I saw a dead black cat lying in the middle of the road on my way to Visalia to a book sale at the Sequoia Mall. It must have fallen off a witch's broom and landed smack dab on the yellow lines that divided the traffic into one lane going that way and the other coming this way.
I always pay attention to the things that I see along this journey which I take pretty often. I saw two dead dogs just this week, one a beautiful looking German Shepard, the other a mangled up mess of blood, guts, and golden fur.
I once wrote an essay about the trip which I named Roadkill Lines the Road to Heaven. The essay was ostensibly about all the dead animals I saw along the road, but was really about a lot of other things including the importance of living life with a sense of purpose. The essay started like this:
"Road 36 that leads east and then north out of Corcoran is dangerous for dogs. I know this because of the two dead canines I've seen lying moldering on the side of the road within a few hundred yards of each other, forgotten pets whose only value now is to remind those who pass by of both the transitory nature of existence and the lethal character of four wheeled vehicles moving at high speeds."
I was in a hurry to get to Visalia today. The book sale was a good one. Just the day before I had purchased Christopher Hitchen's Arguably for a dollar, a book that I had almost bought at a Barnes and Noble for $22.50 just two days before.
Christopher Hitchens is as dead as the cat. He died of cancer and remained a steadfast atheist till his dying breath. He might not be technically as dead as the cat in that his collected writings are in print and should go a long ways in making him somewhat semi-immortal, at least. Whereas, the cat fell off the back of a witch's broom. Who knows what that little fucker was up to?
I've always been saddened by the fact that Hitchens was such a steadfast non-believer. It bothers me a lot because he was such a great debater and argued better than any ten other people I could name, but he
never could argue himself into believing that our lives have divine purpose which I, on the other hand, believe is a starting point.
I find purpose even a dead cat lying in the middle of a cracked and potholed filled country road. I think if you could stop, open your door and close your eyes and listen long enough, the dead cat could tell you a thing or two about the meaning of life.
I know that people will say that this statement is patently untrue, but I believe that God's senses are more refined than our own. He can hear a dead cat singing and the sounds that a Vermeer masterpiece makes. He can see the odor of the dairies between Corcoran and Tulare, and smell the pastel shades of pink and blue in an August sunset when a red sun, as big as a hubcap, sets straight down at the end of Whitley Avenue where it runs into 10th. His senses are one big all-purpose sense.
I had to drown to figure this out. My wife left me in the lurch and had the nerve to die before I fell out of love with her. I went down so deep into my subconscious that I couldn't see the sun dappling on the surface. I bumped into things down there in the darkness too, like the floating bodies of the people who had drowned a lot more thoroughly than I, slime covered rocks, and old pirate chests both empty and full. I cut my hands and feet on the fish picked bones of non-believers.
I was a snorkeler who only wanted to see the day-glo colors of the schools of tropical fish and ended up staying down there for days and nights on end. I eventually returned to the surface but only to the point where the goggles I was wearing were half above the surface and half below, allowing me to look at things below the surface as well as what was floating by and to merge the two perspectives into a hybrid form of reality.
The words I write are waterlogged. This condition helps me to hear the words of dead cats lying in the middle of country roads but makes me somewhat tone deaf and oblivious to the every day things.
Someone told me recently, "I wish I could write like you."
"Be careful what you ask for, " I answered, "It is not as pleasant as you might think." To try to write from the heart nowadays takes a meeting with Jack the Ripper or an Aztec High Priest.
It makes you see things like the mangled corpses of dogs along the roads and know that there is a story in how a dog came to meet its fate that stretches back to the beginning of time, and also a story in what will happen to all molecules and atoms that composed its hair, bones and flesh that will stretch forward till the universe collapses, and the story begins anew.
I don't know why Hitchens did not believe in God. There's a awful lot of shit in this universe, and it had to be created by something. There's just too much to be said about the wonder of a night sky, too much to think about while measuring the universe using terms like infinite or unending, and way too much to explain when talking about the amazing human body where human life is created.
Mankind, in comparison, has barely scratched the surface of things; we have yet to put much of a dent in the surface of things. So, if our greatest geniuses like Beethoven, Picasso, and Shakespeare have made such valiant efforts to return us all to the Garden where perfection rules, yet failed, wouldn't the force behind the creation of all perfection deserve some kind of respect, a tip of the hat maybe?
Today, I heard that dead cat whimpering as I passed it by. It was whispering, "I mean something; I mean something," over and over to the cars as they rushed by.
Yes, even dead cats decaying on country roads have meaning. On the other hand, the blindness and deafness of men is legendary.