By Grant McGee: Local Columnist
Remember that hard freeze we had the first week of December? Temperatures were hovering around zero. Thick ice covered the back-yard pond. When the pond thawed there were a bunch of belly-up goldfish on the surface.
I had been so proud of those little goldfish. They were born last summer. It was the first time I ever had goldfish have younguns.
I got a net and started fishing them out. Soon I had over a dozen of the little guys in an old can. I decided they weren’t going to have a “burial at sea” as flushing small dead pets down the toilet is known.
I spied the new shade tree we have growing and remembered a story I heard when I was a kid, how the Native Americans showed the Pilgrims how to plant corn by burying a dead fish with the seed.
Then I remembered a hitchhiker from long ago and far away.
One summer afternoon I was just driving around with a high school friend of mine, like teenagers do, when we gave a ride to J. W. Parks.
Parks was the first Texan I ever met, the man who introduced me to “karma” and told a tale of what happens when we die.
As we drove along, J. W. talked. With all of his stories I thought I was in the company of either an American Sage or a guy full of a lot of b.s. For our family newspaper, let’s just say b.s. stands for “big stories.”
My friend and I were fascinated by all the stuff J. W. talked about, including Texas, hippie communes and hitchhiking around the country.
We took him to neat places in our neck of the woods. We went to a mountaintop to show him a great view.
“You know what happens when you die?” J. W. asked.
“You go to heaven or hell,” I said. “That’s what I was taught.”
“Well,” he said, “maybe eventually. But what happens to all that stuff in your brain? All that knowledge? All that life force? It goes to other living things that are near to you when you die.”
I went to the big church in my town, even sang in the choir (though they kept me on the back row where they couldn’t hear me too well), but I never heard any talk like the stuff J. W. was telling about the afterlife.
That’s what I remembered, though, as I held the can with my dead goldfish in it.
I dug a hole beside the tree, dropped in the fish and covered it up.
I envisioned the energy of the fish going to feed that growing tree and now the goldfish would be part of it.
Then I thought of how we’re at the end of the year.
This year may have been a good year, but there may have been disappointments, dashed hopes and broken dreams along the way.
Between the dead fish, J. W. Parks and the new tree in my back yard, I had a thought for the New Year:
Those disappointments and such, call it mental manure. Take that stuff, shovel it into a mental hole and cover it up to help your tree of life grow better in 2006.
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org