It’s a story you heard before.
Two old gents, Merv & Fess, on the front porch, enjoying a quiet afternoon.
Merv’s in a ladder-back rocker, easing it back and forth,
Fess lounging in a sun-faded wicker contraption.
At Merv’s feet, but over to the side, just a bit, so that he’s blocking the porch steps, lies Duke, Merv’s haggard old dog.
Do the math. At 12 years old, Duke’s an old mutt. Way older—in dog years—than the two old-timers he’s sharing the porch with.
He’s not barricading the steps either. Not really.
Duke’s not guarding the family homestead, or keeping watch for pesky cats, rabbits or letter carriers.
No, Duke’s there because that’s where his tired legs brought him.
And then they stopped, dropping him down on the rough, worn boards.
Scratchy, paint-peeled boards that make up the porch’s landing, and therefore showing more wear and tear, more abuse, than the rest of the porch.
That’s where Duke’s lying.
Oh, That’s where the sun is too. So there is that.
Sometimes your present situation is both a blessing and a curse…
Later, maybe an hour into not talking, Fess looks over at Merv,
“What’s wrong with your dog?”
Merv’s reply takes forever, like he’s trying to remember something real important, an alibi, maybe, “Dunno. Why?”
“He’s moaning, like something hurts.”
Merv shrugs, “Those floorboards are worn down, bet a nail’s sticking up, poking his skin.”
Fess nods, “Gotta hurt, though.”
“Why don’t he move?”
Merv again considers his reply. Then says, “Don’t hurt enough.”
So, there’s the story. Like I said, a story everyone’s heard.
OK, maybe embellished a bit.
And it’s here that the narrator usually goes on to paint Duke as a metaphor for your life—the pain in your life.
Maybe your job sucks. Maybe your relationship stinks.
Maybe your life hurts, but it doesn’t hurt enough for you to do anything about it.
But. Guess what.
I don’t buy that metaphor.
Because I don’t think our dog, Duke, is a lazy, dumb mutt.
I think Duke perceives a net benefit in lying on that nail.
What I mean is, sure, the nail hurts.
But then again, that’s where the sun is.
And maybe Duke instinctively finds that the glow of the warm sun outweighs the pain of the nail.
Which, sort of makes sense.
Until you stop to realize that Duke’s missing something.
Something elemental. Simple, really.
And that is that the sun’s rays aren’t just beaming down on that one corner of the world.
And if Duke just looked around, a bit, he’d find another warm, sunny spot.
Without the nail.