Don’t Focus On The Dog Shit

In the span of a few minutes yesterday morning, I read about a shotgun-wielding man threatening a neighbor teaching his daughter to ride her bike, watched a GoPro video from a mountain biker in Cape Town getting robbed at gunpoint on a trail and read a report that the earth is on the brink of a great extinction.

I wondered, What the hell’s the point of me recycling my peanut butter jar, or conserving water or riding my bike instead of driving somewhere? If the world’s turning into the kind of place where you can’t even teach your kids to ride a bike without getting threatened, I mean, jeez. Especially if it’s all on the brink of extinction anyway.

Maybe it’s the 24-hour news cycle, or the fact that “if it bleeds, it leads” still guides news, or that Internet comments are most times the absolute rock bottom of human interaction, but it seems some days it’s very easy to find negative things out there. Plus traffic, plus deadlines and work, plus bills, plus everything else we have to deal with. Sitting down at a desk is going to kill you, and stress is going to kill you, and breakfast sandwiches are going to kill you, LIFE is going to kill you.

When I find myself in a down spot, I remember one of my favorite tweets ever, from @shitmydadsays:

Moreso the second sentence than the first, that yes, why would you go set up a nice picnic next to a pile of dog shit? Of course many of us do, metaphorically. This sandwich is great, but it would be better if it that baby across the room wasn’t crying. Sounds like things are going well at work, Bob, but how can I steer this conversation to where we can talk about which political party I think is causing all the world’s problems? We channel Eeyore instead of remembering that, as Ed Abbey wrote, “it is an honor and a privilege to be alive, however briefly, on this marvelous planet we call Earth.”

I used to read movie reviews in a certain newspaper in order to figure out what I wanted to see, and it seemed like nothing ever impressed a certain writer. This movie was good, but several things were wrong with it, or another movie was funny, but several of the characters were underdeveloped, or one scene was less than believable, or there was this small hole in the plot. After a while, I realized this certain movie critic was making me want to not go see movies. And I like movies. I wanted to write him and ask, “Do you even like movies? It seems like you hate them.” I couldn’t remember a single movie he had enjoyed. So I stopped reading his, and started reading Roger Ebert’s, because that guy loved movies (rest in peace), and when I read his reviews, I wanted to go to a movie.

There are a lot of things wrong with the world. There are 8 billion people on the planet, and plenty of terrible things are happening. Maybe those things are legitimate cause for worry, or action, or at least consideration. But sometimes they’re only worth consideration, and worrying isn’t going to make a bit of difference besides add to your worries in an otherwise pretty good life. Surrounding that one pile of dog shit is a beautiful park with a lot of places to set up your metaphorical picnic.


26 replies on “Don’t Focus On The Dog Shit

  • Michael Sandahl

    I may have to reread this every now and then. It’s too easy to focus on the dog shit sometimes

  • Zaid

    Try to surround yourself with happy people. The ones who resonate positive vibes.
    The best prescription to leading a happy life!

  • Laurel

    I think those of us who would like to count ourselves with the “good guys” can sometimes take a turn cleaning up the dog shit (even if it’s not our fault) instead of ignoring it, because sometimes it is that easy to improve things.

  • Alisa

    EA also said “Life is too short for grief. Or regret. Or bullshit.” Sometimes I have to go head-in-the-sand with news for my own sanity and embrace all the happy small things in my immediate universe. Nice writing!

  • Jake

    Whenever I go to pick up Gunnar’s poop, I always scour the immediate area for another pile or two that I could squeeze into the bag…feel like it helps keep it off my own shoes.

  • Daniel Christianson

    Been in an apartment for over two months now. What I run across on this computer and that 32 inch black screen sitting across the room has shoveled enough of that shit into my living room to almost suffocate me. I do try to be one of the informed people, to educate myself on a subject or issue before forming an opinion. But it does seem the information I am letting in these days is just that, just shit.
    (The analogy of dog shit here is almost too coincidental buddy, that has been rolling around my head concerning several issues for over a month now.) I love Laurel’s comment, great word’s. I do believe we should each take a turn now and then at cleaning up some of the mess around us, even if we didn’t create it. But that said we each need to know our balance point and to not get caught up in the shit show.
    This world I know right now is killing me, and I don’t even feel as if I am a part of it. I am packing up the apartment as we speak- see you on the trail.

  • Mike

    I’ve been working on this and had a good example of it this morning. We were starting a bike ride a the coffee shop on a beautiful morning. A fit looking older woman was today’s pile of dog shit we had to avoid. She got out of the car and approached us.

    Your roads in this town are really bad.
    Uh, yeah, in town is not so great but we have loads of great country roads.
    Yeah, but they have gravel and dirt all on them.
    Right, a little gravel and dirt here and there goes with country ride; you just have to be careful.
    But the roads here in town are terrible.
    Yeah, but we just ride out of town.
    But you have to ride through town.
    We ride two miles in any direction and we’re on beautiful country roads.
    Yeah, but….
    We’re riding. Goodbye.

  • Greg DuPey

    Thanks Brendan. Very timely….Caught myself just this morning driving along listen to NPR, BBC news. One international catastrophe of death and destruction after another and I had a “Dog Shit No Mas” moment…actually said the words out loud “I care, but this bloody stuff is infecting my outlook on EVEYTHING…stop it!” Ended up to be the best day ever…all dog, no shit!

  • Snaps Ginger

    I’ve lost A LOT of people in my life to cancer, and even when you are SURROUNDED by shit there is still so much beauty to behold. I thank God for every minute on this amazing earth. I’m also thankful for good blogging.

  • Jackson

    Could someone explain to me what “if it bleeds it leads” means? just today i was listening to the Tragically Hip’s “now the struggle has a name” in which this is a lyric. I could probably just look it up in the google, but I’d rather have one of you lovely people enlighten me
    the song-

  • Rad

    This reminds me of a quote by Maya Angelou (RIP):

    If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude

  • Justin G

    Your post reminded of my own dog shit story recently. I went out to walk my dog and there was a tidy pile of dog shit just off the sidewalk in front of my yard. For a minute, I imagined several ways I would have retaliated had I witnessed the bag-less dog walker during the act. Deep breath. Then I realized that the dude probably just forgot his turd sack and he/she would be totally embarrassed that this happened. I picked up the dog shit with my own baggy and moved on with my life. Easy peasey.

  • Jenny Johnston

    In a parenting class years ago I learned – “What you focus on you get more of.” Now, i have learned about the “Law of Attraction” and it is the same idea….if you think the world is full of “dog shit” you will look around and see it everywhere….we only see what we are willing to see. When our focus can shift to the positive, things in life will become more positive. Easier said than done, but a great reminder nonetheless.

    We are leaving in 5 days for a 7 week bike tour in Canada (with our two daughters ages 6 and 9) . My husband and I will be sure to find some wifi to keep up with your blog while we are gone. We do love your writing. If you have any interest in following a family of 4 biking 1000 miles, you can follow us also!!

    • Susan McDonald

      Hi. Would love to follow your Canada trip. I am from Vancouver, having moved from there to Atlanta 25 years ago. But B.C. is still HOME!!! Blessings to you as you travel through the beautiful country of Canada.

  • Jackson

    Ironic. I was just thinking something along the same line yesterday, and talked it over with my dad. Why reuse this ice cream container as my new to-go box, why inspire others to inflict positive change on the world, why? The conclusion was fairly simple, because if we don’t care in the face of adversity and extinction – would we be able to look back and say, “I tried my hardest” or “I definitely contributed to that.” Because, it’s the right thing to do. When no one else is looking, no one to watch or judge, do you act as though the whole world were going to follow you?

    Nice post Brendan!

  • mcr

    i think i’ve posted this as a response to something else you’ve written already, or maybe something on AJ, but “some people walk in the rain; others get wet.” i always try to walk in the rain, and i’m pretty much always happy. it makes for a great life.

    in the film “Red Gold,” about the proposed pebble mine in alaska, one of the fisherman says “We think we’re all millionaires. We think we’re the richest people on earth. You know, it’s just a matter of mindstate. If you’re a broke fisherman, and you can see the beauty in everything, you’ve got a wonderful life.”

    Right on.

  • Candace

    Awesome! I swear these are the thoughts that go through my brain every morning as I start my day. I thought I was the only one!

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