All Souls Day just came and went. That's the day that the Catholic Church and some other denominations set aside to honor the dead. It's a day of prayer, reflection and it's not necessarily a day of remorse and sadness although it could be. All Souls Day, or the Day of the Dead as it's also known can actually be quite festive in a spooky halloweenish sort of way as it's honored in Latin America and some Latin neighborhoods here. Anyway All Souls Day spurred me on to think about what else? Death! Actually, my own death and what I could do to make it more enjoyable, and by that I mean more enjoyable for me!
First I'm going on the assumptions that I will sort of somehow sense when death is imminent and my soul will be allowed the traditional 4 1/2 minutes to hover over the room right after I pass on. That's when the fun begins!
I'll need a "death kit", and I'll have one ready. The "death kit" is the shoebox full of crap that I'll carefully litter my bed with. These are the things the nurse or unlucky family member will see when they discover my demise. Let's see......I'll want a penny whistle, maybe a farmers almanac, a pair of needle-nosed pliers, a topographical map of Bolivia, maybe a pack of firecrackers, a recipe for New England clam chowder and a ticket to the drag races. Oh, and I'll be clutching an American flag, preferably one with 48 stars although that might be asking a little too much. I've gotta be reasonable. A good added touch or two would be a pogo stick tucked away under the bed and some empty D-Con boxes in the garbage. Yes, I think all of that would do the trick, and by "trick" I mean it would make the explanation of how they found me pretty spectacular and frankly hard to believe. A damn big fat lie! But why?
Now next there has to be a note, or notes. I want to leave one at my bedside that basically says nothing or at least only address superficial problems that may occur tomorrow at latest, something like "There's a coupon for 50%-off a family-size bag of Doritos in my top dresser drawer" or "The air looked low in your front driver-side tire, but I could be wrong about that. I'm dead now, you know?" Also, I have to leave a more serious note somewhere to be found later. I'm thinking "The money is under the seat of the swiveling captain's chair in the back of my Dodge van. It should be plenty to sustain you for a long, long, time" Now the joke is that by now the long gone van has either been crushed for scrap metal or is hauling illegals across Baja Mexico . There would be no names and no dates. I would just finish it with "Who could have thought one night in Paducah could end like that?"
I'm not making plans for my funeral or my estate. I figure those things just have a way of working themselves out, right? I do want one thing in the announcement for the service: "In lieu of flowers please stock his pond" I'm laughing already as I picture a scene weeks down the road when a well meaning person says to my wife "I sure am sorry to hear about your husband" and through tear filled eyes my wife says to them "Did you stock his pond?" and they have to sheepishly reply "no".
Well anyway that's how I imagine it. Tomorrow is All Saints Day. Maybe then I'll think about something else.
I walked across the yard, entered the dirt path that lead through the cane break and came out on the other side facing the tidal creek. I trod on down the bank to the short ramp that extended 10 feet or so over the edge of the water. I had not built the ramp. I supposed the previous owners had. Maybe it was for docking a boat although the water only rose high enough for the ramp to really be useful at certain hours of the day. That was o.k. though, for I only used the ramp for thinking. I usually took a fishing rod with me although my line often never entered the water. I sat on the edge of the ramp and watched a leaf fall from a tree and slowly begin a travel towards the tidal basin. I pondered the futility of spring growth and how at this time of year when you can sense that the winds are going to shift soon and the temperature will begin its slow gradual drop that the life around you will soon shift and drop as well, give up and let go and surrender to the dark the damp and the cold. I watched the water slowly carry the leaf away. Warm, wet, flexible and inviting, drawing you towards it, making you stare at it from a distance, inviting a glance, inviting a visit, sharing your thoughts. I thought about the ice I would soon scrape from my windshield. It would be cold, solid, ugly, a trick of nature. The same water as before only now hardened, cold, an added weight to whatever was unlucky enough for it to cling to. My life was caught between the moving water and the thin ice. I was slowly being frozen with anxiety and stress. It was then that I first had the thought. I was mindful that there can be no action without there first being a thought and so I knew that the thought was the beginning of the action. I was in fact beginning the action by just having the thought. Where, when, how, what tools, what method? Alibi? Excuse? Plans? Logistics? I then begin to think of many things. My mind became a buzz-saw with splinters and shards flying in all directions. Slow down. Must have a time-line. Planning is essential. Poker face at all times. Don't tell a soul. Don't let on. Just sing "Happy times are here again". Create my "happy time". Plan it, think it, DO IT!
It was then I had the next thought. It was exactly at 6:39 on October 30th, 2021 when that thought occurred. I looked at my watch. I knew the time and date would be important to me later. I thought of my work shop and of the table I had been crafting. More precisely I thought of the table leg that I had finished on the lathe, how it resembled a human leg, narrow at the bottom like an ankle, fat at the top like a calve.....or a Samoan war club. The table leg was about three feet in length. My arms also are about three feet in length. That's six feet of distance between me and the hollow thud that was inevitable. Plans, logistics, where, when, how?
I picked up my fishing rod and climbed the creek bank and started back through the cane break. Winter was going to come on whether I liked it or not. I thought about what was in my basement. A fine piece of mahogany wood.
Lately there has been several people that I know rather personally that have developed some serious illnesses. It's been a year of unexpected medical problems and a year of people looking their own mortality squarely in the eyes. Reflecting on this fact caused my mind to wander even farther and my memory drifted to a funeral that I attended about three years ago. Actually I was more of a participant than an attendee. I was asked to be a pall bearer for the service of an elderly man at our church that had passed away from natural causes perhaps but really more than that, from age. The man was probably in his nineties. I had witnessed this man month after month and for years take his seat at the right-hand end of the front and center row during the eight A.M. mass service. I imagined him to be a quiet, godly man, a mannered man, a man I expected to be there forever I suppose. Well it turns out he wasn't there forever. He died, as all people do, and now I was helping to bury him. I didn't know his name until I heard it during the service. I was sorry about that. Now I'm not going to launch into a lecture about how we should all appreciate our neighbor and get to know them before it's too late. That's probably never going to happen. The thing I can't get out of my mind is that after the cemetary gathering when we pall bearers were all talking about him one of the guys just casually mentioned that this guy had been a personal secretary to Douglass McArther during the war. Someone else verified that statement. I was floored! What I wouldn't have given to have know this, to have sought him out for conversation. So I guess my message here is that what the General said in his famous speech at West Point really is true: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away". That's true for old soldiers. That's true for old friends. That's true for everything living. When we ignore people we miss a lot. I helped bury a piece of living history, but maybe that's not all. I buried a quiet, well-mannered, godly man. I don't know if that fades away nearly as fast. I sure hope it doesn't.
'm watching the 1964 classic "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians" and of course my mind begins to wander away from the plot (yes it had a plot....at least somewhat). It seems that the Martians are upset their children have become obsessed with T.V. shows from earth that extol the virtues of St. Nick and the Martian leaders send a group to earth to kidnap Santa. I'm not sure how that's going to help anything, but trust me, that's the plot.
Now the fun begins, at least for me, when I start picking apart the weirdness in this film. These Martians carry around ray guns that look exactly like blow dryers and I'm puzzled not because they're apparently armed with hair care appliances but because the movie is so old that I don't think hand-held blow dryers were in wide spread use in 1964, so I guess in a sense the movie really is futuristic at least in that way. Next I notice that the invaders appear to be wearing leather football helmets and I'm starting to get sort of pissed because I have always wanted one and these clowns appear to have found the motherlode. The leader of the group "Vulgar", pronounced "Vul-Gar" is a black guy with a bushy fu-manchu that seems to have come straight out of one of those blaxploitation films. I mean it's Fred "The Hammer" Williamson as "Vul-Gar" or at least it could be. The body-hugging outfits these guys wear is adorned with symbols such as the moon and stars, the atomic symbol and oddly enough, if you stare closely, a crucifix. It's good to know the King James Old Testament is alive and well on Mars sometime in the future. Pia Zadora was in the movie and she's hot even though they had to go to extremes of the imagination to figure her into the scheme of things.
This all set me to thinking about science fiction outer space movies in general. Do you ever notice that the people in the movies always wear the hairstyles that prevail at the time the movie was made even though it's supposed to take place far in the future? Ever notice the aliens seem to like to wear that stretchy polyester material? In the future we are going to realize all that stuff about healthy breathable cotton fabric was just a bunch of unenlightened bullshit. Good to know. Do you notice that often the aliens , especially in the older movies are just like earthlings except with one ugly feature that sets them apart? The alien will look just like Cary Grant for example except maybe he'll have really big ears or a bulbous forehead or an extra arm sticking someplace it shouldn't be. The women from space all have incredible figures but might have a crazy looking set of eyes or maybe even an extra eye. Furthermore, there are no fat or flat chested women in outer space. It's an intergalactic law of nature.
My final thoughts on "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians" and si-fi outer space movies in general and then a helpful tip for viewing these movies: Are we really supposed to believe that the Martian kids were sitting around all day watching American T.V. shows? I mean, come on, there were only three channels back then! And my tip: Watch the feet. Look at the footwear. In the really older movies (think black and white and cinemascope era), the wardrobe departments didn't pay a lot of concern to the shoes these guys wore. You see there wasn't a lot of full length close up shots and certainly very little panning to the feet of the extras in the crowds. You'll see people from Mars and everywhere else wearing whatever they left the house with. Army boots, sneakers, wing-tips, you name it, it's all in the crowd.
Oh, and one more tip: Don't watch old movies with me. I'll drive you crazy with this very kind of stuff. It's a disease or affliction of some sort. I just can't help it. Enjoy your popcorn.
The scene began when my old aunt Mildred called and ask if I'd come over and get her dog and bird for safekeeping over the weekend while she was gone to Hot Springs with a couple of friends . It seemed simple enough, just take both animals to my house on Friday night and she would come pick them up late Sunday afternoon.
I first must explain a little bit about Mildred. Mildred met my now deceased uncle Alvin in college long, long ago and at the time processed just enough looks to charm the guy that she had hand-picked for his future potential and possibilities. So she snares this timid and unassuming soul not so much because of lightening-bolt love but because she was a shrewd young lady and saw the future of a young man that was soon to hold a chemical engineering degree as a means to achieve her lifelong dream that she envisioned and cherished even at that tender and early age. A dream apparently of living alone without really having to worry about where the next meal was coming from and playing bridge with other old ladies twice a week and meeting for lunches in hotel restaurants with names like "Scruples" and " Cross City Café". Well, that may not all be entirely true, but that's how it looked to me. Mildred seemed to bloom in her own sort of way the year after Alvin died and she never looked back. I've never seen somebody so eager and willing to plant a corpse and head to the house as old aunt Mildred, but like I said that's just how it looked to me. So that leads me to now. You see I've sort of become of late, the second button on Mildreds life alert bracelet, the next number on her speed dial after 911. I'm sort of 912, or the number to call for "little emergencies" like tearing down a wasp nest, or in this case, keeping her dog and her bird for the weekend.
When Mildred introduced me to her doggie, a dachshund by breed, as her "dash hound", I politely supplied her with the correct way to pronounce the breed name so as to save her a little embarrassment in case she ever ran across somebody that might have a lick of sense to which she immediately replied "Oh, my. Well then it looks like I've committed a faux pas" which she pronounced "fox - paw". With this, I gathered the "dash hound" ( named Toby) and the mangy old bird (Taco) and headed to my house.
The hound was on his best behavior; just no trouble at all. He just did what a good dog does. He scouted out the house, ate his fill, curled up on the floor atop a throw pillow I had put down for him and went to sleep watching T.V. Actually that's the kind of thing I like to do too, so we got along well.
The bird went hay-wire as soon as we walked in the door. This was no ordinary bird. It was an African Grey Parrot. Now I've read that some of these fowl can live 100, 200, maybe even 250 years. Didn't mean much to me until I had to spend the night with one of em". This thing never shut up. He immediately started spewing forth the most vile and disturbing stream of free-flow bull shit I had heard in a long time. Mimicking stuff ( at least I hope he was mimicking) from the side streets of Lisbon, curse words from the sewers of Paris crap he heard on boats, in church lobbies, on trains. This thing had apparently been around the block a few times. In his life time I imagine this damn bird had probably been traded for seal skins, lowered into a mine or two, witnessed domestic quarrels, bar fights and probably a steam locomotive. Throughout the night, and the next day, and the next night he just kept talking and talking and talking. He talked about bawdy wenches and bloody whores, he talked about prize cattle, puffy clouds, and some boy named Billy. He threw in a squawk and a whistle here and there, he mimicked some ones' laughter, and stopped just long enough to catch his breath then would light right back in with "Tacos' a pretty bird" "Yes he is!" Sometimes he'd say "Mercy...merrrrcy! " or "Close the door!" then again..."Tacos a pretty bird" "Yes he is!"
Now this crap went on until I realized that I was never going to get to sleep so I covered the cage with a sheet and turned the thermostat down thinking that might take a little of the sass out of him, but it just didn't seem to faze him a bit.
I awoke the next morning to sounds coming from the cage that best as I could guess sounded like some kind of Choctaw threats or curses "Yalo-re-ma- tubbie" "Re-ma-ha-ish- tibbie!"
Well after about 30 solid hours of sleep deprivation, I'll be damned if I didn't start to like or at least appreciate his attitude. I began to think that maybe I was starting to "get" where he was coming from. This "Taco" bird....and keep in mind that "Taco" was just his name for the time being, hell this thing had probably had 4 dozen names over the years, ….this "Taco" had probably been through hell and high water only to end up on a table in a cage listening to Mildred and her "fox paws" for the last years of its miserable life. Staring out the window onto a subdivision and looking in the other direction at a dog that would rather sleep than eat. Hell, I thought about just killin' it right then and there. But I didn't....
And the next day Mildred came by to pick the animals up. I said "Does this bird not keep you awake all night" "How do you get any sleep"? And she said " All Taco ever does is flutter his wings and sometimes he says "Tacos a pretty bird" And I said "Oh. well. Did you have a good time in Hot Springs"? She then asked "Thanks so much. If the need ever arises do you want to keep them again sometime"? "I'm so glad I have a nephew like you. You're the best!" I said "Sure, any time. I'd be glad to."
Spent some time at 4:30 this morning reading about Tuscumbia. Tuscumbia was the old Chickasaw Chief, or maybe he was actually a shaman or rain-maker. He's described various ways by various people. One thing I know for sure is that he lived in this part of the country in the late 1700's and early 1800's near present day Tuscumbia Alabama and later moved to a spot just south of Biggersville Ms. where he lived out the remainder of his life. I happen to know where Tuscumbia ended up because as a boy I can remember the large stone marker up the hill and a short piece off the highway. This was highway 45 back when it was still a 2-lane. The marker was moved when the highway was widened. I don't know where the marker and the man was moved to, but I'm sure I'll find out sooner or later. I know the family that owns the land. The land is a family farm and it's been in their hands for 100 years or more. The actual grave was moved once when the family built their house on the site. He's (Tuscumbia) still around there somewhere. In time Tuscumbia has lent his name to a city in Alabama, a city in Oklahoma, a mountain in Alabama, a river in Mississippi. "Tuscumbia" is a close adoption of his original Chickasaw name which in their language meant "The Warrior Who Kills". The Chickasaw were a war-like tribe that carried out raids of other tribes as far away as Indiana and Illinois. They had a reputation for not wishing to work the land like their neighboring tribe the Choctaws but instead got by thru hunting and raiding. Tuscumbia had his own reputation even among his peers as being basically one crusty and spiteful, bloodthirsty old bastard. One of the meanest of the bunch.
The thought that hangs in my mind as I read this stuff at 4:30 on a Sunday morning is about how fate and the passing of time can eventually give you the finger and basically tell you to take a hike. This guy was more or less the "assistant king" of a tribe that ruled roughshod over North Alabama and Mississippi for time untold and now few people even know who he was. Even a fewer number even care. Does the medicine man hear the rumble of the diesel trucks at all hours of the day and night? Does his spirit ever wander down the highway to hand around the Citgo station? Could he be pissed-off for all eternity that the Treaty of Pontotoc is no longer being honored, or remembered or discussed? Yep, fate can sure "shoot the bird" to the famous, the proud, the spiteful, the bloody... ….and even "The Warrior Who Kills".
I spend a lot of time thinking "Whats my problem? What's wrong with me?" To be honest, maybe not a lot of time. Actually to be totally transparent, maybe I really just thought that once, but I did think it, and once was enough because the answer came to me right away. I need a segue. I need the music playing in the background of my life to introduce a new scene, exit me out of a situation, announce my arrivals and departures. I got the idea from television. That's where much of my wisdom originates. See, I'm talking about bumper music and maybe add a laugh track for added measure. I need something for when I enter a room, come on the scene. I'm not talking "Hail To The Chief", or "Here Comes The Bride" or even "Pomp And Circumstance", hell, not even "Another One Bites The Dust", but just something unique for me. I also could use something that signals when my thoughts are changing from one thing to another. As it stands, my comments are often met with a "deer in the headlights" look or sometimes a response such as "What the hell's the matter with you? There are times that I say something so profoundly intelligent and deep that the receiving party just matches my well thought out statement with nonsense. For example : ME: "Someone told me that I'm dumb to kind animals" THE LISTENER : "Gorp!" There are also times that some canned laughter in the background could come in handy. I might say something like "Sally, you have not changed a bit since high school, except of course you appear much older and seemed to have gained a lot of weight". At times like this some well-timed laughter would alert the listener that I said something funny and not something vicious or stupid. Maybe one of those studio audience groans might come in handy, maybe a long "Oooooooooh!" I would then know that now's the time to deliver my tag-line or catch phrase. Maybe it could be something like "Dyn-O-Mite!" or "Yabba-Dabba-Doo!" I'll work on it. So, what you now need to know is that if you walk into a restaurant, a church, or even a home or parking lot and you see electric signs about that say "APPLAUSE", or "LAUGH", or maybe "GROAN" you'll know that I'm probably around. Heed the signs. Feel free to do a "walk-on". Bring your own catch phrase. Now it's time for "Exit. Stage left".
It had been a very long day at work and I was glad to finally be finished with it. I didn't let the swinging door hit me on the way out of the building. During the drive home I had the impulse to stop at a local bar/restaurant and wet my whistle a bit before heading on to the house.
I proceeded to do exactly that and moments later I materialized at the bar and was chatting with a few people I knew and probably an equal number that I didn't. This went on smoothly for an hour or so until this lady at the bar started to grate my nerves. You have probably been around the type: mid-forties, overly made-up, proud, vain.....but the main thing is that she never shut up. It was all about her travels, her job, her boyfriends, her car, her everything. I'm now developing that mix of fatigue mingled with loathing that makes 1 hour past the work day a dangerous time for personal interaction. An idea suddenly occurs to me. It's a flash of brilliance really. I grab her by the hair and start dragging her from the bar, through the restaurant, through the kitchen, towards the office. "A witch! A witch! We've got a witch! We've found a witch! It's a witch!" Oddly, 2 or 3 patrons (mostly from the bar) joined in. "Burn the witch", "We've got a witch" "There's a witch among us" . We arrived uninvited at the restaurant Managers office and I slung her towards his desk. "We've found a witch on your premises sir!" "What shall we do with her?"
The Manager eyed me with surprise and perhaps a bit of a puzzled look began to come over him. His face began to turn red and I'm thinking "This guy must hate a witch just as much as I do". He then asked "Why do you say she's a witch?" I reply, " Well I've seen her take the form of a cat" The Manager replied "A cat!" "Have you finally lost your freakin' mind?" And I said.....well....well...eh, "Maybe I didn't exactly see it, but I know she HAS a cat, a great big one! And...I've never seen 'em together. And....and...and she turned me into a newt. That's right, she turned me into a newt I say!" "Turned you into a newt? Are you kidding me?" I could sense that he was mulling it over. Probably trying to arrive at a just and fair decision. That could be the reason for the delay. The Manager then motioned the lady from the room by a gesture from his hand at which time she bolted out the door like some kind of animal that was being released into the wild. "Have a seat over there" he says to me. So I did. In a straight chair. Shortly thereafter a couple of men came and walked me to the front door which served the establishment as both the entrance and the exit. For me it was the exit. I don't recall the exact words as they spoke their quaint and colorful languages, but I sensed that they felt that perhaps I should never return, that it might be best and less trouble for everybody if I just never came back..
Here I was thinking that maybe Salem in 1682 might have been a good idea and that maybe I could start a ground swell of movement to bring it back. There certainly are more witches today then ever. I see them everywhere. Seemed like an easy fix to an old problem. I guess I was wrong. Oh well.
So now I'm driving towards home again and I see blue flashing lights in my rear mirror. I pull to the road side and a city policeman immediately approaches. "Sir, were you not aware of the red light you just went through" he asks. I reply to him that "Yes. I'm always aware when I operate heavy machinery", "Sometimes I'm even in a state of heightened awareness as it can be very dangerous. I try to live in reality at all times". "Will that be all?" "Thanks". He seemed to be bothered by this revelation. Perhaps he mulling it over . Maybe he was trying to apply my words to to his own life. Maybe he was just taking in a moment of quiet reflection. I soon figured out that what was really happening was that he was getting a bit annoyed. Pausing to give a measured and thoughtful reply maybe he then proceeded to say "Well sir, that's against the law" I took that in before responding to him. "The law?" "What law?" " I just didn't know". "How can I be held accountable for something I was never informed of?" " It's not like they hand you a policy and procedure manual when you move here" "There's a million laws" "A person can't be expected to know them all" " Who the hell signed me up for this?" I then tried to rationalize my thoughts to him, you know, reach him at his own level. That's a trick to communication I've learned over the years. So I explain: "You are in the public safety field. You know all the laws about highway safety. It's your business. Now I sell furniture for a living. I sell many mattresses. I know that it is against the law to remove the tag from a mattress and I know why. I'll bet you don't. You don't know this even though I assume you sleep on a mattress every night. What if I were to hide in your closet and wait each night until that day arrives when you remove the tag and then spring out at you and write you a ticket?" " Now you would not find that fair at all would you?" "You see, I shouldn't expect you to know my job." With this exchange I was sure that my logic had carried the day and the conversation had been laid to rest. I was wrong. "Are you drunk?", he said. I said to him in return, "I don't think so, but you know it's all just a matter of what point you start out from, isn't it?" "If a person is acting kind of crazy to begin with and he has a couple of drinks, then where does crazy end and drunk begin? See , I guess it's all a matter of degree, right?" "Your perspective and my perspective". "Right?" That was apparently wrong. He wrote me a ticket, and said he was doing me a favor by not taking me in to the station. I accepted that. I was tired.
Well I got over being tired pretty quick apparently because as I was driving by another "place" I saw a truck parked out front that I recognized as belonging to Billy Mathis. I hadn't seen Billy in a while so I thought I'd stop in and say "hello". He would like that. It was neighborly. A neighborly thing to do, right? So I stop for a while and we have a few beers. Well one thing leads to another and we're having a jolly 'ole time and at a certain point I guess the events of the evening, you know the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" started to get to me and long-story short, I upchucked on the front of my shirt out in the parking lot. I tell Billy how my wife is going to pounce on me at the front door and she already suspects that I'm some sort of maniac, How she's just not sure what sort yet, and how she's starting to believe that maybe I'm not fit material for public consumption and that maybe her "welcome home dance" will take place mostly on my head, and really that I'm now just "fit to be tied", and I don't know what to do. He has a plan to save the day. Billy says, "Look you just tell her I threw up all over your shirt". "Look, I'm sticking twenty dollars in your shirt pocket. You can pay it back whenever you see me again. You just pull the twenty dollars out as proof that it was me. You tell her I gave you that to have the shirt cleaned because I felt so bad about it and all". Well, that sounds like a plan! So I arrive at the front door and every thing is going just about as I figured, and I get to the part about the twenty dollar bill and I'm feeling good about myself, maybe even a little proud. I'm a "problem solver". Every body can appreciate that, right?
The plan works to perfection right up to the point that my wife reaches in my pocket and pulls the money out. She then says, "Why is there fifty dollars here?" "You said he gave you twenty dollars to have the shirt cleaned". Now at a loss for words I replied with the first thing that popped in my head. "Well I guess he shit in my pants too!"
Good night. It's been a long and stressful day.
I don't know why people don't seem to believe a word I say.
I am in Times Square in New York City. The area that surrounds me is a blur of motion. I am overwhelmed and in awe of the movements, the sounds of people, machines, the electricity all around me. There has to be more concrete, more cables and wires more human flesh and blood here than on any street anywhere else in the world. I stand within a stones' throw of it all. I can barely notice the sky because so much of it is blocked out by the tall buildings. As I look around I can understand at least to some extent the things I am seeing. Now I don't know how to build a skyscraper but to some degree I can understand and appreciate how others do. I have no great technical knowledge of how concrete is poured, how cars are made, or even how to maintain this large moving crowd in a civil and orderly fashion but I do have some idea of how it happens. I stop on the sidewalk and take it all in. I drop my theatre tickets and it is only as I stoop to pick them up that I notice the ant. I do not know if the ant notices me, but it's at this time, in the middle of this city jungle that my mind freezes momentarily and I consider the ant. The ant arrived here through the same path as me. His creator was my creator. He was given the tools needed to do the job he's here to do. He does not meddle in my life and I try not to meddle in his although now, for the moment I probably am meddling just a bit in his but only because I'm curious.
Like me, the ant can't build a skyscraper or wire an electric sign but that's O.K. , he really does not care . The disasters that took place nearby here on 9/11probably went unnoticed by him....not his monkey/not his show. The things that I now pause to look at in wonder might as well be the far milky-way galaxy to his world. They are so far away and out of reach that he won't strain his mind even thinking about them. What IS important to him is the tunnel he's working on at the moment. I can't diminish the importance of that tunnel any more than he can diminish the importance of the New York skyline to me. That is the difference in perception that 6 feet can make. When I am falling asleep tonight I'll think of the lights and the billboards.....he will think of the milky-way. They are one and the same.
We exist in more than one dimension and are a part of more than one reality. For all I know the earth really is flat. I can only argue that point from my own perspective. I only see my world through bent light and from narrow angles. How can I say that the ant cannot logically differ with me from his perspective? His earth is flat, at least what he knows of it, and it doesn't make him right or wrong, dumb or smart, it just makes him an ant. I must accept that the ant seemed to know just what needed to be done from day one......and I'm still trying to figure it out. I think in time the ants of this world might actually build a car if the need should ever arise to do so, and it'll be a better car than the ones we build. Could we ever build a better tunnel than the ants? I doubt it. I certainly doubt it.
I never sleep well. In fact I usually sleep 4-5 hours a night at most. It's not unusual for me to awaken to some random thought, so a couple of nights ago when I awoke with the question on my mind "Are there double-wide trailers in Mexico?" I didn't even wonder where the notion came from. However I was anxious to find out so I googled images of said trailers (in Mexico) and couldn't find any. The rugged and rocky terrain of Mexico did get me to thinking about western movies and so I started to wonder about Mark. Mark was the young son of the Lucas McCain in the T.V. series The Rifleman. In almost every episode the sheriff as a problem and rather than handle it himself he rides out to the McCain spread to enlist the aid of Lucas. Usually within 24 hours Lucas has ridden into town and gunned the "problem" down in the street like a sorry yellow dog. That's all well and good, but he usually does it right in front of Mark, and Mark is only 12 or 13 years old. I'm not sure just how mature one would have to be to not be damaged by these sights, but I'm pretty sure Mark isn't there yet.
This thought of unfit parents caused me to think about Timmy. You might remember Timmy. He was the boy from the long-running Lassie series. Where the hell did Timmy live? Every time he went out to play he fell into a well or an old abandoned mine shaft. His mother should have tied a board across his ass. Lassie was the only one that had any sense.
Now I'm getting sleepy again and I'm headed back to bed wondering why do they not have double-wide trailers in Mexico? I want to mention it to my wife but she will be irritated if I wake her for that. I know from experience.
The next day a friend explains to me that my condition has a name. It's called "Monkey Brain". I looked it up. It's real. I'm not going to spoil it for you by telling you the definition. This is now the end of the story. The end of the story unless you also have "Monkey Brain", and if so you will probably want to look it up yourself. Probably at 3 in the morning.