November 17, 2011
Grinched to the Max
What do the following have in common? Jon Bon Jovi for his hair. John Steinbeck for his writing. Mother Theresa for her unconditional love. Celine Dion for her voice. Justin Verlander for his pitching. Any drummer for their talent.
They’re all people I admire for some quality they possess and I lack.
Then there’s Max. You might know Max because of his association with Cindy Lou Who, the urchin famous for her huge, innocent eyes, cooing voice and perky antennae; and with the Grinch, whose heart grew three sizes and who had the strength of ten grinches plus two. And whose teeth didn’t move with his mouth when he talked (How cool is that?). Max, the Grinch’s dog, is the simple sidekick, relegated to the shadows of the limelight. Yet he’s the one I’ll spend my life trying to imitate, because he has something I lack and I want.
First of all, Max is perpetually happy. What does he have to be happy about? His life is rough. For starters, he lives in a cave on a mountain— with the Grinch. Yeah, the Grinch’s heart may have grown three sizes, but he was no picnic before that. I know people like the Grinch. Frankly, I can be a grinch myself. Grinches are not easy to live with.
Max is devoted to the Grinch. I’m sure the Grinch never said thanks, gave Max a card on his birthday, or even patted him on the head. Poor Max. Lack of appreciation can be a bitter thing. I know. I can being doing dishes for a sick child, while grumbling about their lack of gratitude— “I cooked dinner too. Doesn’t that child realize I’ve been in this kitchen for four hours? He should be on his knees thanking me for doing the dishes for him.”
Then there’s Max, oblivious to the lack of gratitude. Can anyone forget the single, pathetic antler tied to his head? It weighed a ton, and it looked ridiculous. (I’m resisting the urge to compare Lady Gaga here.) Talk about lack of gratitude; the Grinch won’t even let Max ride in the stupid sleigh. But Max never complains. He doesn’t even question it.
I was in a situation similar to the antler incident and believe me, I didn’t handle it like Max. I was the elf in the school Christmas play and my grandma made an extravagant green felt costume for me, complete with a curly pointed hat and curly pointed shoes. Every single pointy point was embellished with little jingle bells. I hated it, especially those shoes. I cried, protested, argued and probably screamed against the fate that put me in those shoes. I’m sure I would have been an adorable elf, had I been wearing a smile instead of a grimace. Granted I was only in second grade, but I don’t think I’d handle it much better now, unless Max came to mind.
Some people would say Max is “simple”, maybe even dimwitted. They’d pity poor misguided Max. Some would try to explain to Max how awful his life really is and point out how little he has to be thankful for. Some would snicker behind his back, blaming him for not having the backbone to stand up to the Grinch. Would Max ignore them, or would he be enlightened and unhappy?
I’d say Max’s foolishness is wiser than most people’s wisdom. Max is like a leaf on the sea, floating on top of stormy waves as easily as he floats on placid water. As for me, I can float tranquilly on the placid water, but when my expectations are thwarted, I fight the waves and end up exhausted and half dead.
I wonder how Max feels about the Grinch’s transformation. Is it possible for Max to be any happier than he already is? Is his happiness level constant because he rolls with whatever life throws at him, good and bad? Does he always live in the moment, knowing but not worrying that the next moment will be different than the one he’s living now? Can you imagine the joy and peace that fills someone who is simply thankful to be alive?
I wonder if the Grinch ever learns anything from his dog, Max.
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