I’ve been thinking about life and how much time I have left on this earth a lot lately. Don’t get me wrong, I have no plans on dying any time soon and have no idea when I will die, I’ve just been thinking about the span of time between now and then. I’m at a point in life where I know that death will come in the not too distant future, depending on health and choices I make, maybe in the next forty years give or take.
We all go through different stages in our lives. Stage one when we’re young and know nothing about life and death, when life is long and death is a faraway abstract concept. Life is happy and safe while death is where everyone goes to heaven, even our dogs. Stage two when we’re just starting our adult lives, life is still long and we think about the here and now, with death remaining a faraway end to a life well lived. We start building a life with someone we love and begin making plans for retirement still a long way away. Stage three is when we hit our middle age; children are either grown or close to being adults themselves. This is when we start to consider death as a door around the corner but still faraway, just not as far. Retirement and a life of leisure is more on our minds than death.
Stage four is when we are of an age close to retirement, but not there yet. Depending on our health and career path we may have five to fifteen years before we may retire and ponder what we’ve accomplished and what we have left to accomplish. Stage five is when we are close to the end of life and we take stock of how we’ve lived our lives. There will be regrets and satisfaction of our past deeds.
I think I’m at stage four, I will be sixty this year, I don’t consider that to be old and if you ask Mitch he’ll tell you I certainly don’t act like a sixty year old. He constantly asks me, “How old are you?” Especially after I’ve done something a teenager would do, like drive the car into the puddles of water to make giant splashes. But now I look at what life I have left and wonder how long do I have? I picture my time left in my head as a finite number and try to figure out how long. Weird huh? I’m not trying to be depressing or am depressed I guess I just want an answer to an unanswerable question.
I think in my head that if I know how much time I have left then I will make a decision a certain way that would be different with a different time line. Screwy weird, I know. Yes I know these are the great unknowns of life and the time of death should have no bearing on the way you live your life and the choices you make, but in reality the suggestion or the hint of death plays a very real part of all our choices in life. I have decisions to make and wish I had the answer to the greatest riddle of all in order to make the right decision.
It’s way too cold to outside today so I came up with a bit of fiction for the day. I hope you enjoy it.
The Myth the Legend the Truth
The story goes like this; a long time ago there was a story about this mythological creature. The creature was rumored to wander the streets at night searching for a mate worthy of the creature’s efforts. The creature had a keen sense of smell and could sniff out the slightest hint of fear. The creature was also blessed with the vision of a hawk and could see through the best lies. But most of all, the creature had the ability to touch a man’s soul and change it forever.
One night while on the quest for the perfect mate, the creature came upon a man standing alone at the edge of a cliff looking out over the vast void that dropped down into a deep gorge. The creature spoke to the man and asked three questions.
The first question was, “What has brought you to the void?”
The man looked at the creature, sucked in his breath at the terrifying figure and answered, “I came to search my soul and find forgiveness for my sins.”
The second question was, “Were your sins against another man?”
The man raised his gaze to the creature’s eyes, and with an eyes wide open stare answered, “No my sin was much worse. I lost faith in myself.”
The third and final question was, “How will you restore your faith in yourself?”
The man bowed his head, reached his hand toward the creature and answered, “I don’t know. I’m not sure I’m worthy of a second chance. Who will believe in me if I don’t believe in myself?”
The legend of the story is that the creature reached out and touched the man’s hand and gave him the strength to find forgiveness in himself, so he could become a man worthy of the creature. The truth of the story was much different.
What really happened was that the creature so incensed at the man and his whining she pushed him over the edge into void and watched with a smile on her face as he dropped a thousand feet to be crushed by the rocks below. She then turned and walked away without a hint of remorse. There were many more men to pick from and surely there was one that was worthy of her.
Yesterday morning we woke up to about two inches of snow, nothing like the people in the north eastern part of the country have gotten and are still getting. Just enough snow to cause multiple car crashes and traffic problems. Surprisingly the morning walk was pretty uneventful, with Orso only acting like a puppy at the end of our walk. I let him off the leash and he took off like a rocket butt down running around in great big circles coming back to bash Charlie, so I let Charlie off the leash to retaliate. For once Charlie got into the spirit and ran around jinxing and jagging keeping Orso at bay. That lasted for about five minutes before Charlie got cold and decided it was time to go back inside and get his carrot.
The drive to work was slow, with most streets still snow packed. By the drive home though the main roads had been cleared and most of the side streets weren’t quite as bad. In our little berg, the mayor usually plows the roads and does a very good job of it giving most of us that false sense of security that all the roads are in as good condition as ours are. Surprise, when we leave the city to venture out on the major roads and highways, the conditions are abysmal at best sometimes. You could say we are quite spoiled.
This morning the roads were still in pretty good shape except for the patchy slick spots where the snow had melted and re-froze overnight. Those sneaky little patches always get me, even though I know they’re there lurking waiting for me, I try so hard to watch for them, but I get caught every time. I think they move.
The dogs and I started off on the walk this morning with no problems, surprisingly the roads were dry, no slick spots. We rounded the curve and walked up the hill and still had not encountered any icy patches and I did what I always do, I started relaxing and let my guard down. We topped the hill and started down the hill when I noticed the deer standing in the neighbor’s yard watching us. The dogs hadn’t seen or smelled him yet and just kept walking down the hill. The deer showed no intention of moving off just stood there watching and waiting for us to come closer. I should have stopped right then and there and turned around before the dogs realized what was at the bottom of the hill, but no I didn’t do that. It was like I was watching a train wreck about to happen and did nothing to change destiny.
I even spoke out loud to the deer and said, “Bud you can’t be there.” He still didn’t move. Halfway down the hill the dogs saw the deer, jerked on the leashes to let him know they knew he was there and I found the slick spot in the road. I went down so quickly and hard landing on my rear end. I sat there in the road with my legs straight out in front of me and the dogs looking at me wondering what I was doing sitting there when there was a walk to finish.
I really need to move to a warmer place.
I really have to get Mitch out more. That in itself is a challenge, because Mitch is a man of routine. I mean serious routine. His day consists of, get up go to work, come home eat lunch, do whatever chores he does, like laundry or ironing, feed and walk the dogs, eat dinner and go to bed. He is also antisocial for the most part, a hermit, he is perfectly happy sequestered in the house never talking to another soul as long as he can. As a severe form of torture, I make him to go the grocery store with me on Saturday morning. I talk to everyone, store employees and total strangers alike, eliciting comments from Mitch like, “Is there anyone you don’t know or won’t talk to?” To which I just smile back at him with an evil look and say hello to someone else. To make matters worse, since I have taken him with me for so long, now the store employees now talk to him too. Even the former store manager would ask where my partner in crime was on the rare occasion he didn’t go with me.
Every time we go to the store I always ask him if there is anything he would like to eat for the week, and I always get the same response.
“No I’m good.”
Can you imagine how frustrating is to buy good food and a variety too, when I always get, “No I’m good.”? It makes me want to pull my hair out. I finally got him to admit he wanted Milky Way fun size candy bars to snack on during day and that only took three years. He treats himself like he doesn’t deserve anything special. You would think he had taken a vow of poverty. This morning at the grocery store there was a sale on Keebler/Kelloggs offering all of their cookies and crackers for sale at half price. I asked Mitch if he would like something different from what we normally buy since everything was on sale. He stood there staring at all of the choices with a blank look on his face. I picked up a couple of boxes of crackers that I wanted to try and looked back at him to see what he wanted. He just stood there.
I asked what was wrong and he said, “Back in the day there was only Saltines and if you wanted something exotic you bought Ritz and you were happy. There weren’t all of these choices then.”
To which I laughed out loud and said, “You also had toilets out back and not in the house, back in the day, but isn’t it much better today?”
That’s when he got indignant and said, “That’s a totally different genre, not the same at all.”
I just shook my head and looked at him waiting for him to choose something; he finally acquiesced and picked a box of flatbread crackers. This is one of the reasons I drink.
Orso finally got to go inside Petco this morning. We don’t take our dogs to Petco, because there are usually other dogs around, small dogs and big dogs and not all are well behaved. Plus Charlie doesn’t play nice with too many other dogs, so he never gets to go inside. The last time I took any dog inside with me was Buddy, our yellow lab. Buddy was a very large yellow lab that weighed in at one hundred twenty pounds and loved to go everywhere with me. Buddy loved other dogs and people, but because of his size people with small dogs took one look at him and literally would turn and walk the other way.
On the last time that I took Buddy inside with me to Petco, I bought a fifty pound bag of dog food and had it in a cart with Buddy walking along side me attached to my wrist with his leash. As we walked out of the building Buddy spotted a little tiny dog walking toward us with an older man on the other end of the leash before I saw them. Buddy jerked and ran toward the little dog with me attached. I let go of the cart with the dog food inside in order to retain my wrist. The cart went sailing off in one direction and the two of us went catapulting in the opposite direction toward a man that was trying his best to get the little dog off the ground and in his arms before this giant carnivore gobbled him up.
A woman walking in the store from a different direction started yelling, “Run away cart,” like I could stop that while still attached to a very large dog going in the opposite direction. By the time we got to the man with the little dog, the dog owner was able to get the little guy up in his arms and out of the way of Buddy. Buddy stood there trying really hard to sniff the dog and say hello while I stood there apologizing profusely. I think we cost both the man and his dog a few years of life. The woman yelling about my cart, was nice enough to catch it before it hit a parked car. To say the least, Buddy never got to go back to Petco again.
This morning we needed to buy dog food and Orso needed a smaller collar, plus Mitch was going with me, so we decided to take a chance and take Orso in with us. Poor Charlie had to stay in the car and he wasn’t happy about that. The one thing I forgot was that today was pet adoption day and there were lots of dogs and cats there in crates hoping to be adopted. Orso thought that this was doggy heaven with all of the new dogs and people to greet and smell and bark at. Thank goodness for linoleum floors. Orso was like a kid in a candy store, so many new sights, smells and things to taste. I quickly remembered why I don’t take the dogs in Petco again.
At the check-out Orso stood up on the counter and greeted the clerk, who fell for that pitiful face and gave him a cookie. She was lucky she still had fingers. We were lucky to get out of there alive.
Is anybody out there bored and want some excitement in their lives? If so, come on over, I have fun and excitement to spare and I would love to share. The only catch is that you have to be up and ready to go at 4:30 in the morning. That’s when most of my fun happens, when it’s dark outside. No it’s not kinky; my exciting life revolves around my dogs. Our morning walks are always fun and sometimes quite thrilling, especially when I get to play boat anchor as they drag me off into the brush after a deer or a raccoon. This morning was no different, the only difference this time was it was all my fault.
Early this morning sometime after midnight it started snowing. We didn’t get much, only a dusting, just enough to cover the sidewalks and the grass. There were also a few slick spots on the roads here and there. We started off as usual with Orso walking searching for the perfect spots to pee and Charlie jerking back and forth trying his level best to pee on both sides of the road simultaneously, which is one of the reasons my chiropractor loves me so much. The walk was pretty much uneventful even when we walked past the ravine, Orso had his head up ears cocked hoping for something to move down there so he could charge off after whatever it was.
We walked out to the turnaround point and started back when both dogs headed down into the ditch on the side of the road, walking along like they were searching for the perfect spot to poop. Orso is so easily distracted that when he starts exhibiting the telltale signs we pay close attention and make sure all the elements for the perfect spot is right there for him. If you don’t own a dog, you won’t understand, but bear with me. So anyway, I was walking along the side of the road watching the dogs carefully so one doesn’t run into the other one and both are spaced out with plenty of room to do their thing. Orso was sniffing the ground and walking slowly, Charlie was a little higher up on the slope of the hill going up on the far side of the ditch walking slowly and I just knew we were going to have success when I got a little too close to the edge of the road.
I wasn’t looking where my feet were going and I stepped on a crumbling spot at the edge of the road and stepped off the road and into the ditch with them, only it wasn’t that graceful. I stumbled as I stepped off lost my balance and fell face first in the ditch almost on top of Charlie. He scooted out of the way and Orso tried really hard to escape in the other direction, but was all wrapped up in the leashes and could only stand there waiting for certain death. There I was lying face first in the ditch with one dog on one side of me and one dog on the other side of me just standing there looking at me not really sure what had just happened. I worked my way back up to my feet and reached down to pick up the leashes. I was covered in snow, dead leaves and who knows what else that resided in the ditch. Plus I had ruined the mood. There was nothing left to do but finish the walk in shame, knowing I was responsible for them being constipated.
But now I have another new name to go along with my list of alias. “Falls off Roads”, has a certain ring about it don’t you think?
Have you ever wanted a black eye? I know sounds weird, right? Who wants a black eye? Well think about it for a minute, what better way to garner sympathy without getting hurt so bad you can’t walk or worse end up in a hospital? You know when you’ve had a bad week where nothing you do is right and everybody is on your case; well going into work sporting a black eye will definitely get you looks of sympathy and shock. A myriad of questions about how you got it and what does the other guy look like may even bring offers of support and help if you play it up, wincing from the pain and making excuses about not seeing really well.
Well if you are interested in how to get a black eye without having to go up a very large man in a bar and insult him, which is not a good idea, (that could escalate and you may end up in traction) I have a couple of options for you, that are safer and not mean a trip by ambulance to the emergency room.
First off you need a dog. Not a little dog, little dogs are sweet and cuddly and can’t really do the kind of damage I’m talking about. I mean a big dog. Something big and clumsy and over-exuberant, one that really wants to show you how he feels about life in general. You need a dog that can and will leave a mark when you get up close and personal with the dog. I have a breed in mind, a very large chocolate lab.
Black eye option number one is a simple exercise, all you have to do is approach your large dog when he is excited, bend over and lower your head to just inches above his massive head and nose, do this as if you’re going to pick up something you’ve dropped on the floor. Your dog in his excitement raises his head up to bark in your face slamming his large wet nose into your right eye. Bonus he barks very loudly at the same time and now you’ve ruptured your eardrum and are deaf in the right ear. If done correctly this is guaranteed to blacken your eye and leave your ear ringing, causing you to walk around with a squinty right eye and will have to turn your head to hear anything said to you.
Black eye option number two is also simple to achieve if you have the right conditions. Take your very large dog for a walk in the rain, getting him good and wet. Come home unlock the door, step inside with your dog and take off your gloves so you can remove the leash from his harness. Once again you have to bend over and lower your head down so you are close to the dog’s head. As you reach down to unhook the leash from the dog’s harness, your wonderful large dog that has been standing very patiently waiting, decides to shake his entire body to shed the water from his coat. This time it is his large wet ears that will whip your face and eye like a cat of nine tails. Bonus this option will cause a million short dog hairs to get in your eye leaving it red and irritated in the eye as well as black and bruised around the outside of your eye.
Believe me both of these options will work for you, I know from actual “laboratory” testing. If you don’t have a very large dog and don’t want to bring one home on a permanent basis, I have one I will rent you. This one is guaranteed to leave you bruised and bent. Come to think of it, since this is Christmas Eve, this might be a great gift for that “hard to buy for friend”. Let me know, if you are interested, I would even consider free delivery.