The Dog is Immortal

I cheated on Amazon and went to the mall the other night. I ended up running into an old friend and colleague that I haven’t seen in years.

“Are you still doing x?” “Are you still doing y?” “No,” and “no.”

At one point in time, we both played different characters, we both had specific and specialized roles in what now feels like a different universe.

If we talked for longer, I’m sure we would have had a good laugh talking about how everything and nothing changes.  Still, for a few minutes we connected and were reminded that we’re both still in the same tree, just on different branches (and to think we did it without Facebook or LinkedIn).

Life goes on, new chapters begin. Things comes together, things fall apart. It’s great to see good people doing well. We had some really great times together.

That run in reminded me of a quote from John McPhee’s Draft No. 4 that’s stuck with me (my emphasis in bold):

When I was quite young, I was inadvertently armored for a future with Roger Straus. My grandfather was a publisher. My uncle was a publisher. The house was the John C. Winston Company, “Book and Bible Publishers,” of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and on their list was the Silver Chief series, about a sled dog in the frozen north. That dog was my boyhood hero.

One day, I was saddened to see in a newspaper that Jack O’Brien, the author of those books, had died. A couple of years passed. I went into high school. The publishing company became Holt, Rinehart & Winston, and my Uncle Bob’s office moved to New York. When I was visiting him there one day, a man arrived for an appointment, and Uncle Bob said, “John, meet Jack O’Brien, the author of Silver Chief.” I shook the author’s hand, which wasn’t very cold. After he had gone, I said, “Uncle Bob, I thought Jack O’Brien died.”

Uncle Bob said, “He did die. He died. Actually, we’ve had three or four Jack O’Briens. Let me tell you something, John. Authors are a dime a dozen. The dog is immortal.”

We won’t always succeed, but to strive to create something special – something memorable, something that was really worth our doing – that’s what counts.

The stories, the characters, the memories, they’re all immortal. Us, the authors? Well, like my friend and I in the mall, we – as we know each other – are going to die. The good news is, that means there will be three or four of us as well. That’s a beautiful thing.

We’re lucky to be a dime a dozen. Here’s to the upside of creating our dogs, moving on, and reconnecting with our old favorites down the road.

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