“What’s the matter, girl?”

“Don’t call me girl. I’m 5-1/2, at the peak of my powers. Grrrrr.”

“What is it, Auss?”


“Bears aren’t around in this cold time of year, Auss.”

“They were around two weeks ago when they took down the birdfeeders in the front of the house. Let’s go back to the car, I’m hungry and I don’t feel safe.”

“The bears are back in their dens and I’m not going back to the car.”

“But I need to be safe!”

“I don’t believe in safe, Aussie. None of us is safe.”

“Don’t give me that baloney—no, changed my mind, I like baloney.”

“I am aware that in this country people want to be safe, but I don’t buy it. We can’t be safe from life, from pandemics, earthquakes, from illness or death. Life isn’t safe.”

“Aussie wants to be safe.”

“Oh Aussie, you’re not even Aussie.”


“You’re not real, Auss.”

“Should I bite you and see?”

“We have no real substance, Auss. What you think is Aussie is a personality you make up in your brain, it’s a fiction. At every moment causes and conditions come together to make up someone you call Aussie, but before I can even finish this sentence they’ve changed and you’re a different Aussie.”

“Still hungry, though.”

“And once we get home and you have your rawhide treat, you’ll no longer be a hungry Aussie, you’ll be a content Aussie. In fact, Auss, you’re not Aussie at all. You’re Aussie-ing.”

“How do I do that?”

“Do what?”

“Aussie-ing? I am Aussie. I don’t do Aussie.”

“What you think of as Aussie doesn’t exist. Instead, you’re Aussie-ing, changing this way and that. You’re movement, Aussie.”

“I’m movement, all right. Rushing to the car right now.”

“Aussie, you don’t feel safe because of the condition that there may be a bear out there. The closer we get to the car, the safer you feel. Why? Because conditions have changed. So, you’re always Aussie-ing according to causes and conditions.”

“I don’t want to Aussie, sounds like a stupid dance. I want to just be Aussie.”

“Wanting to be Aussie is delusional, Aussie. It’s much better if you dance the Aussie.”

“I’m a lousy dancer.”

“This is one dance you can do, Aussie, trust me.”

“What about Henry?”

“There is no such thing as Henry. He’s Henry-ing.”

“So, the million times a day when he brings you a toy to throw, that’s Henry-ing?”

“Yes, Aussie.”

“When he barks half the night for no good reason, that’s Henry-ing?”

“I’m afraid so, Aussie.”

“What about when he’s being stupid? Isn’t that his permanent state?”

“Nothing is a permanent state, Auss.”

“There are always exceptions. What about you? Are you Eve-ing?”

“Of course. Nothing permanent about me, either.”

“What about your big belly? Hasn’t changed much, from what I can see. And the tree up there, is that tree-ing?”

“Aussie, I think you got it now. There’s nothing permanent about that tree.”

“That tree don’t dance, it’s a tree!”

“But look at the top branches that are swaying in the wind. There’s so much action inside the bark, the roots, the earth around it, it’s changing all the time. You know, Aussie, maybe that’s why you don’t feel safe.”

“Because of the bear?”

“No, because you’re not permanent. Because you’re not really Aussie, at least not an Aussie that lasts longer than a fraction of a second.”

“If I change so quickly, how come I’m not out of breath?”

“Aussie, I think you’re afraid to discover that there’s no solid you. It’s at the bottom of our existential angst. Holy shit, there’s a bear there.”

“Is it a bear or is it bear-ing? Ahh, forget it. I’m Aussie-ing hard to the car. Toodaloo!”

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