The Ocean

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It would have been an ordinary day visiting the beach, but when we got there, the ocean was gone.

Our first question was, “When did this happen?” and then, “How did we not hear about this?” and soon after, “Where did it all go?”

Nothing that enormous can go away without notice. We knew it. There was another fact rolling around in our heads. It was the fact that something of that size had to be somewhere. It couldn’t just disappear. It couldn’t vanish. It couldn’t be gone forever.

Could it?

So we searched. We looked in the canyons first, and the ocean wasn’t there. There wasn’t even a streamlet. The questions came again, such as: “How did we not notice the streams drying up?”

We went up the canyons to the tops of the mountains to try to get a better view. From one mountain we could only see another mountain, so we tried the range that overlooked the ocean, when the ocean had been there before.

From there we saw them…all the people of all the world. They had gathered, like us, to enjoy the ocean, and stood dazed and amazed, like us, to see the ocean was no longer there. Animals gathered too. They came expecting to be cooled and quenched, and found only dry sand. Nothing was there anymore to wet their tired lips or cool their parched tongues or wash their skin, or even to give fish an element in which to live.

As we watched, we saw everyone and everything be consumed by the same emotion. Everyone grieved at the same moment to find the ocean missing. Everyone began to cry…and the tears were sublime. The tears couldn’t be held back. The tears rolled and began to drench everyone’s feet. The tears flowed and began to make streams down the beach.

As we watched, our own tears flowed and we made new streams in the mountains. Our streams of tears met and made rivers. The rivers formed and we knew then the ocean wasn’t gone. The ocean couldn’t be stopped forever. It was meant to be there and every single one of us who wanted it made it real again. We exist because of the ocean…but now we know it also exists because of us.

Now we have a new saying: “The manliest of men will not hold in emotion. He will cry an ocean.”

And I know it’s true because I tasted the salt of my tears.

Where Is My Mind?

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Some things are easier to find than others.

Where do you start looking when you’ve lost your mind? The last place you’ve been? Everywhere you’ve been? In the “found” column of the newspaper? Do you start going through the junk drawer? Do you rummage through your purse? Do you rummage through someone else’s purse? What about in the laundry room on top of the dryer with the pile of loose change that came through in someone’s pockets? Could it be there?

Could it be with the last person you talked to? Could it be with your mother?

My mother would ask me, “Where did you see it last?”

Of course, I’d have to say: “I’ve never seen it.”

“Then how do you know what you’re looking for, silly?”

Good question, mum.

I do know what my life looks like without a mind. It’s like an elephant when all his family has been poached for ivory—bereft and grieving.

It’s like a hungry vulture, no carcass in sight, no corpse to pick.

Like a newborn with no teat.

Like melted ice cream.

Like nails, but no wood.

Like salt with no lick.

Like lime with no salt.

Like bread without butter.

Like summer heated blacktop and feet without flip flops.

And no cool grass for the toes to walk in.

Like a Monday.

Like broken crayons.

Like grey sky scenes, and uninterrupted views.

Like restless heavy-metal heartbeats.

Like a tornado too far from a trailer park.

Like a poet minus a muse.

Like a crow waiting weeks for a road kill.

Like a simile without an analogy.

Like a micromanager with no nit to pick.

Like an explorer in a discovered country.

Like soccer and basketball.

Or basketball and soccer.

Like an advertising agent, or a marketing person, or a hermit: all out of touch.

Like agents in general.

Like a terminal illness.

Like horror without a scream.

Like comedy without a laugh.

Like a narcissist in a conversation about someone else.

Like trying to make distorted feedback off an electric guitar, without electricity.

Like me without you, my friend.

What will you find when you get there?

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What’s your favorite kind of ‘blog?

The food kind, the introspective kind, the one that’s only about Kung Fu?

Or are you a health and wellness fan? Do you like to read about innovations in fitness? New trends in diet?

Do you like the sports ‘blogs?

Do you enjoy the funny ones? The sarcastic housewife ‘blog? The twenty-something who jokes about how old people can’t figure out how to take a selfie or create a password with the punctuation characters? The four-hundred something who jokingly grouches about how “millennials” are out of touch with reality and don’t understand the combustion engine, or the horse-drawn chariot, or the wheel?

Do you read movie critic ‘blogs? Do you read the ‘blogs instead of watching the movies? Do you enjoy the ones where people tell you how the movie goes? Or the ones where they don’t spoil anything except your love for movies?

Have you read any about books? Book reviews are a valuable commodity. You can end up spending a lot more time with a book than with a movie. It’s good to know what you’re getting before you get there.

Personally I look for the odd ones. The not so frequently traveled ‘blogs. The new ones with the sincere artist, showing off their work. Those with articles about cats and dogs and horses and hogs. Those with articles about bipolar disorder, or eating disorders, or autism. I love these because they’re really really real. They don’t seem so manufactured, or prepackaged, or corporate.

Honestly, I like the food ‘blogs quite a bit. If you ever have the most difficult question in the universe on your mind (What’s for dinner?), then just check out some food ‘blogs and you’ll have the answer within a few minutes.

Trippy

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Every once in a while you run across someone who makes you feel trippy.

It’s like space and time have welled up in what amounts to a tsunami to you, but to the universe is a ripple. Macro or micro doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’ve suddenly recognized that everything is in motion.

There are three distinct ways this can happen.

Sometimes you feel as though you knew this person from somewhere before. They feel the same way. But then you both talk about where it could have been and nothing matches, not school or work or prior homes. You both start to consider your prior existence. That train of thought only makes you perceive eternity…and then the ripple effect takes hold of you again. Raising you up with it, bringing you down too fast so your insides feel all queasy and uneasy.

The second way is when someone tells you a fact which you knew to be true, but that you forgot somehow, or it had been troubling your inner mind until you heard it in the way only that person could say. You rise up of a sudden, you’re on top of the ripple, and you get it. Senses reel with the feeling of universal movement. Truth lends the dynamic feeling eternal continuity. You ride the wave of that new perception of truth, and though it’s outside of you, it feels like it’s persistent inside your head. Your brain sways like a drunken sailor on a sailboat in a high wind.

The third style of trip is when the person you meet has a repellent aura around them. You don’t see it as it is. Not at first. Your first impression is probably more simple: “I hate this person.” You sense the irrational nature of hating a person when you’ve just met them. That knowledge doesn’t permeate the hate, or diminish it. If you get to the trip too quickly it can take over your reasoning. If you get past it though, then you have a chance. You might comprehend that the hate isn’t something about them, it’s something around them. It isn’t a rational hate, it’s a manufactured hate. Some thing in the spaces between you two is ready, willing, and able to promote a hateful relationship between you.

If you can arrive there quickly, you can also divert quickly. Find some interesting favorite you both have in common before the outer influence convinces you there are no commonalities. Realizing you’ve avoided an immediate impression of hate and the potential mistakes of misjudgment, will give you a sense of power beyond the ripple. That sense of the pond we call space-time might still feel trippy, but you’ll be closer to mastering it.

Making the Call

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Smell hamburger? It’s your own leg. Remember the accident? No? You’re still in shock. See the dead man over there? He was in the accident too. You didn’t kill him. Don’t worry about that. You’re not guilty of murder. You wouldn’t need that kind of trauma anyway. Losing the leg is enough.

Do you remember the trains? Yes, trains. More than one. Don’t look. Trust me when I say the rails are not far behind you. You made it this far before the pain knocked you out. I think you dragged the leg with you. Judging from the smeared, dirty, blood trail, that’s exactly what you did. Dragged it.

Now your arm, that’s another story. What? Oh, sorry to upset you. Never mind the arm. Lie still.

If you stay calm, you’ll be better off. Nine out of ten people who get in life-threatening accidents, like you did, die from worrying about their injuries. The worry raises the heart rate. Raised heart rate pumps more blood out the wound hole. Lose too much blood and you’re done. Lights out.

Especially you, because you have so many wounds. I told you it looks like hamburger, right?

Then again, there’s a lot of dirt in your wounds. Bleeding might clean you up a little. Look at that one. What’s in there? Asphalt? Concrete bits? Maybe you shouldn’t have dragged yourself across the…but yeah, you were getting some distance from that last train, weren’t you?

I saw it all happen. I got video. The scene was fantastic! The first train got hit from behind by the other train. You and those other people were crossing in front of the motionless train, when, BAM!

It got hit and got shoved ahead. It leapt off the tracks. I’m not kidding. The train that hit it came pushing through, like a long, hungry, metal worm. You were there. You leapt too, but too late. You didn’t clear the rails before the first train hit you and the second train pushed its way toward you. You were conscious enough to see the second one coming. I saw that much. I didn’t see how you got out of the way of it, because I was taking video by then. I got some amazing video of the second train throwing sparks from scraping alongside the first train. Crazy.

What did you ask? How did I get video? On my phone. Did I what? Call paramedics? No, I didn’t. Good idea. I’ll call them now.

Hey, stay with me, man. Don’t blink out now. I’m making the call.

I’m making the call.