March 24, 2014 — I found a dead dog on my front lawn this morning. It was a prematurely born puppy, gray on top, white underneath, about the size of my index finger. Some neighbor’s dog dropped it. I wonder if they know. I wonder how it got onto my lawn. The corpse was stiff. Maybe the wind blew it there. I blessed its little soul, reverently picked it up, shrouded in a paper towel, and gently laid it in a trash bag.
Another unfulfilled beginning. A life not to be. I want a dog. But, this wasn’t going to be the one. I would get a rescue dog. I cannot afford to maintain a dog, though, presently. So, I content myself enjoying others’ dogs and Wallie-sitting for my friend’s white Bichon Poo. He has a personality worth five dogs. He was with me recently for a week. I told him to jump up on the couch so I could brush him. He stood on the floor opposite me, all four feet firmly planted, and looked at me:
“Come on, jump up!” I encouraged him.
“Come on, jump up! Right here,” I said, cheerily, patting the couch.
His eyes got squinty. The more I encouraged him, the squintier his eyes got, until they were slits. And then the corners of his mouth turned down. He looked like a little old man standing there, squinty eyed, mouth turned down, peering at me. Maybe he was rehearsing for his YouTube video debut.
Finally, he jumped up and I hugged him. He got brushed, and then we went for a walk. He chased two dachshunds, pulling the leash free from my unsuspecting hand, one chihuahua; and when we got home to my backyard – well, we almost weren’t going to have an Easter Bunny this year. Fortunately, I spotted the bunny first, under the hedge, so I got a good grip on the leash; Wallie dashed after the bunny, with me on the trailing end. The bunny escaped into my neighbor’s yard.
Another unfulfilled beginning. No rabbit for dinner. A life to be continued.
I am a note taker. I take notes of all business phone calls, just as I do a telephone conversation with someone about whom I plan to write a magazine or newspaper profile. I keep a writer’s notebook – observations, metaphors, poetic phrases, conversations overheard, thoughts to develop into essay, blog post or the great American novel…. I keep a file of expositions, undeveloped pieces, my Unfinished Symphonies. I write things down. Beyond his notebooks, F. Scott Fitzgerald kept lists. I used to. I don’t so much anymore; too much screen time – I leave much unread on my computer – emails, friends’ blogs, and yet still cannot get away within my self-set time limit.
Joan Didion wrote, “The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one. … Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.” (“On Keeping a Notebook.” –From Slouching Towards Bethlehem)
A friend defined writing as a constant arrangement and rearrangement of words, unworthy of meaningful truth from a spiritual perspective, and told me I should stop writing. Hmm…. What would I do with my life, I wondered, visualizing myself ending my days staring vacuously into the distance. This friend soon reversed that dictate on my writing, but held that while I write well for the public, my emails to this person carry a passive-aggressive tone. Well, then, I am not writing well enough, for that is not true. Why take that tone, or play that mind game? That would be a waste of time. I haven’t got the energy. It’s enough chasing a dog chasing a rabbit; I cannot chase a train of passive-aggressive thought. I prefer to ride the straightforward approach. What a tangled web we weave, go ’round with circumstance; someone show me how to tell the dancer from the dance. –The Eagles, “Saturday Night.”
Some individuals’ sense of self is so big they cannot see the truth. They get caught in themselves. I am not immune to this. I do try to take a prismatic view, though. When I have difficulty with the perspective, I review it with my Cabinet of Superthinkers – friends with whom I surround myself who are smarter than I. (And, look, I would appreciate your refraining from pointing out here that this is not a far reach.)
The friend on the passive-aggressive train was looking at me squinty-eyed, mouth downturned. This is not the only friend who has misapprehended me in the past 18 months. Why had this not occurred earlier in my life? These friends obstinately hold that I am not telling the truth; I cannot convince them otherwise. It’s become a trend. I think it’s become a societal trend. There’s the young woman who got a new boss who told her that at 7 a.m. she had to be at the store where she works to unlock the doors. “But I have children to get off to school,” said the young woman. The new boss replied with finality, “I have trouble getting up early, too.” Which of us is the controller? I prefer egalitarianism. Some may not believe me.
I suppose this element of superficiality, self-centeredness has been a part of the human condition since way before the Etruscans were the new kids on the block; this element of disbelieving the truth – this is why we have Easter. And, no doubt throughout the disquieting tolling of the corporeal end, had smart devices existed, people in the crowd would be taking selfies rather than observing the actual bearing of events.
Why can’t we reach each other? It’s trendy to give no thought to fulfillment, completion. Dash off a text, misspelled. Your recipient can read it tonight, face aglow in the dark, as is light reflected off the face of the moon. Who cares about reaching the green light across the bay?
F. Scott Fitzgerald, in The Great Gatsby, used the green light at the end of Daisy and Tom Buchanan’s dock to symbolize that desire always beyond reach: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
“The truth is that I really do love you, yet it is the curse of my nature that I can desire but not possess beauty. It must always be just out of reach.” I don’t know that Oscar Wilde actually said this, but he did to British actress Lillie Langtry in the TV miniseries, Lillie.
There are times I wonder if I should write, if I have anything worthwhile to say, if anyone is interested, if anyone will read my words.
The act of writing completely precludes me from all else. So, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, I fear the world is going by without me. Recently, my thoughts have been as dense and as scattered as the mist blown off the tops of whitecaps on a blustery day. It’s been tricky trying to navigate the course of one thought in words. So I keep a log.
I flee superficialities, narrow-mindedness, and dogma – the only constant is change, it’s never the same twice – like Leo Tolstoy ran from churches and fled his family and followers; he boarded a train. He didn’t reach the end of the line. He died at a remote station en route.
I’m simply trying to reach the green light at the end of the dock before sunset.