Black Swans and Vanishing Puppies
Seems like only a year ago I could confidently wipe my ass of any adversity, and soldier on. Raised in a large family, there were occasions where the roll was empty, and i'd waddle, wading in my dropped trousers from the bathroom to the closet to restock. Siblings never did have much time for such formalities, and let's face it a week or so ago, nobody could conceive of running out of TP, except at Lollapalooza, or Coachella -- But the savvy tourist always carries a modest back-up supply.
(Fortunate Butts &) "Chance Favor the Prepared Mind", -Louis Pasteur
A year or so ago, when things (still) sucked politically, but were yet a bickering surreal fictional Fantasyland, I dreamt of owning a puppy of my own. I am actually in-love with only one dog, And she belongs to my Sister-in-law. Ahh, Shit -- What a great time to be a dog! Right? Her dog is special though, and got along swimmingly with the neighbor's puppy. One day in late spring, her neighbor's lovely dog enjoyed a sunny afternoon doing absolutely nothing in the yard. It luxuriated like a fat Packer-fan at a tail-gate BBQ, licking it's chops, and perhaps it's balls, as they do. The afternoon was warm in Southern California, and the yard was lovely. Hummingbirds flitted about, while dog food sat in a bowl nearby, and the outside world never seemed a challenge, because this puppy coveted in comfortable quarantine, surrounded by a 6 foot fence. Patio door open, cool AC mingled into the Mid-Spring breeze, and so this Pup, instinctively selected the perfect spot to digest it's lunch like a sultan snake on a hot rock. We all did.
The canyon road purred with passing Tesla's, occasional Range Rovers, and deliveries..., Everything was delightful. I know this because that week I visited this glorious So-Cal enclave as a base-camp to set upon an adventure to ride my Bicycle through Big Bear, Joshua Tree, Salton Sea, etc... It was a lovely home. Her neighbor's home was also a lovely sanctuary, as all homes seem to represent. This home was particularly idyllic for one to be holed-up. A patio corral with all creature comforts for Humans and Dogs alike. The Trash Cans warmed beside the fence bringing a slightly piquant sour scent toward the pups, which for neighboring dogs wafted subtle fragrant dinner scraps like a Parisian Candle at a real-estate showing.
I waited for my bike to arrive VIA FedEx, and prepped my gear, and kit, while the neighborhood dogs lie lazily in their yards like a fat President, barking occasionally at nothing at all, clearly Oblivious...
I have some things to say about pet companions:
A. Dogs Require us to hand them food, otherwise they don't do so well.
B. They Prefer the good food, and that shit is expensive.
C. I can't ride my bike any given day, all over kingdom come, if I have to care for a pet.
So when my bike arrived safely in it's carton in So Cal, I was sure happy, and this was even more welcome, when my favorite puppy "Helped" me receive the package from the Courier.
The trouble with being sated, and complacent, is that you never see the Black Swan oiling the barrel, packing up their shit in a foreign country, and boarding a plane to pay you a visit.
(A virus is a remarkably simple long molecule cluster wrapped in a protein and fat, basically a tiny version of some sugared cereals you favored at age 6).
I don't have any relatives who currently want nor need to live with me, but that may change very soon. What Everyone (including Dogs) would prefer, before receiving that knock at the door, is a call to say -- "Hey, as you know the shit has apparently hit the fan... And well..., I need a place to stay". By the way this is always a welcome visit, as compared to when the Black Swan arrives, so take them in. In that peripheral moment which we never see coming, where we are fat, happy, and smug sunning ourselves and rubbing turmeric-orange lotion on our faces to appear youthful, (or even presidential)... We tend to ignore experts who say, "be careful, too much sun -- Or 'that orange shit', may kill you".
At that unguarded moment, (that very moment when you throw cautions to the wind) is when the Coyote rooting through the trash cans beside the fence, gets on top of one to peer inside for a scrap or two. This scourge, like tiny virions, see this fat little puppy in the yard, as opportunity. Amazingly we/it appear far more attractive than yesterday's pungent leftovers in a wet trash bag. So you see that neither the Privileged Presidential Puppy, nor the Coyote believes things may ever be more perfect.; until the swan arrives.
For countless days prior, the startling sound of amazon packages being tossed over the fence bringing beautiful but superfluous things was a daily interruption to Nap-time in the warm California Sunshine. This sudden bang, like so many other times desensitizes us to an eventual clamor...
And, then 'Things' changed.
That day when the Coyote had to decide between the Trash-bin, or the Bichon... The asymmetry of this decision, and the truly tragic spiral which follows changed a small history. So it appears that if all you do is baste your body in golden turmeric sunshine, you may appear more of a fragrant morsel, than a formidable opponent -- Besides, That trash smell broadcasts a vulnerability; It marked you. But by the time the puppy yelped, it was already in the Coyote's Jaws, and little could be done to mend the situation.
(Nearly a Year later the same happened to my favorite pup. But thankfully she was saved, from it's jaws, punctured and stitched and all.)
So.. That week, before my epic ride through the Southwest Desert, I gave a second thought to pet ownership. I cuddled my Sissie's surviving dog, and thought about that absurd tangential apocalypse, as I bid farewell to puppy.
How does the Black Swan know when to appear? A. When we are complacent?, fat?, and pathetically off our guard? or B. whenever the fuck it wants to?
So be it. It was done. Now you /we pick our next moves. Answer was "B,' By the way.
I was sure glad it was the neighbor's dog, though... and not my Sister's. But that is a discordant even tasteless comment considering the circumstance. Such is the comparison to ageism in today's capitalist rant. Once the afternoon settled a bit, we counted our proverbial blessings and moved to assembling bikes for a road trip. Nagging at me was that thought, however; "Will this be my last vacation?"
Once upon a time in my life I was so free and things were so easy that I thought, in a novel way, Hmm, I think I may want one of those puppies, and I would just go and pick one off the shelf, place it in my basket, and stroll to checkout. Funny the fortune to buy anything, even companionship. A simple wish.
"A healthy soul has a thousand wishes, while the infirmed has only one". -Indian Proverb.
As Archie and Ethel Bunker used to sing..., "Those were the days..."
In this era of The Black Swan, which flew down and revoked my hall pass, I feel like now was the time to pick up one of those companion animals. But..., Alas, They are all gone. Really? What in the Fuck!! Now..., when I am finally ready to commit to support another soul, they are disappeared, like toilet tissue.
What now becomes commonplace was a by-gone fiction seemingly days ago... Vacation plans scraped into the compost bin -- and sadly beauty seems remote. Former free-range birds peck at what cool-ass life you've scrapped. So when do the Rummage sales start? When do the Bake sales balance the scales? How bad-ass is your best neighbor's caserole, now, sold by the slice..? This is real right?
Denial is still your reaction to 'the disruption'. Give it away brothers and sisters, because there is no single thing in your house besides your family and your memories which hold true value. This has become your new reality. Fairy tales are tough to come by, and by world standards you still live in one. Granted, deserted roads make for swift travel. Today my 1 hour commute took 16 minutes... You've lived a dream for how long now?... And now you lament the end of the fucking world? Chillax bitches! Would it not be perfect if we could just return?, Back-up and rewind only until Mid-February, when everything was still obliviously lovely? Licking a 6 dollar ice-cream cone, in winter, and shuffling back home with friends.
I know at least one Xenophobe who stains a fresh pillow-case orange each night, and HE thinks that paradise restores next week, Tah Dah! ...but alas he is off his rocker. I'm for that too bitches; but a chorus of bitching won't help. Before the whole card house collapses, can someone find me the tape? Magical thinking in tough times is exactly that. Just ask the Veep who credits the Orange-utang in chief with each national step backward, His new role as Vanna White, (Cheerleader to Sajak's) madness, turning tiles in our upside-down world, hoping to reveal wisdom. Can no one tell the emperor to put his clothes back on for the daily Spin of the wheel?
A virus and a Pandemic are innately a-political, BUT, if they tended to prefer to devour a particular group, I could suggest one whose usefulness has outlived it's constituents. And... It's not the neighbors puppy.
We are in serious need of participating in our republic; and getting over ourselves. This was what you thought was important..., and I'll agree it was. Things were all roses, a month ago, but the backend was built upon sand and hubris, with idiotic magical thinking, and THIS is what happens when you dispense with expertise and dismiss science. "Welcome, my son" It was beautiful, wasn't it?, Until the bottom fell out. "Welcome to the machine".
The rub about chaos, is that predictions become impossible: e.g. Puppies being sold out, like toilet paper and a run on canned Beans... Man, what a quick digression. Up end the fucking table and watch it slide to the floor. I can't get a puppy now, because (like toilet tissue) everybody had the same thought at the same fucking time. All the puppies have been snatched up. This conceited view is precisely the problem, 'my predicament'.
I totally concede that there is seemingly no wisdom today which will predict a swift return to the "Good ol' Days" of mid February, but that paradise was also bullshit. What is blocking you from embracing today is yesterday; was yesterday. We are still blinded by nostalgia, and it's too soon to fondly reflect upon a bygone month.
"Where have you been? That's all right -- We know where you've been".
Last month as I walked through my neighborhood, Amazon delivered brand-new cardboard boxes to each end every home, and what was in them was ultimately worthless. True they don't sell puppies, but the food comes that way. Ask your dog, they know. Every single restaurant I would eat at, was sat with families and friends who's faces glowed, lit from devices below, as they ignored conversing, and took to socially self-isolate, clicking away at the same damn table. Each guest arrived by separate Lyft Car. In our world a month ago, was a mutual disdain for anyone who disagreed, and common ground was an elusive coyote. Someone would have to die to get a consensus. So we stared at glowing fictions garnering false hope and fake news. Today, We have one struggle. Today we are all socially bankrupt, and the worst thing of it -- Is that all the puppies are also out of stock. Yes! Companionship where you could have cared less in November, now is a strange currency. Hug your fucking Charmin. What we need to know now is... Who is hoarding all the extra cute doggies?
I could use one right about now.
Yesterday was lovely yes, I'll grant you that. But what came before is memory, and today is your action day. You are no further than a few days from that B.C. time, (Before Covid) than the days which have ticked by as you hoard cocoa-puffs, T.P., and hit that bong. While you well-up with dread, take a breather. Whilst you sit idly by, someone needs help. Someone near you could use a smile, a hand-up, a few groceries which you could certainly spare. What is it that you are missing right now? Food, Shelter, (a puppy for certain), The security of friends and family? Nope! They are all still there. What I think is missing, is certainty. What is not missing, is beauty and selfishness. To get anyplace now, you will need to pedal, paddle, and push past your own stagnation. The Cushion on that porch was just so fucking plush that you didn't see the flight being boarded by the Black Swan. And no one in charge did either. You thought it was all coasting from here, (everybody did) and now you have to actually endure some hardship, we all do. Pity wont help and we are fresh out of that. The trouble is that your Netflix shows don't lend real context to how the fuck hard every generation had it before yours, nor to how facts, and expertise solves problems, and not piss-poor politics.
You may have completely missed the memo, if you believe that your life has fundamentally changed. Not Yet! I'll grant you that your sense of comradery may have stumbled a bit, your buying power blows now... I'll give you the strange white noise in the background, and the quietude on the street is off-putting, but you are the same whole person you were last month -- Last week... Perhaps now you will begin to see it, before you fracture. To see what was missing. Every scrap of your essence remains. Finding it, is your next move.
I recall when people searched deep within themselves to find the most meaningful, perfect gifts for each other, and perfect compliments to pay. This drifted into "What do you want for Xmas?" "What do you want for your Birthday", As if reaching into some magic bag was all it took to produce perfect regalos. No! Some kid made that in the Third world, and their world was so different than yours precisely so you could give someone some worthless crap they'd discard. It was just before you became a smug selfish bastard, when you still wrote letters, and poems, and belonged to book club. Relax, and read past that critique because "That's not you, me, right?" "Happiness is a warm gun"...
But it is you. Remember when people used to say, that it is better to give than to receive? Nobody is asking you to serve up a Kidney, so chill the fuck out! Today, you have some simple business to attend to. Being kind is a start. Giving blood is a second quality contribution. Being something better than what you were last month will break many rules. As we learn to be kind to one-another again, go forth with compassion.
Here we go with your excuses again. Is it not a great time to fix the Faucet?, the Tile?, the Roof?, that Pest problem is all you by the way. You are the problem. Who needs you?, now?... Are you your own enemy?, or are you simply scared? Every bit of adversity is unwelcome, yes. Every moment where we lose control, we drift a bit. Do you have something you have been longing to accomplish? Here is your hall pass.
It can't all be early Beatles Songs, you and they too needed to experiment. You have a responsibility to your family, your neighbors and friends. Psychedelia morphed from boredom, because lord knows the love-songs were getting long in the tooth. Judging by your complete lack of direction you may need some shame or psychedelics to accomplish anything.
Sitting around like a log. You have some work to do. No?
Here is a truth... The Luge helped loggers send multi-ton trees down a hillside toward the river. Although it's not advisable, to be on the course when a live tree sails through. You can in fact ride that slick track when the work-day is done. Now we all live on the edge, so what are you frightened of? Scared?, yes, unsure? certainly; But you open your own way of seeing a chance. Take a ride. Don't sit there when the next log comes down the slope. Be something larger than your idiotic fantasy of the world. Be this log. Isolation is good for none, bad options include: Pornography, Amazon, and Netflix, all false idols. What ever came in a cardboard box which compares with your Mom?
"You've been in the pipe-line filling in time... Provided with boys and scouting for toys. You bought a guitar to punish your ma..."
What of your next on-line purchase makes you whole or happy? A mysterious forest awaits with real things like trees, and streams and none of them are as toxic as you right now. "So welcome my son, To the Machine"
No contagion lurks in the Park by your home. Go there, Listen to the crickets, The birds, the neighbor's dog is barking a nervously, sensing ambient fear. The time to fear was before the moment, but not now. Afterwards, comes a sea-change of will, participation, and grace -- And perhaps a tide of cuddly puppies will raise all ships.
Keep your Dignity, Wipe Sparingly, and let me pet your fucking dog.
...Please don't hoard all the puppies
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Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.