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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Steve in Idaho BS: Things I learned from Merlin (11) BS: Things I learned from Merlin 09 Jan 04

This came from a dear friend of mine who also happens to be a Marine Gunnery Sergeant. Seems like I've spent some time chasing things in anger. And have been bit by them - have a superb day -


Lessons I Learned From Merlin

For the last hour, I've been scuffling about my kitchen in a man's size 13 UGG slippers (it's not a hazard as long as I don't try the stairs), whipping up a sugar cookie recipe that requires a full pound of Crisco, and wondering how in the world I'm going to write my year's holiday letter.

I'm going to start with an event that occurred today. It's not meant to be morbid, so kindly bear with me. Today, my Great Pyrenees, Merlin, came home to me by way of a UPS truck. My beloved, forever shedding partner in crime these last 11 years passed on to another form of life on December 8th. He died because half of his heart had given out, proving my suspicions from his puppy-hood that he, like the Whoville Grinch, had a heart that was simply several sizes too big.

After I kissed his nose for the last time, I arranged to have his ashes delivered to me, which was supposed to take a day or two. Instead, they called me yesterday (14 days later) to tell me they'd accidentally tried to deliver him to another family and that he was still on the UPS truck, on his way to me this time. Today, true to form, a sweating UPS truck driver sprinted to my door with Merlin solidly lodged under his arm.

As I carried Merlin (in his new state, housed in a small cedar chest) upstairs, I couldn't help but chuckle. Nothing in the entire world caused greater gnashing-of-teeth for Merlin than the UPS truck and its men in brown. It was the only single thing that taunted him into trampling down fences and sprinting for blocks down rush-hour traffic streets.and here's how he ended up, lodged in the bowels of the evil incarnate monster itself (AND during the holiday season to boot) in herky-jerky, stop-and-go fashion for two full weeks.

That, my friend, is Karma. Take it from Merlin: If you're chasing after anything in life with some level of misdirected anger, that very thing will likely get the better of you in the end.

That being said, I'll give Merlin credit for helping me maintain misdirected anger over the last 11 years - even this last year. Merlin was a high-spirited creature who liked to skitter around on his tippy-toes and create instant wainscoting in every home by sliding drooly, dirty tennis balls along the wall. But he'd also follow me from room to room when he knew I was upset until I'd finally flump down and throw my arms around him. He loved me unconditionally with great warmth and a giving soul that knew no other way to be. And that was a lesson I did, indeed, learn from Merlin.

This last year didn't start well as a man I cared for deeply did a sudden about-face just weeks before the holiday. It came as a complete surprise to me and, though my friends and family gathered around me in protective and cheerful stance, I was very bah-humbug through the season. As the New Year began, I found myself struggling with clients I didn't really like, and paying rent I didn't really want to pay anymore. So, 'round about March, Merlin and I had a talk and decided to stop with the misdirected anger and start creating a better story.

And so we did. As I say in all the stuff I write, "If you don't like the situation you're in, recognize you created it and fix it." It was time to take my own medicine. Merlin and I drove all around Laguna Beach in my little convertible until we found our new home. With the move made to a place just a block from the beach, I then tackled the not-liking-my-clients issue with Grim Reaper determination. Fact is, if you're not doing what you love to do every day, you're cheating yourself. I knew there were too many good and exciting people out there to work with and as I focused on this fact, those very people started coming in the door.

It wasn't until July that I got up the nerve to e-mail the one person I wanted to work with most - a past client by the name of Robert. Robert and I have tried and failed at working together twice before, and hitting that initial "SEND" button this time around wasn't easy. Ten minutes later, however, we were on our way to working together again and now I'm his Vice President of Marketing. I delight in what I do every day for this man's company. It's not easy and it's got its tenuous, warbly-chin, pounding headache moments. But, I delight in it, pure and simple as that. It's supposed to be that simple, I believe.

Through this client, I even happened upon my dream web programming team, a team that's quite capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound AND in record time. What I find most amazing is that I was prepared to NOT like working with them. Fortunately, somewhere along the way, I realized that chasing them down rush-hour streets while barking my fool head off was only going to succeed in getting ME killed - yet another lesson I learned from Merlin, who always and eventually gave up the chase with a shrug.

So, here I sit on Christmas Eve's Eve with Merlin perched on my lap. (This must be nirvana for Merlin - he is, at last, a lap dog.) And his lessons are here in my head:

- If you chase after something in anger, it will find a way to bite you back.

- Be sure to follow your closest friends from room to room when you know they're upset.

- Give generously of your warmth and soul. You've got more where that came from.

- Be the first to press the "SEND" button when you haven't talked to someone in a while.

- If you're trying to chase something off because it seems like a threat to you, it might be better to stop, shrug and give it up.

- Delight in your days. It's supposed to be that simple.

- And lastly, never lose sight of your family and friends. They're the home you want to return to, even if the only way to get there is by UPS truck.

Diane Armitage

A published writer for three decades.   You can email her at:

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