There once was a vegan dog. Or at least, he appeared to be vegan, a fruitarian actually. What happened was I was in an orange orchard. It was a beautiful sunny day, I was picking oranges and peeling them, indulging in the little tart segments as they burst and danced delightfully in my mouth. And as I popped another I saw him.
It was this timid dark brown dog. I’m not sure what kind, other than it was cute. And my first reaction to his cuteness was ‘awwww’, followed by horror and ‘omg this dog is starving’ when I saw his ribs showing through his skin. I didn’t have anything on me and I was a ways from our picnic area, so without thinking I threw a segment of the orange in front of him. To my surprise, he ate it. So, I threw another, and he ate that too. So, I started peeling oranges and feeding him. He hungrily gobbled them up.
I eventually went back and got him some hotdogs, not really sure what would happen. Of course he gobbled them up. Then when I was out of hot dogs, I threw him another orange segment. And nothing. I threw another one and nothing again. He wasn’t interested in the oranges anymore. Wouldn’t even entertain them. That day, and that dog stuck with me.
Fast forward to today. I was just driving and enjoying an orange a friend had left in her car. And as I ate the orange, for some reason, the dog came to mind. And just like that it hit me. I am that dog. I am so starved for so many things that I am accepting the orange slices in life. It would normally be unnatural for me to accept these orange segments, and I might entertain them while I’m ‘starving’, but all I want is nice big juicy steak.
And as unnatural as a “vegan dog” sounds, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing to myself. Accepting the unacceptable for way too long, that I’ve forgotten what an actual good meal feels like. And you know, that makes me sad. It makes me sad for myself that I’ve allowed that continuously to happen to me. That I’ve accepted it. That I’ve internalized it, and made it my reality believing that the oranges that are filling me up are enough, that they meet my needs, that they are sustaining my soul.
Instead, the oranges are just delaying the hunger pains, and I’m surviving and that’s OK too sometimes. But don’t get caught up with the full feeling. It’s a false sense of satiety. It’s going to leave you hungrier than before. Filling up on the wrong things is a tease. You start thinking you’re going to be OK, but before you know it, that same hunger is there again, but now it feels like a cycle.
That little dog had it right when he got some hot dogs. He said NO to the oranges. I find myself wishing for the knowledge of what it is that I need, that I’m craving for. But little tastes I’ve had make me know what part of the feast I want is: Love & Acceptance.
And I feel ever so silly and corny writing that down. Admitting it to myself, and even worse, to all of you. I want to be loved the way I am, and I want to be accepted the way I am. No conditions, no exceptions, no modifications. But if I go deeper, it’s not about you doing that for me, or a friend or a family member. You might love and accept me the way I am, and I may or may not believe that, but that doesn’t matter. WHAT MATTERS IS THAT I LOVE AND ACCEPT MYSELF THE WAY I AM, with no conditions, no exceptions, no modifications.
I wrote that and I took a big sigh. This has been a recurring theme these last few months. A signal to where a lot of my ‘things’ are stemming from. I can’t seem to find the key to getting to that place of love and acceptance of myself. If I feed myself oranges I will always be hungry and I will accept others feeding me oranges. Or I will expect them to pull out a steak because I’m starving and when they don’t have one I’m going to get upset at them (expectations lead to disaster). All of that leads to a shit life. I don’t want a shit life.
So thank you vegan dog. You’re my spirit animal today as I realize I’m sick of the oranges too. Now I just need to figure out how to get myself some real food.