“Don’t eat dog poo.”
It seems pretty self-explanatory. Dog poo is bad, full of germs and stuff that can make you sick (and it probably doesn’t taste good either). It seems like a no-brainer, not eating it, and when I gave this piece of advice to my sister April, I initially just meant it as a joke.
But then, a couple weeks later in my English class, the teacher asked us to write down our best lines of advice on slips of paper, although she wouldn’t say why. I couldn’t think of anything particularly wise (and not cliched) so I just wrote down the dog poo bit, figuring it would at least get a bit of a laugh. The teacher collected them and the next day she read out a spoken word poem she’d composed from all the pieces of advice.
When she got to the dog poo bit, she didn’t find it very amusing. She rolled her eyes and said, “Someone was trying to be funny,” with an unimpressed tone in her voice. It was hard for me not to smirk because the slips of paper had been anonymous and she never would’ve guessed that I, the quiet one in the back who always did her homework, was the someone who was trying to be funny.
Later on, though, I found myself getting a little defensive about my advice. Sure, I’d meant it as a joke, but it’s pretty good advice. If you eat dog poo, you can get sick and die. Therefore, I think it’s pretty smart of me to recommend not eating it. And believe it or not, there are millions of people every day who eat obscene amounts of dog poo and don’t even realize they’re doing it. I’m sure I’ve done it once or twice and probably will sometime in my years to come.
See, when I gave April that advice, I really meant it. I don’t want her to get sick. I don’t want her to feel like she has to swallow bitter words and filthy waste. I don’t want her to ever buy into the crap that people and society in general will tell her.
It’s really easy to believe people when they tell you obesity is ugly, or that not having a degree makes you stupid, or that some part of your identity is a sin or curse, because it’s everywhere. Cruel words and acts of hatred are at times as frequent as piles of dog poo in the park and it’s hard to avoid it. Sooner or later, you’re going to come across it and someone’s going to try to pressure you to eat it.
Please don’t eat it. When they tell you you’re ugly or stupid or worthless, don’t listen. When they try to make you doubt yourself, hate yourself, exclude yourself, don’t follow. They’re full of dog poo and you don’t have to eat it.
Because the moment you do, you’ve taken it into yourself. The germs infect you, making you sick, making you believe what they say even though it’s a load of B.S.
If half the heroes in the adventures we love fell prey to the doubters and the haters, if half the heroes decided to eat the dog poo instead of stepping around it, they wouldn’t be heroes at all. They wouldn’t have slain dragons or villains or even the town mosquito because they would’ve gotten so sick, they wouldn’t have had any spirit left with which to fight. The real heroes know better. They know it isn’t right to eat dog poo and they can resist the pressure of society.
So when I say not to eat dog poo, I mean it literally–seriously, it’s bad for you–and metaphorically. And I do mean it as a joke as well, because it’s always good to have a little reminder not to take life too seriously. My advice might have been the most obvious compared to others in the class, and perhaps the silliest too, but I feel it was the most important.
Because you’re better than that.
What’s the best (and perhaps silliest) advice you can give?
May you always bear in mind the dangers of consuming waste.
P.S. And don’t forget to smile ;)