As any dog person will tell you, you can hide a lot from people, but it is much harder to hide tings from animals, especially dogs and cats. This was clearly in my thoughts when I wrote Stray Ally (coming March 4th) But it’s not Halloween. Why am I talking about masks?
Simple. In finishing Confession, the last in the Samuel Elijah Johnson series I recognized a few things about myself, and writers in general, although I hate making generalizations. One of the biggest revelations was about masks, and our love of dogs and cats.
Many of us have worn masks from a young age. Raised in a strict Baptist home, I embraced the religion of those around me at a young age, but as an avid reader, I also began to question it young as well. Since questions were not always welcome (at least not the kind I asked, and the way I asked them) I put on a mask or quiet acceptance. Although in my head my belief was eroding, and I knew some things were wrong, I outwardly accepted them, even endorsed them when necessary.
We realize there is something different about us, and the way we think. Why is that a problem? Because, at least in the generation I grew up in ‘different’ was not a good thing. Example: most of my high school graduating class went on to Bible college. (A Christian school) I chose a state school, and it was not only frowned upon, but I was told I was wasting my talents.
The arts were not prized as a career. I was told I was a talented writer, should write, but I should find another way to make a living. So I put on several masks over the years: manager, soldier, auto parts expert, motorcycle mechanic, and Fed-Ex driver. However, it was not until I took off the mask, and embraced what and who I was that I found happiness. Now, even if I make less, I will gladly struggle, knowing that money, while some is necessary, is not only not the answer, but neither is the level of respect given to my career by society.
My dogs accepted me the whole time. You may have read my blog recently about my dog, Houston, and the things he and his successor, Indie have helped me overcome. Neither of them ever cared what title or job I held. They both wanted me to come home, throw a ball or play tug of war with a rope, pet them and love them as the alpha of their little pack. When I was frustrated with my career masks, they kept their distance, offering comfort when I was ready. When I was sad, they were sad. When I was celebrating, they celebrated too. My dogs accepted the fact that I was different, and a writer, before I did.
Learn from your dog. First, take off your own mask. Let people see what your dog already knows. Second, accept others for who they are. Different is not bad, it just is. The more we recognize and acknowledge the value of others and what they do, the more likely they will be to accept us. That can’t be a bad thing at all.
Has your dog accepted things about you no one else has? Do they offer you comfort when no one else will? Tell me your stories in the comments, or e-mail me at author_at_troylambertwrites.com.