When Your Dog Died, Remember?

Remember when you were a little kid, maybe five years old, and you were watching something on the television? For whatever reason you liked it, you really liked it, but you didn’t have the same concept of time you do right now. A half hour in front of a television when you were a kid seemed to last longer, because you hadn’t developed a sense of time the way you would later in life.

At five, you’re not thinking about everything you have to do, a job, school, death, bills, alcohol, or any number of things that will invade your thoughts later in life.

Later in life, your thoughts will be crowded by much different issues, depending on what’s going on.

Even at the age of ten, you are still a kid, but now there are team sports, you’re beginning to notice other people as a gender, as a function as attraction, your ability to read has evolved, you’ve done things, illicit acts, your parents would worry if they found out, you realize life is more complicated than it seemed five years ago, and five years ago seems to be a long, long, time.

But then at twenty, ten years seems to be a long time, and at forty, if you’ve been married for five years at that point, it may, or it may not, seem to have lasted forever.

But then at fifty, see how I jumped there, because the older you get the shorter ten years can be, but now a half hour show is short, and how television is used, movies, binging, DVDs, series, makes the experience so much different.

Your memories, what actually happened, never really did. Yes, of course your dog died when you were five, and it hurt. But each year that memory is changed by who you’ve become, and who you once were is gone, and so is a vital ingredient of that memory. The person you are has no idea who you were because you have no mechanism to feel that change. All you have is memory, and because you cannot remember a password you reset an hour ago, you know memory is flawed.

            And this all gets much worse.

            You were sad your dog died and you still are sad when you remember the event. That tells you all you need to know. It’s the emotion of the event, not the event itself. You might not even recognize the dog if he walked up to you, but surely you would, because of photos and videos, but would you really know? It’s how you feel that creates memories, not the physical world. Do you remember the day of the week, what you were wearing, the hour of the day, the color of the shirt of the vet, a million details lost forever, added, deleted, forgotten, changed, but pain lingers, doesn’t it?

            Were you five? Your sister remembers you being six. Your mother remembers it happened much earlier. If you have photos or a video, you have a touchstone, something that defines the moment in a certain way, but that doesn’t mean you remember it. It simply means you have a way to identify the time.

            You can’t remember an overwhelming percentage of your life, you fight hard to remember names, you have to write down passwords, and someone from your past, you know you know that person, you went to school with them, but who in the hell are they?

            You don’t remember. You rarely do, actually. Yet you let what memories you do have to have you, to control how you feel, and to judge you.

            Let go of the past. You really do not remember it.

Take Care,

Mike

Cold

Cold. I remember cold. Maybe because I worked in the heat, played in the heat, maybe because summer was the time of being outside, swimming, doing things, I don’t remember heat, or being too hot. Cold, yeah, cold, I do remember cold. Not just the absence of heat, but the total lack of comforting warmth. The air was cold, the floor was cold, the food was cold, the surface of my skin was cold, the walk to school was cold, the sun was cold, and life was cold.

It’s too late now, to look back, like being in a car and wanting to see where you left an hour after departure. It’s gone. There’s nothing left of it at all. It never existed except in my mind.

            Someone told me, who I can’t remember, when is a mystery, and why, yeah, I get why, but they said every time you think back, open a memory, that memory is changed, polluted, obscured, and scarred by your mental touch. Who you were when that memory formed is different now. Now you are not the person who stored that memory so when you feel it, you’re going to add, or subtract, make stronger or weaker that memory, and in all of this, the memory’s original form is lost forever.

            “I want to talk,” she said, and of people, this was the one person I most wanted. She and I had dated, broken up, dated, and finally it was final.

            “Okay.”

            We walked across the parking lot of the high school, she stuck her hand in my jacket pocket, her fingers cold, mine colder, we intwined our fingers, tightly, hanging on to the only thing left between us, the tightness too much but that was all we had. The wind blew hard into our faces, and I had no idea where we might be going, just walking.

            “I’m pregnant,” she said and I felt cold.

            I swallowed hard, tried to do math in my head, tried to think of something to say, found nothing, wanted a drink.

            “It’s not yours,” she said, and her voice broke.

            She turned around, walked back towards the school, and I waked on, into the cold, and now, at this moment, I can see the image in my head of the paved parking lot, the basketball goals, the field beyond the parking lot, the dead grass, the tree line, and I wonder how much of what I remember was ever real, perhaps little of it, except for the cold.

I remember it was back in 1976, I was in high school, sixteen years old, and drinking Jack Daniels right out of the bottle, chasing it with Mountain Dew, just before the bell sounded and class began. One of the straight kids, one of those students who didn’t drink alcohol, and didn’t smoke pot, looked at me, and it was like he was seeing a snake crawl out of the earth, or maybe an alien landing here, hard to say.

“How can you stand to drink before school?” he asked.

“How can you stand not to?” I replied, and neither of us had an answer.

Of The Sun

Somewhere, in a past so distant that the human brain cannot comprehend the matter, some tiny and insignificant organism was exposed by the tide, yet survived, for being a tidal creature, it could more handle a drier environment. It needed moisture, and when the tide returned again, it was saved from desiccation. Over millions of years, the descendants of the tiny would-be land creature grew more and more tolerant of being away from the sea, and plants were born.

The sun knew nothing of this, knowing nothing of something so tiny as the earth, so far away that its gravitational pull would capture it, but not be affected in any great way. The sun spun on  away to wherever it would be guided, the earth spun around the sun, millions and millions and millions of trips around and around. Billions of creatures lived and died, dinosaurs rose and fell, species evolved or went extinct, and finally, in a space of time so incredibly tiny, so minute as to not be noticed by anything capable of notice, I arrived, and you did, too.

Here are some photos of the nearest star, captured in a moment, the descendants of the first land plant growing around us. To me, and perhaps to you too, the Live Oaks are giants, and perhaps, to them, we are but flashes of life, brief, dangerous, yet temporary.

The morning starts cold, the sun trekking Her way towards the north now, longer days, yet not warmer, not yet. The light slashes through the darkness, feeding the trees, giving heat to the earth, brightening the sky, and I am there to see this, as I am wont to do, very early to greet the sun.

In some way, every living creature is kin to all others, to the first, to the last, to all who were and all who are, and all who will be. The sun spins, spiraling to a tune that lives inside us, too, as we make our way to wherever it is we go.

I greet the sun early, as I am wont to do. The light of the day begins like a liquid, flowing into the spaces it can, then overflowing to the rest of the earth, and into the sky. I greet you too, fellow beings, kin of the first creatures, survivors of your spins around the star nearest to us all.

Enjoy your day, of light and warmth if you have it, and if you do not, may the next spin of the earth, bring you a moment in the sun.

Take Care,

Mike

The Light of Fog

Jessica Elizabeth heads into mom’s room after breakfast but Budlore Amadeus wants to go out. An odd species of weather sits over Hickory Head, directly above the stars blaze, but water droplets like rain fall from the branches of the trees, and when I turn the flashlight on the beam of light is home for thousands, maybe even millions, of tiny specks of floating water. Bud has disappeared into the wet darkness, and where he had gone, and why is wants to go there, will never be known.

The Big Dipper high in the sky, is clearly visible, but the fog hides the woods, the world quiet except for the sound of water dripping from the trees, and for thousands of years, maybe even millions of years, before humans, this sound was one of the loudest any animal might hear, other than thunderstorms.

This water, these water molecules, hydrogen and oxygen, do these individual molecules last millions of years? Could they have seen the dawning of dinosaurs, the extinction of those dominant beasts, and now watch as humans destroy themselves? Is water eternal? Are the tiny droplets I inhale in the darkness those same particles who have passed through the lungs of a T-Tex? Did a Stegosaurus, whose species died off into extinction long before the T-Rex arrived, breathe this same fog?

Budlore makes no sounds in the woods that can be heard, but he’s been out there for half an hour now, and light begins to seep into the edges of the woods, and the sky is becoming more defined. My clothes feel cooler, heavier, as they absorb the moisture in the air, that which is dry becomes wetter, that which is wet becomes drier, that which is darkness becomes lighter, that which is light becomes darker, somewhere, someone watches the sunset right now.

I hear Budlore now, running at speed, he realizes I’m on the deck, and he leaps onto the wooden boards and heads for the door. Whatever it was is no longer holds his interest, and Bud returns home again. He rubs noses with me, a greeting as older than language, touching faces, exchanging breath and moistures, and then he heads for a morning nap.

My compulsion is just as you see, to write, to put into symbols this dawn, that dogs, the water, the trees, and light of the stars, from which we are all made.

Take Care,

Mike

Jessica Elizabth, Sam Elliot, and House Cleaning.

Last night began innocently enough, with a dream that Jessica Elizabeth, had gotten on the bed and was sleeping beside me. All through the night I could sense her being there, until I woke up this morning and she wasn’t.

The scene shifted. I was in an old west setting, with an honest to dog posse, on horses, with cowboy hats, .41 long barrels, and we were in an abandoned town looking for some bad guy that had done some bad things. The man riding next to me was trying to get something out of his pocket and a finger got stuck.

“Cut it off! Cut it off!” he gasped in pain.

“Got to cut quick fore it turns black,” someone else said.

I reached over with my knife and cut a small slit in the pocket and freed the man’s finger. Everyone was impressed, and the man thanked me, over and over, for saving his finger.

Sam Elliot (yes, really) eased over and said, “Don’t know if I would have taken that sort of chance, but good job.”

Then I was talking to a friend of mine. I haven’t seen her since 2004, and she wanted to get paid for cleaning my house. We agreed on a price of seven thousand dollars. So, this morning, when I woke up, I started worrying that I owed her seven grand. It took Wrex wanting to start the ritual of early morning petting to bring me to full awake.

Take Care,

Mike

Zebras in the Grocery Store.

The Christmas crowds are finally gone from the grocery stores, and the roads. A brief yet smaller wave of people who are not usually in the way will appear this weekend, disappear, and then we’ll be fine until Memorial Day, when the summer crowds begin. But for now, things are almost normal on the roads.

The parking lot of the store is free of the frantic frenzy of the holidays, and I scan the area, looking for free roaming humans. I try to get from the truck to the door without having to come in contact with people, and it’s strange no one else I know does this. I can’t control what happens at the door, but getting there, yes. I can avoid people to a large degree. Where I always park is key to this. I can go in three different directions, three paths, depending on where people are.

The panhandlers like to set up just south of the entrance. I make sure none are around because approaching from the south is the shortest way to go. Otherwise, I head north and cut back in, or go in at an angle sort of north by northeast. Once inside, there’s little to do but adjust quickly but not too quickly, or it turns into a game of pinball.

The aisles of the grocery store cause choke points, and shoppers who are blissfully unaware of their surroundings make it worse. I can go all the way around someone causing a jam in the middle of the soup aisle before they can figure out there’s a problem and move. Children are the worst, for they are the product of people who lack situational awareness, so they have no idea it exists, much like the kids who have never seen a blacksmith or a miller.

If human beings were magically turned into zebras on the Serengeti, the first lion to charge the herd could simply stop and wait. All of the zebras would run into one another, fight over who was going to be first, deliberately interfere with others, and some would just stand and stare off into space. In the wild, human beings would be extinct in about three days.

Take Care,

Mike

Last night was filled with garden variety anxiety dreams.

The metallic sound, repetitive, sharp and rhythmic was familiar, personal, and somewhere being awake and sleep, dreaming, hallucinating, dying, that point where anything that can be defined, I realized it was the sound of a wedge being hammered into firewood in order to split it. One of the chores I had when I was growing up. I don’t remember being warm. I don’t remember comfort. I remember the sound of the maul’s flat head hitting the wedge, driving it deeper, tearing the wood open, breaking it into pieces, so it would be easier to burn.

With most of the country in some sort of surreal deep freeze on Christmas morning, remember that each car accident requires law enforcement, EMT’s, 911 operators, Emergency Room doctors and nurses, road crews to clean up the debris, wrecker operators to move the cars and trucks, firemen to put out fires, electric company people to repair damage to poles, and none of these people will be home for Christmas morning.

In the meanwhile, somewhere out there is a young man or woman, who is wearing a uniform for the first time on Christmas and they are far, far, away from those they love. Or it might be someone who has been in uniform for years, who is once again missing their family today.

Those who go out and do things we do not see, those who serve this country, those men and women who have jobs that keep our world running the way we like it, are rarely thanked, but to those who love them, at this time of year, they are always missed.

Merry Christmas, to all who are out in the cold, or in a uniform, of who are performing some task so the rest of us my travel more safely.

And to those people, and their families, too, Thank You!