I have resumed recording my blog entries as part of the daily routine. The stats say almost no one is listening; on the other hand, I have had days with 10 Facebook “Likes” on days when the stats say I had only four or five readers, so it’s hard to trust the stats.
And why care about the stats? I enjoy doing dramatic readings and adding a dimension to the words. You know the difference between a text and a conversation, right? Same thing.
They say the stuff you love to do is what you would keep doing if everyone stopped watching or listening. And sometimes it takes a while for the rest of us to catch up to you. Ask Emily Dickinson.
And so I will read my little blatherings to you whether you care to listen or not.
– – – – –
REMINDER: Download your free ebook Jeep Thompson & The Lost Prince of Venus: Episode 1: Journey to the Second Planet by clicking this link.
Every so often I sit and run off a list like Ray Bradbury suggested — a stream of consciousness list of words that he would then mine to create his legendary short stories. It would say, for example, “THE LAKE. THE NIGHT. THE CRICKETS. THE RAVINE. …”
Or I will let loose my imagination and try to come up with scenarios for stories. I filled a page of my journal with four pretty cool ideas on Wednesday morning.
Here’s the first one: “An old man delivers candy to a nursing home every few days to keep the visitors happy. He has a regular run of local care facilities and is a familiar, friendly face to the nurses and administrative staffs. By night he fends off the monsters who come to the homes to drain the consciousness and memories from the old folks. ‘The monsters like fresh memories,’ he whispers to the boy who has discovered his secret. ‘That’s why people will still remember 60 years ago but they don’t know where they parked the car.’”
I would read that story. I’d love to write it. The odds are 50/50 or less that I will.
I almost never have expanded any of my lists or scenarios into an actual short story. It’s like I enjoy coming up with ideas but don’t want to take the time to invent the details. There’s probably some dark psychological reason for that — or I’m just damn lazy at the core.
One of these days, perhaps, I will overcome the inertia and spend the rest of my life spilling long-overdue stories into the ethos. Literary historians will spend thousands of words cooing over my amazingly productive and creative final years, little realizing that the explosion was the result of decades of repressed creation finally breaking down barriers and fleeing into the world.
Or, at least, that’s what I tell myself. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find my car.
I have a clear memory of a Fantastic Four comic book that ends with the F.F. flying away into the clouds with patriarch Reed Richards saying, “Where there is life, there is hope.” I have searched high and low but haven’t been able to find that story again.
These are melancholy days as my beloved Red stays in a local hospice. We are cheered by her recovery from the chemotherapy; I confess that when she chose to end that aggressive treatment I thought we had only a few days left, so sick and so weak was she. A month later, she is close to her old self again, still in need of 24/7 care but — as far as anyone can tell — not really on the brink anymore. Lymphoma is an awful enemy, so we are grateful for these bonus days together, even as we wait for what the doctors insist is inevitable.
This was also the 17th anniversary of the morning my 82-year-old mother woke up and said her last words: “I have a terrible headache.” She was considered brain-dead when the family gathered the next night, and she died a few minutes after they turned off her machine.
I thought about the old comic book because the melancholy left me feeling hopeless, and I realized I needed to rally and lift myself up on the rising tide of hope.
Once again I couldn’t find where Reed Richards said, “Where there is life, there is hope.” But I did find where the apostle Paul said:
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
It’s in Chapter 4 of the letter to the Philippians, right after he urged the early Christians to rejoice in the Lord always: “Let your gentleness be evident to all, and do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God — and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
My memory flashed to a long-ago personal crisis, when a marriage was crumbling and we went to a church service where that last encouraging phrase was the benediction.
As we stood to leave, I thought, “I wonder what that ‘peace that transcends all understanding’ feels like; I could use some of that about now.”
Suddenly I was filled with such an overwhelming peace that I almost fainted from the shock of that comforting feeling, literally. It only lasted a few seconds, because it jarred me so thoroughly, but the moment gave me a sure knowledge of what the apostle was talking about in his letter.
It’s a knowledge that allows me to chase whimsy in the face of the melancholy, and the memory helped me start to lift myself back up. And I plan to start thinking about the true, the honorable, and the rest of it the next time I’m faced with the silly nasties who inhabit antisocial media these days.
I see and hear the cranky and dyspeptic political tones, philosophical arguments dressed up as a battle between good and evil, and I have seen and heard enough.
“There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, there’s only you and me and we just disagree,” the poet sang.
And yet the demagogues behind the curtains conjure images of battlegrounds. We don’t just disagree; you are the embodiment of evil walking on Earth. If your kind keeps/retains power, then the rest of us die.
Hogwash. I say again, hogwash. Pay no attention to the demagogues behind the curtains.
My freedom is not dependent upon someone holding or being ejected from office, and neither is yours. Human beings are born to freedom, not granted liberty by benevolent rulers. What part of “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights” is so hard to understand?
We have a choice to stew in our own bile – or in bile provided for us by willing political toadies – or to live our lives freely, joyfully and in celebration.
You may follow the path to fear and loathing and the infestation of imaginary hobgoblins. I choose whimsy.
Once upon a time, in a kingdom so magical it was called The Magic Kingdom — but that name was spoken only in whispers because of trademark issues — the magical king and the magical queen were having a tiff.
Now, a tiff is a little more serious than a disagreement but less serious than a row, but the thing about disagreements is they can lead to a tiff, and the thing about a tiff is they can lead to a row, so the best course is to settle things before one thing leads to another.
And so the magical daughter stepped in to say, “Mother, Father, please don’t let this tiff spoil this magical day. Surely you can find common ground or a middle solution.”
“How can such a big problem have a little solution?” asked the king, who was hard of hearing.
“You old coot, she said ‘middle’ with an M,” the queen sputtered. “And how can you say this is a big problem? It’s fiddlesticks and froo fram.”
“So you’ve been saying,” the king muttered. “You never listen to me.”
On they sputtered and muttered until they were all puttered out. Then they smiled at each other and held hands.
“That’s better!” cried the magical daughter. “I’m so glad that’s settled.”
“We haven’t settled anything,” said the king.
“But you’re holding hands,” the daughter said. “You have your love, and love settles everything.”
“You are still young, and learning,” said the queen, “and have not yet learned that sometimes love isn’t enough.”
“Oh, but you are old, and forgetful,” the daughter replied, “and what you have forgotten is that love is all you need.”
At that the king leaned over and purred something into the queen’s ear that made her giggle. She kissed him, and he kissed her, and they wrapped their arms around each other, and quickly they both forgot what the tiff was about in the first place.
“Perhaps you should get a room,” suggested the magical daughter.
Cuteness Eversweet drew back her bow and eyed the target carefully. A hummingbird buzzed around a lilac bush.
Cuteness let the arrow fly, and a moment later a sudden shaft protruded from the center of a bull’s eye planted under a tree. Startled, the hummingbird darted away.
“Oh, I’m sorry, little one,” she said. “Don’t worry, no one’s going to hurt you on my watch.”
Cuteness Eversweet loved all living things in equal measure. Well, fine, she did not apologize to carrots when she chopped and diced them. But Cuteness loved animals and was a diehard vegetarian. Her friends stopped inviting her to dinner because of the sad faces she made as they savored their ribeyes.
One day a hungry bear approached Cuteness Eversweet in the forest. She led the bear to a raspberry bush, then a beehive brimming with honey, but the bear kept eying Cuteness like her friends eyed juicy hamburgers.
“Can’t we come to some agreement not to eat each other?” Cuteness Eversweet asked.
“Let me think about that for a second,” said the bear. “Um — no.”
So Cuteness sadly picked up a large stick and clubbed the bear on the side of his head. The great beast dropped like a stone, unconscious.
“I suppose you’re going to eat him now,” said the hummingbird.
“Goodness, no, of course not,” said Cuteness Eversweet.
“But I am,” said a hunter who suddenly appeared, wielding a great hunting knife with which to dispatch the bear.
Before he could do any such thing, however, Cuteness bashed him in the side of the head, too.
Now she had a dilemma: Two carnivores, side by side, unconscious, and likely more than willing to devour each other once they awoke. Also, both of them were too big for her to drag one or the other to safety.
She set to work with rope that the archery range coincidentally had stockpiled in its storage shed, and when they awoke the bear and the hunter were surprised to find themselves securely tied.
“If I release you, I want you both to walk away and leave the other in peace,” Cuteness told them.
“Are you crazy? I’m a hunter,” said the hunter. “I shoot bears.”
“And I’m a bear,” said the bear. “I eat people.”
“I sincerely wish you would not,” said Cuteness Eversweet.
“Yeah, well, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride,” said the bear.
Suddenly a horse appeared, and a huge white-haired bearded man dismounted.
“Why it’s Duke X. Machina,” cried the hunter.
“That’s me,” said the duke. “And you two must depart these woods in peace, for I have so decreed.
Grumbling, the hunter and the bear skulked away in opposite directions.
“Thank you for resolving my dilemma, Duke,” Cuteness Eversweet said gratefully.
“It was my pleasure, milady,” said Duke X. Machina.
“I love a happy ending,” the hummingbird hummed.
And come to think of it, they all did live happily ever after.