The Grim Raker

Someone is always triggering my fight or flee instincts. The mean guy raking leaves yells at me for letting my dog sniff his grass. The jerk on the phone who wants to sell me yet another mortgage. “Mortgage is rooted in death,” I tell him, “and there I was having such a nice day until you called.” He was just trying to get by. Even the grim raker was trying to get by. He has his own problems. Me? I’m just a nervous system trapped in a bag of water. A great electrified amoeba. My college education won’t change the fact. I feel like running into the street and shouting: “But I wanted so much more!”

The other night I got into a conversation with a pal of mine. We admitted our respective issues with “original sin”. I said: “Lots of atheists, Christopher Hitchens especially, like to think of original sin as spiritual totalitarianism. But I don’t know—I think I was born vain, and while vanity has served me well in many instances, it’s of no use when confronting mortality.”

We talked for some time. Hitchens died believing in nothing. He was unbowed. I liked him for that.

For sin one could substitute “defects” (though not disability). Defects of character. I’m not scouring myself.

I am lonely. Time will say nothing but I told you so. Time only knows the price we have to pay.

Tell that guy with the rake he’s missed a spot.