GREETINGS TO THE SUN

Water trickled down through Stephen’s short brown hair. He could feel the droplets twisting and turning through the maze of his hairline, before eventually finding their way to his forehead. The soft, refreshing air chilled the water as it danced along his face, carefully falling between the groove of his nose and his right eye. He could feel everything around him. The wind brushed through the grass, humming its afternoon greeting, while the leaves of the trees turned about on their descent to the ground; even the roaring of the river in the distance, where the trickle of water had branched off of, could be faintly heard.

Many mornings went like this for Stephen. He would wake early, and spend the early part of the day staring out into space, until the world around him seemed to morph into something that was outside of the usual. His imagination became a guiding force for his mind, and eventually those quiet hums would turn into an opera of music, and the trickle of water would become the medicine beyond human creation. The massive fields of grass before him would spin before him, faster and faster until suddenly everything became a wild green color, and distance and time seemed to flow as one together.

Today, Stephen was focused on the sun. At first, his eyes had burned with pain, but as the water coated him, he felt cooled. He had closed his eyes, yet behind his eyelids he kept careful track of where the sun was. The supreme being road his chariot across the sky, and the more he focused on it, the more Stephen could make out the hooves beating against the unseen road. They galloped through the sky with vigor, and he could hear their breath heaving in and out as the pulled faster.

Eventually, as he focused, he could hear the breath of a man along with them. He sounded like purity itself. His breath was like a long drink of water after a trip through the desert, or the first drops of dew falling from a crisp spring morning. Stephen felt his own body relax at the sound. Then, unexpectedly, his concentration broke as he heard a voice.

“We have a visitor,” a voice more sweet and light than honey called out to him. Stephen’s eyes snapped open. Only he was not seeing through his eyes anymore. It was like his body had fled, and he was looking through the sky itself

“Hello,” the voice said with a calm strength, “it has been far too long since I was given the chance to speak to anyone. Who might you be?” Stephen felt his voice catch in his throat.

“Ah, unable to speak, is it? Not many get the chance to meet me anymore. Not many look hard enough. Look around you.” The great man had been shielded by light, but the outward gesture of his arm was clear enough. Stephen turned, and saw the world from a different perspective then.

It was so small, so tiny, and yet unending in its size. Through the clouds he saw the trees, the river, and even the tops of the cold mountains. They all looked so small; so beautiful.

“It has been a long time since someone saw the world as you see it now. Perhaps you can learn from it. It seems like such a big world out there, and yet to us it is all connected.” Stephen felt his stomach tighten, and his vision blurred.

“It seems your moments hear are to be brief today. But I look forward to seeing you again.” Then with a rush, Stephen felt his body travel through the air, and suddenly he was gasping for air. The trickle of water had dampened his cloths, and the sun was growing low in the sky. How long had he been gone?

——

 

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CLICHE POST-GRAD FAMILY THANK YOU NOTE

Graduation just passed, and this weekend I had a million things to talk about. Planning. Hard work. Hating the morning. Good food. Family. Stress. Over eating. And so on…yet somehow today my mind has pulled a blank. Probably because I was up until nearly 3:00 am giving life (relationship) advice to a good friend of mine, and I am now understandably sleepy. But I’m sure as I am typing, something will come to me.

Speak of the devil, and you will be rewarded in kind. Let’s talk about family. Family is a great and terrible thing. Somehow they are always there for you, yet also removed from your being (at least, this is true for me). Don’t get me wrong—I love my family. In fact, I think deep down, I would fall into the “family before country” group. Though, the caveat to this would be that this doesn’t apply to ALL members of my family. I don’t know my second cousin once removed who lives in wherever of wherever. I honestly don’t think I would jeopardize my life success over them. My mother, brother, sister, father, aunt, and/or immediate cousins though? Yeah probably. Actually not probably—definitely. Those are the people who keep up with and care about me, and I care about them.

Which is like…duh, Cassady. Of course you would care about your mother. Who doesn’t? I mean maybe it is a bit obvious, but at the same time I am not as sold. Perhaps it is due to the stresses of my life, which have been in many ways caused by certain family members, and I have seen people that I once would have placed on a pedestal fall into the depths of contempt. I also have family members that aren’t technically related to me by blood, yet they mean more to me than the biological grandparents on my mother’s side that I never knew. I have family whose image and ideology has influenced me long after their death. In part, I attribute the success of my life to their life lessons.

But again, like…duh Cassady. Of course you are shaped by your family and their teachings. You ranted about this when you talked about religious upbringings. Eh. Yeah. I suppose so. But what exactly is life without a little thankfulness. I don’t currently believe in an afterlife, which is perhaps my nihilism seeping through. But I do believe in life after death. I’ll explain quickly, since this post is getting a bit longer than I’d like. After we die, I don’t see much reason for us to actually have much going on after. If you disagree, that’s fine. It just doesn’t make much sense to me in the traditional sense, since if we have life after death, why shouldn’t the cat, or the dog, or the dolphin. What makes us so special? Because we claimed it? That sounds like vanity.

Regardless though, we can live after death through things. Images are a common one, but those don’t really impart the idea of life. Through our family we can live on, in the sense that our ideas will continue to flourish and develop. Thoughts we once had will find their way into the minds of brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and so on. Heirlooms seem to carry a similar quality, which is what makes them so…irreplaceable. You know what I mean? Let me know what you think! Is your family that important to you?

——

 

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NOTHINGNESS

What is the value

Of nothing?

 

Think of that empty space

Between your hollow doorway

And the angry, outside world.

Nothingness has saved you.

 

Think of the silence that rests

Between your last words

And their first thoughts.

In those moments, the air

Feels heavier than the ocean

As its waves break against your back.

And yet it is lighter

Than the gentlest breeze.

 

Because the unknown is full of surprises,

And nothingness

Is the most unknown thing of all.

 

Nothing begets value.

For something to have worth

People must know what it means

To be worthless.

 

We fight, and burn, and bleed

Our whole lives away

So that we can be something.

Because to be nothing

Is to be worthless.

 

But I see the world

Through a different lens.

To be nothing is to be…

 

To be…

 

To be…

 

To be originality.

 

To be nothing is to be

The name that hides

In the corners of every room.

 

To be nothing is to be

The darkness in between

The shadow and the man.

 

To be nothing is to be

The blank page before

The writer begins their story.

 

To be nothing is to be

The catalyst of revolution

Tens years before the ideas

Spring into the philosopher’s mind.

 

To be nothing is to be great.

Because there is nothing

That can compare to it.

——

 

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STRAWBERRY FIELDS (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Strawberry Fields

Strawberry fields

Hold the fruits of nostalgia

In the summer sun.

 

Blood Spilled

In the red sun rise

Nobody is left unscathed.

Even the clouds bleed.

 

Imagine

Take a moment and

Let your imagination

Make an end to the

 

Battlegrounds

Scale the wall and

Win the war. Build a door and

Never fight again.

 

Frail

The thin, aging lines

In my heavy, swollen hands

Torment youthful thoughts.

——

 

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WE ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE

I have always been interested in why it is that we like to see obscure, strange, and often grotesque images. Think about it. Have you ever seen a picture (or video) in which you had a strong guttural reaction to look away, but at the same time felt you had to keep looking? I mean, there is a cliché aspect to it when people say “I couldn’t look away,” but that was born out of something very real.

I have never been a big believer in any reality to mythology, but the stories are something that I have always found to be entertaining. Cyclopes’, gods, frost giants…they all add this sense of awe and wonder to an otherwise kind of boring life. I mean, think of all the times you have sat in front of a movie screen, and watched an action-type movie. Or a horror movie. Horror movies are a great example of something that gets the blood flowing (pun intended). I just watched the original “Stephen King’s It” this weekend, and Tim Curry as Pennywise was really quite a show. I mean, the movie has a real…cheesy 80’s vibe to it nowadays (which I guess it technically a 90’s vibe, since it released in 1990, but still). There is a reason “It” is getting a remake, and that’s because the unknown and the unreal is entertaining! And it looks SO SCARY in the trailer (which, if you somehow haven’t seen yet, you should go click that link and do).

Of course, if we’re not careful, I’ll derail this conversation into a movie critique post (though if you would want me to do that sometime in the future, let me know. I’m down for anything), since that is what we love about It. Not the plot twist at the very end about how its all a…oh wait some of you may not have seen it. But we love Pennywise. The creepy clown that fuels our adrenaline (and our nightmares). Back in the day, that was why people told scary stories around the campfire, or snuck up on unsuspecting friends to give them a frighten. It makes people feel alive to have their heart racing and their breath caught at the back of their throat. Not just lounging around, listening to repeated Louis C.K. albums all afternoon and evening (which I may or may not have done a few times before). And sure, maybe too much of that would cause a heart attack or something, but every once in a while is good for you. Exercise those reflexes, get used to the adrenaline rush, and maybe you’ll float too. 😉

What do you think? Do you like that rush of adrenaline? Is it something we should avoid? Let me know!

——

 

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THE DINING HALL

“Good afternoon,” a friendly deep voice called to me from down the hallway. The man was a large, aging figure, dressed as a stereotypical butler would be dressed. He even had the covered silver platter balanced carefully in his right hand, which stayed unnervingly still has he sauntered over to me.

“H-hello,” I said back. The butler smiled politely, but I could feel the nervousness in my voice. I had somehow found my way into the house, but could not for the life of me remember how. Actually, calling this place a house was a bit of an understatement. It was more like a mansion from a snobby magazine. The carpets were red with gold, the walls were satin, every painting looked like it had been there since it was originally painted several hundred years ago, and all their frames had the same, faded gold shine to them. There were candles lit down several corridors, and a glimpse of massive rooms could be seen peeking out behind half closed mahogany doors.

Yet the place itself was spotless. There was no hint of dust; no stains, no cracks, no breaks; no unevenness. Everything looked perfect, as though every evening someone went up to make sure everything was in order. Which must take hours, based on the relative size of the place.

I realized my eyes had been wandering for a few moments too long when the butler cleared his throat.

“Sir, I must ask that we make our way to the dining table. The master has been expecting you for a short while now.” He began to turn away to show me the way.

“Expecting…how did I get here?” The butler paused, then turned back to me with a carefully practice patience.

“Sir, please, everything will be explained in due time.” I opened my mouth to respond, but before I could get a word out he had turned his back to me and began walking down the hallway. I fell in step a few feet behind him, my eye fixated on the patterns woven into the fabric. So simple, yet so precisely elegant. We turned a few corners, then passed through one of the large doors to an enormous room. There was a large, fifty foot table in the center, no doubt regularly filled with parties, as there were nearly one hundred placemats set out. Though interestingly, only two chair.

The chair closest to me, which the butler had indicated I should sit at, was a simple wooden chair. It seemed too homely compared to the rest of the house. Almost like they had robbed some poor family of their best chair in the middle of the night. Seated on the other end of the table was a large, black chair, made what looked to be a fine leather material (though from that distance I was not entirely sure). The chair towered over the man inside, who was shadowed mysteriously so that I could not get a clear view of his face. His hair appeared to be short, possibly even blonde, and he held himself like a man used to wielding power.

After I had taken my seat, the butler walked down to speak to who I assumed was the master. He was speaking softly, perhaps asking the master what he wanted to eat. The man waved him away, and the butler turned to walk back to me.

“The master will be dining on lamb tonight. What would you like to eat?” he said in a quiet voice.

“Is there a menu?”

“The menu is whatever you would like it to be. Though I would warn you,” he glanced down the table, “your choice of food will be noted by the master.” I looked down the table, past the perfectly placed candles and table settings, to try to get a read of what I should do.

“I’ll require an appetizer, of the chef’s choice, however it must be served hot and with mozzarella cheese. Then, for the main course, I would like a ribeye steak from a cow slaughtered no more than 3 days ago, cooked with garlic and butter to just above rare, but slightly before medium rare. To pair with it, I would like a merlot from 1950 or earlier, but prior to that I would like a Coca-Cola, from the glass bottle, not a can, served with two spoonfuls of vanilla syrup mixed inside it.”

“Ah sir,” the butler started.

“Is there a problem?” I quipped, trying to appear as regal as possible.

“No sir. I merely wished to ask if you’d like your steak to be twelve ounces, or sixteen.”

“Twenty.” The butler looked at me, then nodded quickly and walked off. I looked down the table to beam at the master, yet he was absentmindedly jotting notes on a pad of paper that had seemingly appeared before him.

——

 

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RUSH TO THE AIRPORT

I was trying to decide what to talk about today, and then I realized I was super short on time (in fact, I’m typing this in the car as my superior drives us to a meeting)! Which gave me an interesting topic for discussion: rushing. Have you ever rushed? Probably. If not in your adult life, likely as a child your family rushed you at some point, right? And rushing is absolutely the most stressful thing you can experience in the moment.

I have a story to provide an example. My family had decided to go to Montana for vacation, which would end up being an absolute blast. We got up early, packed our bags, and left for LAX. Now, if you’ve ever driven to LAX before, you know how much of a pain that trip is. Regardless, we were about halfway there, and were running just fine on time, when suddenly I look back and realize my suitcase was not packed along with everything else. And that’s got all my clothes in it. For the whole trip. So we turn around, drive the half distance we were out back to our house, and get my bag. At this point, our plane leaves in an hour and a half, and it’s a forty-five minute drive there AT BEST. We’re speeding and bobbing through traffic, have to park in the expensive parking at the airport, and run into the lobby. And the receptionist chides us for being late, and says theres a chance that we, or our luggage, will not make the flight. But we insist, and she lets our bags through their machinery, and we take off toward the security checks. We wait in line, with everyone tapping their feet and what not.

Tick-tock tick-tock. Every minute feels like and hour, and we finally get through the security line and sprint to our loading zone. They’ve already called finally loading, and when I get to the lady taking tickets, she looks as though she were just about to turn away from the desk to close the door to the plane. Luckily for us, she lets us on, and everything worked out. BUT that was exceptionally stressful. And if you’ve ever experienced something stressful like this, you probably know the symptoms. A minor headache, increased heart rate, the feeling that you want to snap at anyone who slights you, even in the smallest way.

So how do you control that? Well, it can be hard, but the best way is to stay calm. Don’t tell yourself to stay calm, because that literally never works (have you every TRIED to relax?! It’s a paradox). Talk yourself through the logic of the scenario, and accept that not everything works out. I mean, we were running through an airport at full speed. Security could have tackled us out of nowhere, or shot us. They don’t know the situation. We could have gotten stuck in traffic, or the plane could have left on time. Or that lady that took our bags could have not let us on the plane. But we were lucky, a little insistent, and it all worked out.

Do you have any tips to dealing with rushing when it happens? Let me know!

——

 

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QUALITY ON THE ROAD

OK, so today I’m going to talk about Quality a bit. If you didn’t hear, Robert M. Pirsig, the author of one of my favorite books, died yesterday. His book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, has been one of the most inspiring books for me as a human being, and I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t already read it.

But to honor Pirsig’s classic book-and really his struggle in general, I wanted to talk about Quality for my discussion today. Since readers my not have read his book, I’ll do a quick overview of the concept. Quality is something we all know, but also have trouble defining. When someone says “that’s a real quality piece of artwork” we know what they mean, but if we try to go much further than that, things get fuzzy. Sure, it might be the colors, it might be the style, or it might be the references within the artwork itself that make it quality work. Or maybe it’s the story the picture tells; or maybe it’s all of these things put together. But if you go searching, there’s no doubt that someone out there will find the painting disagreeable. Thus, quality is entirely up to opinion, and so defining it becomes something nearly impossible. Simply saying that “quality is quality” isn’t nearly satisfying for our human minds, but that’s pretty much what it is.

Pirsig gets into talking about how quality could be seen as goodness, and the level of how “good” something is (good as in well done, rather than good as in positive). But sometimes something is a quality piece of work because it is not “good.” Think of something by Jackson Polluck, or Picasso. Definitely not necessarily “good” work by the “quality standards” that had been set prior to them, but still clearly quality artwork was produced by them. They revolutionized aspects of art entirely. Lets go even further, and look at children’s paintings. Are they quality pieces of work? Why and/or why not? Because they don’t make it to the hallways of an art exhibit?

These are the kinds of questions that Pirsig asked in his books, on a much more massive scale. He went against the grain in a time where going against the grain could and often did lead to electro-shock “therapy,” and in doing so, he revolutionized an entire generation of thought. Which is wonderful! What do you think? Have you even heard of him? Is quality so obscure? Let me know your thoughts!

——

 

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SPRINT

Sprint,

Don’t run.

For life is short,

And so is the race.

 

Sprint,

Because

The best meals are taken

By those first place.

 

Sprint,

Because

Death catches those

Who linger behind.

 

Sprint,

Because

Love finds those

Who are the most defined.

 

Sprint,

Because

You can rest

At the end of the day.

 

Sprint,

And you

Can escape

What the haters say.

 

Sprint,

For the thrill

Of the hunt

In your heart.

 

Sprint,

Before age

Saps your hands

Of their art.

 

Sprint,

Until

Once strong bones

Start to ache.

 

And sprint,

Until

Your body

Finally breaks.

——

 

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BEDTIME STORY PART 2

Before you begin, make sure you have read part one of this short story, so that you have context for it. Enjoy!:

 

The next evening went very similar to the one before. I made dinner, Lizzie watched TV, I cleaned up, Lizzie ran around the house screaming wildly. She brushed up and got in bed. I was tired from my long day at work, but as I was walking Lizzie to the bathroom to brush her teeth, she piqued my interest.

“Can you tell me more of that story from last night?” she said in a solemn voice.

“The one about you in the boat?” I asked.

“Yeah!” her face lit up as she doused her toothbrush with bubble gum toothpaste. I smiled and nodded my head, then went to set up the chair in her room. A few minutes later, Lizzie was in her bed ready to sleep. She was really quiet, and it filled me with a slightly anxious feeling. Even I didn’t know what would happen next.

“Do you remember what happened yesterday?”

“Yeah!” she exclaimed, “I was on a boat and then I was in a cave and then I fell asleep by the fire.” Her eyes were aglow with excitement.

“Pretty much,” I said, “OK, so then…” I paused and thought for a moment, “so then you wake up with a start. There was a chilly wind that passed through the cave, and it sounded almost like a low bellowing voice calling out to you. You were so shocked from your sleep that the memory of the dream you were having fades too quickly for you to remember it. The embers of the fire have nearly died out. They flicker lightly against the darkness of the room. You apprehend the cave around you, and realize something seems quite different about it. The air tastes different; the smell of lilac and grass from the meadow before has been overtaken by the rock and stone of the cave around you.

“Finally it becomes clear what’s missing. The water! The endless river that had brought your here had disappeared! Your boat, along with all your things, sits on an empty shore. It was as if you had slept for ten million years. You pack your things to go, taking care not to spill your lantern from the night before. Just as you turn to leave the cave, a second wind pushes you back. Again, the low hum of some unknown calling rings in your ears, and you turn back to the darkness of the cave. It seems deeper than the night before—as if it were to go on forever. You pull your lantern from your bag, unsure of what it could be, and set out into the depths of the cave.

“The darkness envelops you, the light of your lantern extending only a few feet out around you. As you walk deeper, you hear the echoes of your feet bouncing back from the distance. It’s eerily silent. The air is cool. You walk for nearly an hour when suddenly a flash of blue lights appears to your right, not thirty feet away. The lights are moving, shifting, rising, and you realize that the cave is shaking as a massive beast rises from a slumber. Its furry body is covered with unearthly gemstones, which light up the area to look as though it were under the sea. It is on two massive legs, and looks fat by its proportions. Its massive arms hang low against the ground, and its hands hang in a loose fist. It rears up to its full height, the blue light from its shoulders illuminating the previously unknown ceiling of the cave.

“You hear it bellow in a deep voice, which seems more ancient than the Earth itself, ‘Who has disturbed my slumber?’” I glanced at my watch. It was nearly ten o’clock. “Alright Liz, that’s a good place to stop.”

“NO!” She exclaimed, “please no I want to know what happens.” Her voice was pleading.

“Well, then you’ll just have to wait till tomorrow.” I smiled at her in the darkness of her room, and kissed her on the forehead. She was frowning, but remained silent. “Goodnight,” I said to her, and turned toward the door.

“Goodnight,” she called back to me as I closed the door behind me.

——

 

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