Apocalypse

“The apocalypse is commonly known as the end of everything. Though “I” tend to side with the ancient ones. It means an awakening. Something hidden once, now coming to light, a lifting of the veil. Unraveling truth, discovering proof, a chance to follow a brand new trail. Yes times are tough, a darkness grows, an evil shrouded in sin. But fear not, fellow travelers for good will always win. It may feel like the Apocalypse or Armageddon is on the way. But view it instead as an awakening, and everything will be OK.”

–JSM–

My multiple visits to the refuge were difficult to understand. Joseph was a cryptic conjuring of my subconscious and he spoke in riddles. The dreams were out of order, sometimes repetitious, and bounced back and forth erratically through time and space. Trying to make sense of the nonsense was a chore I could barely keep up with, let alone understand.

Eventually, to make sense of it all, I had to unravel a puzzle. A multidimensional puzzle. A puzzle without a reference picture. A puzzle devoid of edges and corners. A puzzle of ten thousand upside down pieces scattered across the universe. I’d find a small piece, flip it over, stare at it for a moment, place it on the table with the few others I discovered along the way and it still didn’t make sense. Even connecting two pieces together was disheartening and forced me to swipe them from the table’s surface back to the dimension from where they were found.

All I was able to do, was let the dreams linger in my memory for a short time, and then file them away with the other forgotten files. Here today, gone tomorrow. What else could I do? When something doesn’t make sense, either we dismiss it altogether and carry on with what does make sense in our reality–pretending the nonsense doesn’t exist–or we somehow make sense from that nonsense. Even… if eventually making sense of the nonsense… doesn’t make any sense. You’ve figured it out and the outcome is just as ridiculous. Yeah… that’s a tricky spot to be in.

Right… OK… moving on.

Joe had been correct about many things. My desires to escape. Running and hiding from life’s problems. Following the pack. Intentionally making wrong choices. My need to be a victim. My desire to experience self loathing. Dragging my feet from one responsibility to another while forcing a smile. He was right on a lot of it.

The thing he was most accurate on, was one specific sentence uttered a few nights earlier. He was in the middle of a brief outburst. “You know nothing. In fact, you know less than nothing and don’t you ever forget it.”

He couldn’t have been more right. I know less than nothing and I’ll be the first to openly admit it. I’d like to say I know a little about a lot, and can carry on some decent conversations but at the end of the day… I know very little. And that’s just fine. I can say one thing for certain. I am self aware.

My youngest and I have some neato conversations. A more recent one was centered around self awareness. Knowing oneself. Understanding and recognizing personal flaws, working on said flaws, and focusing on strengths. Self acknowledgement. Personal growth.

It took quite awhile, but my awakening was knowing I know nothing. My own personal apocalypse. My defining moment of self awareness. Once I made that discovery, I knew I had an opportunity for growth and expansion beyond my own restricted paradigm.

That glorious night I burned the refuge to ashes.

The box I was existing in was small and claustrophobic. The air was stale and difficult to breathe. The space around me lacked color and meaningful substance.

I was tired of the life I was thrust into. Not tired to the point where I was ready to do something drastic about it, but tired of believing there wasn’t anything more to the life I was living. I was at the point of accepting mediocrity and stagnation. Complete surrender to complacency. It’s better to ride the wave, than fight the tide. My fight had left me.

Then one day, it came back.

My journey hasn’t even really started yet at this point in the tales. I still have many visits left at the refuge. Meeting Karen formally for the first time and shaking her soft gloved hand. The day Joseph provided me a compass and told me to sail my boat north. How Bill and the vault all connect to it.

The week before Nancy and I signed a lease on a rental home, Joseph did tell me a battle was on it’s way. I’d have serious choices to make. I believed afterwards his statement could be interpreted as simply as, “every day is a battle.” That’s how I made sense of it in my brain. To my fractured mind, that made the most sense out of the nonsense.

“Every day is a battle.”

Once again, I was wrong. Yes, every day can be a struggle, but the monsters that waged war with me on my doorstep, I still think about today, six years later. Pure evil. An evil with a minion army. Poison and pain. Blood and suffering. Endless tears.

It was during that war, I discovered myself. My awakening. My first glimpse into the apocalypse.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

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Oysters and Pearls

I was pulled from the stifling darkness with a forceful yank. One moment I was enclosed in a wooden box, paralyzed from head to heels, and the next I was shaken from slumber by terrified family members. The transition from dreaming to wide awake was instantaneous.

My eyes ripped open and their concerned faces filled my vision. I felt a cool hand on my forehead and I bellowed, “Get out! I have to go back! He has something for me!”

They must have thought I’d hit my mid-life crisis, or I was losing my mind.

They took hesitant steps towards the door as I pulled the comforter up to my throat and thrust my arms under the blanket. I ignored their collective concerns, pretended they were gone from the room and settled my head into the pillow. I squeezed my eyelids shut and concentrated all my energy and focus on returning to Joseph’s refuge.

My door creaked closed, the space quieted around me again and I felt my consciousness slipping away back into la la land.

Placed with gentle care, I was returned to the box as quickly as I’d left.

Right where I needed to be.

***

Relax. Breathe. Close your eyes. This is your reality now. A box. A thick impenetrable box in which there’s no escape. All you have is your senses. What do you see?

“I see nothing.”

You’re not looking hard enough. Look around. Let it come to you. What do you see?

“Darkness. But it’s moving. I see black within the black. One’s darker than the other.”

Tell me about the black. 

“Blobs. Like a lava lamp. They creep, split, slither and merge together.”

What do you want them to do?

“Nothing. I just want to get out of here.”

Jeremy. That’s all you do. You seek escapes. Every time you visit me, it’s just conjurings of your imagination. This is all because of you. You’ve created this place. Me. My now dead wife. Karen…

“Who’s Karen?”

Karen. I told you about her a few months ago. When we first met? I was hitchhiking and you picked me up and dropped me off in the parking lot. Shelby wasn’t too fond of me at first. She kept sniffing at me. Remember? You still have unfinished business with Karen, you know. But we’ll cross that bridge later on.

“Can we get back to the point, please?”

Of course. Like I said, you’ve done this, not me. I am just an extension of this bizarre world you’ve created. So why don’t you do us both a favor and take a step back, think about it for a second, stop being such an asshole and realize it’s you, and not something else. Stop blaming your anger, confusion, and loss of faculties on others. Man up for once. Coward.

“What do I want the blobs to be? How about this. I want the darkness to help me find a way out. I don’t want to be in this box anymore.”

This box is reality. It’s your prison. Only darkness surrounds you. This is your life now. All you have is your senses. If you seek an escape, then this is the only way. Use what you have.

I envisioned an ocean, and the darkness vanished. The water was deep blue, unending, and twinkling diamonds danced along it’s surface. Hypnotic waves rolled and undulated in slow rhythmic pulses. The sun had partially risen and the only clouds in the sky hovered over the distant horizon.

There. That wasn’t so bad. An ocean it is. Why the ocean?

I turned around, found my feet on solid ground, and Joe had joined me on a small island with a single palm tree reaching to the sky from the island’s center. The old man was wearing a three piece suit and sitting in his palm was an oyster. He crossed the sand and closed the gap between us.

I couldn’t move. All I could do was stand and stare.

Want to hear something funny about oysters, Jeremy? Of course you do. The pearl that comes from an oyster isn’t always spherical. Most are misshapen and uneven. In fact, the harvesters of pearls are typically the ones responsible with shaping the jewel. The harvester will slice a slit into the tissue and place a foreign object within the mantle, to increase the secretions that create the pearl. You see, pearls are the result of infection. Pearls come from obstructions or injuries. The oyster is manipulated to produce something of value. It has a defense mechanism and a natural reaction to protect itself. A pearl grows from the obstructions inside it. A jewel is formed from injury and manipulation. We can also eat them.

He laughed and shook his head.

If you could give this ocean a name, what would it be?

“The Rillian Sea.”

Strange name. Why that name? Where did that come from?

“From nowhere.”

Breathe in the air. Smell the salt. Feel the warm wind. Listen to the waves. Taste the sea spray against your lips. This is where you’re free. Here… there is no box. There is no oyster. Here… the infection heals. When you’re here, you’re without pain and obstructions. 

I allowed my five senses to activate. The smell of salt water entered my nostrils, I felt the wind, tasted the sea spray, listened to the waves and watched the palm tree sway side to side.

When I turned to face him again, Joe had disappeared. Placed in the sand a few inches from my wiggling toes was the oyster. I plucked it from the ground, ripped open the shell and to my dismay, it was empty.

His voice whispered around me. His final thoughts before allowing me to return to reality. There is no oyster. There is no more infection. The obstacle’s are all in your head. The pain is unnecessarily self inflicted and you want a pearl as a result of that pain. You won’t find a pearl so don’t bother looking for one. What you need to do is think on your freedom. Look at all of this! If the world is yours, what do you want to do with it?

“Damn good question. Will it come to me?”

I think so. Your problem is, you seek a pearl where they don’t exist.

“So, pretend I don’t have any pain, regret or remorse? If injury creates something of value…”

Once you find what it is you seek, and you will find it, that discovery will be your pearl. You’ll find your treasure in the strangest of places. Trust me. Would I lie to you?

I paced the beach and looked for the origin of his voice. “Can I ask you a personal question, Joe?”

Oh, of course.

“How old are you?”

He hesitated before answering. Moments before I opened my eyes and returned to my bed, Joe replied. I am three hundred and fifty seven years old. Next Saturday is my birthday. I’d really like it if you stopped by.

I opened my eyes.

I breathed deep, pushed the blanket from my chest and for the first time in months, I withdrew my dream journal from my book shelf.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

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Claustrophobia

When I was a child, my father asked me to help work under the trailer (we once called home), to wrap water pipes and stuff new insulation in preparation of the upcoming winter. A tight crawl space where the both of us had difficulties maneuvering. We laughed at the predicament and tried to make light of it, but the end result of the chore was me eventually developing a fear of small spaces.

Spiders and their thick webs brushing my cheeks and arms. Bugs dropping onto the back of my neck. The noises and scurrying of unseen critters hiding in the darkness just out of sight. The feeling of brittle and old insulation particles falling from the framework, covering my skin like dried and stringy wisps of cotton candy. Forced to military crawl to shimmy forward to the next area.

Since that day in the crawlspace, when forced into small or congested areas, I get antsy. I find it hard to breathe. I sweat and look for escapes. Crowds bother me, unless it’s an event I enjoy such as a Comic Con or a laid back concert in a wide open field. I shake, feel dizzy and have to leave the situation as soon as possible. I don’t shop the malls during the holidays, and if I do, it’s late at night when there’s less people. When at a restaurant, I tend to be away from the walls and windows and closer to the open floor. At movie theaters, I prefer an aisle seat if at all possible and in most cases, I’m the first person to find the emergency exits in a room.

Conquering my fear of heights was easy after awhile. I forced myself to embrace the height and realized it wasn’t necessarily a fear of heights I was dealing with, but a fear of falling. Once I came to that realization, it became a matter of caution and thinking it through to ensure I wouldn’t fall. I merely changed my thinking. The fear of high places eventually disappeared. The Appalachian Trail hike was the cure.

I can’t force myself into small spaces to alleviate that fear. I’ve tried. I’ve searched for that cure. The more I try, the more it overwhelms me and I’m inclined to step back and avoid it. I can’t help it.

An item on my bucket list, is to one day experience a deprivation tank. Even if only for a few minutes. Floating in body temperature salt water, in a dark sound proof booth, or with light music coming from speakers built inside. Something relaxing and soothing. Weightless. The only thing you can see, eyes open or closed, is whatever the mind produces.

Having an esoteric out of the box conversation with a close friend, she mentioned wanting to try one out with me.

Despite my eventual goal to one day give the tank a try, at this moment along the path, I’m hesitant. Somewhere deep inside, a small fraction of fear still resides. I’m hoping someday I can work up the full courage.

Fear is such a buzzkill.

When I left the Old Life and started anew, it was with very few personal possessions. Shelby the mutt, a backpack, and a duffle bag. The “Safe-house,” or as some have come to know it, “the Island,” was an emptied, two story, five bedroom unused home on the fringes of town in which I started fresh. No bed, couch, table or chairs. Just me and the things I brought with me coming into the New Life. Once crossing the threshold and before even unpacking my books, trinkets, and clothes I collapsed on the hardwood floor and slept for more than twelve hours.

I had more than enough room to do whatever I pleased. Space was no longer a worry in my world.

Once lifting my head from the puddle of drool, and beginning the process of re-nesting, the new fear I was stricken with, was being alone. I had burned so many bridges getting to this point, I was surprised people even wanted to talk to me. I wasn’t easy to get along with. Obstinate. Harsh, defiant, and I spoke my mind even if it hurt others; not caring about the outcome or people’s feelings. Becoming alone and the fear that accompanied it, was self induced.

My irrational fear of small spaces developed early in childhood, and stuck with me. My monophobia was because I constructed it from scratch, and allowed that new fear to resonate. Having both phobias simultaneously was a nightmare. Not wanting to be around groups of people, yet scared to be alone? (shudder) I don’t wish it on my worst enemy. It’s debilitating.

Over the last six years, I’ve managed to conquer most of my childhood and self induced fears. Roller coasters. Deep ocean water. I’m working hard on my fear of planes and I believe most of the trivial phobias are long gone. We all have demons to face and destroy. Mine just took a little longer than I wanted.

Six months into the new life, the options for apartments and new places to live were next to impossible. The room I was occupying at my family’s home was shrinking. In fact, for a time, the entire home seemed to decrease in size. I felt surrounded and maneuvering my living space was becoming cramped and all I wanted to do was pace and escape, and that night when my eyes fluttered closed in bed I returned to Joe’s neck of the woods.

I’ve only screamed out loud twice in my life.

In southern Maine, on the interstate, I had one hundred miles left to drive before returning home. I stopped at a tollbooth to pay my toll and asked the attendant a question. To this day I wonder if I had asked a second question, or never asked one at all, if I would have missed hitting the deer that night. When the buck jumped the guardrail and his face was glowing in the headlight, I screamed my most manly scream I could muster and the deer destroyed the vehicle. The impact could have been avoided if I had one single extra second.

The second time I’ve audibly screamed, was seeing Joe again. My dream scream was loud enough it cut and traveled through the veil separating the realms of dreaming and being awake. I can’t recall the exact sound, but it was loud enough to where my family had to wake me up.

***

When I opened my eyes, I was on the roof of the refuge. Not outside sitting on the shingles, looking around and taking in the sights, breathing in fresh air and listening to the rustle of leaves in the wind. No, no, no. That would be a pleasant experience. Instead, I was lying on the roof inside the refuge, the crossbeams just out of arms reach, and to my right was the chain to the chandelier. The room was lit up by the light fixture dangling not far from me among the timbers and sitting cross legged on the floor below was Joe, playing a solo card game across the carpet.

Wrapping my paralyzed body from feet, to tight around my throat, was a bright red sleeping bag. Only my head was visible. I couldn’t move, other than turning my face side to side.

He looked up as if he was startled to see me up there and the playing cards returned to his hand. Once the whole deck was back to his palm he swore out loud, “Damn it! Now I have to start all over again. You ruined everything, Jeremy. I hate it when you people make me start over. You’re going to have to be patient. It’s going to get dark in here. Damn it all to hell!”

My attention was drawn back to the chandelier as the lights dimmed and the structural timbers moved around the roof to either side of me. Joseph entered the kitchen, the door swung closed behind him and the timbers along the ceiling moved slowly closer. The light had fully extinguished, the room became pitch black and I could feel the pressure of the wooden beams pressing into my chest, arms, stomach and boxing me inside a coffin. I couldn’t see the timbers anymore, but I knew what was happening.

Once the final beam was placed, I let out a blood curdling scream that I was certain Joe couldn’t hear. My cry for escape fell on deaf ears and the light never came back on. I was stuck, trapped and helpless, inside a thick wooden coffin.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coincidence and Synchronicity

“From this day forward, until my dying breath, I will no longer believe in coincidence.”

–JSM–

Not long ago, my friend received a text message from a total stranger.

Logically, the interaction could have gone one of two ways: 1) Ignore the text and move on and pretend it never happened; accompanied with a brief, “Sorry, wrong number.” Or 2) Engage in random dialogue with a total stranger, not knowing anything, about anything.

My friend chose option number two.

Agreeing to converse, was probably an amalgamation of varying factors: Boredom maybe, and not having much else to do at the time. Nothing much on TV. Perhaps the result of a couple of drinks and feeling “chatty,” or perhaps something deeper than that. Maybe my friend felt compelled to communicate.

The back and forth texting occurred for quite a while. Originally the stranger opened the dialogue with a question… if I remember correctly, the words sent were, “Hey, you there?”

Having no clue whose number it originated from, and not once thinking to ask, my friend (let’s call him George), looked at the message and replied, “Yes. I’m here.”

Once that door was opened, the stranger unloaded a bunch of burdens on George. “So glad you’re there. I’m having a problem. You see, 2 days ago…”

Back and forth and back and forth they went. George pretended he was familiar with the stranger and the two communicated as if they had known each other for years. The stranger told George about how down in the dumps he was, and how since returning from over seas and done with the military tour for a time, life has been a challenge and family was distant and work was hard to come by, and the upcoming holidays are depressing, Dad and mom won’t talk to him, and George kept up the disguise and allowed the texting stranger to use him as a sounding board.

It mattered not what was sent to George. He read every word and generated a proverbial help-line for this hurting human.

After forty five minutes of texting, George eventually came clean and told the stranger he in fact dialed the wrong number and George had no clue who he was talking to.

“That’s OK.” The stranger typed back, “Talking to you has really lifted my spirits. I was trying to connect with my estranged cousin, but this turned out much better.”

“Glad I could be of service.”

“I don’t think you know how important this was to me. I was getting to the end of my rope.”

“Oh. You don’t want to do that. We’ve all been there. Start climbing that rope again no matter how bad it hurts. Never get to the end of it, only the top. Keep climbing.”

“Thank you. Tonight really changed how I see things. Be well and have a good night.”

“You too.”

Some would say that interaction was all coincidental. An accidental sneeze of happenstance. The quantum fibers of the chaotic universe, merging together for one singular situation within a fragment of time, where two people aligned and occupied the same space simultaneously over a great distance. An accident. A cosmic coincidence.

I can’t believe in that anymore. I can’t believe in coincidences. I don’t believe in accidents. I now believe everything happens for a reason, even if it can’t be conventionally explained. Sorry (not sorry) it’s just who I am.

That night, George was destined to speak with that stranger.

And I can’t be swayed otherwise. We can dig into the math and science all day long and it will NOT change how I feel.

It was a moment of synchronicity.

The thing that separates coincidence from synchronicity is the latter is typically described as, “meaningful coincidence.” A step above standard coincidences. Bumping into a co-worker at the grocery store is, at least to me, a standardized coincidental encounter.

“Hey, haven’t seen you in a while.” (Share a quick chuckle)

“See you in the morning. Thank goodness tomorrow’s Friday.”

Then part ways.

A meaningful coincidence is trying to call your sibling to find out what time the BBQ is on the weekend, and instead, re-connecting with a friend you haven’t seen in over a decade. For some reason, the phone number came forth from the recesses of the mind and the friend’s number was dialed, instead of family.

The friends make a lunch date and stay in contact from that moment forward. That’s a meaningful coincidence. Synchronization.

If the stranger didn’t speak to George that night, who knows what could have happened. But the fact the stranger ended the dialogue on a positive note, indicates to me it was a meaningful encounter, destined to happen, and not by accident.

For a period of time, I lived within the dimension of synchronicity. In a strange little way, I recognized it from a distance, but didn’t put much stock into it at first.

Some may think it’s a foolish philosophy and a ridiculous notion and that doesn’t really bother me. People can think whatever they desire.

It was little things at first. Numbers. Symbols. Gut feelings. A shiver or a chill running from the back of my neck to the base of my spine. Or the time I signed the paperwork to purchase my home, and five years to the exact day, I signed the paperwork to put the home back on the market.

December 12, 2007. Purchased.

December 12th, 2012. Five years to the day, it was back on the market. It was meant to happen. It was no coincidence the dates aligned.

When I first looked at Nancy’s licence plate on her truck and the numbers were almost identical to my car. 1494 PE. 1484 QE. It was almost a year before I picked up on that little gem.

Little things. Stuff that was easily dismissed as nothing really “meaningful.” Accidental sneezes. Yet, the more I dug, the more I listened and payed attention, the more I was able to easily recognize synchronicity. Even the seemingly subtle.

Out behind my family’s home, a tree was struck by lightning. Half the pine was missing and weakened. We were all convinced a strong gust of wind would bring it down. The weakened area indicated it would only fall in one direction and that direction was smack dab on top of the house. The back porch was destined to be obliterated. If the weight twisted it juuuuuust right, the slight possibility existed it would land on the walking path beside the house in a five foot area.

I was cleaning up the work shed one afternoon and the wind picked up. I could hear the groaning and creaking of the wounded tree and believed that day was the day it would fall to the ground. The tree snapped at the split and the weight twisted it just right and it missed the house by a few inches. I closed my eyes and waited to hear the disaster.

I opened my eyes after it made contact with the Earth and breathed a sigh of relief. Not one branch touched the home.

Coincidence? Sure… perhaps. The odds were, the home was going to take a hit. The felled tree didn’t make contact with the home. I can’t see that as coincidental.

When Nancy and I became closer, I heard from others from the Old Life, “You’re going too fast. You’re making the wrong decisions. Slow down. This isn’t the life for you. This new life with her is a mistake. You should be focusing on other things.”

Bollocks.

It took a long time to figure out that I was listening to the wrong people all that time. Allowing others to live rent free in my mind and I hung on their every word. If a handful of people were saying I was doing something wrong, then it must be true… right?

Or perhaps I was never listening to myself. It wasn’t until I was able to shed and discard that Old Life did I start to listen to myself more. I started connecting with different people. The right people. Age old friends, reacquainted. New friends that were able to help me see that light at the end of the tunnel. At the time of these connections, I saw them as nothing more than coincidental encounters. The stars aligned just right that day and my world was able to open wider. Chance interactions. Happy accidents.

Little did I know it was all synchronicity. Each and every conversation. Every moment of dialogue and question asking, was meaningful to a degree which most can’t understand.

And it all started with Nancy. My guardian angel. The more time I spent with her, the less I could blink my eyes while in her presence.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Retail Therapy

“One moment the world is as it is. The next, it is something entirely different. Something it has never been before.” Anne Rice

Winter approached, and I was just as lost as I was during the time of the summer heat. Six months into the new life, and I was at a point where it was time to search for a new home again. Life continued to move fast, and I had to keep up.

I never believed I was an inconvenience to my family. I was welcomed with open arms, open hearts and treated as kin. I had people to talk to, a home for the children and the dog, a laid back lifestyle and a hot meal every night. Fast internet, my own space and a large backyard where I could crack away on firewood and sit at a bonfire if needed. It was a place to recover and find roots.

Those roots being… there’s nothing more important than family. Family was the foundation from which I was reborn. When I took Joe’s advice and began to whittle my life down to the core basics, focusing exclusively on what’s important, family was the starting line before my new race into the unknown.

I owe a lot of my sanity to my family.

Or perhaps I owe them some of my insanity from over exposure and a result of daily interactions. Either way, they picked me up when I hit the ground.

Even though I was comfortable and welcomed and never felt intrusive, I still had a nagging urge to escape. There, within the safety of their walls, I could be me… but I couldn’t be me. I had lived on my own since I was seventeen. The thought of living with family for a long period of time made me believe I was failing, and codependent on others. Even knowing the opposite to be true.

I was online searching through apartments, local trailers and cheap duplexes; at least once a day for a couple of months. Finding a cheap place to live in central Maine, that can accommodate two kids, in the late fall early winter with eventual heavy snow, close to the holidays, close to work, was an impossible chore. Add to that, a mastiff was frowned upon with most insurance companies and Shelby was out of the question.

Reminding me of the early days of the Island.

Feeling trapped, I continued to spend money, act the fool, replace my pain with material junk purchases, trinkets, movies, and eating expensive dinners as often as time would allow. Snagged me a couple new credit cards and at the end of the week I’d test my luck with the few dollars remaining crinkled up in my wallet and dabble in some scratch offs and lotto tickets. Sometimes I got lucky, but most of them were a bust.

Here’s the part that’s scary. The stuff that resonates deep in my core. Each time I spent my money, I’d feel nothing different. I gained no pleasure from the experience.

Sure, the food was tasty and filled my stomach. The nick knacks looked cool on the shelf beside the now completed trilogy of sci-fi movies. The book I was missing in the set is now where it should be. I can attend every block buster flick on opening night and get some popcorn.

The art tacked up on the walls is nice to look at and my collectibles have a fun geeky vibe, but that was the extent of it. I surrounded my universe with things I like. I created an illusion.

In the absence of my children, hanging out with Nancy and the handful of long time confidants was the highlight of my life. When lacking in those few social interactions… I was blowing cash like I could wipe my ass with it.

I had learned nothing from my time at the refuge. Seriously… it’s a dream. I’ve dreamed of metallic dinosaurs, deep holes in the ground, and sitting on the fence of a human sized wooden birdhouse. The birdhouse was atop a four, perhaps five hundred foot long thin pole, above a large body of water, with no land in sight, and each gust of wind blew the birdhouse side to side, bending to the water… its a dream. Dreams don’t mean anything. The only difference between one strange dream and another, is the lucidity of my time at the refuge. Joe’s place felt more real and interactive.

They’re only dreams.

I never woke from slumber dwelling on what I saw or experienced. Life would merely start over again. I’d think on it for a brief moment of time, but the experience was mostly ignored and pushed to the side.

Back to working and filling cash registers.

If I liked it? It was mine. If I wanted it? I made it happen. If I wanted to go somewhere or getaway with Nancy. I left. I had no other way to satisfy what ever hunger I had within me. Life was lacking, and spending money filled that empty space.

When shopping for a new home, I at least knew I was in a good place. I was never worried I’d ever be on the street. But I still felt the pull to seek new digs. I wanted to find my own path and literally start over anew. Depend solely on myself. Each time I came up short, I sought retail therapy.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I buried my old existence and most of my past under boxes of unopened packages. Back to nesting in my own way. In my mind I was preparing myself for a new place by purchasing the items I wanted. Storing away boxes for the big move. I needed to be prepared. I had to be ready.

I needed things that define what I enjoy, just to say I own them. Unfortunately the debt exceeded my lifestyle and the spending dried up. The bills started rolling in like a tsunami.

Just when I reached a breaking point and thought life would drag me down to a point where I may lose my faculties, the unexpected happened. As if a hole appeared in the dark clouds and shined a beacon of light along my path. A brief window through to the other side of life, and quite literally something landed in my arms from above.

Finally, something good.

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The Game

“You think this is a game? My dear boy. Don’t you know in order to play a game, you have to know the rules. You don’t know the rules yet. You know nothing. In fact, you know less than nothing and don’t you forget that. All you know is you ‘think’ you know something, which is, and always will be, your greatest downfall. When we’re done playing this little game as you call it, I’ll have broken you. I will put you through an agony you couldn’t possibly fathom in your feeble little brain. You think you know suffering? I’m going to torment your mind. I’m going to force you to see things you will never erase from memory. Ever. You think this is a game? Fine, let the games begin. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll have wished you’d never met me.” Joseph Everett

 

Macaroni, glue and paper. What a ridiculous project. Of all the things I could be doing with my precious time as an adult, here I was caught up in the dream realm, sitting by candlelight, doing my best to create a duck out of pasta. I couldn’t leave the refuge until I had done better than my best.

Joseph had blown out the candles along the table and allowed two to remain lit. Coloring with crayons was no longer an option. The lights stood to either side of my paper and I had to squint to see what I was doing. I was angry, embarrassed, and knowing I was in a dream I wanted nothing more than to wake from this nightmare.

I made sure to convey my feelings as often as possible.

I sighed. Rolled my eyes. Exhaled hard. Drummed my fingers along the table. Stood and stretched. Moved my neck around in circles.

The old man paced and wandered the room, hiding inside the shadows. Joe waited patiently for me to complete the task.

On the table he carelessly left his pocket knife wide open, within hands reach.

Just after the Old Life, and fairly recent into the new lifestyle, I had a dream. I know, I know… Don’t roll your eyes, it’s quick.

I had a fight with someone and I could barely see any facial features. I was straddling the chest, knees pressed down on either arm pinning the individual flat on the back, one hand tight around the throat while the opposite was raised above me clenched tight in a fist. Trying to punch this person in the face, my hand traveled to the flesh in ultra slow motion. Like I was pushing through a thick clear gel. I could feel my arm moving, but the connection was an eternity. I believe I awoke before making contact.

It was the same with the uncooked, short, hollow pasta. The elbow macaroni was placed on the paper with absolute focus and precision, yet the speed to get them adhered and adjusted was forever and an hour. In order to make the time move forward in a speed I desired, I had to be inches above the paper, the macaroni close by in a pile, and the squeeze bottle of glue had to be a permanent fixture to my hand. As long as I remained in the glow of the candles, time moved at a more steady rate.

Joseph’s face appeared in the light and the old codger was grinning ear to ear. His sudden appearance startled me and I dropped my short piece of pasta to the floor. Once the butterflies fluttered away, I snatched up another and applied a dab of glue; returning my attention to the project and ignored his intrusive presence.

I looked to him and his smile vanished. He didn’t expect my continued defiance. “You tell me not to act like a child, and you give me a childish project. What’s the point of all this?”

He hovered in the glow and I could tell he was now sitting in his chair. “Perhaps there is no point. Perhaps the moral of this exercise is to see if you’d actually participate. I gave you a ludicrous choice and forced you to pick one. The whole thing is absurd. The door is wide open, Jeremy. You can leave if you want to.”

I looked over my shoulder and the double doors were open wide and the moon was shining through the trees. The light from the sky glinted off the falling snow and I was subconsciously pulled to leave the building.

“Jere, the first step to completing any task is the courage and desire to want to try. How do you know if you’ll enjoy it, without trying?”

“When you force someone to choose, it’s no longer a choice. You lied and said I can’t leave until I choose. By not wanting to participate, doesn’t mean I made the wrong decision. I wanted to choose something else.”

“What would you have done, if I didn’t make you choose between the two?”

“I’d leave. At least that’s what I would try to do.”

“You keep coming here for a reason, Jeremy. Why?”

I have no idea. 

I placed another piece on the paper and situated the pasta perfectly. “I don’t know. I suppose you keep bringing me here for something. But I don’t know why. I got an idea, Joe. Why don’t you tell me why I’m here.”

“I can’t do that yet. You’ll just have to trust me.”

My hand flew across the table and I snatched the knife from the surface. Joe didn’t even flinch. Using the blade, I chiseled off a dried piece of macaroni, careful not to tear the paper, reapplied the glue and placed it back down at a different angle. I closed the knife and set it to the side.

“Before we continue this little dance, Jeremy, I have to tell you a few rules.”

“I don’t care about your rules, Joe. I think I’ve had enough of your little game.” I held up the finished product and despite the wavy curved features of the duck, I had completed the task assigned to the best of my ability.

Joe rose from his chair and the candles lit up bright across the table top. “You think this is a game? My dear boy. Don’t you know in order to play a game, you have to know the rules. You don’t know the rules yet. You know nothing. In fact, you know less than nothing and don’t you forget that. All you know is you ‘think’ you know something, which is, and always will be, your greatest downfall. When we’re done playing this little game as you call it, I’ll have broken you. I will put you through an agony you couldn’t possibly fathom in your feeble little brain. You think you know suffering? I’m going to torment your mind. I’m going to force you to see things you will never erase from memory. Ever. You think this is a game? Fine, let the games begin. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll have wished you’d never met me.”

At the crack of dawn, I opened my eyes, and drew in a quick gasp of air. My blanket was pulled tight to my throat and my alarm was scheduled to go off in less than an hour. I squeezed my lids shut and try as I may, I was unable to return to the refuge that night. Despite that, the game continued as did the visits for another handful of months.

The dreams stopped altogether the night the refuge exploded and erupted into flames.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Small Potatoes

“Return to a time when life was simple. Kindergarten is a good place to start.” Joseph Everett

 

This endeavor, the Chronicles Project, began with one simple question. Actually, a series of questions. Below is an excerpt from my first installment.

“Have you ever had something happen so profound, so jaw dropping, mind blowing, eye opening or gut wrenching it stops you dead in your tracks? Something which seems yanked straight from the realm of the Twilight Zone or a seemingly alternate universe–and the moment it happens–the experience instantaneously transforms your entire thinking process?  Literally changes who you are?”

Those moments come in various forms, are completely interpretative, subjective, and geared solely to the individual experiencing it. At least this is what I believe. Some would say: a religious experience, or a spiritual awakening. An epiphany. A revelation. The after effects of cheating death. Bringing a new life into a chaotic world.

The second I held my newborn baby daughter, mere moments after weighing her, less than sixty seconds after cutting the cord, was a feeling that’s indescribable. Reality altering.

More feelings of purpose, love, joy and… an out of body experience. The mind races. The chest thumps. The blood rushes through the veins. A million thoughts scattered and swirling in the mind. Wanting to cry, but finding yourself giggling instead and still wiping tears. All the troubles of the day are washed away in that moment. The stuff that’s been weighing on the brain all day or all week, is vanishing and dissipating in the air around you as you stare at this brand new creation in your hands.

All the crazy hell that follows when becoming a new parent (or again for a second time. A third), is a discussion for another day. But that moment… that second… you become a changed person.

I once conquered a fear of riding a roller coaster that flipped loopy loops and went upside down at sixty five miles per hour. A coaster in which the feet dangle, with a cushioned restraint buckled across the shoulders and down the chest.

I was terrified. I’d approach, then turn around. Get close… stop, then wait outside the gate for the next go around.

Believing I was having a panic attack when I finally muscled up the courage to try.

Down the first hill, picking up speed, and before the eyes could catch a glimpse of the track and path, to make mental preparations, I was flipped upside down and tossed around.

I hooted and hollered for the whole damn thing. Both arms up in the air. No longer paying attention to the steel handles which I initially had a death grip on as the coaster climbed the first hill.

Sheer bliss. Haven’t feared the coaster again.

I changed a little that day.

But that’s not the change I’m referring to. I didn’t have an personalized epiphany when I left the roller coaster to seek out the nearest one, for another adrenaline fueled experience. I didn’t stop dead in my tracks exiting the ride’s gate, eyes wide, unblinking and bloodshot, fingers clenching into fists, a tingle traveling down my spine from the base of the neck, the corners of my mouth twitching, walking through a public place speaking in a hush only I could hear, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I refuse to believe this. That can’t be my answer. There has to be some other explanation.”

The thing about having a profound personal moment, is it’s completely subjective. In fact the really good ones, are so powerful, they’re rarely spoken about with others. Something you keep close to the chest and hope it happens to someone else organically and naturally. You don’t want to jinx it.

Just have hope.

I’m an easy going guy. Very laid back. Meat and potatoes fella. My education was high school, and a little college for a couple of different degree programs for a short period of time and I’ve worked in upwards of eleven varying places of employment. Divorced. Have two children. Live check to check and hit the road for a drive when possible. I love my community and the people in it… , but there is nothing overly complicated about me. I don’t speak elegantly. I’m fairly straight forward. I am not a complex entity. I put my pants on one leg at a time, work my forty hours and try to live the best way I know how. I am by far an expert on anything. I like to say I know enough to get by. I know a little about a lot.

So if I have an experience that can’t be explained conventionally, I typically just let the experience become a part of me, and keep it to myself. “You don’t want people thinking you’re crazy, do you?”

I’ve had a multitude of experiences throughout my life, that altered the way I live said life. Adopting my oldest. Helping birth my youngest. Some charity work I’ve involved myself in. Volunteering.

The epiphany, the revelation if you want to call it that, angered me. I wanted no part of it. It didn’t make sense, and because it didn’t make sense to my simple mind, I tried to ignore it. I fought it every step of the way.

It felt like I’d slipped straight into the Twilight Zone, and I couldn’t turn back.

Speaking of the Twilight Zone. Joseph Everett was about to let me inside the refuge again. I hated visiting him. Of all the things that didn’t make sense in my reality, he was at the tippy top of the list.

Crotchety old bastard.

***

 

The building was darkened. The wide empty space was lit up only by candles splayed across his dining table at the front of the room. Clutched tight in his left hand, Joe had a fistful of crayons.

He turned his back to me, strolled to the opposite end of the church and pulled the chair out from under the table. Joseph lowered his thin frame slow and gentle in the seat.

I looked among the shadows and expected something to jump out from the darkness. He gave me a moment to glance around before speaking.

“Everything that happened before this moment, has been in the past. Why do you live in the past?”

“I don’t believe in choice anymore. I have to use the lessons of the past, to move forward. Free will is an illusion.”

“Why do you think that?”

“I can’t live the life I wish to live. Bad things are happening.”

“Why not look at those negative experiences as a positive?”

I folded my hands on the table, “So from this point forward, look at the bad as something good?”

“Simplify.” He pulled a small knife from his right pocket and flipped open the blade. “Whittle your life down to simplicity. Think it through. Take each and every variable presented and think it all through. Good and hard.” The crayons clattered across the table and he snatched one up. With the blade extended, he shaved off thin slivers of the colored wax and I watched them flutter to the table’s surface as though they were as light as feathers. Time slowed down.

“Return to a time when life was simple. Kindergarten is a good place to start.”

“Kindergarten.”

“Absolutely. What do you remember of kindergarten?”

Brief flashes of memory circled me where I sat. The floating snapshots of early education moved around in the dark and I recalled play time. A teacher at a piano. Arts and crafts. Banging away on musical instruments and singing in groups. Building blocks and poster-boards. Nap time. Reading story books and life was simple back then.

Once the memories were burned into my brain I nodded my recollection and smiled.

“It was better back then, wasn’t it?” He disappeared from the chair and the kitchen door swung open and closed. He reappeared before me in his chair as if blinking into view from nothing and the door swung wide a second time. In his grip he had a box of elbow macaroni, paper, and white glue in a small squeeze bottle in his left hand. He dropped the items on the surface.

“Make a choice.” He leans across the table and brings both hands to either side of my head. He held them a moment before snapping his fingers together and the sharp sound forced me back in my chair. “You can choose between drawing a duck with crayons, or making one from macaroni and glue. But you only have two options. You have to choose one or the other.”

“I choose neither. If I get options, that’s the one I choose.” My arms crossed and I slunk low in my seat.

“You can’t leave until you choose one.”

I stood up. “So you mean to tell me I’m forced to make a choice. See? No free will.”

He nodded. “The problem is, you’re telling yourself not to participate. But what if you did?”

I dropped back down in a huff. I snatched up the crayon, slid a sheet of paper over and drew my best dream duck as possible. In fact, if memory serves, it appeared to be a small potato with a triangle for a beak. Stick legs with thin straight toes.  Nothing like a traditional duck.

“Why did you choose the crayon? Why not the macaroni?”

“Seemed easier and I can get out of here quicker?”

“But it looks nothing like what I asked for. I told you to draw a duck.”

“I did my best.”

“Did you? Stop acting like a child. Do it again.” He swiped the crayons from the table. “Use the macaroni instead.”

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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