Saturday, December 23, 2006

Too Much of a Good Thing...

As I watched Kirby's relentless play-assault on Baxter, I realized that the main thing that makes puppies different from dogs is they haven't yet learned when to stop. Most of their behaviors, when honed, will help them be successful adults -- running, jumping, stalking, pouncing, chewing, shaking the living daylights out of something. They just don't yet know when they've had too much of a good thing (at least from the perspective of those around them). Dog behaviorists say that while many of a dog's skills are hard-wired, how and when they apply those skills is learned entirely through their social interactions.

This got me to thinking of similar bouts of excess in the human world...those times when something good, done to excess, is not so good. Of course, the first thing I think of is eating chocolate -- something that can be a heavenly taste experience or an expressway to thunder-thighs if not done in moderation. My mother is a chocoholic (I know where I get those genes from), and at one point she had a "bag-a-day" semi-sweet chocolate chip habit. She'd carry a little bowl full of chocolate chips around and eat them throughout the day. She didn't have any other vices to speak of and, fortunately, she's one of those naturally thin people, so she wasn't aware she had a "problem." Finally her doctor made an intervention (of sorts) when her cholesterol climbed well over 200. She cut back to a couple handfuls a day and the numbers dropped. Now, years later, she's moved on to a few squares of European 70% dark chocolate a day. She figures if she's going to cut back on chocolate, it might as well be the good stuff. I couldn't agree more.

By far my favorite "done to excess" story happened while I was at a music retreat with a small women's choir a number of years ago. One of the gals was knitting an afghan for a boy she knew who loved all things John Deere. It was bright green and yellow and the gal was having so much fun knitting, the afghan just kept getting bigger and bigger. Finally, one evening, we decided she needed a "knitting intervention." We surrounded her and told her to put down the knitting needles NOW. Then one of the choir members said something that still makes me laugh to this day. As the knitter sat there, looking rather perplexed, with the giant afghan sprawled out at her feet, a quick-witted gal spoke up, "You really have to stop knitting this thing, because at this point you could use it for a tractor cozy."

We all laughed so hard, most of us were in tears. Laughter. Now there's something you can never have too much of.

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