by my children.
I can't remember what name we initially gave him, and I won't mention here, among polite company, what he soon after came to be called. But suffice to say, taking him in was like inviting a fox into the proverbial henhouse.
Except...the fox wasn't hungry; he was just horny.
All the time.
Nothing was safe or sacred. If it moved, that sick twisted case of a canine was humping it for all he was worth. Just making one's way from the house to the vehicle was a gauntlet of shame.
The barn cats soon became self-confined to the haymow. Our other dog never moved from where he sat with his back to the side of the house. (Don't laugh, this really happened.)
The final straw was the day I came home to find our hump-happy hound piggybacking our once proud and brightly plumed rooster into the gravel of the drive.
Rocky was never quite as cocky after that.
The sad ending to this story—and the dog—happened not long after that particular violation, when he was run over by a truck. See, he liked chasing cars, too, though I suspect he was just attempting to run down larger conquests. I guess I'll never know. But my point here is: discernment.
I'll bet we all have a story about someone or something we tried to help. Perhaps in a moment of glowing idealism we thought we could be the shining star and save the day, or maybe, like me with that blasted dog, we see someone in need and try to give what we think will help—only to have it backfire in our face.
While I continue to keep an open mind and heart toward those in need, I'm not as eager to jump to the rescue as I once was. I've learned that, with the exception of young children, everyone—myself included—is living out the consequences of their own choices, and there are definitely lessons to be learned by this arrangement. Sometimes the one that appears to need help, doesn't want help, or isn't at a place where he's ready to receive it. Sometimes our urge to save another speaks more of our own wounds than theirs. Maybe the shit we're really trying to shine is our own.
At the end of the day, I guess the tricky part is knowing when to take in the stray, when to call animal control, and when to bar the door and reach for the shotgun.
In any case, I would encourage you to keep this week's Harebrained Notion in mind the next time you get the urge to try to make a silk purse from a sow's ear.
See ya on the next page...
p.s.> Surprise 'em all this week by doing something totally HaReBRaiNeD, and have a spectacular time in the process! ;0)