Dancing with the muse

dancing with the muse

“Do that again.”

He folded the page back, not wanting to stop, and instructed the magic pen to pull more thoughts and scenes out of his fingers. How was this happening? How did the pen do that?

“Come on, more stories, more magic, more connections!”

But the pen just sat, poised seductively over the page, tantalizing him. He set the stylus to the paper in hope of spurring it into action again.

“Come – on – write something, for the love of God, Montresor!”

And slowly, haltingly, the words came again. Here was a woman who never knew why the house made that groaning sound at night until she opened the door that was never opened. Here were the Mars explorers who found that all the observations of dead Mars were wrong and all of the speculations of living Mars were dead on the money. Here was the scrap of paper that finally explained where the expression came from and told the story of the first person ever to be found “dead on the money.”

And then it went cold again, that magic pen.

Finally, it wrote, “Enough. Get up from your chair and give yourself a life. Fill your lungs with air and your ears with chatter and your eyes with a world. Then come back here, pick me up and exhale. I’ll be ready for you.”


In today’s news

in today's news

“Zits” is an often funny and true comic strip, and it happened again the other day.

Jeremy is blasting heavy metal while calmly eating breakfast, and Mom asks how can you start the day with all that violence and death?

The teen responds, “Oh, and your news and world politics is different?”

After an adulthood spent being the purveyor of such news, I have to admit that somewhere out there is death and destruction, but maybe this is the real news:

Thousands of planes landed safely.

Millions of kids worked through their differences and played together.

Everyone drove to work and arrived back home in one piece.

Billions of dollars changed hands in increments ranging from 10 cents to $10 billion without a weapon being brandished.

People live and interact in peace 99.999 percent of the time. What makes the news is the other 0.001 percent, precisely because it’s so rare.

Start your day knowing that, and everything changes.

Lost connection

dreamstime_s_92401138 lost connection.jpg

The little device chimed. He knew he had another email, but he was in the middle of the project and couldn’t stop.

The little device dinged. That was a news bulletin.

“Sorry, world,” he said. “I’m busy,” but his tone was pleading.

Now the device blooped. It was a text.

He stared. Everyone he knew knew he was in the middle of a project and couldn’t be disturbed except in an emergency. He probably shouldn’t have thrown in the “except in an emergency”; it gave people a loophole.

He picked up the device and the screen lit up.

“You busy?” said the text.

He rolled his eyes and typed, “Knee deep in the project.”

“Oh, sorry,” said the text. And then: “I forgot.”

He sighed. He went back and checked the email. And the news bulletin.

And an hour later, the project deadline passed. When they came to collect the project, no one was in the room, but the device glowed contentedly. He had vanished.

“His phone’s here and open; maybe that will say where he went.” She picked up the phone and vanished, too.

72 hours earlier

Different - dreamstime_s_1045911

“Excuse me?” I said, somewhat incredulous.

“We’re going to have to commit you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You exhibited signs of mental deficiency and imbalance, so we’re taking you in for a voluntary 72-hour hold and examination.”

“Signs? What signs?”

“Signs of mental deficiency and imbalance.”

“Yes, you said that,” I said. “What did I do? What are the symptoms?”

“You said something inappropriate to a co-worker.”

“What did I say?”

“I’m embarrassed to repeat it.”

“Which co-worker?”

“That’s confidential.”

“OK,” I said, dubious. “What else?”

“What do you mean?”

“You said ‘signs,’ plural. What other evidence do you have of my mental deficiency and imbalance?”

“Well, for one thing, you’re raising your voice.”

“Wouldn’t you?”

The other paused a beat too long. “No.”

“You wouldn’t raise your voice if someone falsely accused you of being crazy?”

“Please; we don’t use that word.”

“Well, I do,” I said. “THIS is crazy. I’m not going.”

“You have to.”

“You said it’s a voluntary 72-hour hold and examination. If it’s voluntary, I’m not going.”

“We’re taking you in to protect yourself and the community. Under the court decision Sherman v. Peabody, we have the right to detain you voluntarily for 72 hours while we –”

“It’s not voluntary if I have to be detained!!”

“See? This is why you need help. You’ve lost an understanding and respect for authority.”

Disclaimer: This is fiction, as far as I can determine.

The place

the place

“Is this the place?” he asked, wary.

“What place is that?” asked the burly man who was a cliche of the burly bearded thug who loomed over every cornered person in every movie and taunted them with his power.

“The place where I figure our everything that’s been happening or –”

“– the place where you die?”


“Could be both.”

“That’d be kind of sad, don’t you think? For me to figure out everything and then die before I could apply the knowledge?”

“Kind of sad, yeah,” the bearded man said. “But that’s life.”

No one is guaranteed a sunset

Life is about enduring to the sunset,
attempting to thrive until the sunset –
because the night is dark
and you’ll need light, and food, and shelter
to make it to the sunrise.

No one is guaranteed a sunset.
But probably, you’ll be there when the sun goes down.
Your days are probably numbered in the tens of thousands.
So make this day worthwhile
so you can rest tonight and think,
“That was a good day,”
so a week from now you can rest and think,
“That was a good week,”
And “That was a good month,”
And “That was a good year.”
All in all, it’s a good life.

How to build your wings

building your wings - dreamstime Flying the Firebird

“Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down,” Bradbury said.

Ready – fire – aim.

In other words, get started and figure out where you’re going along the way. You do have a general idea of what you want to do, but you won’t get it done unless you start.

Michelangelo is said to have said he saw David in the stone before he started. But the stone must have had some surprises for him – he didn’t plan every rap of the chisel before he began. He just got started and found David inside as he journeyed.

As Indiana Jones escaped from the clutches of the bad guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark, he was asked how they were going to accomplish one step of the flight. “I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go,” he said. He had a general goal: Get away from the Nazis. He didn’t know exactly how he would do that – he just had a passion for the task and a general idea.

Ready – fire – aim.

As the trajectory becomes clear, adjust the trajectory. You’re off the cliff and soaring – now it’s just you and the forces of the universe or the market as the case may be – in this analogy, gravity – the goal is to master the wind before gravity has its full impact (literally).

Scared? Oh, yeah. There’s a literal deadline. Every worthwhile thing in life is somewhat scary, because every worthwhile thing in life carries some risk. Because life is finite and fragile, and no one is guaranteed a sunset.