There's some duality between sources of meaning, Between the types of stories we use to back identity. It's not quite good & bad or light & dark, Though I'm not yet sure just how to define it. Dad used to punish the dogs by locking then in the basement. If he was really mad, he'd toss then down there by the scruff. Mom moved me & her dogs to a new house — moved us three days early during the divorce. Her dog punched my ex stepdad in the crotch the night before, the nut-shot to end all nut-shots, & our time there. Few things make me feel as deeply about life as parenthood, even if it's just me caring for my dogs. Some reminders of that are intense enough to be raw, painful, salt in the wounds of mortality, maybe, or the ache of maternal love. The meaning behind the story of me & my dogs comes with a story of its own, or maybe several. It's bound up in stories to come, & these stories nest infinitely deep. Remembering that & shaping that, It's a part of making the meaning in my life. This isn't better against worse, it's not mom against dad. It's not a dichotomy at all, really, now that I think about it. It's something subtler, comfortably complex, a topic of its own. I guess it's just meaning & self.