Passing the Devil

August 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’m an atheist, and I don’t believe in the supernatural. No afterlife, no ghosts, no gods or devils, heavens or hells. I trust science, and so far, science has found no evidence that there’s something after death. Just darkness and silence.

And yet sometimes — sometimes — something happens that makes me wonder, just for a moment, if maybe there is an undiscovered country. « Read the rest of this entry »

You Are Here

August 5, 2017 § Leave a comment

The walls have thorns. The paths are full of sharp stones. The leaves beneath your feet have been trodden black by millions who have come before you.

Weren’t you just here? You are not prepared for this. You never are.

Pick a path. Start walking.

Get out of the bed. Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Brush your hair.

Always turn right. Isn’t that what they say to do? Or is it left?

Take your pills and fight to keep them down. Pack something bland for lunch. Half a sandwich, perhaps.

If it’s dark, look to the moon. If she hasn’t been hung yet, find a sprinkle of stardust.

Make a list. Start at the top. Check things off, one by one by one.

The bees will bring you honeyed memories. Each one will sting. They’ll be the only treasures you’ll find here.

Listen to classical music, and let the waves of it wash over you. Waltz in the blue Danube.

Is there a way out this time? You can’t see it. You may never find it. Keep moving.

Call your mom.

If you find a bottle of sweet wine, speak to it of nothings.

Chew gum; it keeps you from clenching your teeth.

Comfort the small creatures and let them comfort you.

Sleep, if you can. When you can.

Sing a song to greet the dawn. One of the old ones. One of the sad ones.

Keep walking. Keep turning right. Or is it left?


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Still

June 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

There are still books to be read, and be written.

There are still spring flowers and summer fireflies and autumn leaves and the hush of winter snowfalls.

There are still sunrises and sunsets to see.

There are still roads not taken, trails not explored, mountains not climbed.

There are still adventures you’ve not had.

There are still  grandeurs yet to see, and beauties yet to lift your heart and expand your mind and soothe your soul.

There are still canyons to call into.

There are still milestones to celebrate.

There are still conversations to be enjoyed, by firelight or candlelight or in the dark or in the pub.

There are still friends you have and friends you’ve yet to meet.

There are still reeds bent low by raging rivers, standing tall when the waters calm.

There are still all these, and more.

If you are weary, pause from the fight (but only pause). Be still. Breathe.

Remember what you fight for, and why. There are still so many good things worth the battle.

 


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Monsoon Spring

May 31, 2017 § Leave a comment

Good morning. I ate breakfast before I left the house. So what if it was doughnuts? Shut up, it’s still a major accomplishment for me.

Last night, I visited with my friend Luna, whom I hadn’t seen in too long, and others I see more often but usually don’t get to have a good conversation with. The group was small and the environs quiet enough that we could all hear each other and have a good chat. I’d almost forgotten how nice that was.

At one point, we were lamenting the monsoon spring we’ve had. Round after round of torrential rain, flash floods, intense storms. The flooded basements that come with it. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Architecture of the Other

May 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

Architecture is a particular fascination for me. Not professionally; I’ve never had any dreams of becoming an architect. It’s merely a casual interest. Buildings and their design fascinates me, and I can wander around just about any neighborhood and be intrigued by the buildings there.

I’m most aware of my surroundings — and particularly, the buildings — when I’m a passenger traveling through a strange part of town or a city I’ve never been to. If I don’t have to pay attention to the way, I can relax and take in the alien landscape.

So it was when I found myself in Minneapolis last week, traveling for work. I’d never been to the city before, and imagined it to be some boxy, dull, cookie-cutter town. And it might have been, at one point, but then the aliens landed and began making Minneapolis over into a semblance of their home planet. « Read the rest of this entry »

Changing Channels

March 23, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’m writing this while listening to the Disquietude podcast, discovered via a Warren Ellis tweet. Disquietude’s raison d’etre is to share ambient music, something I’m just beginning to explore (again, thanks to Warren Ellis, and mostly as a way to block out noise in the office). Trying a new thing and, so far, finding it compliments the writing process pretty well.

The morning drive to work was Billy Joel on the iPod. Normally, I listen to classical music, but this morning, I felt like revisiting the music of my middle-school years. A lyric from “Close to the Borderline” jumped out at me:

I got remote control and a color T.V.
I don’t change channels so they must change me

I tend to stay in bubbles with other like-minded individuals. Geeks, liberals, Browncoats, gamers — these are my tribes.

Bubbles can be safe spaces, allowing me to push the world away awhile, relax, breathe. We all need to slip into a comfortable bubble now and then.

But bubbles and tribes can quickly become echo chambers. I have to remind myself that it’s good to step outside them now and then, change the channel, try new things. Be aware of what’s going on, even if I don’t like what I see and hear.

So, I’m reprogramming this old-dog brain, or trying to. Changing the channels, and not letting them change me.


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Swords into Plowshares

March 21, 2017 § Leave a comment

The story goes that my grandfather — my mother’s father — served in the army in World War I, and for part of that time, he guarded German prisoners of war in (or very near) Paris.

While in France, he purchased a pair of binoculars, which were passed along to me at some point. They look like they’ve been through a war: chipped paint, a bent shade, a cracked lens, a wonky focus wheel.

He also brought back a trio of what at first glance seem to be brass vases. They are, in fact, artillery shell casings. « Read the rest of this entry »

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