The house at the end of the block, where Madeline Bastis, a Zen priest, once told me that when it came to reporting on the New York marathon, I should write about all the finishers from here, not just the top ones — to wit, that attention should be paid — is being torn down.
At first I thought how sad, but now, having got out her file and reading through it a bit, I imagine her saying, in Zen fashion, “Let it go, Jack, let it go.”
We’re all tear-downs in the end after all. And presumably Zen practitioners go far toward tearing their clamorous egos down long before they take leave of this life.
Speaking of leaves, you can take mine. As the sun began to go down yesterday — well, it really doesn’t go down, but anyway — I thought, after having transferred a metric ton of leaves from our lawn to a still-vacant (but not much longer) lot nearby, “I’m either Hercules or Syphilis . . . er, Sisyphus.” A flat-lander Sisyphus, of course. (It’s all what you think about as you drag the tarp back across the road.)
Perhaps I’m a little bit of both. I forget the nature of Hercules’s labors, but removing the leaves from our lawn might qualify as a modern-day alternative to the Augean stables. (I am picking up after Henry these days, by the way.)
Ou sont les leaf suckers d’autant? Perhaps Larry Cantwell will bring them back. He can’t? Well . . . I wish he would.
Especially considering that this fall may be the last in which I can transport them across the street. (Many probably are blown back by the north wind over the course of the winter, but for the moment we’ve got that curried look the middle class adores so. Cleanliness is next to Godlessness here, you know.)
I guess it’s because we want others to think we’ve got it together, that we’re people of substance rather than of substance abuse. Neat and tidy, not for tearing down.
Yet if everything’s to be torn down in the end, why go to any effort to make improvements a potential buyer might like if it’s all to be reduced to rubble?
I guess you might say the same of ourselves. But one wants to do one’s best, to put one’s best foot forward, to spring ahead rather than fall back, even though we know we’re tear-downs in the end, which is why I bought a new pair of sneakers today, formal New Balance black ones, and got a haircut (ears and nose primarily) and am wearing jeans that Mary says do justice to my butt, rather than the baggy khakis so many old men wear, to their detriment she says.
But there’s that ego again. I must tear it down and haul it over to the vacant lot where it will stay, until the north wind begins to blow.