Saturday, March 15, 2014

THE RIVER, Part Eight

What am I doing on this stupid river, I thought. Middle of the night, injured, tripping, and any minute might fall in the river and drown.

What am I doing with my life?

Forty-five years old, thinking I can pick up where I left off. Thinking I can go home again.

No one gets to go home again. No one gets to be 19 again, and if you blow it at 19 you live with the consequences and you can't go back.

What’s wrong with me, doing drugs at my age and canoeing. What do I know about canoeing? What do I know about life, for that matter?

If only I hadn’t married so young, maybe now I wouldn’t be trying to make up for lost time.

I have given so much, but now am empty handed. I deserve to have my youth given back to me. I deserve to live life to the fullest.

I could have accomplished so much. I coulda’ been a contender. Is it too late?

We rowed on through the darkness, less dark now. A few stars and the moon had broken through the clouds.

Suppose I had died today? What would I have left behind … a foreshortened life, a few pieces of artwork and some clever writing, a handful of comic books, and many shocked friends and a grieving family. My parents, my daughter now in college, my sister, my nephews, all grieving … my girlfriend waiting in our Austin apartment for me to come home from this fool canoe trip …

Yes, suppose I had died … or suppose I did die.

Yes, suppose I died today and suppose that everything since, including this right now, rowing on and on in the darkness is a Bardo dream and my Life Review.

“Almost there,” said Jim, pointing ahead to a bright glow beyond the black trees at the bend of the river.

“Almost where?”

“The bridge.”

“What bridge?”

“The bridge.”

“No,” I said, “that’s the Great White Light. We died back there …”

“You’re tripping.”

“No, we died back there.”

Jim rowed on, saying nothing. I could tell he was thinking I might be right.

The bend of the river slowly approached. What would we see? The Highway 67 bridge or the Great White Light of All Being? Were we living or dead?

We rowed on in anxious silence …

(To be continued)