Essay: Rocks Can Speak

When I was a very young lad, one day as I was walking along a well-worn path, I noticed a stone of interesting size and shape. The stone briefly entered my short span of attention, as did many things lying about my undiscovered world at that age. I don’t recall many other details about my surroundings that day, but they no longer matter.

That was the first time a stone was not just another rock lying among other random bits of littered scree. Certainly, similar discoveries have occurred thousands of times throughout my life while walking, running, hiking, exploring, or just hanging out (thinking or not). This was a simple event that works as my metaphor for many other life events involving discovery, reason, and doing.

The rock was just lying there among others, perhaps for a thousand years or more. I wasn’t yet thinking in geological or historical terms. Stones have served many purposes after they were formed millions, perhaps billions, of years ago. There it was on the ground with others just where my eye located it. It had probably been moved around in one fashion or another over the centuries. I had no way of knowing, nor did I care. Even before approaching it, I was mentally making my I saw it first claim.

Living organic things come and go. Almost all life forms have appeared for a time and then were gone. Over 99 percent of life is extinct. Some rocks may contain fossilized records of past lives, but most are just inorganic minerals. I was not the only child who saw rocks, sticks, or other items as things naturally intended to be thrown about. Getting the right rock and throwing it brings a feeling of success. Skipping rocks on water is a universal rite of passage.

Looking around at the organic things today, I realize that most are less than 100 years old, and less than 50 in current forms. The complexities of the laws of thermodynamics (physics) change things, but we only see the now.

Neither I nor the stone said anything, Rocks don’t talk or hear in the animal sense. But nature can speak to us through both organic living things and through inanimate objects, such as rocks and fossils.

As I moved, the rock played its role as a lifeless stone like billions of similar objects covering the surface of the Earth. Rocks are infinitely expert at going with the flow. River rocks spend so much time tumbling in the roll of water they lose their edge and become rounded. The rock I saw did not sparkle, twinkle, or do anything spectacular. But I saw it. I squatted and half bent over so I could pick it up with my hand. That was many years ago.

More recently, I picked up another rock – my first in years. I carefully examined it, top, bottom, and all sides. One learns that by picking things up, especially rocks, one must carefully examine the item to ensure it is a lone stone, and not one littered with objectionable attachments. It must be just the boy, or now the man, an old man, and the rock with no another surprises.

While I didn’t bother to analyze it, the rock was local Austin limestone, or chalk rock, which is said to have formed in the window of 100 to 200-million years ago. It didn’t matter, and at the time, what I was looking at was just an old rock. Or was it?

Ideas are like stones. Once you pick one up, you must examine it, and only then decide what to do with it. As with stones, I have dropped ideas, put them in my pocket for later pondering, or threw them. When throwing ideas or stones, one must distinguish between discarding, sharing, or targeting. The first is simply throwing it away or back to where it came from. The second is communing by tossing it to someone else. But the third is capturing the idea or stone for our own creative purposes. Like rocks, ideas can speak to us. We just need to listen.

Look both ways for material and ideas. That’s what creativity is all about.
Toss some back to the gods, share some with others, or use them within your own art.
Mind the gaps. Look there for those hidden gems.

Like rocks, ideas may be too big.

Essay: Tell the Story (of two hearts)

J-Dubs challenged me and two others to write the story for this photo prompt. I have. I am then to post a new picture and challenge three other bloggers to write to it (there are apparently no rules for length or type. Some are poetry. Some are long, others short).

***

I was awakened by a loud noise but found nothing. Unable to sleep, I sat at my desk. As I started to type, a message appeared on screen that said, please don’t be afraid. We need to talk. If you say it is okay, I will be right with you. If you say nothing or no, I will leave you alone. Will you talk with me?

I thought about calling my wife, but I just sat there – heart racing. I pushed my chair back and thought, Now? The words now or never appeared on the screen. I think I said fuck.

I spurted out a muffled verbal okay then. A man immediately walked into the room. He looked like me, but this was no simple doppelganger. He was not someone else who looked exactly like me. He was me, but not me. He held two glasses of wine and placed one on the desk in front of me and he sat on the couch and sipped the other.

He spoke first.

You were wishing you had a drink. I had the same wish. All you need do is think your questions and I will think them too. Then I will answer you. I will talk, but only you can hear me. If you talk, you risk waking your wife. If that happens, I must leave. So do not speak. Just think. As you can see, I am physically here, but in a way I’m not. I’ll explain that later.

I cannot read your mind exactly as you do because I don’t share your background, reasons, motivations, or physical experiences, but my thoughts parallel yours. That’s how it works for us. It is our relationship while you live. We are not precisely the same person, there are two of us, yet we are the same persons in two parallel universes. It’s hard to comprehend. I need you for me to exist as I am.

We go back a long way. Do you recall the monsters under your bed as a child? That was me. I knew you would talk about it. As a monster, it would seem normal to others. If you had told your parents you found yourself under your bed, they might have been alarmed.

He went on for a long time. As we drank the amount of wine in the glasses never changed. When I thought of a question, he would answer it immediately. He never stopped talking. When I understood, he knew it and would move on.

While time passed, what seemed like hours took only minutes. He explained that as a form of mental telepathy wherein thoughts happen faster than spoken words. What seemed like talking was a form of thought transfer, which explained why no one heard us. I had not verbally said a word.

He said – You have heard of a parallel universe, right? I am not only from what you call another universe, I am you in that universe. Our universes are real, but separate and parallel. One is superimposed on the other – dimensionally separated, but not physically. Mine is older and less physical.

I can explain it but you’re not capable of understanding or believing it. We discovered the possibility of a different universe and sort of willed yours into existence. But for us to have access to yours, we needed to transform physically. What you call evolution is us trying to figure out how to make it work. Eventually we did, but not perfectly. We had to learn about the impermanence of a physical universe.

He explained that while he was a permanent entity, he did not always exist as he did now. He was not a life form until I was born. His incubation was parallel to mine and he came into existence as a person equivalent to me, but in his universe.

He explained that others like him have attempted showing themselves but often regretted it because of human reactions due to superstition and fear. He asked – How do you explain a parallel universe to people who don’t even know what a universe is? For communication there must be some common ground.

Then his expression looked more serious. He said – You need to know how this will end. When you die, I will cease to exist as I am now. I’ll revert to my prior form since at your death there will be no human entity to parallel. We don’t know what happens to you. Humans just seem to die.

Our being depends upon yours for quality and purpose, but not for raw existence. Eventually, I will be paired with another human. There are more of you than us, so many humans are not paralleled. Your existence is no longer dependent on us. You’re on your own in many ways.

You may find that unfair, but there is more for us to figure out. The two parallel existences still depend on each other. I want to propose that we try something new. If you like my idea, you and I will be the beta test.

Just as he started to explain his idea my wife called out to me. Instantly he was gone. I walked to the bedroom and she asked, “Do you feel ok? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I told her that I had heard noises from under the bed that were very similar to when I was a child and had seen monsters.

She groaned and mumbled, “Why the fuck did I want to marry a writer? Go to bed!”

© Bill Reynolds 2/21/2019

***

Tell the story if you so choose. The three writers I challenge are:

  1. Kathrine
  2. Jim
  3. Tara

And the photo is (credit to Sherry):

Look both ways and watch your footing. Do not fall into the gaps.

Poetry – City Boy on the Farm

That Summer on the Farm

It was hard work, that summer
filled me with memories
and lessons about life,
living close to nature, those feelings,
a life lived as few city boys knew.

The smell of manure spread on the fields
the milk cow faces up-close to touch
the unlimited number of stars in the sky
first seen by me at fourteen.
Few city boys knew or saw.

The noises of the day, the life,
the tractors, lifting bales of hay
with a hook. The smells, our sweat;
and the taste of fresh raw from-the-cow, milk
and garden peas right out of the pod.
Things learnt, few city boys knew about.

The quiet of an amazingly still cool night,
the sleep of a man who is still just a boy,
the sun in the morning when the cock crows
the waking of nature and all that is life.
Amazing stuff, few city boys know.

The smoke from the fires
the good feeling of hard work finished,
the wait for tomorrow’s harvest and
the craziness of good friends.
Things this city boy soon knew.

The past not forgotten,
the touches, the pain, the
cries and the laughs all
implanted like extra brains in
my heart and my head, parts of me.
Few city boys will ever know.

And there it will stay
till one lucky day — it happens,
I’ll be back on the farm when
I’m finally a boy again, in an old man’s body.
What every city boy knows is true.

©Bill Reynolds

Look both ways in the farmer’s fields.
A man is forever a boy, so mind the gap.

Song Lyric Sunday – Doctor (Witchdoctor)

Helen is taking a break from the blogosphere until her vigor returns, Jim has stepped in to host Song Lyric Sunday (thank you, Sir). In honor of Helen, Jim’s theme(s) for today is/are doctor/health/medicine to honor Helen. Good idea, Jim.

When I saw that theme, I jumped on a 1979 dance banger called Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor) sung by Robert Palmer, but as soon as I published it, I discovered that it had already been used. Back to the music boards.

My second choice is Witchdoctor sung by Cartoons and written by Ross Bagdasarian.

The words/lyrics (if you can call them that) are in the youtube video clip, so I did not include them as text. Goofy is good, right?

My best wishes to Helen for a speedy recovery and many thanks for her leadership in SLS.

Look both ways for the witchdoctor,
and mind the “Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang;
Walla walla, bang bang” gaps.

Click graphic for link to SLS page.

Poetry: They die, dang-it

 

Dad was 74, and then some more.
Mom barely passed 77, but she did.
And then they died, as happens to humans,
even parents go away one sad day.

It’s natural. Bad enough — life and death.

They were just short of some expected norm,
Dad a hard-core Camel smoker with a long past
as an underground hard-coal miner, and a heavy
weekend drinker till he quit. Cuz, “too old.”

Now names of leaves and ancestor memories.

Mom got late to fixes for breast cancer,
yet survived about ten mo’ years and may have
won even more, but in life —  it’s always
somethin’ what makes one go away.

Each day of life is precious with mothers.

“Smoking is my one and only pleasure”
said my sister, ‘Show,’ to me, trying to quit
but failing. And, before yielding to lung cancer,
“You know, Billy, I never quit. Now I can’t.”

I hate being right. Precious is life with others.

Other sister was bro Danny’s sis, half to me,
was still poking in her time card at 80-some.
I loved her dearly but struggled when asked,
“What’s it like, to be treated like 3 year old?”

Over fifty years of love for her baby, half-brother.

Now, I just act my age. If I’m lucky, I’ll be 74,
after I blow out 73 candles in the next year,
more, with good kismet down the road, but got them
genes. I love my life today, an’ when I’m dead,

I’ll love that too, all things now bein’ said.

©Bill Reynolds 12/10/2018

“Existence itself does not feel horrible;
it feels like an ecstasy, rather,
which we have only to be still to experience.”
~ John Updike

***

Look both ways along the life-line and cherish every second,
with every person.
‘When yer dead, you’re dead.” (Mom said)
Mind each gap, cuz they count, too.

Song Lyric Sunday – Boys

Helen’s theme for today is boys. I prowled through many songs about boys and by The Beach Boys and other groups with boys in the name. But I kept coming back to a song with boy in the lyrics; a song I really like: The Boxer, sung by Simon & Garfunkel, written by Paul Simon. I love the music, the story, and the lyrics. This song makes me yearn for something, but I don’t know what.

The hook lines for the prompt are in the first (‘I am just a poor boy though my story’s seldom told...’) and second (‘...I’m no more than a boy in the company of strangers…’) stanzas.

I selected the video because the lyrics are there and images get you through a lot of La la li, and Li la li, in the refrains. Great, great song.

 

Look both ways when runnin’ scared and laying low. Mind the gaps on 7th Avenue.

 

Click graphic for link to SLS page.

An allegory of conclusion

The Man in the Room

I don’t recall exactly when I learned a man was in the room. I’m sure someone told me.

For years, I watched as other people behaved as if they knew he was there. This was serious business. People (called martyrs) died because of this man. As a child, I never doubted what I was told about the man in the room. I not only believed he was there, I also knew a lot about him. He was old with a long gray beard, but handsome. He was quite distinguished and grandfatherly.

The man in the room was more important than anyone, even more than the President or the Pope. The President, and especially the Pope, also believed there was a man in the room. The Pope even had secrets that the man had entrusted to him. The man in the room was even more important than I was, or my parents, or any king.

Everything was about this man.

People wanted me to devote my life to the man in the room. We gave up things and made sacrifices either for him or to him. We did good things, like give money and stuff to the poor and needy because the man in the room wanted us to. The more we showed that we cared about the man, the better we were treated by our teachers, preachers, and parents.

The man in the room made the rules for everybody. He picked special adults and told them what the rules were for all of us. Everyone I knew agreed that there was a man in the room, and he was in charge forever. He was super powerful. He could do anything. He was in total control of everything. He could be invisible and even bring dead people to life.

He had always existed and always would.

Eventually, I learned that the man in the room made everything; even me, and you, and the Pope. I learned that he made me for a reason. I was to love and serve him and to do his will outside of the room. Everyone was. Even people who didn’t know it were supposed to serve him. That was my first world view, my purpose for being, but I didn’t fully realize it.

People would talk to the man in the room. Sometimes, they would ask for something. I was taught how to talk to him. I did this for a long time, but the man never talked back to me. Apparently, he only talked to certain people using his thoughts. That made sense. I sometimes asked the man for things. I was told he was always watching me, so I assumed that was why he never gave me anything I requested.

I knew people went into the room to see the man. One day, I decided to follow some people, hoping to see him. When I opened the door and stepped in, I saw no one, not even the people I had followed. It was an empty room and there was no man or any person to be seen. I wondered why I had seen no one else and why he apparently left the room as I entered. I had been assured that he always remained in the room.

I decided to find out why I had seen no one, especially not the man I was searching for. Since everyone was so positive about the man, I was sure that I had made some mistake.

After leaving the room by the only door, I decided to ask my mother why I had not seen the man. Mom got nervous and seemed upset. She told me to ask my father. I did. That was a mistake. Dad became angry and sent me to my room. He told me that next time he might beat some sense into me.

I decided to try a more neutral person.

I asked one of my teachers who I could trust if there was a reason that I couldn’t see the man. I could see her irritation, but she kindly explained to me that if I could not see the man, it meant that I did not believe strongly enough. I needed to have more faith. If I believed strongly enough, I would see the man.

As I asked others and I talked with friends, I realized that some people did not see the man either. A few of them never went into the room, or they denied any room existed. But they never told me that there was not a man to be seen. Most others told me that they did see the man. I was told that those of us who did not see the man were at fault. The issue was our lack of faith. And my lack of faith was evidenced by the fact that I asked too many questions and talked about it.

I thought the problem was clearly with me. I could see the room, but never saw the man. Others did. I needed more faith. I simply had to try harder.

If others could see him, why not me?

Years passed. I lived my life and almost forgot about the man. However, the man in the room issue never went away. I noticed that people began to assume I could see the man, just as they claimed. I stopped talking about him as though I could not see him. In a way, I lied by pretending.

For a while, I returned to the room often. I decided to ask a ‘man in the room’ expert if there was reason for my failure and if there was anything I could do. Again, the blindness was my doing. If I would believe more, I would see him. That still made sense to me.

I wondered how to have more faith.

Since I was certain that there was a man in the room, that it was my lack of faith that prevented me from seeing him, I decided to take even more drastic action.

I became a man in the room fanatic. I joined organizations. I took all the classes and attended all the learning groups I could find. My expertise allowed me to teach classes to both children and adults regarding the man in the room and the things they should do to be better followers. Eventually, I became a man in the room leader in a large and important relevant group.

I held firmly to the belief that there was a man in that room. Finally, one day I saw the room again. No one could have done more than I to be a true-blue follower, believer, and expert. I had not seen the room in years, but then one day there it was.

That was my moment, my time, my life-long goal of seeing the man was to be that day.

I proudly opened the door and triumphantly marched into the room, and there sitting in the chair in the corner was me as a child.

The child looked up and said, “I have been sitting here your entire life. I wanted nothing more than to meet the man in the room. For over 50 years, I have waited and searched, while you have worked and prayed and believed. But, look around. There is no man in this room and there never has been. I have gone to other rooms with the same discovery.”

I felt broken and deceived. I had wasted so much of my life hoping to see a man who never existed. Again, I walked out through the only door. When I looked back, the room was gone. I thought, and I wondered, and read and studied all the possibilities. I felt myself changing. I began to say negative things to people regarding what may be in the room.

I had lived most of my life with almost constant thought about the man in the room. Over many months I slowly became a person who openly expressed doubts.

Then one day a friend asked if I still believed that there was a man in the room.

I looked at my friend and said, “For more years than you have been on the earth I have searched for the man in the room. I did more than enough. I have decided that I was deceived. After a lifetime of trying to find a man, it is my conclusion that he does not exist and never has. The man is a myth and has always been.” I was relieved to know that I had finally found a truth that escapes so many.

One day, someone asked, “What is the point of you saying that there is no man in the room?”

I responded, “There is no room, only one told in stories. There is no man, invisible or otherwise. Too much life is wasted over nothing. Either there is man, or there isn’t. Faith is irrelevant. Belief does not make it so anymore than failure to believe makes it not so. It is reality based upon evidence.”

Another man overheard that comment. He approached me and said that I may not make such a statement if I have no proof that there is no man in the room. He said that I was asserting a fact that I could not prove. He wanted me to say that I believed that there is no man in the room.

I objected by claiming that I was asked a question (what is the point?) to which I provided my best answer. I postulated nothing. My answer to the question is not an affirmation that there is a man, but a admission that there is no evidence that there ever was a man in the room. Since he was not in the room when I looked, that was all the proof I needed. The fact that others believe there is a man in the room because someone told them has no bearing on reality. It only supports what they already believe.

My conclusion is different than their belief. No one ever told me that there was not a man, only that there was. When I tried to find the man, or to ask why I could not see him, no one said he was not there. They only told me that my inability to find him was my fault. I no longer believe what people told me. But since I did everything I could, and I did what they told me I must do, and I still did not find any evidence of the man, I concluded he does not exist.

One of the things that helped me with my conclusion is the story, and the resulting idiom, of The Emperor Has No Clothes. I should have known from the beginning that there was no man to see because I could not see him. That should have ended it. But I did not want to accept that people were telling me the same lies they had been told.

Almost everyone I knew insisted that I was wrong. When I realized that the Emperor was naked, I knew why I wanted there to be a man in the room. I wanted there to be a man, and I wanted him to be as I was told he was. I wanted to be like most people. I’m not.

Now, I know the truth. I need no proof of what does not exist.

©Bill Reynolds, 11/12/2018

Look both ways. Look again, and again, and ….
Mind the gaps dearly, they may hide truth.


The Emperor Believed.

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