Here’s one of the questions from a personality test I took years ago: What do you most admire about your dog?
You can’t find better than a Mississippi mudhound. When pressed to pick just one of Bix’s best qualities, I chose his thoroughness.
This got odd looks from the facilitator and the facilitatees, which I thought was against the rules. Weren’t we supposed to share our innermost thoughts in a spirit of openness and nonjudgment?
I quickly added, “When Bix misses the tennis ball, he doesn’t get angry at himself or blame me for a bad throw. He keeps hustling to catch it on the first bounce, the second, the third or how ever many bounces it takes. I respect his single-minded dedication to the cause.”
The facilitator and the facilitatees seemed to accept my explanation, and then it was revealed that, according to the personality test, the trait you admire about your dog is supposed to be a trait you admire about yourself.
The facilitator was Deborah Tierce, and the facilitatees were – and still are, I suppose – fellow denizens of the Mighty Daily Journal’s Living Department.
We had a good time that day, and things were said and done that continue to clarify how I see the world and my place in it – profound stuff that we’ll not go into here.
But I will say the dog question was a load of malarkey.
Bix’s ability to go about his appointed task without the slightest hint of self-doubt or frustration amazes me, and I’ve seldom, if ever, been able to match it.
I’ve wondered what evolutionary function frustration serves. The best answer I’ve come up with is from a Tom Hanks movie, “A League of Their Own.”
Most people remember Hanks’ line, “There’s no crying in baseball,” but I’ve got another one in mind.
It’s World War II. Geena Davis plays a woman who’s recruited to play baseball at home while men fight overseas.
She’s more than a player. She’s a star. Her exploits on the field and at the plate draw crowds to stadiums across the country.
But she feels crippling pressure to perform in the spotlight, and there’s friction with her sister, a player who’s tired of living in the shadows.
Fed up with the frustration, she tells her manager she wants to quit because it’s so hard.
Hanks’ character says, “The hard is what makes it great.”
Bix isn’t the athlete he once was, but not too long ago, he made chasing a tennis ball an act of grace and grit rolled into a furry black package.
His tail wagged no matter how many bounces it took to wedge the ball into his mouth. It was a triumphant mixture of ease and effort.
But it’s not for me. I’ve finally figured out the closest I’ll get to Bix’s standard is making the hard way look easy – not the same at all, but it’ll have to do.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or email@example.com.