A Eulogy for Eugene (A Eulogene)

12 08 2008

A few weeks ago while in San Francisco some friends and I witnessed the brave struggle and tragic demise of a poor soul we were privileged to meet.  I promised then that I would eulogize his life and legacy.  His name was Eugene and he was a sea lion.  

When I first met Eugene I was in the company of friends at the Fisherman’s Wharf at the San Francisco Bay.  The stench of sea water and sea lion feces clung to our nostrils as we observed a content throng of sea lions basking on the docks.  Some of them were battling over a section of dock.  Others filled the air with the cacophonous sound of their baying.  Most of them, though, simply laid on the docks soaking up the morning sun.  It was a memorable scene.  

It was from the midst of this host of sea lions that we saw emerge a young, solitary sea lion, smaller than the others.  He swam alone, apparently content not to be a part of the shiftless multitude nearby.  His antisocial tendencies led us to christen him Eugene, that being the name that we thought best typified the quintessential social outcast.  

With our new friend named we felt a renewed affection for him and began to watch his every movement.  We came to understand that little Eugene, while happy to be on his own, wanted a section of dock to bask on nonetheless.  We watched in empathic frustration as Eugene discovered that he simply did not have the strength to ascend the unoccupied sections of the dock.  But to his credit, Eugene did not give up.  Time after time he would jump from the water only to smack his head on the dock and slip back into the water.  

Try after try, failure after failure, the unsinkable Eugene continued.  We found ourselves cheering him on from our vantage point, unable to offer any more assistance than our excited words of encouragement.  Our fates had somehow become intertwined with that of this indomitable young mammal in his moment of struggle.  Yet we could only watch – silently, fervently hoping that Eugene would achieve his goal.

Then, after one particularly painful-looking failure to launch himself atop the dock, Eugene slipped below the water never to surface again.  At first we couldn’t believe it.  What twisted sort of natural order would allow such utter failure after such intense and inspiring effort!  We all held our breath, hoping against hope that he would come back up once more to continue his quest.  But we hoped in vain.  The young sea lion’s time had come and there was little we could do to change the march of destiny.  

So it was with heavy hearts that we left the docks that day.  We felt both blessed and saddened to have seen transpire such epic struggle and catastrophic loss.  But what we saw that day will live on with us in our hearts and in the words of praise and devotion to a life lost too soon.  

Eugene was an example to us all – of courage, of determination, of perseverance and individuality.  We should all take a lesson from his life and death.  Eugene’s unique spirit led him to take on challenges and risks that were unappreciated by his peers.  Eugene’s failure to overcome those brine-soaked docks was not a failure at all.  Eugene persevered and won his victory in the effort.  He tried not because he thought he should, but because he thought he could.  

It is my hope that Eugene’s exemplary fortitude live on in the lives of those who knew him in life and that we all never forget what Eugene accomplished by his death.  Eugene, you will be missed.



P.S. – The above is meant to be satirical.  It will likely not seem as funny to anyone who was not present for the events described.  Please try to enjoy it anyway – as a piece of creative writing perhaps.  The sea lion, Eugene is probably not actually dead.  And for all we know Eugene could have been a girl.  Nevertheless, all other events occurred as described.  Some creative liberty may have been taken in describing the emotions felt by the observers, however. :)




3 responses

12 08 2008

Whatever, you described our emotions perfectly. A fitting tribute – you captured Eugene’s beautiful spirit with your inspiring words. Eugene will not soon be forgotten.

12 08 2008

An inspiration to us all.

12 08 2008

I’m with Randal, you really captured the emotions of that day.
Thank you for the moving tribute. Here’s to Eugene, may he rest in peace on the great docks in the sky.

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