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ON TAKING A LOAD OFF


The only drawback of a high fiber diet, other than the high cost of purchasing so much produce, is that the resultant three bowel movements a day requires you each morning to never stray too far from a toilet. I learned my lesson today while taking Max for his morning walk. We only go about a half mile round trip, and I had already used the loo once this morning prior to leaving the house. But as we made our way back down the hill, nature issued its second summons. So I gave Max a gentle tug. Of course my proud and headstrong pooch took it as an opportune moment to sniff a particularly interesting piece of foliage, and the delay of ten seconds cost me a pair of clean shorts. I executed a butt-clenched, stiff-legged shimmy up the driveway but no sooner had I entered the house than it was bombs away. By the time I had actually seated myself upon the crapper I had half a load in said shorts. The other half was distributed in equal portions along my legs, on my shoes and all over the toilet seat.  Good morning to you too!

As I proceeded to clean up the mess, which wasn't nearly as bad as it looked or smelled, I listened in stupefaction as I issued a barrage of verbal abuses directed not against Max, for rushing me out of bed before I could fully evacuate my insides and then tarrying in the neighbor's front yard, but against myself. You stupid motherf#%er, what the hell is wrong with you, you damned retard, etc. And then the thought occurred to me: If I had a child who soiled him or herself, would I be as hard on my kid as I am on me? Dear God I hope not.

Perhaps it is for the best that I am not a parent, try as my dear friend Bryn did yesterday to convince me to have a baby. Read: to have her baby. Bryn is the mother of a recent high school graduate and suffering the early symptoms of empty nester's syndrome. She told me that unless I became a parent my life would not be complete. Worse. A childless life is a worthless life. I replied that by Bryn's definition the lives of Moses, Jesus, Mother Teresa not to mention the Dali Lama and all the popes, in addition to many of my favorite authors including Arthur C. Clarke and Lewis Carroll and Raymond Chandler as well as Beethoven and Vivaldi and Leonardo and Michelangelo and pretty much every philosopher and religious figure let alone Oprah and Leno, all are worthless human beings. Slipping into complete irrationality, Bryn said yes, yes none of these historical personages amounts to a load of...what was in my shorts. 

I told Bryn I had to get off the phone, and I opted against returning her call that evening. But today is a new day, and my high school sweetheart recognized the dynamic at play when she apologized for projecting onto me her desire to prolong parenthood by starting the process over again. Thank goodness, because the mere sound of the neighborhood kids playing makes me wince in irritation. Substitute "completing a marathon" for "having a kid" and see if it's still the be all and end all of existence, I tell my friend. Bryn, who has never chosen to run a day in her life, is silent. Silence is also a first for her, and it's a sound I could get used to. Besides a child needs a mother, and taking a page out of the Buddha's book, when I see a sweet young miss I imagine her 30 years down the road. One word comes to mind, and it isn't drag, but it's close. Ah, the vagaries of mind, the ravages of time!

Seriously though, where did my bathroom burst of scathing invective come from? Had I been reprimanded in such a harsh way by my own father? True my dad has quite a critical bent and a tongue like a razor, but it was my brother Justin who usually incurred his criticisims. I was a pretty obedient son, and reliably potty-trained at an early age. Indeed most of the times that I have crapped my pants have happened in my adulthood. I blame beans. And running. You get "the trots" as they're called and hope to all hell there's a restroom in sight. If not, it's the bushes, or the curb, or the ocean, or once a plastic bag.

I think the anger stemmed from the lack of control. Life is such a crap shoot, there is so much uncertainty, and here I cannot even be the master of me! This also happens to me when I need to pee. Animals have it so lucky. They get to go whenever, wherever. Of course, this urgency didn't start to occur until I transitioned to a vegan diet. Even as a vegetarian the eggs and dairy I ate, and the bread, slowed things down enough that I'd often go entire days without a number two. So the problem there was constipation. Not any longer, no sir. 

As I dropped my clothes into the washer and finished cleaning up the chunks of corn off the floor - sweet corn is at the time of writing on sale at Ralphs for 50 cents - I thought to myself, I really need to meditate. And I had a great 45 minutes session just staring at the candle. Hardly moving, hardly thinking. Really my most memorable thought was: We are really all like so many candle flames. Spirit meeting body is like the flame with its associated wick. And the wax is the food that sustains the flame, or our spark of light: the soul.  

Many mystics before me have used the flame as an analogy of our life on Earth. The Buddha himself, who it must be acknowledged was the father of a son whom he left with his wife to raise, said a soul's journey through various incarnations is like using one candle to light the next and so forth. Is the new candle the same flame? Is the same flame ever really the same, from one minute to the next? Sure, it looks the same, but the molecules are always changing. We identify the candle by the color of the wax and size and scent of the cylinder, but it's the flame that holds our attention. It's the hypnotic allure of the flame that compels us to purchase candles in the first place, and to light them when feeling romantic or to simply stare at in a solitary trance. The only difference between the candle and a person is that candles don't emit any waste. They simply use up their allotment of wax and burn the wick to a stub and disappear. Where does the flame flicker off to? To the realm of ideas where eternal flames always burn? To the same place where souls return? Enough of this philosophizing. Suffice it to say that you are not the wick. Be the flame, be the freakin' flame!

I for one am happy candles can't crap. I've had it with the mess! As for my own bodily functions, I'll continue to deal. And hopefully one day soon I'll bring the calm of contemplation into the next scenario involving poop in my pants, may that day never come.


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