One of my happiest places on earth is at my parents’ lake house in rural Wisconsin. I can say without doubt that it is one of Yoda’s most beloved spots too, which is why I’m so lucky that we have been able to road trip here so I can work remotely for the month of August for the past five years in a row.
One of my favorite parts about road tripping are the lessons the road teaches me, often through people I meet. The night we arrived in Wisconsin, we were sitting outside having an evening sunset cocktail with my parents, when one of the neighbors wandered over to say hello. He had with him his visiting brother, Father Dan, a completely down-to-earth priest who has a wicked sense of humor which he often uses to disperse surprising nuggets of wisdom.
Yoda was wagging his tail as he bounced from person to person, nudging their hands to get each of us to pet him.
Smiling as he was prodded by Yoda, Father Dan looked from my dog to the rest of us and asked, “Do you know why dogs are so happy?”
“Why?” we all responded.
“Because they don’t want to be anything else except a dog,” he exclaimed while he scratched behind Yoda’s ears.
This was Father Dan’s way of making the observation that by trying to be someone else, or by trying to live someone else’s life, it’s pretty much impossible to feel content. Happiness can only come from living an authentic life by celebrating the individual quirks that are unique to each of us.
Yoda now serves as my daily reminder that, much like a dog doesn’t want to be anything else except a dog, I don’t want to be anyone else except for me. Thanks Father Dan for this lesson of the road!