By David Michie
This month’s offering is in celebration of the third child born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Catherine) on April 23, 2018; and of the pending marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018.
It also marks the passing of the Queen’s last corgi in the line started by Susan, who was a gift to then-Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday. Willow, a 14th generation corgi in that line, passed away in April 2018. The Queen’s love for that breed is widely known throughout the world.
Several of us in the senior reading group have become extremely fond of the Dalai Lama’s Cat 3-book series by David Michie. The books follow a kitten born in reduced circumstances who finds her way by accident—or perhaps Fate—into the Dalai Lama’s life and home through various stages of her life. Each book offers not only a lovely and heartwarming story, but also passes along lessons learned as she encounters people and events in the process of Living. As it turns out, lessons the cat learns are also pertinent and helpful for humans—what a coincidence! Now Michie has written another book every bit as heartwarming and helpful as those three books, but this one is “written” by a male corgi.
Like the DL’s cat, Nelson (as he is finally named about half way into the book) was born in unfavorable circumstances and rose to high office by sheer happenstance. He was born into a household that bred corgis in bad conditions, and whose humans were interested only in the corgis as money-making entities by selling or showing them. Nelson was the runt of his litter, but the one unforgiveable thing about him was that one ear refused to stand up straight. The breeders saw this floppy ear as a flaw, an imperfection, and saw Nelson as worthless to them since he could neither be shown nor sold…so they thought. He was, in fact, saved from a death sentence and whisked away to castle and Queen!
Nelson was very young at that time with many things to learn, starting with the most basic habits and training. Luckily, he had two older, more experienced corgis to help acclimate him. Winston and Margaret—like Nelson—were so named to fit aspects of their personalities. Winston was very old with special characteristics. He saw that the new corgi had potential to take over from him, and took on the new corgi as a trainee of sorts. And so the story unfolds.
As one might imagine from the treatment he had received in his early days, Nelson had a bad case of low self-esteem. The ear that flopped over made him flawed as a corgi in the eyes of many people. What could he do; what could he be? What was his purpose?
Of course, it’s not only this little corgi who asked that of himself. Every human with any sense of self wonders the same thing at some point in life. What is my purpose? Why am I here? This wonderful story provides some guidance to help us. Each chapter focuses on a particular issue that helps us look at our own lives to search for our purpose. Like the DL’s cat books, the lessons are so beautifully, painlessly, and gently taught that we absorb them without realizing it.
I leave it to each reader to discover for him- or herself what these lessons are. Each of us will take something personal and a bit different from this book.
I offer here Nelson’s description of the Queen:
“When you meet the Queen, she is exactly as you would expect her to be—in appearance, at least. But she has another quality that catches most people by surprise…Such is the Queen’s sense of calling that, wherever she goes, she carries with her an almost-tangible expectation that your own deepest wish, like hers, is to serve a greater purpose. To say that most people are caught unawares by this sensation would be an understatement. Expecting restrained and aloof, when they encounter Her Majesty’s gentle but firm expectation of benevolence, they find themselves wishing…to be the best that they can be. To act in accord with their highest ideals.” (p. xiii)
Perhaps that—to be the best that we can be—is the purpose we all have in common. We may each arrive there in different ways, each face different challenges, and Michie’s The Queen’s Corgi: On Purpose can offer gentle help with that part. Our individual best selves will be different, as well. That is as it should be. But the purpose we all share—maybe even our obligation—is to find and live our best selves.
If you wish to find out more about the Queen’s REAL corgis, this article is interesting:
Oh, one more thing: I leave you with the challenge to discover who Michael REALLY is.