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Sunday, January 15, 2012
A Matter of Time
As one door closes, another opens up...
(Paraphrased from a quote by Alexander Graham Bell)
Just three weeks ago this tree was the centerpiece of somebody's home, lovingly decorated in tinsel and twinkling Christmas lights, with a small mountain of brightly-wrapped presents spilling out around the trunk. As the focus of a season celebrating family, love, and togetherness, a Christmas tree represents everything good about the holidays.... and now here it sits, stripped bare in the cold winter light and left out on the street with the rest of the garbage.
There’s an ugly metaphor of some sort in there, but I’m not sure I care to look it in the eye.
The only constant is change, and one of these days each of us will be left out with the trash, figuratively speaking, shuffling off this mortal coil into the Great Beyond. If we’re lucky, a few words will be said, a glass or two raised in our honor, and that will be that. After a respectful moment, the world will turn away and move on as it always has and always will, until the day comes when humanity finally manages to erase itself from this earth. Nothing sustains, nor can the center hold as time marches on.
While back on the Home Planet during the holidays, I watched the television news as a crazy Chechen sporting a pony tail terrorized Hollywood and the surrounding area by setting three dozen fires in cars and apartment buildings over the course of several nights. Meanwhile, a serial killer stalked the homeless community in Orange County, murdering several pitiful souls who had already lost pretty much everything else in life.
Yes, nothing says “holiday spirit” here in Southern California quite like an epidemic of arson and murder...
I returned to the Doomed City of the Future after the holidaze to find a pile of mail on my doorstep, mostly junk –- advertising circulars for businesses and services I’ll never use -- along with the usual stack of bills chanting the same message: Happy New Year, now pay up. Sorting wheat from chaff, I came across a small white envelope with an American flag on the back and a return address for The Neptune Society. Across the front was a teaser apparently designed to titillate my interest enough to rip that envelope open.
“Free Pre-Paid Cremation!” it read, “Details Inside.”
People of Neptune, I’m not quite ready to be shoved into an incinerator and reduced to a small bowl of ashes -- not just yet. And really, are you sure the phrase “Free Pre-Paid Cremation!” makes any sense? If the corpse-burning is "free" then what’s the “pre-paid” bit all about, and if your body-barbeque service requires pre-payment, exactly how is that "free?" Inquiring minds want to know.
So thanks anyway, Neptunians, but don't call me -- I'll call you.
Still, perhaps this serves as a useful reminder that we always have something left to lose until suddenly we don't -- and once that threshold is crossed, nothing else will matter anyway. But until that grim day, hope remains... and right on cue, as I took down the 2011 wall calendar to put up a new one for 2012, the phone rang with a job offer. Yet another low-budget, cheap-ass Disney sit-com at cable rate (20% under union scale and no double-time until the fifteenth hour of work), of course, and with only three episodes left plus the stage wrap, will provide barely a month of work -- enough to make the February nut and put a small dent in the Christmas credit card bills as they roll in with the daily mail. Not a great job, but a job all the same, and if the New Year is to begin with baby steps, so be it. Out with the old and in with the new. As winter leads to spring, the low rumble of pilot season can be heard in the distance -- and that means one thing: soon the Buffalo will return to Hollywood, and the hunting will be good.
It’s just a matter of time.