“Theories pass. The frog remains.”
By: Steve Watkins
We live in a cookie-cutter neighborhood with a fascistic set of HOA covenants and restrictions (aren’t they all?) mandating an oppressive uniformity of color, landscaping, and design. Barbie World (the one before the movie, anyway) could take a few lessons from the Idlewild subdivision. And yet here and there, as Jeff Goldblum playing Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park so famously observed, “Life, uh, finds a way.” I spent several months on my daily dog walks during the recent pandemic shutdown looking for evidence. Here’s some of what I found.
“No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.”
“Just say a word and the boys will be right there
With claws at your back to send a chill through the night air.
Is it so frightening to have me at your shoulder?
Thunder and lightning couldn’t be bolder.
I’ll write on your tombstone, I thank you for dinner.
This game that we animals play is a winner….”
–Jethro Tull, “Bungle in the Jungle”
“Theories pass. The frog remains.” –Jean Rostand
“I am Rabbit. I can be anywhere. I can be everywhere. I am outside time. I am outside dimension. Do you want me? I am yours.” ―Mark Andrew Poe, Ending Easter
“YHLQMDLG” –Bad Bunny
“Of course you don’t believe in fairies. You’re fifteen. You think I believed in fairies at fifteen? Took me until I was at least a hundred and forty. Hundred and fifty, maybe. Anyway, he wasn’t a fairy. He was a librarian. All right?” ―Neil Gaiman, The Sandman Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster. For when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” ―Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
–Joyce Kilmore, “Trees”
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
–Rumi, “The Guest House”
There once was a canine named Ben,
Who struggled to find peace within.
Then while you were gone
He crapped on your lawn,
And now he just sits there all Zen.
“If somebody thinks they’re a hedgehog, presumably you just give ’em a mirror and a few pictures of hedgehogs and tell them to sort it out for themselves.” –Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
“All this damn mulch! There must be a tree buried under here somewhere.” –Dog
“As long as the hummingbird hadn’t abandoned the land, somewhere there were still flowers….” –Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
“If I had Words”
“If I had words to make a day for you,
I’d sing you a morning golden and new.
I would make this day last for all time,
Give you a night deep in moonshine.”
Music adapted from Symphony No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saens, 1886; lyrics by Ella Fitzgerald (possibly).
“Well I’m in love with a big blue frog,
A big blue frog loves me.
He’s not as bad as he appears,
He’s got rhythm and a PhD.”
From “I’m in Love With a Big Blue Frog” by Les Braunstein, Mary Travers, Peter Yarrow, and Paul Stookey
“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” –George Bernard Shaw.
You knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for.”
From “Blue Moon,” by Billie Holiday
From P.G. Wodehouse, Over Seventy: An Autobiography With Digressions
“I suppose the fundamental distinction between Shakespeare and myself is one of treatment. We get our effects differently. Take the familiar farcical situation of someone who suddenly discovers that something unpleasant is standing behind them. Here is how Shakespeare handles it in “The Winter’s Tale,” Act 3, Scene 3:
ANTIGONUS: Farewell! A lullaby too rough. I never saw the heavens so dim by day. A savage clamour! Well may I get aboard! This is the chase: I am gone for ever.
And then comes literature’s most famous stage direction, “Exit pursued by a bear.” All well and good, but here’s the way I would handle it:
BERTIE: Touch of indigestion, Jeeves?
JEEVES: No, Sir.
BERTIE: Then why is your tummy rumbling?
JEEVES: Pardon me, Sir, the noise to which you allude does not emanate from my interior but from that of that animal that has just joined us
BERTIE: Animal? What animal?
JEEVES: A bear, Sir. If you will turn your head, you will observe that a bear is standing in your immediate rear inspecting you in a somewhat menacing manner.
BERTIE (as narrator): I pivoted the loaf. The honest fellow was perfectly correct. It was a bear. And not a small bear, either. One of the large economy size. Its eye was bleak and it gnashed a tooth or two, and I could see at a g. that it was going to be difficult for me to find a formula. “Advise me, Jeeves,” I yipped. “What do I do for the best?”
JEEVES: I fancy it might be judicious if you were to make an exit, Sir.
BERTIE (narrator): No sooner s. than d. I streaked for the horizon, closely followed across country by the dumb chum. And that, boys and girls, is how your grandfather clipped six seconds off Roger Bannister’s mile.
Who can say which method is superior?”
“Meditation is not evasion, it is a serene encounter with reality.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
“The lizard isn’t listening and the lizard doesn’t care.” –Seth Godin
“For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons….”
–T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
“But where do you live mostly now?”
“With the lost boys.”
“Who are they?”
“They are the children who fall out of their perambulators when the nurse is looking the other way. If they are not claimed in seven days they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray expanses.”
–J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Steve Watkins is co-founder and editor of PIE & CHAI, a retired professor emeritus of English, a longtime tree steward with Tree Fredericksburg, an inveterate dog walker, a recovering yoga teacher and co-founder of two yoga businesses, father of four daughters, grandfather of four grandsons, and author of 15 books, three of which are scheduled for publication in the coming year.