Echoes from the Past

I move like a phantom – sifting tools between my hands and shuffling footsteps like I’m trying to find a lost love one through a crowded plaza. A force propels us forward, unspoken, much to our chagrin, but a force nonetheless that has an appetite for resolution and arbitration. Like a needle poking through layers of comfortable blanket, this force penetrates our lives and pinpricks us right at our most aggravated point of stimulation.

It makes you think about how much you love life, which leads you to think of death.

Death – does one just casually slip into the stream of the forever? Simply to be reconstituted as another familiarity? And what of the inbetween? Or, so to speak, the road that we all walk? Does it simply get lost, like tears in the rain? Or does it simply get misconstrued?

Take, for instance, an impromptu actor on an impromptu stage, at an impromptu time. Does the actor not first say, “wait?” while he recollects his bearings and coagulates his wit? Once he is situated, does he not look back at his prior confusion in oversimplification? Like an improv actor, moving with the actors, forgetting the settings, far and many inbetween, do we move through life?

I don’t know. That’s the question.

For in life, hard work looks like hard work until hard work turns into relaxation and awe. Relaxation because we finally gave ourselves a break, awe, because we finally showed the world what we were capable of and it reciprocated – and we were ready to receive it.

But the world is palpable, relative, tangible. Like a ball of clay rolling down a long, endless hill, it continues. Once some bold, unforgiving visionary comes along and takes that clay and molds it and says this is this, this will forever be this, and that is that then the ball of clay has shifted and changed. But not too long from then, over time, long after that visionary is gone, that ball will continue rolling down that long hill, smoothing itself out and waiting for the next visionary across the endless sea of time.

And yet, do we speak to each other through the open window, across the music to one another to relay these things, like a ghost whispering to an unborn child. To the next generation? Or do we simply believe was has passed-has passed, and that is that?

No. I believe in another world. A world where one can transcend time as easily they transcends space. One that connects people from across generations as easily as one can connects dots on a map. As I look into the distance trying to answer my own question I am taken away. Not by a scene, or the view, but the music that is the ambient orchestra of our live. For a minute, it took me away to another time and place where my dreams felt like a lifetime.


Sunken Treasures

The ability to transcend ourselves is a widely undervalued ability. What is the ability to transcend ourselves, but to transcend space and time? The ability to take a look at ourselves through someone else’s eyes – what would we see?

It’s seldom that we set aside time for ourselves.

We set aside time to clean the dishes, to do the laundry, to read that book about that road…but how oft do we set aside time to explore ourselves? Would we even know where to start? Where to go? What to look for? Who to look for?

If our identity can be summed up by the sum of all of our linear actions then of what use is our mind? Trees go through life experiencing a number of events, should we associate those events with their identity?

Could we associate all of the things we have done in life with our identity?

If so, what of our future? How does that come into play in the grand scheme of things? For our mind is our most valuable asset, we give close friends, but a glimpse into that of which we understand, like a carefully guarded secret. Perhaps, not a secret, but a treasure. Buried deep below the dark waters of our consciousness, only diving deep after taking a breath of uncertainty and resurfacing with only vague images of which we can only form the most general of opinions.

I pondered this as I walked down a quiet, somewhat lush road until I came across two trees planted side by side, perhaps by chance – although, isn’t everything that we experience placed into the stream for which we call ‘chance’? – at which point I stopped my weary feet and stood awhile.

I wondered how well each tree knew each other, given that they had experienced so much of life together. Experienced each linear event together, grew old together.

It made me think of those who have come and gone.

Does the very act of carrying someone with you in spirit facilitate someone growing with you? After all, they only exist in your memories – only exist in your stories. By degrees, we make ourselves available to our imagination for those who have come into our lives and left prematurely.

We set awhile in a quiet room, we say to our imagination, “Okay, I trust you, take me with you.”, and we transport ourselves to a time and a place when we are back together with our most cherished, but lost friends.

Perhaps the road ahead is not littered in provocative scenes that lead us to such wonder, but perhaps we lend purpose into those scenes to make them as such. Perhaps, you think, this purpose is the ultimate gift to our friends who have come and gone – a gift that can only be given postmortem, and one that never be translated into words that others may understand.

But others may understand the language, and relate it back to their memories, their personal sunken treasures, and thus, they will give purpose to the footsteps of their future.



Starry Nights, Moonlit Shores

Walking down the beach along the water’s edge, the water slowly rises to and sinks my feet into the sand as I step further and further down the shore. The smell of musty salt on my nose, the taste on my lips, and the white noise of water breaking over the sand in my ears makes me feel a little overwhelmed, at least by the senses – my mind is alert and vigilant. Like a tiger at a zoo trying to escape its cage the water paws at the shore – slowly, but violently, as if knowing its attempts are futile but beckoning the opportunity.

In the reflection of the water I can see the stars above.

Each like a tiny speck among a shore of endless sand, curious to how it got there and even more curious to wonder what it’s hiding. One day these stars will come raining down and raze this serene landscape, flatten the starry image I see in the reflective water into the salty air with little respect to the footsteps that have come and gone through this sand. I feel as if I were to stop trying so hard to see and start letting myself feel it, I could sense all of the footsteps that have passed through here – irrespective of time, of course.

Narrowing my eyes and focusing on the horizon I see an indiscriminate opaque jagged background. Filled with tropical trees, brush, hills, cliffs, life that care little of the happenings of the nearby land until the sun falls and liquid darkness splashes across the everything, and through it swims uncertainty incarnate.

Much like the sea shells that litter this land – offering relics of a bygone time – my thoughts pen and perform a play that no one will ever hear. Drifting into the infinity of the stars, the darkness of the ocean, the mysteries of the sand.

The whispers in the wind ending in a final exclamation point – carrying my sentences when I had no words to exhale.

Though, it is not sadness that I feel, but a brief brush with awe. To offer up so much of myself to a scene, a scene larger than myself in many regards, and in return receive a priceless memory that I will never be able to share, and even if I could, probably shouldn’t. Such is the road to awe, and such is the finishing touch to the keys to the sonata that slowly usher the musical notes of this night to a close. Sad and wonderful is the sonata, and powerful and eruptive is the audience. Furious is the the scene, but tranquil is the mood. Those coming down my old path will never know my story, but they will write their own, and thus, they will write their own road to awe.


Another World, Another Time

From the lake, I walked until I came across a fork in the road. Each road appeared equal in measure and traffic – neither appeared good or bad, right or wrong. It was, for lack of a better way to put it, this or that. Each had aging green and orange trees on either side – each had light peaking through the horizon. Each appeared well-travelled and worn.

I went left.

Slowly, the other road became less and less visible through the obscurity of nature. Perhaps, in another world, at another time, I went right. I would have the same name, same back-story, same past, same deep stare, but my future would differ, by how much is hard to say.

Constants, and variables – in other words, some things would change, others would not change.

An infinite number of possibilities that we make without even consciously thinking about it. In ten years would I like the person that went right? Again, it is tough to say.

What I can do is nod in passing, at least philosophically to the one that went right, and hope that his adventures always be unexpecting, the people he encounters never boring, his legs always restless, his mind never content, and his shoes always dusty with the particles of yester-year.

Physics shall prove the ultimate barrier between myself and the one that went right, but perhaps, in a sense, everything I do not do I can cheers to him, or them, as it were, as each decision forks off another possibility among the possibility landscape.

In this sense, I shall have the one who went right always nearby, like chasing down a ghost, they will be ever present, always here – wherever here may be – but perhaps, at a different time.

Cheers to the one who went right, because he went right so I could go left.

A Compass in the Night

The Great Drama of Our Lives

Walking through the woods, the moon casts shadows that multiply the trees three-fold. One of those nights where clouds dim the light of the moon every so often and, upon receding, the moon casts a different picture of the woods than seen prior to the dim. Just enough sky visible through the clouds to see the stars, bright enough to beckon our imagination and far enough away to give us something to honor.

Sometimes day can seem like the present, and night can seem like the past. There’s a pond not far off in the distance – I can see it through the trees thanks to the reflection of the stars and moon off the dark water’s surface – that has a tree trunk right up on the water’s edge.

How many imaginations and thoughts has this tree trunk captured, you wonder. Sometimes, you can feel the past filter through your own thoughts like an echo through time. Tonight is one of those times, you think, as you rest upon the tree trunk and listen around you to the symphony of nature’s orchestra, performing a one-of-a-kind piece that no one will ever hear again. This tree trunk has seen many heartbreaks, romances, arguments, impromptu poems, and memories and briefly, at this moment, I realize that I simply became an actor in the scene. A walk-on role set to the backdrop of tonight’s starlit orchestra.

We are the audience, the great drama is our lives.

Broken hearts, love lost, turbulent romances, every smile behind every laugh, every tear that ever fell and even some that didn’t, moments that took our breath away just to give us a chance to stop trying to survive so that we could experience life, and every reflection we ever saw that looked like an older version of ourselves. Propelling us towards an end we can’t possibly understand, and probably shouldn’t.

You think about how many emotions this tree trunk has captured, and then you begin to wonder if the tree trunk captured your emotions or this setting asked for yours. Perhaps, you think, that is the great drama of tonight.

From “Here” to Forever

I walked along the road, I walked for a long time.

Along the way, wind hit me, memories hit me, emotions hit me. It’s funny, but sometimes you just keep walking after something hits you. Never minded one bit once you voiced your opinion, things just kept on happening.

It changes you, more than you know. I mean, you can’t very well be the same person forever, right? Forever is a long time.

Sometimes you look at a something trivial, like a rock, and you just stare long and hard, never did you any good you just kept on looking, formulating opinions about the rock, and then your perspective changes, suddenly you don’t see a rock you see…something else.

I’d have to say that’s what this was like, seeing something else, it changes a man.

Only if you think about it though.

Of course, given my nature, I thought long and hard.

Sometimes, when the melody of a song takes you away, makes you forget about the meaner qualities of life, you lose yourself, quit thinking about what’s coming. Perhaps that’s what all people experience, perhaps not. Who’s “everybody” anyway?

It’s okay though, I mean that I’ll be okay. I hope that we’ll all be okay, after all that’s who I really care about.

I heard this expression one time, “from here to forever”, I thought about it being pretty impressive. I then thought about my memories and how they affect that idea. It’s pretty tough to say “from here to forever”, but I suppose people keep on trying.

I know I will.


Shifts in the Sand

After some time I came to a beach of fine sand and an ocean that appeared to be set ablaze via the reflection of the sunset. The appearance of the ocean sedated and subdued my weary legs as I fell backwards somewhat involuntarily into a sitting position. I pulled my hands into view in front of my face and remarked to myself of how the lines across my hands looked like trails dragged in the sand. I breathed slowly as the scene around me devoured me.

As I let my hands fall to my sides and move through the fine sand I came across a hard object buried a few inches below the surface. I knew what it was before I pulled it out of the sand into my field of view – an old timepiece from some other era. The timepiece didn’t just look old, it looked other-worldly, alien, some mechanical utility that some mysterious being used for time keeping purposes. I tried to envision who would own such a thing, but I could see nothing. Like straining eyes trying to make a figure out in a very dark place, not sure if it was changing shapes or even there at all, the figure evaded definition.

The timepiece was, of course, no longer in working condition. Its hands were frozen in place, an hour hand pointing here, minutes and seconds pointing there, all pointing to a time come and gone. Like a ghost left behind, or stuck between worlds, refusing to leave until some long-forgotten task is fulfilled, this timepiece haunts this beach. Then a new thought enters my mind as if the timepiece is speaking directly to me with the rationale of a madman:

The time on my face has come and gone, it is both here and not here, now and then, is and is not, was and will be.

For “now” is a place and a time, but when you leave me behind and I move farther and farther into your past I will become a thing, a memory.

And when you think of that memory you will remember the feeling of the sand against your skin, the smell of the salty ocean mist, the way the light glided across the water like it was alive, the sun as it slowly exploded upon the horizon, and the feeling of something slightly heavy in your hand.

You will remember that which was forgotten, at least, temporarily.

And when you will pull me from your memory, will it be any different than from when you pulled me out of the sand?

Time will have multiplied the effects of your memory and you will crave experiencing it again exactly as it is occurring now more than physically coming to this place again.

Madness. Then again, what is madness if not peering into the heart of the incomprehensible? Perhaps I do not understand, perhaps some things were not meant to be understood. Perhaps to understand everything exactly as it is, the true nature of space, time, the universe, and us is to uncover madness.

I placed the timepiece back onto the sand, no need to bury it. Time would take care of that for me.

I laid down and slept briefly and during that sleep I dreamed I walked into the ocean to its deepest depths where everything moved slowly, where time moved slowly.

voice of reason

A Momentary Voice of Reason

“Were there a thousand dreams to dream, and a thousand dreams of dreams. Where would the poet lie? And where would the dreamer cease to think? Forever and a day we live wish to live, in a world so different as this. Though who among us can say that we have fully given our heart and fist? Our heart and fist to change the world, or at least to lift the mist. The mist that covers our eyes, so thick, it glistens prisms of light sources unseen through the thicket of drifts. But here I say to you, or rather I speak quick in hisses: What difference is it if you were to see the sources of light unseen that are covered by mists if all that you truly wish know is what the prism splits upon your own instance?”

Thus spoke the wind to me.

Spoken in alliteration, nested in reason, carried through the air like a choir of whispers accompanied by a dance of earthly matter.  I wear the wind’s words like a light shirt, and my mind tries to find the meaning of its poetic verses. Like a supreme, other-worldly being handing me an encyclopedia of its people’s life, history, arts and sciences I can only comprehend a portion of it. The rest are filled with mysteries I have yet to solve. Like a puzzle, slowly piecing together, perhaps I will find the rest of the pieces as I move forward in time.


Cliffside Wanderlust

(Should be read to the song Moss Mountain Town from The Album Leaf)

I continue to walk through the forest until I get to the foothills of the mountains which steeply incline. I climb and I climb, at certain points reaching such landscape that requires me to use my hands to grip the earth and terrain as I traverse upwards.

I travel upward at a pace indicative that I am moving with purpose as I swiftly scale the dynamic landscape of the mountainside. As I dig my hands down to support my ascent and subsequently lift them upwards to their next anchor point some of the earthen particles on the ground grab onto me and then eventually fall back down slowly and cinematically. I wonder how long it has been since each part of the ground I touch has been disturbed, and how many years may have passed since this gravel has been brought to life by those who make use of it as they pass it by.

I wonder what life I may have disturbed by penetrating the surface of the ground, and for how many years nearby bugs, worms, etc. may have moved through this gravel and known its structures like I have known so many streets and alleys back home. And now, through the actions of a singular transitional step I disturbed that constant as I climb the mountainside – too large a being to have understood the repercussions of my actions and too far disconnected from such tiny forms of life to consciously reap any benefits from making amends.

I reach a cliff-side accompanied by a welcoming tree stump and decide to rest upon said stump awhile as I regain my energy and digest the happenings of the last hour of my journey.

Without any conscious effort on my behalf my eyes fix back onto the forest that I adventured through prior to reaching the mountainside. Like looking into the eyes of an old, old friend I haven’t seen in years and hardly recognize I stare deeply and intently into the waves of leaves, curves of rivers, and patches of clearings. “I know this forest”, I say to myself. Instantly upon saying this I wonder how much can I really know of anything? Can you really ever full known a forest? A friend? A lover? Yourself? Know them in the way that they know themselves? Love them they way they love themselves? Fear the same things they fear, love the same things they love?

Alas, my head says, “No, it is not possible.”, but my heart says “Yes, if you make it so.” I wonder awhile what this internal disagreement could mean and as I wait the shadows of trees and the arch of the sun’s light move around me like I’m an ancient sundial.

“If I let my head speak for me, then surely I will allow myself to think me too complex to be understood by anybody else. Rationalize thoughts of individuality too extreme and intricate to be aligned with another mind”, I think to myself, “And yet, if I let my heart speak for me then I allow myself to share the universal feelings of happiness, fear, love, anger, and passion with another heart.”

I slowly understand that I am falling into the trap of looking inside myself to understand and know someone else when in reality such things are impossible. No, knowledge is based on experience and ,thus, to gain knowledge of someone else I must experience them and I must experience life with them.

“I know these forests because I know myself”, I say to myself, “I have passed through life with these forests and they have felt my fear, my love, my happiness, my unhappiness, and I have felt the fear, love, happiness, and unhappiness of the life that resides within itself.”

Thus, I understand to truly know something, a thing, a friend, a lover one must experience life with them, whoever them is, and by going through life together and sharing experiences you slowly start to know and understand them the way that you know and understand yourself.

I feel a strong urge to stay here and absorb this feeling forever, but I know that I cannot. The desire to discover new life experiences and share them with whoever I may be with and whatever may surround me,propels me forward back to my ascent once I regain my energy.

Layers of new experiences may stack upon old, but the old experiences will not falter. No, they will act as the foundation to the new experiences and make them stronger, heighten their purpose, and grow more important as time moves them farther and farther into the past.

As I continue my ascent up the mountain, the scenery from the cliff I was resting upon move further and further out of view.


Wolves and Scripts

(Should be read to the song Rano Pano from Mogwai)

I awoke to some half-concerted efforts from the daylight trying to reconcile me into the idea of jumping full throttle into the day. Damp from the sweat-induced dreams of the night I feel like I should be temperature cold, but instead I feel more fever cold. Sweaty, weak, anxious, more inclined to accept the help from strangers though more cause to be skeptical of their intentions. Like a proud pack wolf that suddenly falls prey to something larger then themselves I accept help because I cannot deny my need for survival and thus I yield to my surroundings.

“We don’t need anyone”, the wolf inside says, apparently accustomed to life as a self-reliant non-companion. “I need my dreams,” I say, “for they give me answers to a puzzle I didn’t know I was trying solve.”

“What do your dreams know of you?”, asks the wolf. “Give me a man who solely relies on his dreams, and I give you a blind shepherd guiding a sheep among wolves.”, rebuttals the wolf. “Always looking backwards, these men are trying to make sense of what they were, could have been, should have been. No closer to their goal than the night before and about as far off as the horizon of their imagination!”

The wolf’s eyes glow in a dark reddish-yellow color – I can’t tell  which colors they reflect exactly in the dusk, purple light.

The wolf sits back with its neck dropped low and its eyes raise high watching me. There is a sense of desperation in its eyes. Somewhere I think I hear, “prove me wrong, and you will take away my reason to live”, but I am unsure.

I breath in deep and long, like a breath of wind that is to enter my thoughts and, when it leaves, clear my mind. As I breath out time seems to stand still.

I hear the crackling of the leaves around me moving along the ground. It sounds frantic, but when I catch sight of the leaves they move slowly and methodically.

I hear the stretch of the trees as they move with the wind. I shift my neck up and back as I look straight up to see where the tree I am leaning against is swaying.

Reddish-yellow eyes follow my every move and a nose sniffs the air as if it flows like water to a thirsty tongue. I stare the wolf in the eyes and think carefully of my words. No. I think carefully of my thoughts and feelings, for my thoughts and feelings will guide my words. Naturally, our words are dictated by our thoughts and feelings, and our thoughts and feelings are made real by our words.

Many choose to be a parody of it, I realize, feeding into their coming thoughts and feelings like an extra in a play reacting passively to the direction of the script.

I take a deep breath and speak thus to the wolf, “What is my fear of you, but a manifestation of my worst dreams? Hence, it is not you who I am afraid and unsure of, it is myself. For you play no role in my life, you are an actor without a script, an improviser without a purpose. I read my dreams because I read myself, my dreams add words to the script of life for which fate and fortune set the scene.”

Suddenly the sweat on my back and brow do not induce me to feel weak, they encourage me, give me focus. I stand up and approach the wolf and stare it in the eyes – suddenly, it doesn’t look so big. Our gazes do not break, even when the wolf circles me a few times.

Suddenly, it backs away and runs off into the distance, stopping and looking back only once before retreating off into the horizon. The wind  has dried me from the night’s sweat and I suddenly break the grogginess that beset me upon waking from my dreams.

I bid farewell to the scene that fate and fortune set for me for the past night and day and I move forward, the pen in my hand, a strange melody in my heart, and with each coming footstep I feel the imminent forthcoming of words to the script of my life.  I walked for a long time.