How is one supposed to live with hard memories? My train of thought which brought me to this started with Pogo, the poodle-dog that my brother Scott adopted (the family adopted him, but Scott was nominally the number one). I have other stories to share about little Pogo, but first comes this simple train of thought.

I sat thinking of that part of my childhood spent in South FLA. Pogo came along soon after we moved there, so he is integral to that time in my life. As I thought of him the train jumped ahead and connected with current thoughts I have about patience and temper and self-improvement. And I arrived at this memory.

Pogo’s presence in my life spanned most of my school years, from fourth grade to junior college. I was fortunate to spend lots of time with that little dog, years in Florida, Chicago and Jersey. The memory that hit me and makes me feel sad is me walking him, sometime during my senior year in high school. I don’t recall walking Pogo before that, but here I am in twelfth grade in FLA, walking this old black poodle in our neighborhood.

And the memory is not nice. I am impatient and annoyed, simply so because of the imposition of doing this deed. I did not want to be walking the dog, but I’m doing it, and my irritation is taken out on little Pogo, as I’m rushing him along by tugging the leash, and speaking angrily at him as if he is some sort of problem. In this memory I feel like a bully. I feel like an ignorant doofus acting in a mean-spirited manner.

And now, even with thirty years in between myself and that memory, I feel a pang of regret. Why did I act like that? Why did I mistreat this being, someone I loved? Why, indeed….

And how does one reconcile that feeling? Besides sitting in therapy, how are we supposed to cope with our less-than-decent pasts? Is it enough to focus on today, to do the best we can now, in those same situations? I suppose that is all there is. We cannot go back and make it better, to do penance serves no real purpose, it is simply time to act more lovingly. Make your amends, do better, live and learn. And allow some space for sadness, and understand what that feels like.