You can learn a lot from feces.
When it comes to wildlife, some people use a pile of crap and tell what kind of animal it came from. They can tell the state of health of said animal, it’s age, and what it ate. They know where it came from, where it is going and when it was last here. The secrets are all laying down in that steaming pile of shit.
When it comes to healthcare, some people use poop to tell the health of a person.
They can run tests of it to screen for disease and the like. There is even a scale of hardness for poop that is used in the medical world. It’s called the Bristol Stool Scale (because that's where it was made and the people who made it were probably hoping to have something cooler than a shit rating system named after them…)
When it comes to introspective and personal realizations…. well…
I’ve learned some cool stuff from feces.
If it makes it any less weird, it wasn’t my own shit!
It was dog shit.
…That’s not any better is it?
Let me explain.
A close friend of mine fosters dogs for a local rescue organization.
Mila was one of these dogs and she was awesome. Mila was a Xoloitzcuintli (A.K.A. a Mexican hairless dog) with a tender personality and top notch cuddling skills. Her one major downfall was her penchant for shitting on things.
Ok. Let’s clarify.
When I say shitting ON things, I mean exactly that.
Literally ON things!
Specifically vertical things like walls.
The worst is when she shit on radiator…. in the winter.
Because of the extra heat, what was ON the radiator quickly became IN the radiator. My poor friend came home from work that day only to discover that the entire apartment reeked of hot dung. Clean up wasn’t exactly a party… at least not any party I’d care to attend! There was, from what I understand, much gagging and anger.
However, none of his anger was directed at Mila.
He really loved that dog. Everyone did! She was hard not to love. She was a good dog, vertical defecating tendencies and all! She was just a product of where she had come from.
In Mila’s case, she came from a crappy (pun totally intended) breeding situation.
She would have spent a large amount of her life living in a cage that probably didn’t get cleaned very often. Cage or no cage… when you gotta go… you gotta go! And what do you do if you need to drop a deuce in a tiny space that rarely gets cleaned?
You shit on the walls. That’s what you do!
You literally just unload your bowels on the fucking walls so you don’t have to sleep in it.
It wasn’t because she was a terrible dog. It was a legitimate survival tactic.
Once you thought about it like that it was much easier to understand and forgive.
That being said- she no longer lived in a cage! This behaviour wasn't necessary anymore. But it wasn’t just going to stop overnight, we all knew that. It took some some time, patience, and love but eventually she saw that this wasn't necessary anymore. She stopped shitting on the fucking walls.
This wasn’t the only weird tick we saw in the foster dogs.
Some of them had separation anxiety or strange fears of things like plastic bags. Some of them didn’t know what playing was. Others would have panic attacks when you tried to collar them or didn’t understand the concept of a walk. Yet, in every single case, with enough time and love, they would eventually stop the strange behaviour once they understood that it was no longer needed.
Dogs and people are similar in many ways.
Sometimes we have strange ticks. Sometimes they’re kind of funny or endearing and other times they’re just fucked up (like shitting on the walls!) But these behaviours come from somewhere and there is a reason we adopt them. A lot of it has to do with our past experiences or childhoods.
But we are different from dogs. Obviously.
Our lives are very much in our own hands. We, unlike dogs, get to make the choices that shape our lives. Sometimes we make shitty choices. It’s part of being human! But these shitty choices are our own and this means that it is up to us to notice and correct them ourselves.
It’s important to ask ourselves two questions:
1- Do you still shit on the walls?
Our pasts and circumstances have shaped our behaviours in certain ways.
It could be a habit, or the way you react to certain situations, or the way you think about yourself, etc. Are you still holding on to any ticks even though you’re free of the circumstances that created them?
2- Are you still in the cage?
Perhaps you are aware of these ticks but they are results of current circumstances.
It could be a work situation, the relationships in your life, your routine, etc. Are there any aspects of your life that feel as though they cause you to shit on the walls? If so, what can you do to change it?
Be real with yourself.
If you’re being completely honest with yourself then you probably have at least thing in your life which would have promoted a yes to one or both of the above questions. There’s no point in beating yourself up for it, you were probably just acting according to what you knew. This isn’t to say that you should back away from responsibility for your actions, in fact it’s quite the opposite. If you carry on without accepting accountability then you just carry on crapping on stuff! And that’s not cool… plus you have to clean the shit out of your own radiator.
Accepting responsibility is tough but it’s also incredibly empowering.
It puts you back behind the controls of your own life, instead of being an autopilot robot that only performs functions according to the parameters it was programmed with. Challenge those parameters and commit to changing them.
We can only change that behaviour once we understand it.
It’s important to investigate the cages our lives, past and present. This allows us to better understand ourselves and leave those cages behind. Then, with enough time, patience, and self love, we can finally stop shitting on the walls. It takes some time and work but it’s worth it because at the end of the day we’re all just like Mila. Beyond the shit, we’re all capable of doing great things and we’re all deserving of love.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
PS: Mila was adopted into an incredible home and is living a very full life!
-Lindsay Istace of Rage Yoga
PPS: Here are some things you might find interesting!
--->Fur-Ever Homes Rescue (the wonderful dog rescue that helped Mila and many other doggos)
--->When Shit Hits the Fan (a rockin' blog post about falling apart gracefully)
--->The Benefits of Yoga in Addiction Recovery (a rockin' blog post about how yoga can help heal)