The tawny owl was sitting in the tallest redwood tree in the ravine next to my house, more than a hundred feet in the air, listening to Albert King declare with conviction, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.”
Me, I couldn’t hear it.
It was a rocking version with a funky beat, coming at him through an open window in Cupertino, which was too far away for me, due to certain structural inabilities in the aural areas which to some may seem obvious, and as the the tawny owl bopped to the beat, he had no trouble picturing Albert King glowing as if adorned with sleek feathers. I’d be willing to bet that no flimsy ipod designed by some team of geeks in Cupertino could ever be as sleek or as cool as that.
Me, though, I couldn’t see it.
If I knew then, however, what I know now, because I know that classic version of the song well, I likely would have rocked right along. Albert King, after all, is one of those cats who knows, or used to know, where it’s at. I refuse to add, ‘unlike me’ to the previous sentence. I don’t care how true it is. I leave that sort of cutting remark to the tawny owl, who, with his sharp claws, is quite accomplished at it.
I know without any doubt, and with some conviction, that the tawny owl uses me unashamedly for access to my CD collection. And I’m totally cool with that. I don’t think it’s bad to be used by others for some purposes in some ways. In fact, I think it can be potentially quite enjoyable. In any case, it’s quite popular. If not that, what?
The tawny owl said, “Of all the animals, humans are the most afraid of death. All other animals, even chickenshit fraidy cats like rabbits and moles, value death. Every other animal understands there could be no life without it.”
“Don’t you think ‘understand’ is a little much?”
He growled, “What do you people want, anyway? What do you expect?”
“You people? Don’t you think blanket statements like that are inappropriate, if not flat out racist?”
“What race? All there is, besides death, is life and life only. Life ain’t no race.”
“To some, it is.”
He rasped, “Answer the fucking question.”
“What do I want?”
“Don’t play so dumb. I’ve seen it all before. Keep it brief and concise.”
“Hah. What about central heating and air conditioning?”
“Is that what you think?”
“Well, yeah, like…duh.”
“Wow,”I said. “That’s a heavy load to carry.”
He said, again, “Hah.”
I said, “It could be. Besides, I don’t like my air conditioned.”
He said, “At moments like this I think it’s a waste of my time here.”
I said, “No, it’s not.” Then, as I watched him fly away, I said, “Come back.”
I quickly decided, though, that if the tawny own had better things to fly away and do, that meant, at least presumably, so did I.
The question too often for me, though, was not ‘what’ to do, as much as ‘why’? For me, that’s always been the hardest question to tackle.
I went into the house, where the computer controlled thermostat was set just the way I like it, no longer requiring any effort on my part to allow me to reap its benefits, and I opened an ice cold bottle of brown beer, to think about it some more. First, however, I poured the beer into a glass because I like the aerated beige foam as well as the crystalline brown liquid. I like the bitterness. It tastes nearly dirty. There’s a balance there, somewhere.
Then i did what I frequently do, what comes natural to me, when I am warm and comfortable and don’t have to listen to or hear that damnable question again, “Why?”
I thought of where I had come from and where I was going. And what would it be like there? Would I finally know what was happening? How long would that last? Would it matter? I knew it wasn’t going to end up anywhere near where I had expected to be. Or become.
I wasn’t at all sure that I was ever going to get there, assuming there truly was a there there, but I sure as hell knew it wasn’t going to be any Heaven. Not on this Earth.
Do you believe it’s best to let bygones be bygones?
What happens when your bygones come back to bite you on the ass?
COMING SOON: GET IT WHILE YOU CAN