Saturday, June 23, 2007

Only the Good Die Young

As I approach one of those milestone birthdays I've started thinking of all the stories still stuck in my skull and whether I'll ever get around to writing and publishing them. Not to depress anyone, but our time on this big, blue marble is finite and as I listened to Billy Joel's Greatest Hits album the other day I was at least encouraged by his song, Only the Good Die Young. I've already passed that "Young" marker, which probably says a lot about me as a Good person.

My mood wasn't improved by the passing of Simba a few weeks back. Simba was a big teddy
bear of a cat who totally fell in love with my wife. Believe it or not, he was a feral when we "rescued" him, had him neutered and added him to the DiGenti herd of cats. It took a while, but he soon became the neediest of them all. Simba followed Evanne around like she left tuna juice in her tracks.

If we were fixing lunch he was underfoot. When we sat on the couch to watch TV in the evening, Simba bulldozed other cats away and claimed the place of honor next to my dear wife. Not only next to her, but all over her. He'd stretch his big body out and push his head against her shoulder, burying it in her neck. And they'd stay like that while we waited for Hiro to save the cheerleader and the world.

It was the same thing when we went to bed. There was this humongous gray tabby purring away, pawing my wife. If I were a jealous man, I'd have dispatched him myself.

In the end Simba's big heart betrayed him. We found him fast asleep on the porch, or so it seemed. He had apparently passed quietly away in his sleep, probably while dreaming of my wife. I buried Simba in the backyard and a neighbor brought us a small cherub statue which now marks the site of his grave. Each time I pass that way I give the big guy a nod and swear I hear him purring in reply.

We estimate that Simba was only 6 or 7 years old, probably double the lifespan of a feral cat, but only half the average of an indoor domesticated cat. Still, he had a good life while he was with us and surely added some spice to our household.

If you're following my morbid train of thought you already know where it leads. We never know how much time is allotted to us, and to paraphrase Carl Sandburg who said "Time is the coin of your life," be careful how you spend it. Which brings me back to writing. It's so easy to be distracted from the work of writing. Sometimes when the words aren’t flowing, my mind will drift away and my eyes will track the spindly periwinkles blowing in the breeze outside my office window. Soon I’m fixated on my overgrown lawn and worried what the neighbors must think. The next thing I know I'm outside cranking up the mower.

Or I'll take a quick break from my writing to check my email. Lord knows I've only checked it twelve times already but, hey, you never know when you'll get an important message from the head of the Nigerian Bank wanting to deposit a million dollars in your account as soon as you send him the account number.

As I wrote in my column for the Spring issue of The Florida Writer, "your mind will constantly throw roadblocks in your path if you let it, so keep those blinders on and concentrate on the writing. Taking time out to nibble on chocolate now and then, of course."

That's enough time-talk for now, except for this final quote from the great philosopher, Groucho Marx who said, "Time flies like an Arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

Adios until next time.