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by Dave Markwell [1]

While eating dinner the other night my annoyingly picky son was questioning the taco meat. He questions everything we eat. I, in my usual fashion, avoided his queries with “Just eat it!” He did and was not displeased. The meat was elk and it was good.

At the meal’s conclusion, he continued his probe into what the meat was and I, again in my usual fashion, lied to him, because I knew the truth would not be well received. I impulsively told him it was Doberman.

I didn’t think much of this exchange until some time later when I checked Facebook and saw that he had posted about this. He actually BELIEVED I had served him dog meat. Here, I was not displeased. Rarely do my kids believe me when I tell my tales and it is kind of nice when they do.

I tell a lot of tales to my kids. My wife is not always a fan of this. But, sometimes I just can’t help myself. Following my bride’s disapproval I will occasionally ponder whether she may possibly be right and that my way is not always appropriate. But, as mentioned, sometimes I just can’t help myself.

This episode inspired me to take a broader look into why we do what we do, especially when sometimes it does not serve us well. Canons have been written about this and I am distinctly unqualified to discuss the psychological complexities regarding human behavior…but…umm…I think sometimes we just can’t help it.

In evaluating my own track record of bad behavioral choices, my big mouth holds all of the top spots. I have said some remarkably stupid things. I have hurt feelings and I have changed relationships due to my inability to hold my tongue. When I think about this, I feel bad. My intentions are rarely bad. It’s my judgment which betrays me.

While my big mouth has led me to say things I regret, it has also allowed me to express myself in good and important ways, too. Few of my friends don’t know how much I care about them. My family understands how much I love them. I am free with a kind word or encouragement or condolences. I feel things and I say them. This feature is not altogether common in the humanity that I know and I like this side of my big mouth.

“Be careful, lest in casting out your demon you exorcise the best thing in you.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

It would be easy to see only one side of the coin. I think, being the uncertain and insecure human beings that we are, we often emphasize our worse demons and undervalue our good ones. We don’t see that sometimes they are the same demon or at least they live on the same street.

Sometimes our curse is also our magic. To me, this softens the impact of my less-than-perfect moments. The things we trouble ourselves trying to change or that burden our self-esteem are our super powers, just sometimes in disguise. We all have unique and powerful characteristics which drive us, and sometimes our loved ones, crazy. These also make us great and define us as special.

I can easily imagine my good and bad demons sitting as friends, chuckling about my “Doberman” comment, shaking their heads, proud to be a part of me. They coexist because they must. And since they must be together to be at all, I may as well embrace both of the little devils. Such is this crazy, wonderful, confounding and confusing, frustrating and beautiful life.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here [2]. Or work out with him at his new exercise company Waterland CrossFit [3]!]

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