River of Life

I love rivers.
With all respect to ponds, pools, lakes, and oceans, I love being by a river the most.  Landlocked on two sides, it’s still a continuum of water that chuckles as it moves and brings down the heat in summer.  My rivers are peaceful most of the time but the last thing they are is boring, not only because they hold so much life but they seem to be living creatures themselves.  I guess I see life as a river.
More than anything, all rivers are made up of water, great googolplexes of H2O molecules, all moving in the same direction. Some of the droplets came up from underground springs, some fell into place with a rainfall, but the source isn’t what’s important here.  What’s important is that once those droplets meet up it’s hard to tell one from another and they impact each other.  It may be on a scale too small for us to see but the molecules of water bump against each other on the way to their common destination.  And each encounter changes the path of each droplet, however minutely.
I think all life is like that.  Our lives are continually changed every day by the other life we encounter.  It could be the homeless person we cross the street to avoid or the new friend we make at the market.  It could even be the virus that keeps us out of work or school but our lives and fates are changed on a daily basis by who and what we encounter.  And our actions bounce off someone else, altering their path in unexpected ways.  This perpetual ricochet is as much a part of every molecule’s journey as the forward momentum of the current, pulling it onward to its destination.
I felt that reaction that as I watched our new kitten, Steve this week.  We got Steve to be our Charlie-cat’s companion, shortly before Charlie died. The sad morning after Charlie’s burial, Stevie jumped in the bathtub to chase the water as it ran down the drain. When the tub was empty he turned to me and meowed, clearly curious about where the bath water went.  Up until that time, I had almost resented this new kitten’s dynamic presence, because he wasn’t Charlie and couldn’t make Charlie well.  It was then I realized, as much as I’d always miss Charlie-Belle, Stevie had something of his own to offer.  Steve looks at the world with inexperienced eyes, marveling over things Charlie and I had long since taken for granted. And, seeing the world through Stevie’s eyes makes it new again for me.
And now we have a second pet, Mollie-dog in the house.  As Charlie needed a four-legged friend, Stevie needs one too and Mollie-dog looks like a good match.  Bigger but gentler than Stevie-Cat, Mollie loves squeeky toys, my Jeep and jumping onto our bed.  For however long we have these two, I think they’ll be fine companions.
That’s what we all are: companions on our journeys through life, like waterdrops caught in the current. We go at different rates, encounter different things but we’re still parts of the River of Life. And someday, we’ll all reach the Sea.

The World Famous Author I didn’t Quite Meet

This day should be remembered each and every year.
For the birth of an author, many of us still hold dear.
Though he’s no longer with us, his books hold renown
When it comes to kid’s lit, Old Doc Seuss holds the crown
But I must add, in a tone of defeat
He’s the most famous author I didn’t quite meet

When I was small, Dr. Seuss was the Man
and I read each of his stories, like a number 1 fan

Like the Sneeches, my belly once had a small star
I recited his rhymes while we rode in the car.
I grew up and learned to love reading aloud
I’d choose Seuss to read to the younger kids crowd

That’s what my job was one year, long ago
At the main library branch in old San Diego
That place hosted a party each Winter to cheer
Any locals who’d published books in the last year.
For the party, my off-day, I agreed to forsake
And serve the literati their coffee and cake

I don’t want to brag, but I must confess,
I looked good that day! I wore my best dress.
I buffed up my nails and styled my hair.
My toes perched in the highest heels they could wear.
I practiced my small talk so it would be blameless
I’d be ready, I thought if I met someone famous.

Tell the truth? That party was a little bit bleak
Most writers, up close, don’t look that unique
A few leaned like beanpoles, several looked squashed.
I can’t say for certain each one of them washed!
But my boss, Lois, welcomed them all like guests in her home
and asked each to speak about his or her tome.

Now none of their books were on best-seller shelves
Most writers had published their books by themselves
Tales like “Granddad Lived his Life As a Bear”
and “Making a Million with Stray Body Hair”
Still, each author stood before us, head held high and proud,
and spoke on his or her story – too long and too loud.

The writers droned on, till I was ready to weep
For my wasted day off and my poor pinched up feet
When between the book stacks I happened to spy
A thick-browed old gent, in a suit and bow tie
Who he was, I wasn’t sure that I knew.
He reminded me of someone…I just didn’t know who.

As another writer described his obsession with warts
My boss leaned over and whispered, “At least that one didn’t wear shorts.”
“Having fun?” she asked. I lied and said “Yes.”
“Well, you’ve worked really hard, in that lovely dress
And because you helped make this day such a treat,
“Come on,” Lois said. “There’s Someone I want you to meet.”

Lois walked and I followed, away from the crowds
And into the stacks, toward the Gent with the Brows.
Lois and he acknowledged each other with smiles
Then she gave me a grin you could see for a mile!
And said with a chuckle that was soft, low and loose
“Ted, Leslie helps here.  Les, meet Dr. Seuss.”

My mouth fell open. My toe-blisters al broke.
The small talk left my head without even a note.
I stared till the man nodded and then looked away
I was facing my hero and I had nothing to say?!
My stomach became lead; my brain turned to glue
I blurted, “IREALLYLOVEDSOLLASALLEW:

And that, dear friends, I am sorry to say
Is all I recall about that fateful day
The memory though can still make me wince
Still, I’ve kept what I learned from that day ever since:
That for my self-respect, and the good of my heart
I avoid the artist when I worship the art.

Yes, the last thing I learned from that wondrous Seuss-man
Is when it comes to writers, I’m just a big fan.

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