Gently down the stream

gently down the stream

Author’s note: The other day, after neglecting my journal for a day, I picked it up and entered a “zone” and didn’t set it back down until I had filled 16 pages. At several points I became aware that I was writing without thinking and enjoying the stream of consciousness, so I’d tuck my brain away again and keep going. Afterward, reviewing where my mind had wandered, I got the idea to share the whole 16 pages, almost exactly as they’d come out, with only one addition: the word Trope.

Why would you want to read this? Why would anyone care what I write when I’m just riding a stream of consciousness to nowhere or somewhere or wherever this goes? I don’t know. Maybe I’m the only one who finds this writing exercise interesting, but that’s OK. It would not be the first time, or the last.

Footnotes: We have two golden retrievers, and you will see when each of them drops by for a visit while my consciousness is streaming. Steven is Steven Pressfield, whose No One Wants to Read Your Sh*t I have been re-reading. I once had a dog named Poppins. And – sometimes I use song lyrics as filler when I don’t know what else to write.

So, follow along as I drift down the stream and slowly become aware that I have filled 10 – 13 – 14 and finally 16 pages with (I discover after I typed them in) 2,280 words in about 90 minutes.

October 13

Excuse me? I was just waiting in line and now I got to the front and I’m just wondering, what happened to Saturday? I was waiting for it, and now it seems we just skipped straight from Friday into Sunday. How did that happen? How is it possible?

Well, you see, you woke up Saturday morning and let the book sit all day and you decided to do “other” things. And so Saturday passed. Maybe you noticed it, and maybe not.

Eventually, if I sit here long enough, a weariness passes over me and I close my eyes to collect all the weight of indecision and not-acting-on-dreams and inertia and missteps and avoiding the real stuff to focus on the transient daily quotidian.

We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – We hope you will enjoy the show.

The curtain opens on a man in a chair with his beloved golden retriever at his feet. She must be wondering if he’ll ever take her out to the running field next door again. It’s such a short trip but so rare, so rare. Suddenly she gets up, walks into the hallway, and lays down there.

He leans his head back and sees the guitars mounted on the wall, waiting for a song. “Waiting for a Song” – another album title. They’ve been coming to him lately, the album and song titles – “Sing me into existence,” they plead. “Write me. Compose me. I want to fly.” And still he sits, writing nonsense rhymes of ancient times in other climes that were a-changing. He closes his eyes only for a moment and the moment’s gone – only for an instant and instantly he’s seized and held hostage by the day – the afternoon – and finally the night, when the ransom is paid in rum and he finally sleeps.

Demons wrap talons around his heart and squeeze – laughing mirthlessly and singing an ancient dirge with cheerful rage. How dare you, they shout. You are nothing and yet you rape and pillage the earth with your self. How dare you. What do you care, demon with no capital? You are just a raping, pillaging soul in your own right. What do you care what I dare? Don’t you have enough evil to deal with, without flailing me for mine? And in the stream of consciousness he found a rhyme, turning on a dime – it was the most sublime moment, no words, just mime, and the clock chimed eight and the wind chimes wait for a breeze that always comes in the morning. Demons forgotten, they sing in the stream and dream of other days and purple maize and ruptured cliches and torn pages.

Why would you share your nonsense with the world? Steven is right – No one want to read your sh*t – said a tired voice inside my heart that lingered with a lonesome sorrow. And in strolled another dog, lying on the carpet and sighing. And in came another sigh, another doubt, another shout unflung, the universe folding into entropy and more worlds undone before they ever could be created.

“If I can just advance to the next level, my score will be more,” the gamester muttered – and suddenly wondered what the point was. He looked away from the screen and saw – and in seeing, he was freed. So much to see, so much world beyond the screen – he had paid no attention to the man behind the screen, and now was the time of reckoning. They had given him ruled paper but now he wrote the other way – the rules were just a [what’s the dang word for a tradition or a device that is always done but doesn’t have to be?] and he almost paused to wrack his brain but he knew he could come back to it another day, if on an other day it still seemed important to look it up. [Trope!]

Look up there, she cried – it’s there if you squint your eyes to see – and it’s important to see. It’s nice to be seen, but seeing is the most important. See, and understand, and embrace what’s worth embracing and turn from what’s not. What’s not is nothing – nothing to see here, look away – but wait!

When someone says, “Nothing to see here,” there IS something to see, which that someone prefer you don’t look at. What do you see here? Did you catch a glimpse? And was it really nothing? Or was it something to see??

I know not what these words may mean to you, my reader – I’m not even sure what they mean to me. It only is important that I write while I can, to put words down while I can, because I won’t always be able to write words down – I put no words down yesterday, and who knows if there will even be a tomorrow? Probably there will be, and probably I will be back here writing words, but no one will stand here to guarantee it. And so I put the words down here and now, not even thinking about what I might be saying – Maybe (probably!) I will decide I have scribbled nonsense, and maybe I will be right, but in a few seconds or hours or days or weeks or months or years or decades or centuries, someone may pick up the book and read it and say, “Yes. Yes! I understand – I see what he was trying to say.” And perhaps it will be what I meant – or perhaps it will mean something to that person that was never intended but that meaning will change worlds. That is the mystery of it all – we speak and someone hears – we sing and someone feels – and what we feel and what someone feels are the same and uniquely different all in the same.

“What was all that?” she asked, wakening from the dream. “What were you saying and what was all that that I heard?”

“I have no idea,” the other replied. “If I thought to stop and think about what it was, it would stop coming and in the pause, all of it would be lost. Even when I turn the page, something will be lost. No one will ever know to record what it was – and if it is never recorded, it’s as good as never being. Record what you know – write it down, sing it, type it, carve it in a stone – else no one will remember you passed this way, and that would be a shame, wouldn’t it? Ain’t That A Shame – Fats Domino. Ain’ t That A Shame?”

And the spell burst. like fireworks flaring brightly and breaking into scores of tiny lights fading quickly in the night but etching themselves in memory – and most of the people said, “Ooooh,” and then they said, “Aaaaah,” and several clapped their hands in wonder and they clapped their hands in delight and embraced the light against the night and saw. Yes, they saw.

“How long was I out?” he said, coming in from the fog. “It didn’t seem that long, but my writing hand is sore, and carp seem to be swimming through their carpal tunnel, so it must have been more than a little while.”

No one spoke for a long time, which is to say, no one spoke at all.

“Really?” he said. “Are we still not out? Is there more to come? And here I thought I was finished.”

A whisper, then, a whisper so soft he almost didn’t hear it, a whisper so mighty his heart crumpled inside his soul.

“It is never done. It is never finished,” it seemed the whisper was saying. “You add a little or a great deal to it every day, you donate another part of your self to bring it about, and you may be done – or at least you may stop – but the river flows and the journey continues, because there is only the journey – there is only the flow.”

So on and on and on and on – just so.

So here and there and every ware – just so.

(I meant to spell it that way – conjure why.)

He stopped – just then – not sure what to write after “conjure why.” And in the pause was a deeper meaning, one with no words. Because silence is itself a statement. Silence can shout as loudly and as brightly as a firework etched across the sky in the instant before the sound reaches our ears. Light is faster than sound, and in that physical fact is a metaphor.

He closed his eyes, to reflect more than to sleep, and in the dark behind his eyelids was a meaning he could not fathom at the time, but later, returning to the words he scrawled all at once without thinking, the thought occurred to him, and he took up his pen to write some more.

Ten pages since the starburst. How many more before darkness fell again and the struggle ended?

“Is this the struggle?” he asked. “Is this what it’s all about?”

What is it all about? What does it mean? Does it have to mean anything? Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But in making those statements, you imbue meaning into THIS kiss and THIS cigar. The words, set down on paper, preserve this moment and this thought to be revisited in calmer moments.

“This is a calm moment, calm as can be.”

Ah, but the mind is racing.

“No – not so much. The HAND is racing …”

Perhaps your mind is in your hand. It’s a big body – why does the mind have to stay in one place? Why can’t it wander about? Hmmm???”

Stop looking back to see where you’ve been. You and your silly search for silly reasons. Can’t life just happen sometimes?

So this is life? Or is this silly? What does it all mean?

There you go again. Just hug that dog that just walked in and extended a needy paw. Go ahead. Set down the book.


Where do souls go when they use up their earthly vessels? Is this sweet golden retriever where Poppins has landed? Is this my mom? A daughter never born? Why do we seek peace from one another? Where does anger and hatred come from? Did Poland fall because Adolf the boy was denied or worse unloved? Was it not intended as a denial, was it meant to be love? Where do souls go when their body dies?

This is today’s 13th page – why do we attach significance to one number over another? What is darkly magic about 13? (He asked as his chest felt uncomfortable for a moment – was it because he asked about 13, or entirely coincidence?)

I imagine – no, my imagination is quiet just now. I see no space civilizations or magical quests, no mysteries or mystics with indecipherable phrases. Coleandar enterprise – no meaning, just words that feel right together – bogged down with a touch of sleepy. So – sleepy – you are getting sleeepy – So sleeeepppeeee – and the evil villain settles sleep over his victim’s eyes and the sleep goes on to the next life – the next life – the – next – and what will become at 14 …

Hours later – or maybe it was a few seconds, or perhaps a minute – he set out on foot again. He didn’t want to take the more modern way, he needed to feel the earth under his feet, even if it meant slower progress. Better that was to see each mile unfold as it passed his eyes – his own two eyes, not the camera’s – This is real. This is today. This is where I am, walking along the road – writing one letter, one word, one line at a time – and sometimes pausing – and aware if the sleepiness – and oddly pleased to be past the 13th page on to the 14th. What an odd superstition, he mused. What a weird fear – on the other hand, it made him continue so that there would not be exactly 13 pages to show for this morning’s rambling random scribbles.

The dryer stopped and suddenly nothing was whirring or humming in the house. Then, far away, another motor on another device kicked in. The dehumidifier, or maybe the fridge. It was always something, something servicing his oh-so-convenient life.

“I’m bored,” he said. “There’s nothing to do.”

The universe rolled its eyes.

And he moved on to something else.

o o o o o

The mystery of the five circles. Five suns over Altair 4. Fives faces in beige. The Five Little Dots and What the Hell They Mean in the Scheme of Things. Five Writing Prompts to Blow Your Mind. Five Ways to Avoid Doing What You Must. The Magic of Five – Better Than Three. The Fifth Third Bank. A Quarter To Live. A Dime for Your Brats.

He lowered his head and relaxed his shoulders and hands. Then he looked up and wrote about lowering his head and shoulders and hands.

“It doesn’t get any more meta than this,” he grinned – and wondered what meta means, or if it meant what he thought it did.

Somewhere out there, someone laughed at what he was writing. Someone else rolled their eyes. As for him, he was just sleepy.

And poverty came over him like a bandit, right on time.


Some Time Later, he came back to the place, picked up the book, and read What Had Been Written.

“Danged if I can make any sense of this shit,” he heard someone say, and maybe it was his voice. In any case, he moved on.