Time to be Happy is Now
The Gracie Stories, part 3
I have learned from the animals I have cared for over the years how inexorable the drive to live is. It has been a great teacher for me. In an un-theoretical way I experienced the change from death to life, figured it more in Biblical terms than animal terms (Deut. 30:19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life. . .), and my animals have taught me this is nature, this is how it works.
Gracie has pushed through every obstacle; her weakening, the loss of her vision, the loss of her hearing, her equanimity on her feet, she now hurtles down the stairs driven by gravity and about %50 of the time ends up on her feet but when she doesn’t she flops onto her belly, gets up and on with it. We have stairs and they are becoming difficult.
She is not deterred; she pushes on. I watch that sitting on the porch waiting for my students, Gracie sits next to me and now that [I assume] she doesn’t see much she casts her noble head towards the wind and angles her face into the sun and as old and infirm as she now looks there is nobility and steeliness that I have seen in many but not all of the people I have accompanied into death.
I have seen many people through death in my work; not everyone has that quality and I may be more sensitive than others because I recognize the absence of it. Any effectiveness I have in my work [?] is that I’ve experienced almost everything people come to me with. So it goes.
Gracie and the other beasts demonstrate none of that quality that I know for its absence in animals higher on the chain of being, when it is lost or through excessive expectations or entitlement or the inevitable darkness within overwhelms the animal push for life. Life. Life on life’s terms. I watch this working in Gracie the mongrel dog.
Last night at shul someone dear dear to me who has experienced loss beyond reason gave me a bag full of coffee gear. It belonged to her husband who was equally dear to all of us, who made the good coffee (as does most everyone in the Middle East), and she knew I appreciated this coffee quality and everything about excellence and stick-to-it-tive-ness and life on life’s sake and the small joys in addition to the big joys that bind us to Real Life as we were designed — the way Gracie was designed, by God or Nature or whatever it is we believe in – to live.
So I took the coffee gear home and this morning as I prepared Gracie some tasty ground turkey I unpacked the coffee gear and washed it – there are three espresso cups and three saucers – made finely in Portugal with this written on it: Time to be happy is now. Again and again: time to be happy is now. I appreciate the elision of the definite article: no the, just time to be happy is now.
I drank from it. Drank from it twice. Gave one to my wife. I’m off to shul.
On the way I am thinking: I’ve forgotten something. I’ve forgotten something.
Oh – I forgot to eat (forgot to pee too).