Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Wisdom of Innocence: Lessons from Krimpet

Krimpet and me. 
My dog, Krimpet, is not well. While I might write a reflection about her one day (I love her way more than I've loved most humans), this is not that reflection. It's a meditation on wisdom and innocence.

Sick though she is, she is still after table scraps and she is still addicted to affection in the form of ear-scratches and cuddles. She still perks up when any of the family enter the room. In short, for her, it is business as usual; her focus is still on "the important things" that people put on static-cling plastic wall decorations in their kitchens: "Live, love, eat." That kind of thing.

My son, fourteen, observed this as she lay her long poodle/retriever nose on the dinner table last night. He pointed out that she just keeps carrying on with her life, sickness or not. I started to say that this is because dogs realize what is important; that they don't feel sorry for themselves despite their misfortunes and that we could learn a lot from them. Then, after a long pause and a few bites, I said, "Or, it can be because she is too stupid to know the difference." Everyone laughed.

But, as with most family conversations, this one rings like an infinity bell in the back of my mind.

A dog, I think we can all agree, is, if nothing else, a truly innocent being. Usually, we draw a line between innocence and wisdom; we assume we need to leave the former to approach the latter. But, could it be that innocence is wisdom itself? Could it be, even still, that our sometime regression, in old age, back to a late-life infancy, is God's way of telling us that while ignorance may not be bliss, innocence is? Can it possibly be that even something that looks as awful as regression is the pathway to heaven?

Maybe that is too optimistic. As I know, first-hand, dementia is horrible, for all of us on the outside, and we can see that it can be a profound kind of suffering for those who fork to the unhappy path of it. (Some with dementia are silly-happy, some miserable...)

Still, the fact remains that no matter how deeply we dive in terms of philosophy, we can learn a lot from my dog, Krimpet. Does it matter that her wisdom comes from a lack of understanding? Is fire not fire, whether it is lit by a match or by a bolt of lightning? Either way, fire burns.

Regardless of the source of her innocent wisdom, I often find myself wanting to be more like my dog.  If nothing else, she is a testament to the wisdom of carrying on and not feeling sorry for one's self. Let's hear it for the fur-clad, philosophical imbeciles and let's profit from their innocent wisdom.

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