Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#19 -- The Stonecutter

"The view was always the same, it was mostly just the colors that changed, really. It was always the same temperature, the same water, the same sky, the same sounds -- only the color changed." 

As time went by, the world began to rebuild itself around him. Things were quiet. He didn't feel the blood in his ears at first. It was his lips splitting open. That was how it began.

The Stonecutter's skiff drifted on through the doldrums and the leviathan still kept quiet.

The doldrums draped across his horizon, sometimes blue, mostly green and purple or something in between. The water was crystal, and every night, once the clouds were drawn out of sight, the doldrums became a lone sphere expanding into, and past, the stars. It was a sight that made the Stonecutter sick at first, but as the days passed, he felt himself becoming more accustomed to it. He didn't want to. To him, he felt acclimation to this place meant he was being separated from the place he'd left.

He wondered where he was. He focused hard and he could picture a face that he sort of recognized. There was the memory but when he grasped for the tool that would make it real and correct, the skiff wobbled, making him exhale, the doldrums coming back into view. It was just as quiet here. He looked around. He had a bucket in the skiff with him. He also had long pole that had a blunt point on one end and an oversized claw hammer on the other.

His skin started sucking closer to his bones. The clothes still fit him, yes -- the warm coat, the boots whose soles had small ruberized cactus spines, and the yellow necktie -- but his body felt a bit lighter. Easy winds pushed him around nowadays. It was a bleached-out, paralyzed feeling. He imagined he'd be buoyant if he fell into the water, like petrified wood. A few bits of moisture tinged his fingers when he let his hand fall close to the surface, yet he somehow, in a moment of clarity, made sure not to touch the water. There had to be an important reason for that, his instincts had flashed through his body so quickly, commanding him not to touch the water, no matter what. The doldrums were talking to the parts of him that he couldn't control. It would help him survive. The doldrums wanted him here, alive, for some reason, that was crystal clear, keeping him away from clear thoughts and separating him from reality. They wanted him out of where he had been and did not want him to get to where he was going and it had done well so far. It was against him. That very thought set him off so badly into an emotional, choking fit that he started to thrash violently in the little boat. It rocked with no rhythm, hog-tying his anger that wouldn't shake off, once almost capsizing, he curled into himself, grasping for calm, for something solid, only to be shaken back to the dark night waters by the waves beating on the edge of the skiff.

It wouldn't let him look away, wouldn't let him shut his eyes. It was keeping him here in the sleepless darkness with the sea of stars. This damn diamond net.

The sun was going to come up soon. The stars gave way, the waves had gone black. Orange becoming yellow becoming green becoming blue made the line between water and sky vivid again, a sight that made the Stonecutter willingly sit up straight in the skiff, staring at the horizon's meniscus.

He steadied himself now. He breathed out, slowly, then inhaled, and breathed out again even slower for a long, long time. As the light climbed, it made a narrow path of gold from one end of his vision to the other. It rolled over the skiff and he had to squint or stop looking at it. He did neither though. His eyeballs teared, he saw spots, and faced away, over the side into the water.

The black and blue bubbles still fogged his vision, and he loosened his tie so he could breathe easier and cough. After a few minutes of semi-blindness, he slapped at the water in defiance, rubbing some in his eyes. The Stonecutter lay face-down in the skiff for a whole day, making himself smell the brine that had bonded with the hull. If he needed to, he reminded himself that he could suck some flavor out of the wood again to keep from feeling crazy. By night, he just wanted the morning to grow faster, thinking that the force out there in the doldrums might sleep during the day and he could finally rest under the sun’s warmth. He held his breath. He lay still. The inevitable light blanketed him, sinking him down under a soft weight. The skiff's pressed hard on his ribs, making him spit a sort of recognizable bile. It hurt, but he was indifferent now, turning over onto his back, conceding defeat.

He resigned that not much would happen. Days passed with no sleep. The view was always the same, it was mostly just the colors that changed, really. It was always the same temperature, the same water, the same sky, the same sounds -- only the color changed.

His ear was pressed against the hull. The vibration came first. He inhaled, pushed his ear harder, and held his breath. Then came the impact. A thud, like a medium-sized stone plunking into a well, but this song was being sung in reverse. He didn't move because he felt another vibration before the second impact hit the skiff, a little bit bigger, yet airy. The third one was the lightest but he didn't hear it, already sitting up. Three fish, and soon a fourth and fifth, floated to the surface. They bumped off of each other, off of his tiny craft, and the smaller ones were even bounced by the air bubbles starting to form. After a minute, he could count fifteen or twenty dead fish, and after two minutes, he couldn't keep track of them all.

He took one that looked easy to grip, sliced its belly with the claw hammer -- gutting it rather quickly -- and picked a bit of meat out from between the finer bones. It was raw and very salty. He cupped a hand into the water, and managed a small drink. He swished it in his mouth, feeling it soften his tongue. Then he swallowed it. The skiff shook a little when he coughed before he smiled. The water was fresh and it was clean, but otherwise, it was not particularly tasty. It had a combustible, oily tang to it, but he thought that might just be the fish meat’s aftertaste. It was the fact that the fish had been warm when he ate it that worried him, as if it had been cooking, simmering itself alive in the water. He sucked on the skiff's wood and then spat as much flavor out of his mouth as he could.

The dead fish's eyes popped out when he squeezed it. "Well, this is certainly different," he said, throwing it as far as he could. He looked away from the sun where the last bits of night had just now faded. The dead fish stopped coming to the surface. Then, three long, full breaths later, he held himself still, and the bubbles stopped too. "Weird different."

A gigantic cloud took form and it was white but thick, blocking half the horizon. The leviathan! It has found him. It had never lost him.

It was moving close, and he could tell it was not being blown by the wind because there was a breeze nipping his neck and his eyes kept dry. The gigantic cloud didn't roll the way most clouds did, and should, he thought. "Nope, that's different," he said, sort of repeating himself, sort of forgetting he’d said. "Nope, that’s different. Just more different." White and gigantic against blue sky, the cloud made acres of the still, deep ocean. The hot ocean, running like hell, evacuating itself of its fish and air minutes earlier, looked like a hole had opened on the face of the doldrums. More wind itched his neck. He kept still and it went on itching. The breeze stopped suggesting and started demanding as he stood up tall, knees aching to keep balance in the skiff.

The cloud moved against the wind. The hole in the ocean was dragged along beneath it. Light spiked the water around its perimeter. The surface had become so still that the light could find its way right through it, kind of bonding with it, and when the wind cut out, he wanted to believe the water was so shallow here that he could see the ocean floor. But his knee buckled when the wind stopped and he fell on his back, undignified. More distance was closed between him and the gigantic, unbending cloud that moved against the wind. He refused to take his eyes off it. Because now he could hear it too.

It wasn't like soft wind, which you really feel just as much as you hear, and he wouldn't mistake it for a total absence of sound. There was noise. Two of the same thing rubbing against one another. Heat touching heat. Water touching water. Sand touching sand. Always in equal measure. What he saw should be louder and he was worried he wasn't hearing correctly. He wanted to lean closer to hear what it was saying. It was too big to be unheard or to be so damn quiet. At fifty feet away, he was sure it was there. The cloud wasn't making the sound and neither was the water. The noise was there -- in between. It pricked and popped pockets of air in his lungs, and he had to hold his breath. Everything inside him tightened. He gripped into himself but it was still there -- it was there and he could see the sound happening.

He might have shut off some senses to keep from going into shock because there wasn't another sound when he fell in. His face crawled with tiny water-krill and he panicked until he realized they were just bubbles. He held his breath again, reminding himself not to inhale water. Impossible! Don't, it's impossible! Air burped out, ribs creaking. The noise that the space between was making was too close now. He flipped the skiff and gasped when he lowered the vessel over his head. The bottom was close, so he could stand firmly on the nesting, knotted water plants, holding the little boat steady. Touch was there, his heart shook inside. Smell was gone, taste, of course, also.

Sense of sight was there, changing the overturned boat into a closing iris that shut before he shut his own eyes. Sound was here. He was close to a fire now. It was popping. A chemical reaction so sudden that it was resorting to violence, changing one element into another. He was inside the reaction. The noise was soft but he was inside it, and the rest of the Stonecutter was just curled, dead nerves burning off, winking out. His senses rubbed against each other until they were fuzzy, gray, and blended. That mess was cohesive in the half-second when he brushed against the center of the passing cloud.

The doldrums spun him. They were a beast's bowels, forcing him from one frothing pool to another. It was bright and the colors began to separate from each other. One became definite from the next.

He saw what it needed him to see.

Like a music box, it snapped shut. He coughed blood and seawater onto his chest, screaming into the sky. Each muscle in his body fought him. Paralysis locked his jaw shut and all of the small bones in his body disconnected from one another. He had to narrow his focus, he ordered himself! It could not really be like this, he had to have been wrong somewhere, he must have given an incorrect answer, not remembering it right, it could not, could not be like this. The back of his head fell off and he tried to press it into place. He blacked out. The paralysis followed him into the unconsciousness, settling down, making itself at home. There, the leviathan looked at him, looked at the space around them, and then --

"-- Tell me where you're from," it said. The leviathan's face tensed, dozens of bones clenching, cheeks jutting a little, eyes motionless, nostrils fluctuating. "Originally, where are you from? I know you, I've heard what people have said, but I want you to tell me. I've heard you're from the east, but others said you've lived in the west. I just want to know where you're from. So tell me, where are you from?" 

The leviathan was deliberate in each movement, flickering twitches present at all time, creeping into the Stonecutter's thoughts as he replied, "There's no reason for me to tell you that." 

"It's a harmless detail," the leviathan insisted right away. "Come on. How big of a deal is it? Don't be defensive about it. I won't care where you're from. Be the bigger individual, just tell me. Honestly, we're friends, you and I. We are. We're in the same business." 

"No we're not." 

"No we're not?" The leviathan was done faking exasperation. If ever, it was being dead serious now. "No, we're not in the same business, or no, we're not friends? I'm pretty sure we both do the same thing every day. Am I right? I think so. I know so, which means you're talking about the other thing. If we're not friends, then I don't have any reason to be nice to you. I've been nice so far. Now you're saying that you want to throw that away? Oh, my boy. What will they say? Knocking away an olive branch like this. You know how small the world is, how disingenuous it is to burn bridges. Always be careful, my boy. Be careful and promise me you will --"

-- he woke up, skipping grogginess, stepping straight into wide-open alertness. His body answered when his brain came calling, except his arm, which was numb. It was a no surprise that a coral shard was jutting from his bicep, striking him hard with fear that the paralysis, if even in a small quantity, yet remained. It had to be from when he had flipped the skiff, wasn't it? Alone, he assured himself (but who knew for sure?) that that was what he believed. Trembling, he moved his arm, willing himself, he tugged it. It took four tries to yank it out. The gratification of throwing it into the ocean wasn’t as emphatic as he'd hoped. It didn't bleed much though. He was lying on his back in the skiff, exhausted. There was still nothing to see, naturally.

"Still nothing to see, naturally," he laughed. "Oh. Wait."

And he snapped straight up. The air was clear, the sky was blue, painted with Cirrus clouds that calm winds pushed -- water was casual sea-green, thunking and thunking against the little wooden boat that kept him afloat. 

-- Doberman
on Twitter  |  @GhostLittle_WTF

Thursday, April 21, 2011

#18 -- The Airport Is Your God Now

"The airport is a really slow time machine that forces you to pass through an alternate Mirror, Mirror version of Nazi-occupied Britain before letting you reach your destination."

Flaming fucking hellshit in a deflating life-raft, I hate the airport. Every moment is an internal dialog. It's all questions. It's all criticisms, complaints, seething judgments, and escapist fantasy. How can this be so slow? How can this person be on their phone while disassembling their bag for security? Why is a soda cheaper than a water? Why does this guy smell like fruit that my girlfriend's cat puked up onto the radiator? Where the fuck is my plane? Why are all the people working at the airport so apathetic? Always? Why hasn't the air-travel "'business" imploded into itself with all these inefficiencies and infinite requests to tolerate their dickish practices? Seriously, 9/11 was almost 10 years ago, that's not an excuse. Get your shit back together. It's getting worse, they're just finding ways to gouge and tithe us until holograms put them out of business.

I'm not going to rail this wrecked locomotive down your throat. Everybody can recite awful travel stories or 5-hour delays in Newark where you realized just how durable the baby changing tables are thanks to an experimental move devised by a Rutgers waterpolo girl. Bruised tail-bone stories are commonplace. No, in short, your rage against the airport can be summed up quite plainly: The airport is your church now. 

It's where you go to have all control over your modern fate surgically removed.

It's abundantly obvious. You hate going to the airport. You have to go around the holidays because of your familial obligations. You don't really understand the things being shouted at you but you loaf your way through it because it's tradition, and you have to, and don't want to be hassled. You go through the ingrained motions whenever you can, which is when you get a reprieve from the internal fury backlog that I've mentioned above. But it goes beyond that. There's. . . the fear. You can't be a dick at the airport, just like you can't be a dick at church. And not 2011 church, I mean old-school pre-Martin Luther church. I mean Spanish Inquisition upside-down flesh-flaying shit. I mean excommunication, can't fight The Man, airport jail for saying "Paul Greengrass," God is always watching fear. It's one of the only places that white Americans are still afraid of other white Americans. They know they have to watch what they say or they might have their windpipe collapsed as a result of an air marshal's knee hose-kinking their trachea. 

The airport is a really slow time machine that forces you to pass through an alternate Mirror, Mirror-dimension version of Nazi-occupied Britain before letting you reach your destination. Papers, lads. Keep calm and carry on, for Queen and Country.

Watch for un-manned pieces of baggage! Also, watch for heathens, please! Constant vigilance -- of yourself and of that guy with that red hat! Verily, that guy. . . I do not trust. Ladies and gentlemen, sit and wait, you will be delivered to your desired destination, thank you. We cannot explain directly why things are the way they are, why you must suffer, the Lord speaks in riddles so that our souls might grow to accept waiting in the goddamn JFK E-terminal. The music is unusual, and you only hear it at church, played on a type of piano that you only hear in this place. You kind of hum along as you sit there, waiting for whatever, sort of recognizing it for a few bars, but you don't know why. The people around you have camped out in their pews, drawing their families close, their kids already wearing unfitting clothes that now are way too small since last year, so they continually fidget in their flip flops and hand-me-down parkas with colors from the incorrect decade. At the airport, like at church, you stare at people. I imagine going to Puritan church was like going to the mall back in the day, where you would walk in and try to figure who's daughter had been knocked up by an Indian brave or a Catholic, which I assume was like their version of a black guy. Except instead of judging silently, they'd throw big stones at her and then crush her to death under bigger stones like in The Crucible.

(A quick side note -- frequent fliers are the real Catholics of the airport. They're in, they're out, they mumble with begrudging respect in Latin and in acronyms (SFO, LAX, JFK, BUR), pop a Xanax at the exec-communion bar, then coast straight through the remaining hours, ready to do it again next week when they have to go out to Round Rock to meet with the guys at Dell. You WASPs wish you were that accustomed to the noxious mixture of obliged, guilt-soaked indifference.)

There's a ton of people-watching at airports. You keep to yourself, but you're very self-aware at church, so your mind is always going, assuring yourself that it's almost over, or that at least you look better than that guy with the $400 stroller who probably couldn't find a bathroom at his parents' house without his iPhone. Fuck the iPhone. It's a slap in the face to anybody that got made fun of for using a Game Boy on the school bus growing up. You just know that lady teased her younger brother for getting really good at Tetris back in 1989. Did you three-star every level in Angry Birds yet? Oh, on both iPhone and iPad, you say? Swallow a knife! 

People grip their smartphones like holy relics at the airport -- their only conduit to what they call reality, but what a Man of the Cloth would call "hedonistic pleasures of the butt." Which is why the airport bans these kinds of electronic devices on planes themselves. You're in God's house now, motherfucker -- your St. Francis of Assisi Skull is not allowed! If the airport is the church, the plane itself is your motherfucking confessional booth. You're stripped of everything, laid bare, and asked to be alone with your thoughts, and maybe your dad's old copy of The Winter of Our Discontent (for some reason?) that he bought in 1962 when he got delayed at Idlewild on his way to DC. The airport has the power to do that, take all that you have, and you can't fight it or you'll be labeled a heretic and put on the no-fly list or something. Who really knows? You don't. You don't want to know what happens to people that Skype'd during a flight from Boston-Logan to Detroit-Ft. Wayne. I'll tell you what happens to them. They end up in Detroit, a.k.a. The Capitol Wastes from Fallout 3. Except instead of roving gangs of Super Mutants, it's just the Detroit Tigers back from Kansas City for a home game.

The boredom at airports is crippling and baffling. You have entire weekends at home where people ask you, "so you seriously did nothing all weekend?" And you answer, "yeah," quite honestly. You loafed around from 9:32am, read part of The New York Times online, but mostly just stared at mail you didn't want to open because it's either junk or bills you already paid on their website. Then you watched SportsCenter, decided not to weed the back patio, and played Nintendo Wii until 4:30pm when the Jets' game came on. How is sitting for 20 minutes at an airport actually not 20 minutes, but instead 2 metric-fucktons of murderous dead space that has descended upon your soul like a inter-dimensional bogart with extra crustacean claws wriggling from its maw, swallowing all light, all hope, and all time? How, I ask? Because you aren't alone with your boredom in church/airport. You're at a party with no ride home. You're suffering together, and somehow, unlike normally, when co-misery makes everything better -- which is why you never crash a wake without a wingman -- you have to sit, and wait, until you finally get too awkward, and at last acknowledge the dude staring at you with such unabashed indifference. His eyes speak to you and they say, "hey, man, this sucks, doesn't it? But hey, what're you gonna do? We're in God's house."

Do we live in a society where idleness is synonymous with failure? If you aren't miserable, you're doing it wrong. If you're doing it right, you're actually forgetting something really important you'd better check every inbox, mailbox, bill-pay, account, and fact-sheet to make sure you haven't forgotten NAOW! I feel that constantly. I think it's been ingrained into me since before I could walk. At the airport, we're given time. But we are stripped of the means to be productive. What a paradox.

At the airport, there's no room for punk-rock. No room for irony. No room for humor. No room for the sly. No room for will, or even for humanity. We all serve the desire to get the flying fuck out of these skin-wrinkling circumstances and on to somewhere that isn't church. Anybody that thinks outside of the Order of Airport Logic is possessed by the devil, an interloper that fights the tenuous system that has promised to bind us together.

-- Doberman
(. . .has had enough of this)
on Twitter  |  @GhostLittle_WTF

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

#17 -- "The Alchemist" Reviewed | * * * *

"Something even better than value."

For a while, we were wondering what all the fuss was about with The Alchemist. We read it years ago, so the fact that these details come straight from memory are a testament to how sticky these concepts are for us. It's not that long of a book and it's written. . . poorly isn't the right word. "Simply," is the right word. It is "simply" written. It's a vivid vehicle for a concept, not a style.  

We don't mean that we went into it to see what all the fuss was about -- we mean we went into it looking for answers. About what precisely, we weren't sure. Our familiarity with alchemy is limited to Fullmetal Alchemist, a fantastic TV show. It's only 52 episodes, detailing the concepts of loss, value, exchange, and circularity, featuring the travels of two brothers across a weird, oddly-interpreted version of early-1930's Europe. Short version, the brothers' mother dies, their father is estranged, the brothers attempt to revive her with alchemy, a practice identified as science, but contains more than two-scoops of juicy mysticism too. The boys wrongly assume their mother's dead human body can be resurrected by transfusing the elemental components of a person -- hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, literal elements and such -- thus remaking her. "Transfusion" is the valuable word in the previous sentence.

Transfusion, in the alchemic sense, is taking something and turning it into something else of equal value. This time, "value" is the valuable word in the previous sentence. When you have something of value, what gives it that value? There are only two answers: "you" and "not-you."

See, what The Alchemist does is explain value, and it does so with grace and quickness. You are permitted to place value upon certain things, but not all things. That's just life. That's the way the world works. The boy in the book -- who we don't believe is ever really properly named, and fucking whatever if he is, it's not like people make puns about it that are pivotal to the plot -- has a herd of sheep at the start of the story. They have a tangible worth. He could sell them to buy a new book to read. He could use the book as a pillow while he travels. He could keep traveling happily if he's rested. He understands the value of the things he posses. He values his life, yet he hasn't learned to value his existence. 

His soul is short-sighted. A short-sighted soul is not as valuable to the world. The world wants every soul to be valuable, to be enriched and full of experience, which is part of the Gaia Theory we touched on during the Princess Mononoke review. As souls travel through the world, without realizing it, they are contributing to the growing strength of other souls. A moment very late in the book emphasizes this point, that we don't realize how far our actions reach. They don't just touch immediate lives, no, these actions can sometimes lie dormant for generations. A character remarks that there was once a man whose ancient poetry was lost for centuries, considered inferior to his brother's poetry at the time of its writing. Centuries later, that lost poetry was found, revered, and caused a revolution of goodness. This is an example of human energy's reach and how it can extend across the epochs. The universe wants human souls to grow strong and to win. A soul striding towards its destiny casts resonance onto others, which manifests in the form of "beginner's luck" -- that luck brings confidence and the confidence brings inspiration. That's how it works. That dose of beginner's luck will in turn propel that lucky soul in the direction of its own destiny, the correct direction marked by the appearance of omens. Understanding this Algorithm Of Spirits (we just made that up) is how a person grows. 

At first, the boy's understanding of the world is confined to his current contentment, his sheep, the books he loves and trades, and a girl he spoke to once with raven-black hair. Again, names are never really important. The boy is approaching her village and hopes to see her. When he is in the village, he is approached by a king disguised as a beggar. The king explains that the boy should go to the Pyramids and find the treasure buried there. Uh, okay. The boy is in Spain, the Pyramids are in Egypt. Fun fact, the boy doesn't understand just how far Egypt is. Roadtrip? 

Now the boy has to extend himself or wallow in complacency. That's a heavy moral for just a kid with a flock of sheep and a crush on a local girl. Unsurprisingly, he doesn't handle the advice very well (or does he?). 

What he grows to learn is that he can always go back. He will always know how to be a shepherd, so even when he is mugged and left on the wrong side of the Gibraltar a few pages later, he learns to handle his shit. He gets a job polishing glass ornaments for a man that doesn't like his own life all that much. What follows is the most thrilling vignette about polishing glass ornaments ever put to paper. The boy realizes he isn't going anywhere soon and his job is decent enough that he's at least sort of happy. While doing this, saving money, talking with the glass seller, he really gets to thinking. He thinks slowly about where he is, what he's learning, and focusing on the more immediate things in life. Weeks and months go by. His enthusiasm to speed up his return to his sheep makes him think outside the box, coming up with ideas on how to sell the glass ornaments better -- serving tea in them, selling them outdoors, drawing in patrons. This has the intended effect. 

He realizes that even though he can always go back to his sheep, he suddenly has a new skill he can always go back to in glass selling. What else might he learn if he takes another step? Who knew he could make so much good out of a seemingly bad situation. Take another step, boy. And what has he truly lost in spending time learning this skill? Time? Time that would've been spent on indifferent contentment herding sheep. Which experience would you prefer? If this time working with the glass seller had yielded no good returns, he could always go back to the sheep. But that isn't the case! No, this is getting exciting. 

Into the desert. Travel with the caravan. Onward to the Oasis. To Fatima. 

Fatima is love at first sight. Literally sight, not words. There is no getting to know you, no "meet-cute." The boy goes in for the kill because he knows all kinds of unusual weirdness and strange circumstances have brought him to this continent with these experiences with this band of men at this time in this state of mind and Beautiful Fatima was there right then. He tells her he loves her. Jesus, dude. What if she said no, or if she had a boyfriend? 

Well, logically, he can always go back to the raven-haired girl in Spain. But he's so fucking full of confidence, the boy is a human buzzsaw. #Winning. He just starts knowing shit is true. He's listening to the Soul of the World. He's able to resist fear with training, and if nothing else, isn't that a great lesson to be learned? He trusts instinct and he acts on it -- not lying to yourself, not being divided internally, we tell you, is an intense, liberating feeling. Things really start to get interesting. 

He meets the Alchemist and tells Fatima he has to keep looking for the treasure at the pyramids. Amazed, yet understanding of a man's need to grow, she tells him to go, knowing he'll come back because. . . because. . . he's the man at this point. In the best way possible, he's the man. He's tested, yes, he's betrayed, threatened with death, but always, he's just in the moment. Yeah, he might die, but he's going to die with his boots on and with love in his heart. At least he didn't die in a cubicle.

The question: is he diluted? Normally, we'd say yes. But the kid has got massive onions to come this far. He's fearless in a noble pursuit, which downplays the possibility of delusion.

Not an actual quote: "Baby, I love you. I have to leave for a while though. This orphanage / righteous rebellion / ancient treasure ain't gonna save itself. I'll come back as soon as I can." That's the truth. And holy shit does the truth hit with crunchy impact.

He's the hero you normally wouldn't believe in because he becomes such a White Knight. It's the fact that we were given the "before and after" shots that we realize how he was made into the zen-ified, monogamous, desert badass. He's the guy we hear about at high school reunions that make us scratch our heads and go "whoa, he refused how many awards?" And that's the point -- that's the resonance! It twinges our can-do attitude for just a second, nipping us just a bit to maybe risk something, to step out of line, to pursue what we consider -- and feel deeply -- to be destiny. What's better than deciding our fates, knowing our fates, seeing that it's good, and then growing as people further than we ever thought possible, finally taking what it was we wanted so badly. And what happens if that wasn't destiny? Well, ideally, you've grown, changed, gotten better. If not, you can always go back to your sheep, man. That's something better than somebody else slapping a value on what you've done. It's something even better than value. Because you made it that way through an assemblage of intangible experiences known only to you, ones that make you who you are in this moment, and in the unknown moments to follow. 

You kick your feet up on your desk. The air conditioner is a little bit colder than you remember. Your chair is a little bigger than you remember. The lighting in the room seems different. Want to try again? Want to walk at destiny? Think you can? You know you can.

* * * *
(out of 4)

Recommended related reading:
[Paradise Lost  |  * * * *] by Ghost Little and Doberman
[The Hunger Games  |  * * *] by Ghost Little and Doberman
-- Ghost Little and Doberman
on Twitter  |  @GhostLittle_WTF