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On anger, dogs, and shoes

I have no idea what, if anything, these three topics have to do with each other. But they’re what’s on my mind, so here goes.

On the protective value of anger

Forgiveness has been a big topic, going all the way back into the dark-dark ages. I’m talking about people forgiving people, not gods forgiving people, which is a different and even more parlous topic.

Modern proponents of forgiveness cite its personal healing value. Forgiveness, they say, doesn’t mean that you excuse a bad thing someone else did, and it certainly doesn’t mean you lay yourself open to being clobbered all over again. Forgiveness, they say, isn’t about the other person at all. It’s about you living at peace with yourself. About putting grudges and anger behind you.

This all makes a certain amount of philosophical, spiritual sense. Anger and brooding are unpleasant. They don’t feel good and don’t improve us as people.

Yet it seems to me that there’s something huge left out of all the urgings toward forgiveness. And that is this: if you put a bad thing behind you and let go of your anger about it, then how do you, as a practical matter, avoid being victimized by the same thing (deed, person, institution) again?

Merely having a cool-headed intellectual understanding (“The IRS stole all my money, but I don’t feel anything about it” or “So and so will lie at the drop of a hat, but that no longer eats at me”) isn’t enough. Yes, you can say, “I remember that Jennifer is a manipulator and I’m going to avoid getting close to her because of it,” or “When Gerald gets abusive, I’ll just leave.” But if you don’t have some real negative emotion behind such resolutions, you’re likely to get buffaloed next time Jennifer or Gerald tries to charm you or promises that they won’t do the bad thing again.

Anger — unpleasant though it is — is also both armor and incentive. When you remember “so-and-so’s” foul deeds, not only in your head but in the pit of your gut, you’ll protect yourself way better in the future than if you’re all sunshine and lollipops about it.

Yes, forgiveness undoubtedly feels better in the moment, but does it feel better in the long run if forgetting the anguish leads you to walk right back into similar situations?

I’m all in favor of forgiveness, in a way. Yet it seems to me that those who promote it are leaving out that crucial “how to you protect yourself” element.

On dogs, or one diva dog in particular

At 13, Robbie is a tired old guy who mostly just likes to lie around and sleep. Lately he’s also developed a lot of fears and he often wants to lie with his head on my lap for comfort. Knowing he’s not going to be around all that much longer, I’m happy to shower him with all the affection and comfort he wants.

This situation is intolerable to Ava, who’s always been the star of her own life and expects all the human world to be as bedazzled by her as she is by herself. (There’s good reason her nicknames are Ava Diva and Her Royal Highness Princess Ava Prettypaws.)

Robbie snuggling against me automatically signals Ava to get in my face, wiggling frantically to make herself larger and more noticeable. If that doesn’t work, she goes and finds a ball which, though she may have abandoned that very same ball 30 seconds ago, simply must be thrown for her right this minute.

She’s not above trying to physically insert herself between Robbie’s head and my lap. Five years ago, Robbie would have threatened to remove her face over such an intrusion, but now he just sighs and moves away.

Only one thing deters Ava from her attention seeking. It’s this:



Since I bought it at the millionaire garage sale in June, Ava has slowly dismantled this large stuffed dog. Where Robbie (again, in the olden days) would have shredded it in five minutes after I brought it home, Ava has taken five months merely to behead it. Once every evening she drags it from her toy basket and spends a leisurely hour nibbling on it and pulling out just this much of its green foam stuffing.

During that hour Robbie is allowed to be the most loved dog in the house.

On shoes

I rarely ever buy new clothes. Other than undies and socks, everything in my closet comes from garage sales or thrift stores. Shoes, especially. New, they’re so expensive and why pay $70 or more when the very same pair will turn up at the Ministerial Association store for $3 a year later?

But this year, as summer closed, I was seriously in need a good, water-resistant woods-walking shoes or hiking boots and the usual garage-sale/thrift store magic just wasn’t working. The two pair of walkers I’ve been alternating all year have holes in them and leak like a Washington, DC, bureaucracy. I thought I was going to have to break down and buy new ones at the hardware store. (Yes, around here you buy shoes at the hardware store. You also buy office supplies at the lumber yard. What can I say? Small town.)

Then yesterday I came upon a beautiful pair of suede walkers, so new it looked as if they’d never even left the original owner’s living room. They fit perfectly and were so softly padded inside that I feel as if I’m walking on clouds.

I also feel as if I’m walking on bowling balls. The soles on these are of a design that was trendy three or four years back. The entire bottom of the shoe curves like a rocking-horse runner so the thickest part is under the arch, rather than at the heel. The concept was that these soles would “tone” a person’s legs, and I suppose they do; they definitely exercise different muscle groups than regular walkers.

I have no idea whether the design was successful or not. But for sure a certain number of trend followers wore these “rocking shoes” once or twice, said “ACK!,” and shoved them in the back of a closet, to be donated later to some good cause.

In the last few years, I’ve bought several pair of them, all looking out-of-the-box new.

I love “trends.” Three years after the fact, I get cool kitchen gadgets, fancy jackets, and great pairs of shoes from people who’ve moved on to the next “in” thing.

You get used to the “bowling ball” feeling after a while and don’t even notice it.

Dry feet. Good thing in this climate. Even if I did have to pay a whole $5 for this pair.


  1. Joel
    Joel October 28, 2014 12:40 pm

    Forgiveness, to me, means different things in different situations. If a friend wrecks my car or runs over my cat, accidentally and with no malice or systemic neglect, I can forgive and forget. (That’s easier with restitution.) If a person I mistakenly trusted screws me, forgiveness can take the form of not killing him in his sleep or telling his girlfriend all about him but I won’t go so far as to forget and trust him in future. Which probably means I won’t associate with him in future, either.

    And then there are things that will neither be forgiven nor forgotten. It’s situational, one size does not fit all.

  2. Bear
    Bear October 28, 2014 12:53 pm

    [cynic] Oddly enough, I mostly hear the wonders of forgiveness from folks with a vested interest in being forgiven, and from organizations dependent on a mass of people who won’t hold grudges. [/cynic]

  3. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal October 28, 2014 1:17 pm

    I would probably be tempted to take a grinder to the bowling ball soles and make them flat. But that’s just me, and I do occasionally regret fiddling with things rather than just leaving them alone.

  4. Claire
    Claire October 28, 2014 1:28 pm

    LOL, Kent. A true DYI thinker.

    In the conditions I walk in (e.g. slippery, wet gravel), I need the most textured soles available to keep slipping to a minimum. No grinders for me. And really, after about two days the bowling ball thing isn’t even a factor.

  5. LarryA
    LarryA October 28, 2014 2:07 pm

    I have no idea whether the design was successful or not.

    You bought them almost unused for $5.00.

    I have no idea what, if anything, these three topics have to do with each other.

    Don’t know about you, but dog do on my shoe ticks me off. (Just got back from a walk, and picked up a pile in the park. Most people clean up after their furbuds, but some dogs don’t have people.)

  6. Tahn
    Tahn October 28, 2014 2:18 pm

    Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. It is letting the emotion go for your own benefit but remembering the lesson, also for your benefit. I rarely hang around again with someone I have had to forgive, if at all serious.

    Wearing size 15 4E shoes I have NEVER found a used pair that fit. Congrats on finding a pair you like.

  7. Claire
    Claire October 28, 2014 2:24 pm

    Tahn — Holy cats! Them’s some big shoes. You’re not going to believe this, but yesterday while I was at the thrift store, they actually HAD a pair of walkers in size 15. Dunno whether they were 4E or what. But those things looked (you’ll pardon me, I hope) like clown shoes!

    LarryA — LOL on finding the mystery connection between my three topics. And yup, that’ll do it.

    I’m very careful with my own dogs, but I have neighbors — otherwise very, very nice people — who turn their dogs loose to “do their thing” on my property. Have stepped in it many a time, and gone out scooping it many more. I’ve decided to put up with it because the dogs in question are very old (in fact, one of them just died of old age two weeks ago) and they’ve no doubt been doing it all their lives. But if the neighbors ever adopt another, I’ll have a talk with them about things like electronic fences or accompanying their dogs with scoop bags if they let them out to roam.

  8. Pat
    Pat October 28, 2014 2:28 pm

    I shouldn’t think those shoes would be good for your feet or arches over the long haul.

    I’ve never known what “forgiveness” meant… truly! It’s not about forgetting (rationalizing or repressing, yes), and to me it was never about getting over being angry.

    To be “at peace” with the episode is about turning the other cheek, about accepting what was said or done as a “right” of the other person to be in your face. Yet that right doesn’t exist. So how does one “forgive” a person who simply is too stupid, mean, insensitive, unthinking, or uncaring to know that he/she doesn’t belong in your life in that manner?

    Further, if forgiveness means different things to different people, it has no real meaning, no definition to help find a resolution to the relationship.

  9. Matt, another
    Matt, another October 28, 2014 3:11 pm

    I find anger to an emotion that seems to bew pretty useless. I still get angry way to much though. Mostly it is an emotion that I to easily let take reign and hurt the feelings of people I care for. Then, I have ot ask for the forgiveness. I also have to accept that often the situation I am feeling angry about is on me, often anger is the response that helps me avoid taking responsibility for my own mistakes. I also find forgiveness is easy enough, part of the forgiveness is not continuing in the situation or relationship that one is angry about though.

    Recently I loaned a small trailer to a friend. Friend needed to use it for a move a couple of states away. I live in AZ. Bearing burned out in New Mexico. Friend rented a Uhaul trailer and got to OK where they were picking up household goods. Had to leave my little trailer in a storage unit. I was kind of angry. But, I had to accept the fact that the bearings going was not their fault, it was age and poor maintenance. They did their best to protect my property. Only failure was their inability to return it to me. Took me a few hundred dollars in gas and a long weekend to go fetch it home. I was really angry when they didn’t really want to help fetch it or reimburse the gas to get it. So, I made a concious decision to forgive them. Truly they hadn’t really done a lot wrong. I also forgave the debt of gas expenses they promised to pay at some time. A friendship of 30 years was more important to me than my anger or money. So, lots of forgiveness. I won’t loan them anything again, but if they need to move, I will help them.

  10. Bulucanagria
    Bulucanagria October 28, 2014 4:28 pm

    The problem I have with anger is that it clouds judgement. While I’ve never been in any severely critical situations, during the few touchy situations that I’ve been in my mind has gone into total logic and reason mode. Assess and act. I don’t know if this would hold true during a real crisis (say an attack on my mother or daughter) but I like to think it would. I think I’d still think rationally while disposing of any inklings of mercy that might be present, i.e. instead of “how can I disable you”, “how can I disable you to death”.

    The other thing about anger is that if you hold onto it for any length of time it pretty much amounts to punishing yourself for someone else’s transgression. The subject of your anger is rarely affected by it whereas your own state of mind is diminished and tarnished. They screw up and you make yourself unhappy about it.

    As others have said, accept the initial flood of anger, embrace the lesson learned and then move on. Forgive but do not forget. That’s the bliss of ignorance, and fools.

  11. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau October 28, 2014 5:24 pm

    I think anger is useful for going to war. If you are not going to do that, then get rid of it. I don’t think that necessarily requires forgiving anybody or interacting at all with the person in question. It’s more like just moving on.

    Much of this stuff revolves around money. Years ago I had a couple of friends, R who had money and who would lend it to D. I once asked R why he did that; we both liked D but we knew he was not the most reliable person in the world. I told him he would be unlikely to get his money back. R said he acted like it was a loan but privately considered it right from the beginning as a gift. If D surprised him, good enough, but he was not counting on it at all. He liked D enough that he wasn’t going to let that get between them. I thought that was nice of him, but I did not emulate him.

  12. jed
    jed October 28, 2014 7:28 pm

    I remember when the “Earth Shoe” first came out. Except on those, the pivot is more forward. I always thought they looked strange; never tried them. Just looking around, I see there are different types of rocker-bottom shoes these days.

    I don’t think I could go for used shoes. I have enough trouble with shoes already, without dealing with someone else’s broken-in footbed. I suppose if they’ve obviously not been worn much, that’s not such an issue.

  13. Shel
    Shel October 28, 2014 7:55 pm

    The shoes sound like Sketchers Shape-ups.

    I find them quite good if I’m only walking straight ahead. The smaller surface area also forces me to keep good balance front to rear, and there is definitely less stress from pounding. OTOH, if the surface is at all tenuous things can get pretty tricky quickly.

    There are online retailers that can have some really good prices on shoes, including and

    It’s often not possible not to react at all to an unwanted situation. Anger and depression are the two major choices. Jeff Cooper said that the ideal reaction to a life threatening encounter was controlled rage. Of the two, I think anger beats the s*** out of depression. Obviously either of the two will eat you up if they persist.

    Though I already had a dog, a couple of weeks ago I picked up another at a kill shelter. And tonight there was a dogfight over a bone. I’m pretty mad at my “original” dog right now.

  14. Matt, another
    Matt, another October 28, 2014 8:11 pm

    Got a pretty good pair of Army issue desert boots out of a dumpster a couple of weeks ago. My size, even wide width! Soles are a,little worn, but in the same way my feet,wear soles. Expect to get a couple of years out of them.

  15. Ellendra
    Ellendra October 28, 2014 9:48 pm

    Strong emotions have a way of clouding your judgement, and that’s a bad thing. But that doesn’t mean the emotion itself is bad.

    Growing up, I was told that anger itself is a sin. I messed myself up but good by denying myself the right to my own emotions, and then beating myself up when I couldn’t not feel them. The bible verse that was used to justify this was misquoted. It was quoted to me as “Do not sin by being angry.” What it says is “In your anger, do not sin.” As in, don’t let your temper get the better of you because it will make you do things you’ll regret.

    There are lots of emotions that can get you in trouble if you let them take over, but those emotions still have value. They’re a part of being human. Some are a warning sign, some are an invitation. They’re worth paying attention to, as long as they’re kept in their place.

    As for forgiveness, sometimes that’s just a way of cutting ties. Whether the emotional ties you’re cutting are to the event, or to the person responsible for it, that’s up to you.

  16. LarryA
    LarryA October 29, 2014 12:36 am

    Whenever I’m tempted to give in to anger my conscience runs a balance: Times I’ve forgiven
    Times I’ve needed forgiving.

    Keeps me honest.

  17. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty October 29, 2014 6:17 am

    I used to be a perfectionist, and really didn’t accept the fact that a large part of that was the drive to control everything around me. I worked with a bunch of socialists and statists, most of the time, and all of the nonsense with Medicare, etc. put pressure on me that I simply couldn’t live with. So, I was seriously ANGRY most of the time. Angry and SOOO frustrated at every turn.

    My body got very sick, and I struggled with a new job that was worse than anything before it. I was a “supervisor,” but I had damn little control of anything, but plenty of responsibility for what others did or didn’t do. The whole thing almost killed me.

    So I retired and moved to Wyoming. I got in touch with who I really am and, separated from the pressure of toxic relationships and work environment, shed the anger and then the false guilt – my body got well too. I had to forgive myself for all of the damage I’d caused to myself by my own actions and hypocrisy. I, the proud self owner and non-aggressor, had spent years doing everything I could to control the environment and people around me, to one extent or another.

    Shedding toxic relationships and situations is a very necessary first step to health and happiness, I think. That’s one reason retreats and hermitages are so powerful. The contrast can be most enlightening.

    Forgiving yourself for being such a fool as to be taken in by those toxic things and people is a very important step. If you carry it out to the logical conclusion, I don’t think there is much danger you’ll be taken in again. Remembering and being cautious is healthy. Just don’t let yourself stay angry about it. That stuff will kill you eventually if you can’t let it go.

  18. david
    david October 29, 2014 6:17 am

    I can get used to dry feet pretty quickly. But here in balmy New England the thrifts are more popular than free beer, so I’ve never seen a decent pair of shoes or boots in my size.

    Forgiveness is certainly more for the forgiver than for the forgivee, IMO. In fact, it may only be for the forgiver. The ‘forgivee’ learns nothing from the experience, and often just seems to act as if they think it was an invitation to repeat the prior offense or add new ones. I’m more willing to ‘forget’ than to forgive.

    You know – forget – like you do with family. You just let go of it, and you remember the offense, you remember and still get angry, but you don’t dwell on it nor carry it around in your pocket and pull it out all the time. It seems to work just as well, maybe better. We all have ‘bad hair days’ when we do stupid or mean stuff we normally wouldn’t. We may even feel we had a reason for those actions so don’t want to apologize. So sometimes it’s best to just ‘let it go’. To forget, not forgive.

  19. JS
    JS October 29, 2014 8:18 am

    Be careful with the shoes you bought. I bought similar shoes not for the fitness aspects but for orthopedic issues for which the rocker soles were helpful. Unfortunately they brought back a dormant case of Achilles tendonitis in one foot and started a new case in the other.

  20. Claire
    Claire October 29, 2014 9:41 am

    Yikes. Thanks, JS. I will be careful. But I’ve had similar shoes before without problems. I don’t know what tendonitis feels like but it sounds painful. Hope you were able to recover from that.

  21. naturegirl
    naturegirl October 30, 2014 1:34 pm

    I have those shoes, mine are the Sketchers. They are the only shoes that have lasted the longest and eliminated all the back and feet pain. And they’re fun to rock on when stuck standing in one place for a while – it’s like a mini foot rub. Since I’m always walking, it’s been a challenge to find shoes that can keep up with the abuse- those do.

    Sorry I disappeared, having comp problems along with all the usual problems.

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