I told myself this past weekend that I was going to take the week off. I had it made up in my mind that I was not going to fill the WordPress void with another countless blog post. It’s not that I do not want to write. It’s not that I do not have any ideas to discuss with you or have another random secret to reveal. Writing is one of my many ways to unravel the metaphysical yarn in my mind, and pulling both ends of the string sometimes tightens the knot rather than break it free.
There are times when a writer needs to step away from the keys, close the doors to his brain, and watch the wind stir the branches of the trees. Sometimes, a writer, much less any other normal human being, needs to listen to the birds chirp, watch the squirrels scurry about and nibble on random things, and allow the world to turn on its axis. Sometimes, and yes I am prepared for the gasps and hand covered mouths, I find myself wanting to do chores (okay, mom! You heard correctly! You win!) and allow myself time to filter my public prose before releasing it into the world.
Last week, my father and I trimmed the neglected two acre family graveyard with a push mower because an easier and more efficient way would have been insane and go against the family heritage of always doing things the hard way. Last week, I knew I was not going to be gifted with enough time to sit down to myself and etch a somewhat meaningful notch in my blog post. Even then, with limited time during the day, I found myself thinking about my sticker covered, hardshell Samsonite briefcase, knowing that my space bending time machine was resting inside, yearning for me to crack it open and disappear into the unlimited parallels with it.
When I think I am going to step away from the asdf jkl; home keys, something happens. In the quiet and stillness of whatever room I am in, something invisible permeates the air. If I’m reading a book while lounging on my couch, one of the chairs at my grandmother’s aged dining room table that I inherited will pop and creak a couple of times. If I sit in the wooden swing under my carport and enjoy not focusing on anything pertaining to thoughts, life, and emotions, an owl near the creek bank will echo a familiar hoot. Even as I mowed the family cemetery, I caught myself looking around because the sounds of the mower, much less the sounds of the world, travel differently there.
I have come to realize by being self-employed, running errands throughout the day, working from home, doing chores (yes mom, there you go, second time I said it) around the house, and writing in my spare time, that one must find a way to create more time during the day or learn to use their schedule to their advantage and not the other way around. Granted, we are all given the same twenty-four hour day, and sleeping has to fall somewhere during that span of time. The greatest unit of measure is certainly a tease, and it has never been more heartbreakingly obvious to me than by observing the two greatest people I know age and blossom into who they are now. These two people gave me my beginning.
I have given them hell at a couple of points during my life span, and in return they have given me unconditionally tough love when I needed it, free shelter, food, and money, and a gentle understanding even in the most contrary of life situations. Time is starting to reverse the caretaking roles we now assume, and it frustrated me at first. I’ve since embraced this change in life and accepted it for what it is. My parents never hesitated when it came time to care for me, and I still remember the day they gifted me my first laptop, a white Apple iBook G4, during my first semester of college. I wrote a handful of fictional novels on that machine, back when gigabytes did not exist, and it helped me as I embarked on my writing adventures. If there was ever a moment when I needed anyone, they were there for me through the thick and thin, even if it required me stumbling down the mountain of life and nicking myself up before I crawled back up their front porch steps.
I remember one incident in fourth grade when I said an adult word that isn’t as proper as it should be but to a kid it seems like no big deal. Our class had read a story about Puss in Boots, and I so happened to call the cat by its kitten name. When I said the slang word that I now know refers to the anatomically mysterious female garden or describes a person that is scared of almost everything, one of the boys tattled on me to the teacher. Considering I attended a private Christian school, one would have thought that I had desecrated the very fabric that held all religious doctrine together.
I honestly did not know what that specific word truly entailed or I would have strayed from it considering every girl back then had the cooties. The more I think about it, I wonder how the other boy already knew what that word really meant. Instead of pinning the guilt and shame on me and making me seem like the locust eating nomad wandering the desert, they probably should have scheduled a surprise Social Services home visit for the other boy and his parents considering he knew exactly what the word was. My mind had not hit the bottom of the gutter yet and was still geared toward Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joes, and sports trading cards.
I understand that in this day and age, fourth graders are cooking meth, selling illegal firearms on the black market, stealing their parent’s cars to go buy Lamborghinis, shanking other kids in dark alleyways, and getting tattoos, and I could not understand what the big deal was for discovering a much cooler way to call a cat a kitten. (Thank you, sis, for jamming Naughty by Nature, Marky Mark, Tone Loc, and M.C. Hammer as we bee bopped around town. I also had two sixteen year old male chauffeurs to and from school that thought it was appropriate to play Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Bone Thugs n Harmony, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre, Wu-Tang, Gravediggaz, Snoop Dog, and DMX around me. It was an ear opening experience, to say the least, as I prepared my heart, mind, and soul each morning and afternoon.)
Long story short, I was sent to the principal’s office for saying, well, the word. The principal called my father, who at the time was self employed and working an hour away at the family business, and said that he needed his consent for me to be paddled due to my potty mouth. Dad told him that if he laid a hand on me then the last person he needed to worry about seeing descend through the clouds would be Jesus Christ. The principal’s face turned as red as my teacher’s face did when the boy whispered the word I had said into her ear, and me, oblivious to it all, could only sit and truly ponder what the fuss was about. The word that had created such a stir and brought street level crime inside the sacred walls of the school was, to me, nothing more but a feline that walked upright in knee high boots, wore a feather in his cap, and carried a sword in his hand.
My parents have given me a couple of health scares during their lifespan, and I did not know if I was going to lose my dad a couple of years ago when he had triple bypass surgery. Anytime a loved one is sick or is in the hospital, that is when I realize how fragile life truly is. I cannot imagine life without them, and I know they cannot imagine life without me, my sister, and the rest of our tribe. Life has a way of connecting certain people, keeping them together, and giving them stories to bring up from time to time so they can look back in laughter. Luckily for our little tribe, the stories are as endless as the sunsets.
One day, when our lives finally end and a new beginning forms, I hope we leave behind numerous intangible things to keep our loved ones satisfied and smiling when the tangible things may be few and far between. A car, house, or boat can be sold or repossessed. Memories cannot, not yet at least, and there is an inherent power in that. For now, all I can do is use my time wisely and hope that people will remember me the same way that I will always and forever remember my parents.
So, here I am, typing, thinking, wondering where each sentence will carry us and where me and you will end up by the time this post is archived. I believe we will travel to unusually good places, and I believe those destinations will give us satisfying scenery, as well as carry us through a couple of tricky intersections and forks in the road. Don’t worry, though, because you’re driving this convertible, my fellow adventurer, and I’m simply sitting in the passenger seat with a worn out atlas road map, no GPS, and controlling the radio of course.
You and I are going to go to the edge and back, and we are going to do that one word at a time.
Dig your toes into the soft grass. Listen to the waves splash the rocky cliff below us. Watch as the seagulls circle us in the air. Take a deep breath and look around. The view might surprise you.
If I’m lucky, by the time I’m finished with some of my authorized nonfictional biographical stories, you may crack a smile. The only one that will know that is you.
Push Play : Put the Top Down : Let’s Drive
( If you would, please raise your glass into the air – to Puss in Boots, the most misunderstood cat in history. )