Jeffrey Zable

The Epiphany When I realized that I wasn’t the smartest or most creativeperson in the world, I wanted to kill myself. I said to myself,“If I’m not the best in the world at something, then I reallydon’t deserve to live and be loved by anyone, not even the dognext door who jumps up and down and licks my hand every timewe meet.” And if you’re wondering how I realized that I wasn’t thesmartest or most creative person in the world, I’m not going to say,but I will confess that it partly involved reading poetry, fiction, andnon-fiction writers, some of whom I’d read before, but convincedmyself weren’t as good as yours truly. And then I listened to severalmusicians who play the same instrument as I do, and somehow realizedthat many of them were doing stuff creatively that was considerablybeyond my capability. I could go on, but it really doesn’t matter.What does matter is that I realized that deserving to live and beingloved by virtue of one’s accomplishments was a mistake I’d beenperpetuating all my life. What really matters is that the dog next doorloves and appreciates me even though there is no way for him to knowif I’m the smartest or most creative person in the world. My goal nowis to spend as much time as possible around animals, especially differentbreeds of dogs, and see if they treat me like the dog next door. . . Rowing Your Boat The reason they tell you to row your boat gently down the streamis so that you don’t tip it over because if you do, and you’re notwearing a lifevest you could drown if you’re not a good swimmer,or if the water is really cold you could get hypothermia. And the reasonthey tell you to row merrily—which really means happily--is becausetoo many people don’t derive enjoyment while being involved in a physicalactivity. They just think about getting to their destination instead of beingpresent in the moment. “Relax!” they’re telling you; breathe evenly;smell the roses, even if you have to imagine them. And the last part—the kicker!—is that life is really a dream, because what proof does anyonehave that they aren’t asleep when all of the stuff of life is happening to them!Who can say that when a person is eating a baloney sandwich and watchingtheir favorite television program that it isn’t all a plot to divert their attentionso that a thief can come into their house and steal anything of value beforethey knew what hit them. I know that I’m getting a bit off track, but whatI’m really trying to say is that there are lots of people who think this lifeis but a dream, and therefore don’t try to make much of their lives. Theywork at meaningless jobs, drink a lot of alcohol, and allow themselvesto become way overweight because if it’s all just a dream then it reallydoesn’t matter. And a lot of the same people believe in reincarnationand could care less if they come back as a dog, a cat, or even a paraquetbecause most likely someone will make them a pet and take care of themfor the rest of their lives. . . Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent (or upcoming) writing in Dime Show Review, Drunken Llama, Buddy, Third Wednesday, Tower Journal, Colloquial, MockingHeart Review, Corvus, Futures Trading, Fear of Monkeys and many others.