The joy contained within my dog’s rapidly wagging tail inspires me. Lois cannot contain herself when I release her from her crate: she jumps up on my legs, her stub of a tail helplessly wagging. When I greet her after she has awakened from a nap, she responds with a vibrating tail. I know Lois appreciates what I do for her; her tail says it all. Her happiness is a reminder that I too need to wag my tail for the people in my life. Tail wagging isn’t just for dogs.
My longest and fastest tail wag is for my parents. No two people on earth have done more for me intellectually, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. They have blessed my life with books, imagination, prayers, and love. I officially thank them with yearly cards, but I prefer subtle acts of gratitude as well. Recently, I helped my dad learn how to use Facebook on his painfully slow computer. I calmed my mom’s fears after she received a false e-mail that warned of the dangers of exploding cell phones. Through these small acts of kindness, I am not trying to pay back my parents for everything they have done for me. That would be impossible. But I can and will continue to show my appreciation to them.
My sister, Lynn, also deserves a strong tail wag. She has been my built-in best friend for over twenty years. Together, we have built sandcastles and Lego fortresses. We have snow-skied the Rocky Mountains and competed on tennis courts. We have enjoyed the perks and pitfalls of being preacher’s kids. Even as adults, we remain close. For over a year, my sister has also been my roommate. I eat her food; she eats mine. We share the responsibility of washing the dishes. When I would rather go to bed and Lynn wants me to stay up with her, I usually comply. I am thankful to have her as my sister.
There are countless people for whom I should wag my tail: my friends and family, my colleagues and students, my former teachers and professors. I cannot keep my gratitude to myself. I let it spill over in notes, Facebook comments, and even a simple face-to-face “thank you.” My little dog thanks me each day, and I never tire of it. I believe in tail wagging. This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.