She sat us down this morning for a heart to heart conversation. We had mentioned the neighbors’ new dog, their second, this one little smaller than a pony. She smiled at us, but we could tell it was a false smile, something was hiding about to be set free. “That is the problem with dogs,” she said, “they come in all sizes and temperaments. You never know what to expect, except that in any weather, but mostly the kind you hate, you have to walk them, or they walk you. And loud, they all seem to come without volume controls. So be thankful you have me. Now excuse me, my litter pan beckons.”
It was the moment they said, we picked you, that I knew they had not. They thought they had to say it. They knew they shouldn’t. I was the next gumball down the chute. You put in your nickel, move the lever and wait. Actually it wasn’t quite like that. If you don’t like the color or flavor of gumball, you throw it out or give it to someone else. Spend another nickel, simple. In adoption, there was no do over. In my case as well. Well there was, actually, but if you give one back, you don’t get another unless there was a really big and hidden problem. Read the fine print, the lawyers say, adoptees come with no warranty, and you take us as is. You wouldn’t buy a car that way, would you.
The great minds in Transportation have decided that the answer to all traffic problems is simple, you replace troublesome intersections with traffic circles, but you call them roundabouts. They know that the young and wish they were in their muscle cars will avoid them like the plague, for even they cannot defeat centrifugal force, and inertia is one thing they never lack. And for the old, the plodding, either they won’t enter the circle, or will revolve around its center like a small planet bound tightly to its star marking the center, and then only after they have paused for an indeterminite period, trying to figure out how to get in, where to get out and wishing they had called Uber to begin with. And I, behind them know, I can take this time to get in a day’s meditation counting my breath.
Between now and eventually lies all of history. We are unable to see it though it lies in our field of vision. That’s the problem, we only know how to look backward. We are barely able to see where we are. It isn’t that we don’t want to be here, merely that here is difficult to see, for we have a tendency to block our vision. Imagine a map with an X or other marker saying “You are Here.” Yet seeing that we know we are not there for in that instant we will look down and see where we truly are. But the better statement to the “you are here” sign is not to call it wrong, but rather to simply ask it, how did you know. It will answer, your visit was history lying between my now and my eventually.
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.
The problem with youth isn’t that you misspend it, or even don’t appreciate it as it is happening, or even expect it to go on forever, for those would be the simplest hurdles to leap even at your now advanced age. The true problem with youth isn’t even those around you, grandchildren, high schoolers that overrun the Starbucks near campus are caught in the midst of it while all you can do is jealously watch. The ultimate problem with youth is that you recall it so well, the sights, sounds, the textures but what you did last Thursday you can’t recall for the life of you.
There is a reason for all things and therefore there is a reason for this although we cannot begin to fathom what that reason could possibly be, which may be reason enough, for reason has a twisted soul — now playful, now angry, now vengeful in irregular turns without warnings. The problem with seeking the reason for things is deeply hidden, and not as some imagine, that it is difficult; no, the problem is that the search for the reason has its own reason needing to be discovered and so recursively back to the Big Bang which still, to this day, has the ultimate undiscovered reason.