birthdays, weddings and funerals

A bride tossing her bouquet of flowers. Catego...

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I camped out at Panera’s Bread this morning and part of the afternoon today. It was an interesting camping trip for me, as I arrived at the height of rush hour. People of all ages, backgrounds, races and agenda were coming and going like I’d not seen in a long time. But I was still able to carve out some time for my own pursuits–writing practice.

My first thoughts were about a book of birthdays, weddings and funerals. It sounded crazy to me, until i got to Panera’s and saw people coming and going at such a fast past. they were not stopping to consider the passing of time: the birthdays (which represent new beginnings), the weddings (which represent happy occasions) and the funerals (which represent sad occasions and times of reflection).

I didn’t understand until i had sat in Panera’s for about an hour. Then it hit me: all nations must at some time ponder the impact that birthdays, weddings and funerals have on our lives. Take for example the wedding phase of life. This is the place where whether alone or with the company of a mate, the primary is happy and content. Everything is going well and there are no really unsolvable problems. Even singles like me who attend a ceremony experience a euphoria because of the overwhelming emotions in the room.

Grandparents are happy because children are inevitably coming; parents are happy because they can now begin to spend their retirement without guilt and finally convert that spare bedroom into an art studio or a fitness center. It goes on and on. I think you get the idea.

Well, I’m rambling, but I’m also excited because now it is late at night and time for me to go to sleep. This is exciting in the context that I will awake the next morning–and have a new set of first thoughts.

By the way, I did write a poem about what I saw today. It wasn’t the poem I intended to write, but it was a poem and I did write it. After all, I am a writer, and quite simply–writers write.

I gladly welcomed this little poem with joy! It needs a little revision, but here it tis. . .

They Will Dismiss

it is anything but tranquil
far from the dream and the vision
revealed to the writer
earlier in the stretch of the quiet hours of the day
instead, it is teeming with
people hungry, eager to escape
the cruel clutches of November’s chill
is there room for one more
in this place with occupancy
limited to 110. is there room for my sweet indulgence
my practice of the writing life
my report of first thoughts of the book
of birthdays, weddings and funerals.
by 2 o’clock it will be over
they will go back to their
beloved cubicles and cubbies
overflowing with cute babe pictures
of chubby-cheeked, blue-eyed wonders
angels with pink and yellow ribbons
in their hair and wide expressions
of happiness spreading like blankets
across their brows. They will dismiss
to return to cubbies crammed
with memorabilia from fishing trips,
camping trips, boy/girl scouts’ adventures,
hiking expeditions, all-nighters
in bars with glow balls that swing
from black ceilings. nameless women
who give their goodies away
too easily. They will return
to tiny offices overflowing with
books on scientific matters
too lofty for me to attain, blue prints,
drafting tables, computers, i-pods
i-pads, printers, Blackberries,
strawberries and blueberries
hard hats and other construction-type
things, stethoscopes and PDRs,

letters, inboxes, 3-inch binders crammed
with proposals and overdue projects.
they will dismiss with paper sacks and
styrofoam containers that hold the remnants
of bread butts and lettuce and dollops of
mayonnaise mixed with mustard. A single
cracker will remain propped up
in plastic soup bowls resting
too contently against plastic spoons
finding longed for comfort and solace
since the meal began. who will then
write of these things of life
in this not-so-tranquil place. where voices
rise and fall and the cacophony of many
sounds like water or a howling, as if in the woods.
the copulation of male and female sounds and the
occasional cackle of an amused diner
reacting to a timeless punch line.
males and females whose hearts’ desires
are to escape the loneliness of small cubicles
among chubby babies with blue, happy eyes
and resonating memories of fishing trips and
fishing poles and fishing buddies so dear
and good times gone forever


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