That day is today.
The frog, however, was three weeks ago. That’s how impacting it was. That’s how strongly it weighs on my mind. The frog came. The frog went. But the memory – alas! – the consequence of said frog remains deep within me.
Allow me to recall what happened: it was late in the evening and I was carrying my laundry across the grassy yard to the laundry room in my apartment complex. That’s when I saw it, hopping carelessly across the pathway in front of me.
“Holy shit! A frog!”
I set down my laundry and ran over to it. My God! Golly gee! A frog! I wanted to turn and shout, Guys! Come look! A frog! but no one was around. I followed this frog to the porch of a neighbor. I was about to knock on their door to tell them they had a frog on their porch, but it was after midnight. Then the frog disappeared. Wow. A frog. A real, live frog. Holy shit.
Some of you may think this is a wee overreaction, but let me ask you, Readers, especially those of you in the Golden State: When was the last time you saw a frog? No, I don’t mean one of those piss ant pygmy frogs the size of a pebble you see by the sloughs. This frog was the size of my palm. Something you only see in cartoons or fairy tales. My reaction would’ve been completely appropriate in Los Angeles, where frogs are a mythical creature as common as, say, phoenixes or unicorns.
…which led me to a question: why are we (west of the Rockies) so aware (from the onset of our development) of creatures like frogs when they essentially don’t exist to us?
And then it hit me: IIIIII’m dreaming of a whiiiiiiiite Christmaaaas…. just like the ooooones I uuuused to knoooooooww…..
What I mean is, since when do we in the West have any connection whatsoever to the values and cultural stimuli implanted in us through language? We spend all of Christmas watching movies with snowy settings and listening to carols and jingles that talk of sleighs and snowmen, and yet, when we step outside our doors into reality, how do we accept any of it? The last time San Francisco had a white Christmas was 1856. To put that into perspective, people still owned slaves then. Germany had never existed. Revolutionary War veterans were still dying off.
And yet, our songs and stories that pass words and values through the generations as memes refer to things like snow and frogs and meadows…
“Oh, come on Dr. Quack, we all know meadows can only be found in myths and dreams.”
My Reader, do not be fooled! Meadows do exist! I assure you! You can even find them in California if you look hard enough!
But my point is this: we live in a world in which our language alienates us from the values of our reality (or vise versa). Our cultural values (tied to language) aren’t applicable to our actual existence. We know of frogs, we know of snow, we all know of foxes, toads, April Showers, May Flowers, elms, elk, maples, fireflies…
Does this disconnect mean anything? Are we being forced into a micro-value system with which we can’t actually relate?
And so today, I speak of the frog as well as my reaction to the frog, because if my reaction is any indication, it shows that an existence void of its language-values results in complete nutcases like me.
P.S. – irrelevant aside: perhaps this also applies to our relationship with history? How can we, in the west, feel anything towards our country if we have never seen or experienced the places and symbols in our country’s mythology? Is there a detachment of national sentiment between those who have never been to Gettysburg or Philadelphia and those who have? Do people on the East feel closer to whatever it means to be American because they wake up every morning with American history outside their windows?