death in paradise

We hike in paradise on a daily basis. Slog though the sand on the cliffs overlooking the shore — and the sand gets deeper every year. Though every other year or so a truck comes by and tries to clear the trail some. The sand returns, carried by the wind. Someday, I’ll be slogging through the drifts, Woman-in-the-Dunes style. Just one step after another, getting nowhere at all. On good breezy days the hang-gliders set up at the head of the cliff and soar overhead in colorful array. Some of them tempt the cliff side. Some of them tempt the ocean itself. Paradise.

Today someone died in paradise. His heart just stopped beating, and that was it. But there were at least five Walkers around, each trying CPR, each trying to revive him.

The dogs were running wild. Everything felt completely disrupted. Even the wind felt suddenly at a loss for words. One of the pups stood near us, afraid to go nearer the effort to save a life. It was as if all the rules had changed. All the Walkers had lost their focus, their authority, their hold on the pups. Dogs were running everywhere. Into the wind, into the parking lot — but not this time over the cliff.

When it was clear that he could not be revived, there was shock.

“We don’t really know how to give CPR to a dog,” J said. “We should know, but we don’t.”

The Dog Walkers handle eight to twelve dogs each, every single day except on weekends (when the Owners might step out for a walk in paradise). The Walkers roam the hills, widen the trails, pick up the masses of shit (usually), find each other’s strays, They know all the regulars by name. They give treats, and rub ears, and pat rumps, and break up the occasional spat. But today they were in shock. They couldn’t save a life.

I’m thinking about doggie CPR.

I mean, Rosh’s mouth is five times larger than my own. So how does that work? Do I believe in trying, or in ‘letting nature take its course’? Which is the more responsible course?

I’ve thought about dying here in paradise every single day for the past decade or so. There’s a spot, a tunnel I go under every day that leads to the edge of the cliff. And as I pass under it, I can picture it collapse with me under it. Nothing personal. Just a lesson in plate tectonics. I always picture Roshi knowing exactly which direction to run to not be there when it happens. But still I walk here. I take that turn. Woman in the Dunes. Every day. With dog.

But here’s the thing. This is paradise, after all. This is us, unleashed in paradise. It sure beats any other place or way to go.

About mira

Mira Z. Amiras is Professor of Comparative Religious Studies and founder of the Middle East Studies Program at San Jose State University. She is past-president of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, and has served on the Executive Council of the American Anthropological Association. She is co-founder, with Ovid Jacob, of Beit Malkhut, a study group in Jewish sacred text. She's most attached to the creatures of her body and her household — first and foremost, her kids, of course: Michael and Rayna — and then the other folks large and small of various species, including Roshi and Vlad, a whole lot of hummingbirds, the old parrot who lives next door, and a beautiful garden that does what it will.
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One Response to death in paradise

  1. Rhonda says:

    "Even the wind felt suddenly at a loss for words."
    I marvel and weep at the perfection.

    Rh–

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