The question of the day is would you rather be a turtle or a snail, not to be sung to any melody by Paul Simon. Think carefully, for one day the question will have real impact and you will get your answer with a permanence that merits the most careful consideration. Today may or may not be that day. And please note, your choice is snail or turtle, not a land tortoise, so longevity shouldn’t come into play at all. So, yes, it all comes down to this, some child may try and grab you and put you in a glass terrarium and try to make a vegetarian of you or people will moan, seeing your tail and imagine you served with shallots In a small pond of melted butter.
It is an admittedly odd sign of my age that I recall clearly when bathrooms were tiled mostly in monochrome, black and white, and it was a mark of quality when each tile was hexagonal, a hive of ceramic cells, impenetrable.
Now tiles are square or rectangular, come in a rainbow of colors, often intermixed to achieve looks unimaginable back in my youth, and walls a painted with any color you can imagine, not the eighteen shades of white from which my parents had the choice for our new house.
But change can be for the better, and in proof of that you need only look around and see that bathroom fixtures are mostly white, occasionally black, not sickly green or peach, and, thank the gods, no one has avocado appliance these days.
He’d been searching for ever, or so often seemed, for no-self, and he couldn’t fathom why it was so difficult to attain simple absence, nothing must be less than something, after all. He knew, like Sisyphus, he would continue to search until he succeeded, the gods of his soul decreed it and you don’t fuck with them. It was difficult recalling how much time had been wasted in the search for mirrors and when he found one, looked, there he was selfsame, self-filled, and he imagined, selfish. He took to always carrying a hand mirror and when he thought he might have found it he glanced at the polished surface in his hand and there he’d still be, his endless self older now, but there, very much still there. One day, frustration getting the better of him he wandered deep into a massive forest, hours later sitting on a fallen trunk, he reached for his mirror, gone. There was tree and sky and earth, that was all, as night enveloped everything, even his no-self.
When it’s time, i suppose I’d like to go like my dog and cat, slipping away as they were gently stroked. It could be like that, there’s a chance but I can’t count on it, no one can. I never did try skydiving, too late, now and so a failed or fouled chute won’t be my fate and the closest I came to auto racing was a weekend at Bondurant and my skill limited my career to local road rallying in college, and few die in under-powered Opels. Maybe I’ll know my end is near, and maybe not but it won’t be in a blaze of glory and my ashes will sit on some mantle because only those of the famous, like Richie Havens, get spread from the plane over Woodstock. But, then again, none of that will be my problem, so screw it.
The single greatest problem In writing about death Is that everybody does it, dies Sooner or later, so it’s hardly All that special unless, like Twain, it happens more than once. But perhaps multiple deaths are not All that uncommon, for Buddhists, Among whom I count myself It happens all the time, karma demands it. And if I had any doubt, Google will confirm it. I, for instance, died the seasoned lawyer in Calgary in 2009, the trade I practice for 36 years, And I ironically died on my birthday In 2011 in Palm Beach Gardens, though I’ll be damned if I felt 84 then, and I kicked bucket in 1754 in Orbach, France But I’ve never been a real fan of the French although it is my next best language And when the wine is good, it’s great.
We bow our heads and utter words not to the cicada speaking through a spring night or the beetle crawling slowly across the leaf searching for the edge. We bid the crow silent, the cat mewling his hunger, just to crawl under a porch awaiting morning, the child to sleep. The stream flows slowly by, carrying a blade of grass and the early fallen leaf.
The real question, the true heart of the matter, is whether this is the first day of a new year, as she believes, or merely the day after the last day of the year, as he would have it. They have this discussion once each year, and they never resolve it for eventually they grow tired, and the day is gone before they do. They promise to conclude the next time around, but by then they will have forgotten most of their history and will grasp the novelty of the old argument anew.