Steve Jobs and Jake the Dog or Lives Lived to the Right of the Bell Curve

October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs is dead and we are diminished by it.  I wrote the following post a couple of years ago, but at this moment in time, I think it appropriate to resurrect it.


Jake the Dog


Over the course of our lives, we may, if fortunate, meet someone along the way who, by their clarity of thought and intellect, the force of their convictions or moral certitude,  or through the cultivation of their faculties and capacities, are set so far apart from us mere mortals that in their presence we are most always  in a state of awe.

The uniqueness of these types of individuals truly stretch the definition of what it means to be human.  They are outliers on the Bell Curve.  They pull us all to the right of that curve, and as a species we are all the greater for it.  Yet, as human nature might have it, we feel also in some ways both diminished and humbled by it, for we are shown our own limitations.  Because to exist in their presence is like living in the light… We seem but  shadows in in comparison,  yet shadows filled with wonder and joy.

Until recently, I had not considered that the phenomenon of which I have been writing might also extend itself into the animal world, but friends, I am here to tell you that it does.  A little over a year ago, Jake the dog entered my life, and he has enriched me in ways that before his coming would have been simply unfathomable.

He is the smartest damn dog I have ever seen.  If I tell him to go outside and pee… well, he  goes outside and pees.  My children don’t mind me that well.  Not that I tell them to go outside and pee mind you.  In Vermont we go to the bathroom inside the house and cook outside… at least in the summer.  As a matter of fact, this is a complete reversal from my  life in Kentucky as a young man, where we peed outside and ate inside.  So much for progress, but I digress.

Yes, Jake the dog is a very special animal.  Aside from being extraordinarily beautiful, he is also strong and athletic.  He will trot alongside my bike for ten miles smiling the whole way.  He is ready to go anywhere, anytime to do anything at a moments notice.  You cannot throw a ball that he cannot catch in his mouth.  I have considered trying to teach him to pitch, cause if he could, I’m thinking a multi-million dollar salary as a short-stop for the Red Sox.  Yes, he is that good.

He likes to catch a Frisbee over his shoulder, but if he can’t he doesn’t mind doing an amazing somersault in the air to grasp it between his teeth.  He does this with such aplomb and ease that it is mind-boggling, and his humility is simply astonishing.  You can’t make a bad throw with a frisbee or a ball as far as he’s concerned.  He’s just happy you’re throwing the damned thing.

He has nearly ruined my self image of cantankerous curmudgeon.  I feel a certain shame in admitting it, but if he wants to sleep in bed with me and the wife… well, he sleeps in our bed.  I do not have the heart to deny him.

He is a hell of an animal, and I feel almost undeserving of the attention that he gives me.  He is a vessel of such grace, kindness, love and friendship, that I feel truly privileged to walk this earth with him.

So my friends, I say lift a glass to the Jakes of our world and their equivalents in the  human category.  We are enriched and ennobled by their presence among us, and though they might sometimes  remind us of our weaknesses ,our frailties, our inadequacies, we are much the greater for their existence, and perhaps better Frisbee throwers as well.

And to this I add, goodbye Steve.  I raise my glass to you.  You will be missed.

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