i like animals.
following, i do not submit their limbs, appendages, or innards to various methodologies of high temperatures and subsequently sink my teeth into them. in addition, i do not use pieces of their skins to cover up pieces of my skin. or my money and credit cards. or to hold up my pants for that matter.
that’s because i like animals.
you don’t do that sort of thing to things you like. at least, that’s what i think. and if you don't agree, i hope you don't like me. though it has been said i'd make a good belt.
i was riding my bike in greece.
it was gray, windy, and pregnant clouds were long overdue so it was just a matter of time until the water burst. i was, as always, dreading it.
i was raised, but not born, in lilburn, georgia. it’s near atlanta. so if you were curious, yes, i am a product of suburbia. god bless me.
as a boy, when i returned from the bus stop to my home, i walked down two hills and up one, the last one being my driveway. on the left, before i turned right to get to my backdoor, there was a dog encapsulated by a fence. the dog was not mine. it belonged to my next-door neighbors. the dog’s name was corky. he was my friend.
every afternoon, before turning right to arrive at my backdoor, i would stop, lean over the fence, and pet corky. and in that way that only a dog is capable of, every time corky saw me it was as if it were an eternally overdue reunion of two long lost friends. you couldn’t help but to be sad for such innocent and simple happiness. it was enough to make you cry. and as a boy, i cried often (an ability i have, sadly, lost).
some people felt the dog was too rambunctious, too energetic; “wild,” they’d say. but if that dog were guilty of anything, it was of an unrestrainable zest for life. i think this was due to his ignorance of impending death. even at that age, i longed for, but would never have, that ignorance. i liked corky. i did not like thinking of my impending death (though i did, and still too often do).
one time, while on my way walking down the two hills and ultimately up my driveway, i had a blowpop in my mouth. the flavor was sour apple and i had been licking it for some time patiently allowing the gum to slowly uncrust. i had yet to reach the gum. i had yet to reach corky. i had on a red backpack that was soon to be stolen (my yet-to-be-turned-in great white shark report
inside making no difference to the thief).
when i did reach corky but still not the gum, in a moment of pure mindlessness, i took the blowpop out of my mouth and let good old corky have a lick. he seemed to like it, but, as a result of his subsequent attempts to bite the blowpop, i removed it from his mouth. i liked corky but i also enjoyed the gum-decapsulation process of blowpops and i was not going to let a gluttonous dog take that away from me. after foolishly blowing on it, i returned the blowpop to my mouth and walked to my house. as it turned out, the gum was delicious, but the flavor disappointingly short-lived. everything is disappointingly short-lived if you ask me.
that evening, during those teetering moments on the brink of sleep, i had a horrible feeling well up in my gut that sour apple blowpops might not be good for dogs. and, as i still do to this day, i let little things like that grow and develop and evolve and metastasize into full blown total-body cancer. after a restless while, on the unfortunate side of the aforementioned brink, i was convinced i might have even killed corky. because this was possible, nothing could prune the thought from my mind. and, as it is with me still, the not-knowing was pushing me towards the socially unacceptable (but personally preferential) side of sanity. there was but one thing to do. i had to go check on corky.
so that night, quiet like a cat, i adroitly and stealthily descended the stairs, and, with a surprisingly high degree of satisfaction, avoided the memorized creak-causing ones. turning on no lights while indeed turning a key, i, for the first time in my life, exited my home in the middle of the night. i looked back often, each time sick with the thought i would see my mother or father standing there and the disappointment of a son i would be potentially heretofore labeled as a “dog killer.” that's a designation that would be hard to shake. i felt sick.
i did not see my father. i did not see my mother. and in an un-charmed completion to this triplet, i did not see corky. i gulped. banking on the legendary sonic capabilities of canine auricles, i let out some faint whistles and desperate whispers. nothing.
thoroughly disheartened and now convinced of my blowpop butchery, i returned to my room and began composing a letter of deep apology to my next-door neighbors regarding my felony. i began to imagine life in prison, thankfully as yet at still to tender of an age to let that imagination include things like dropped bars of soap.
as a sick twist to what i realize is now an overly long recount of events, the letter turned out so well that i was, quite unsettlingly (and thankfully incalculably fleetingly), glad i had killed the dog. for the letter, it must be said, was indeed a masterpiece. despite its cursory presence, it’s a guilt that occasionally resurfaces even to this day. i did not sleep that night. people sleep too much anyway.
with an exhaustion temporarily countered by a stomach full of raisins and bran and topped off with a grape-flavored flinstone vitamin, i shamefully left my home and began walking the path towards my neighbors' door on what i had now mentally appellated as my own personal “death row.” so you can only imagine my relief and ebullience when corky, god bless that dog, essentially jumped out of his skin upon sight of me and in a tidal wave of joy, i was reunited with not a resurrectional presence, but, quite simply, a dog that had never died. unbeknownst to me, corky slept inside. i hugged corky and apologized profusely until i realized that, as it were, i was apologizing for nothing.
previously readied for hand delivery, the now unnecessary masterpiece was tucked into my coat pocket and my thoughts were instantly diverted as to who on earth i could convince to accompany me to the now dangerously close sixth grade dance, which i never ended up attending, feigning an illness to spare the humiliation.
i did not kill corky. though he did eventually die. because that’s the one thing every thing does. the thing is, as with all things, time takes care of the "tragedy of death" for the living. i mean, think of all the people that you knew that are now dead and how "cataclysmic" and/or "sad, just so sad" it seemed at the time and how now, you probably rarely ever think of that person (though you may say things like "not a day goes by i don't think of 'so and so.'" movies teach us that we should say such things. it makes us look better in the eyes of others while inside we hate the fact that we are remiss about remembering those who have passed on.)
may god bless each and every thing that has ever died, including mosquitoes and weeds.
i never had a dog of my own. that’s a lie. our family did get a dog from our aunt and uncle, but we only had it for a very short time. i was very young; it didn’t work out. i named it. its first name was "luke." its middle name was "sky." its last name was "walker." i thought that was pretty cool at the time. hindsight lets me know it wasn’t. hindsight lets you know alot of things.
i also, incidentally, will never own a dog. it's too much responsibility and added expense and, truth be told, it's just something else that will die and cause pain. i'm weary of "something else"'s that will do this. as such, i do not need anything (and perhaps anyone) else in my life. it's enough juggling what i've got (which isn't all that much).
before we get back to greece and bike riding, and we are just about to, might i share with you this?:
1. sadness inevitably will result in happiness.
2. happiness will inevitably result in sadness.
3. anticipation of events is much better than the actuality of them.
4. it is therefore better to always be sad.
now it is time for the story i wanted to tell you.
i was riding my bike in greece. i think i was thinking of something. in fact, i’m sure of it. at the moment, i can’t recall the thought. however, if this missing piece of information is causing you anxiety (as it is me), please send me an email and i will check my journal and let you know the thought that i can not now think of.
we're all losing our minds.
sometimes, i think i am too compulsive about my journal-keeping. but it is one of my favorite end-of-day activities. i would go so far as to say it borders on meditative. so if it’s making me happy, even if it is a self-imposed compulsion in which i have knowingly and willfully imprisoned myself, it can’t be too bad for me? can it? perhaps it will lead to a day where i live in a cave with nothing but a loincloth and an arsenal of pens and notebooks in which i write things like, "i just took a breath" followed by "i just wrote that i just took a breath." actually, that would be unambiguously ideal. as long as i could somehow access bananas.
i was riding my bike in greece.
it was gray, rainy, and windy. the foregoingly mentioned unrecallable thought was in my mind. traffic was light. and then i noticed something in the corner of my eye. i focused my focus to that corner and noticed it was a dog. i hoped it would not want to attack me, but, when one really thinks about it, hoping for things is both useless and a tremendous waste of what could otherwise be well-spent time. notwithstanding, i hoped. as i observed the dog, i made a judgement call. due to the way it leaped rather than ran, and by the “look” on its face, i deemed the dog not only not a threat, but went so far as to qualify it as "friendly." perhaps hoping is not useless.
(for mathematical clarification: all positions are relative to me.) i was riding on the far right hand side of the road. the dog was on a private piece of property on the far left hand side of the road. the dog was hopping from my left directly towards me alternating its somewhat diagonal approach according to my speed. i remember thinking its gait (if you will) was more of that of a deer than a dog. the speed at which it was approaching was, in a word, impressive, but not alarming as i had already particularized the dog as amicable.
what, however, was both not impressing me and alarming me was a car. the car was approaching me, which is to say that the lane immediately to my left was empty (as there were no cars coming from behind), but the lane to the left of that left lane was indeed occupied. this occupation concerned me.
it might interest you to know that i majored in biochemistry. it wasn’t necessarily my “favorite” subject, but it was challenging. at that time in my life, i was looking for challenges, hence, my major. i might never “use” my major. but because nothing really matters, this too, also doesn’t. i mention this to fully acknowledge that i was not a physics major. in fact, physics was, without a doubt, my least favorite subject. but i did get an “a” in it because getting “a”’s was something i used to do. for the sake of full disclosure, i did, in advanced physics, get a “p” for “pass.” i took the class pass/fail. and boy was i glad i did.
all of this is to let you know that, without the aid of a carefully phrased word problem or calculator, i did do some mental calculations and estimations employing this formula to what was now a real-world word problem:
d = rt where d is distance, r is rate, and t is time.
i performed these hasty calculations for both the car and the dog, solving for t, using myself as a reference point (while also, somewhat complexly, accounting for my movement). uncomfortable with the results, i re-performed the calculations even going so far as to re-re-perform them. but there was a clear bottom line and the bottom line was this:
t(dog) = t(car)
that's not an ideal bottom line.
which means to say that the dog and the car were going to be in the same place at the same time and that at this time they would both be right next to (though hopefully not directly upon) me. i felt a hot flush in my blood. but sometimes there is little one can do and this was one of those times. you just have to hope that physics is wrong and that math is wrong and that everything in the world is wrong (the latter being the easiest of the three potential hopes).
the same next-door neighbors who owned corky, the dog that i, allow me to reiterate, did not kill, had one eccentricity i will mention now in an attempt at confessional redemption for past sins. they had a milkman deliver fresh milk to their house in those old-style thick glass bottles. they had a little cooler next to their garage. when the milk came, a big chunk of ice came with it. sometimes, when no one was around and the milk had been removed, i would remove this miniature iceberg. i would then go “hunting.” i would find ants. atop these ants, i would place this arctic mass. gently enough so as not to crush, but close enough in order to ensure that they would glaciate. then, they would die (which they would have done anyway, i just helped them get on with it). as such, they would die by my own hand. i felt no remorse, and, in fact, i would go so far to say that i even enjoyed it. and i would hunt until the georgia sun rendered a phase change in my ammunition leaving me with nothing but wet palms. my hunt would then be over. and there were other things to do.
but physics and math held true. the t’s equaled each other. and, as calamity would have it, this equalization occurred perfectly aligned with my left shoulder. and, alas, everything in the world was doubtlessly wrong.
there was a thud at the initial impact. if asked under oath, i would have to say i heard the lights and grill of the vehicle shatter and then the ululate of that poor old dog, a yelp that formed a heavy lump in my throat. i immediately looked back to see the previously airborne dog topple to the tarmac and start spinning. yes, spinning. it was bizarre. the dog landed on it side and, gawdawfully sprawled out and still spinning, gyrated off to my right into the bushes on the side of the road where the force of friction extended its physical function and brought the dog to a dizzying halt. following suit, i brought myself to a halt and turned around to see what i never imagined i would see. the dog, surely dead, rose, and, in a triumphant burst of risorgimento, sprinted back to where it had come from. yes, a dog that that collided head-on with a vehicle somehow managed to sprint. it gave me hope that i could, when my time comes, do the same. that is, sprint off to somewhere and, as they say, "buy the farm."
let it also be said that i and three others will not write slightly differing accounts about this renascence in an attempt to convince a belief on your part. there is no eternal salvation to be found here. there is simply a veil of mystery. the dog, by all reasonable accounts, should have been dead. however, things that are dead (which eventually will be everything) cannot dash across the road. believe what thou wilst believe. this is only my testament.
love nothing. let nothing love you. you will feel no pain. you will cause no pain.
inherently, at least from the perspective of the center of my universe which is my soul which though improvable indeed exists (on some sort of level), everything should be alone. we, as unfortunate as we are to be humans, belong not together, hallmark card anecdotes notwithstanding, but alone. it minimizes complications, sadness’s, happiness’s, and, most importantly, banal and bromidic interlocutions. this is why i prefer to be alone. this is why i want to be alone. and when i am alone, i am content. so much more so than i am with others. any others. plus, people have the annoying habit of asking questions and i'm not what one would term an "avid answer giver."
to rationalize what took place, that is, the absconding of a dog that should have been dead, i have applied the above introspective observation about myself to the dog. thusly, i arbitrated that the dog, in one last climactic burst of a life destined to end (as all lives are), decided to get away from every living organism that it could get away from (surely a beautiful place if such a place could exist (i’m still looking)). when the dog found the closest match to this non-existent place, i can only assume it laid down, looked around for a few moments, briefly and longingly remembered being a puppy, felt a heretofore unknown disturbance from within, and (in a moment i only hope i can resist) caved, conceded and capitulated to the curtains of continuance. and in that glorious moment, death belonged to that dog.
but the thing is, i could be wrong. about everything. about death being glorious. about alone being better. about my soul existing. about wanting redemption for annihilating ants. and i might even be wrong about the dog dying (hence the parenthetical in thedogthat(ithink)ikilled).
earlier in my life, i was riding my bicycle with two friends. we were on trails in the dirt. there was a new subdivision being built across from the one where the three of us lived. trees fell. houses soon to be filled with many, many things took their places. the trade off meant nothing to me at the time. all that it meant to me was that during construction there was a great new place for me and my friends to ride our bikes. one day, i found a hawk. the hawk had its home in a tree that was now horizontal. in addition, the hawk had been injured and could not fly. also, the hawk was scared. the three of us didn’t know what to do. i told the two of them to wait and sprinted home. i told my mom. we opened up a phone book and called raptor control. full of youthful energy in what had turned out to be an exciting day, i sprinted back to my friends. they were still there. as was the hawk. my mom and their moms soon came. and some time later, the man from raptor control came. he put on a special suit and a very special glove that looked like a knight's armour. he had a white sheet. he slowly approached the terrified hawk. he gently placed the sheet over it. the hawk panicked. then it stopped. i thought it was dead. it wasn’t. it, quite simply, was exhausted. the man then placed the sheet-adorned hawk in a cage, deftly removing the sheet and closing the cage simultaneously. he said that we had done a good thing by calling. he said he thought the bird had a broken wing. he said he would try to help the bird. he left. our moms left. and then my buddies and i left. i sort of felt like a hero.
some months passed. i forgot about the hawk. then an envelope with my name on it reminded me of the hawk because it had a picture of a bird in the upper left hand corner. i opened it. it was from the man, the one from raptor control. after four months of physical therapy, the hawk could fly again. the man was writing me to tell me he had just released the hawk back into the wild. i told my two friends. we felt like we had done something good. then we continued our nintendo game.
i hope this hawk story in some way makes up for the ant atrocities.
this hawk story, which, as you may not have doubted, is true, is meant to illustrate the fact that i am fond of animals. however, as stated before and now to be elaborated on, i will never own a dog, or a hawk, or an ant farm for that matter. because while this fondness does indeed exist, these things, i.e. animals, are what i term “freedom and time limiters.” other examples of “freedom and time limiters” are spouses, children, and, as a matter of fact, all people in general. lately i have tried to eliminate these “freedom and time limiters” from my life because, at this point, “freedom” and “time,” are something that i hold dear and wish to maximize. you can't be free with a dog because you have to pick up its poop. you can't be free with another person because they will somehow interrupt something by being alive (until they die). you can't have time with children because there will always be some sort of cheerio or slightly raisinized grape on the floor needing to be picked up. anything that could possibly aid in minimizing this hopeful maximization of freedom and time must be avoided. at all costs.
i will die alone in that cave with my loincloth hopefully covering what it was designed for saving me from embarassment. the buzzards will get me. my journals will decompose and it will all be for naught.
all for naught...that makes me want to twinkle my toes.
that dog may be dead. in fact, i’m certain of it. i could decide to have “faith” that the dog is still alive, but, really, what would it matter? because even if it were alive, it would eventually die anyhow. i try not to look at too many things like this but sometimes it’s the only way i can see them.
for conclusion’s sake, let’s assume i killed the dog, or, more specifically, that my actions directly led to the death of the dog. if this is indeed the case, all apologies. if i didn’t exist, the dog would still be alive. that makes me question the worth of my existence. but then i realize my existence is worth nothing, or at the most, very little, because one day, i will die and my existence will be over. and, though this may be disturbing, we must all ask ourselves, where is the value in that? and if there is no value, then what in tarnation are we all doing?
maybe the fact that i “saved” a hawk mandates, for the completeness of karma, that i had to kill another animal. and that animal was the dog in greece. perhaps i should have never helped the hawk. what if that hawk had wanted to die and then here i come sparing it from the very thing it desired? who do i think i am, anyway?
to those ants i froze, i’m sorry too. i'm not entirely certain how they fit in here.
and to corky (who has since died), when i get to where you are, and i will get there pal, we’ll sit down together and share a watermelon blow pop. i think you’ll find watermelon more palatable than sour apple.
what's more, old boy, i’ll even let you have the gum.