Thursday, October 02, 2008

Who You Used To Be

Prepare To Guard Yourself

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD - It’s not just me; everybody is complaining about the flies. As cooler weather approaches, everyone has swatters handy for the annual onslaught of flies endeavoring to gain entry into our homes.

I’m allllll in their heads. I know their best moves, exit plan, and which way they’re going to take off. Your best bet is the ‘Overshot’, where you overshoot the target, kind of like a plane on a runway, or the topspin you need to bring the shot just inside the baseline.

It’s what I call, ‘Closing the Back Door’. And what’s going on in the fly’s mind? Probably, not much. Hardwired since the beginning of time, he’s like, ‘I’m outta here…OH FUCK!’ Sometimes there will be this last, fraction-of-a-second, moment-of-death confused hesitation that seals their fate.

And you bet it has occurred to me that the Creator can take any one of us just like that, like me and my swatter.

“Yeah, he/she dropped…just like that. I was just talking to him/her yesterday.”

And if are we playing God against the flies, then what about a carrot?

Louie Cook and I ambled in the heat on his father-in-law’s land, a spread of two homes, a cottage, a barn, and some rusty farm equipment laying about. Most everything had been sold off and the kids weren’t interested in the place. They had their own lives, their own stuff. The old man, 92, was in a rest home in Rapid City, I think.

“I don’t want to live that long,” said Louie.

“A guy works all his life and accumulates and gathers, and then, he un-accumulates, and then what?” I asked Louie.

He didn’t answer.

Each day is a blessing, isn’t it? Most of us might say yes, but I wonder about the infirm in nursing homes, and those who don’t recognize their sons and daughters, and when they go, the survivors say it was a blessing.

I know I must be hanging around old people when I hear them start in telling a story about who they used to be.

Brady, twenty-something, sitting there at Louie’s table, began telling us about what kind of shape he used to be in. I had to stop the boy.

“Who you used to be?” I asked. “Let me tell you about who I used to be. Louie, tell him about who YOU used to be.”

Louie, who is generously overweight and moves like a penguin, laughed and said, “I used to be able to KICK ASS.”

“I used to be somebody,” he added, laughing.

And who did you used to be? Who could you have been? It’s never too late, is it, to be somebody?