One way to be less of an asshole is to start caring for living things other than yourself, this is called “nurturing”, not to be confused with the tone of this post, that’s called “patronizing”. Assholes are patronizing & self-centred so by looking outwards you can slowly, gently, begin to shift your focus out, a little bit. Be nice to yourself here, this is hard, way harder than even being nice to yourself so that’s saying something.
Now, if you are way down the asshole spectrum don’t start with a mammal or a reptile or even a fish or an insect. If you are more than say, 90% asshole, you need to set yourself up for success, start with a plant. Maybe try sprouting a carrot top then move on to a houseplant. Don’t pick a fussy houseplant, try something easy, like a spider plant. If you have any friends (remember this part is for folks who self-identify as 90% asshole so friends may be a little scarce on the ground, don’t worry, one day we’ll talk about friends) they may be looking to give away plants or, this time of year, there are lots of houseplants in your favourite community classifieds for cheap or free. The dang things are alive and one day you may need to gift the offspring before the foliage comes after you in a Day of the Triffids nightmare.
For those of us assholes who are capable of watering a plant on a semi regular basis you know the dangers of too much love. Admit it, the leaves all turned brown and your first plant died because you over watered it, another dried out to a husk due to utter neglect. That’s why you start with a plant, it limits the ethical problems of your broken love and commitment issues.
Big Loud Mean Voice (BLMV): For the love of all that is good and green on this earth do not start with a cat or a dog!
She has a point, it may seem like a good idea but seriously, nothing brings out your asshole side more than a cat who shit in your shoe or a dog who ate your couch. Start small. Maybe volunteer at an animal shelter or be a respite foster volunteer, or just donate some food and money until you nail this caring for a potted plant thing.
This is where I need to warn you, once one plant actually thrives in your care you will want more. Just looking at green things improves mental health.
BLMV: There are studies, go find them yourself, I’m not your mother!
It really does. Next thing you find yourself learning which way your windows face and what plants will survive. You might even be compelled to help plant trees and other things that nice people do, with others. You may even make some friends and they don’t know you are an asshole so bring your A game and give being slightly less of a curmudgeon a try.
Now here’s the problem, you likely already have living things in your care. A pet or a person and I know you are thinking “I fucking killed the PLANT!” but don’t worry, your patronizing asshole friend is here to say I did it and you can too.
Make one new commitment to care better for your living thing right now. Walk the dog, brush the cat, make the coffee, well, maybe buy the coffee supplies, let’s stay realistic. Afterall, success really counts here when we move beyond plants and the ethical implications of neglect are not funny.
Do it again tomorrow and once it’s easy, try adding something else. One day you may wake up and realise you are a bit better partner to your beloved, a better parent, a better pet owner and a little less of an asshole.