Finding the Garden

I step inside… It is absolutely frigid. It seems as if the walls know too, clad in their stoic gray-blue semblance. I dare not run – it could spell disaster for myself and all of the other apparitions locked in here with me. Yet mayhaps the only way to know for sure, the only way to capture outside, is to run toward it and believe it is made for me.

No. Fear doesn’t let me take that first jolt of commitment.

I walk around going from room to room to see all of the crystalline furniture. Prisms filter the sterile light that fills the space. They’d cast splashes of color across every surface, if they could. Looking across the hall and through the lavatory, I find that the sunroom nearest the garden. Green and gold rays envelope each subject in a blithe aura as they smile back at the violets. Tracing the vanishing lines of definition, I try to discern the way to get to the garden. It seems a labyrinth stands between me and my piece of Heaven.

Walking in an increasingly more distempered gait, I eventually become panicked where my heart was once serene and hopeful. The walls still feel icy cold, my fingertips threatening to go numb and render me hopelessly bound to the corner of this mirage.

Finally, like adjusting to a sunny day after years spent inside a cave, my eyes become unveiled and I canter in confidence towards my prize. Weaving around the taunting maze, I never take my eyes off of that garden. Its presence and image become clearer with every step.

Yet as I near all I desire, my heart sinks. Tracing the outline of the lovely garden with my eyes, I see that there is not a door or window or any other access from inside. My forehead smears the chilled barrier with a cold sweat, and I let loose a few tears. Disheartened and wistful, I clamp my eyes closed so hard that they begin to hurt in a dull headache.

It is no epiphany nor divine inspiration that clears my throat and straightens my shoulders; it is simply me and now and a decision to seize my treasure.

I take one step back and then another until I turn myself completely in the opposite direction and decidedly find the furthest barrier from all I find lovely. Back now feeling the tendrils of warmth, I take heart in my decision. I attempt to find the furthest wall, arms clumsily searching the space in front of me. I suddenly strike a wall with my outstretched fingers. I get as close to it as I can, as if to fade into the barrier like light soaking into a blanket. I turn to once again face the thing for which I thirst.

The other apparitions now focus on me, and I look around and lock my gaze in each of theirs for a moment. These, my friends, are always pleasant visitors, if and when we meet. On rainy days, we will look through to one another from separate rooms, and I desire to be with them. It is not a fierce desire. It is there, but only just. I mouth the words, “I’m sorry” to each of them in a half-hearted ceremony observing niceties. They nearly make me rue my decision, but I refuse to let them keep me here any longer.

Bracing in eager anticipation, my heart now feels as if it lies motionless in my chest. Anything that moves fast enough will appear to stand still. So it is with me as I thrust myself from the wall and sprint towards the Garden. I yell in guttural joy as I smash through the walls of this glass house. It shatters around me and shards of glass splash off my shoulders like rain falling on boulders of marble. Hours pass between the cataclysm and the silence. I swear I even hear some pieces strike days and weeks later; they send a pang of nostalgia down my spine.

With a deep sigh, I take my seat in the garden. You know the one – you’ve been there before. It is the wooden bench with a small coffee table to one side and a bird bath filled with jovial goldfinches on the other. Breathing in the no-more-stale air, I can feel true life fill my lungs. The glass house now lays as a pool of coruscant prisms. Some days, I wish I could rebuild it and enter one of those safe, cozy rooms.

But I’d rather live to be all that I am.

Express

Ruminations of a Working Man, Pt. VI: Blood Feud

I haven’t done one of these in awhile, and I’ve been feeling very blank-canvassy lately, so here we go:

The air is still… Too still. I think the word for it is descriptive of most office environments: stale. Yes, the stale air that clouds the mind long enough to get eight hours of work in now sets itself on my shoulders, where a rather bizarre scene occurs.

“Have at you, blithering scrumpet!”

“What on earth are you talking about?”

The former is a pirate of some sort; dress him as you wish. The latter, an upstanding gentleman, no doubt with a monocle, lazily checking his pocket watch and patting the yawn escaping his mouth.

“Aye! Face me in mortal combat of the sabre persuasion, you stampcrab bedswerver!”

“Well, you are a peculiar one, aren’t you? Fine, have it your way. But we play by gentlemen’s rules.”

Fingers crossed behind his back, the pirate gruffly returns, “Aye, aye, by the guidelines of the high-folk. Now have at you, you whiffle whaffle fopdoodle!”

With that, Scurvy lunged at Banal, knocking him off my right shoulder and onto the desk. (For perspective, the two are no more than three inches tall, and the scuffle began when Scurvy crossed over from my left shoulder simple to antagonize Banal on my right.)

“‘Ey! I said gentlemen’s rules, you foul li’l git!”

“Now would those be gentlemen’s words you speak? Sound more like foul toots to mine ears!”

Banal swiped at Scurvy’s ankles (Where he obtained the sword, I haven’t the slightest. It’s a daydream, don’t hold me to conventional paradigms), but he leapt over Banal’s head, performing a front flip as the steel weapons struck one another. Scurvy would have stuck the landing but for the yellow-lined paper which swept his feet right out from under him. It sent him tumbling into the water bottle which spilled onto the phone, sparks erupting from the conference call speaker. Scurvy recovered just in time, as Banal sought him in a fury. With a guttural roar, Banal swung his sabre like a sledge hammer, intent on splitting Scurvy’s head. Luckily, Scurvy has pirate-like reflexes. He rolled to one side, parrying the blow as he made his escape. Banal use such immense force that the swords shattered upon impact, the high pitched clang capturing the attention of the other cubicle workers. Heads turned and low, rumbling murmurs filled the stale air.

“That was a fine way to end a skirmish, you bantering zonderkite! Done ruined me nice’ins!”

“Now come, come. Let us embrace weaponry of another sort and resume the woefully one-sided battle!”

“Yer a fine piece o’ work. ‘Woefully one-sided’ referring to me defeating yer doggish derry-air, eh? Have it be as it be on yer vessel!”

Scurvy walked over to the cup of measurement utensils and writing instruments, deciding carefully which apparatus would be best for the continuing quarrel.

“What’ll it be, you hogwash fairy? Compass, scale, or pencil? (These, of course being a geometric compass and architect scale).

“Well what will you be wielding?”

“The wooden pencil.”

“Oh, how fitting. Better be the compass then, my good man.”

“Yeh, yeh. Good man my peg-legged arse! Avast!”

And so the quarrel continued past the spray of sparks from the phone, onto a stack of papers, climbing into a cardboard box. It was then they realized there was little room for activities, so they declared a truce as they climbed onto the bookshelf. Banal helped Scurvy onto the thin ledge, no more than an inch wide, and asked, “Have you the stomach to perform combat with naught but your rum-infused legs to keep you stable?”

“Why don’t ya take the easy way out and jump off like the gang plank? No doubt you been ‘ere ‘afore! Rum is good for two things: calmin’ me nerves, an’ loosenin’ me belt. You’re not a very pretty girl… You don’t look like one I’d be givin’ meself to, so the nerves be calm as the sea!”

“Best you mind your tone, you imbecilic tart! Gah!”

Banal swung at Scurvy, but neither was particularly adept to maintaining balance. Beyond their abilities to stand upright, a binder from the shelf above slid loose with the quaking of their banter and jarring strikes, and struck each of them on the toe. With anguished cries, they fell onto the binder which had come to rest on the edge of the desk.

“Very good, old bean. What say you to an armistice?”

“Aye, ne’er have me timbers been so shivered.”

Without announcement, and quite unceremoniously, the binder slipped into the trash bin below. Still dazed, neither Scurvy nor Banal made a sound.

I had just finished eating my banana when I heard the thud of their final descent. Before discarding the peel, I figured it best to offer them a bite, at the very least. I retrieved the binder from the bin, but when I removed it, I saw nothing more than the empty bottom littered with a few used sticky notes. I checked through the binder’s pages and pockets, but found no sign of Banal or Scurvy anywhere. With that, I finished off the banana, tossed the peel, and replaced the binder on the shelf.

Ruminations of a Working Man, Pt. V

Another cup… Another significantly poor cup of black coffee. No sense in throwing sugar on top of a pile of feces and pretending it’s a biscuit, eh? No sense in going to work and pretending it’s a playground, either. Honestly, that’s the first time I’ve compared work to poop, though I can say with some certainty it won’t be the last.

Okay, so it’s really not that bad. When I started this blog, I hated working. I wrote on here simply to get my mind out of the office for a few minutes. Like anything that’s enjoyable, it went from a few minutes to a couple hours, and now it’s become habit for me to ramble on here every day for as long as it takes for me to get a thought out. Honestly, it has saved my sanity. I eat lunch outside every day, rain or shine (it hardly ever rains in AZ anyways), no matter how hot it is (the cold doesn’t bother me, and it doesn’t, by definition of the word, ever get cold in AZ), and I write on this blog. Between the separation of my body from the job and my mind from the job, I stay relatively content. The fact that a few of you humor me by liking and commenting on my posts is remarkable to me.

I used to write only when I was inspired, even with negative inspiration. Truth be told, it’s hard to be inspired when you sit inside of a gray cubicle. No, that’s not an exaggeration. My cubicle walls are gray.

So I’ve taken to responding to one-word daily prompts, and that fuels at least one post per day, though I usually take the weekends off because I’m too busy for my own good and can’t find time to do this, or don’t feel like it because I am not here to put out more useless drivel. I am here to hone my writing skills, especially during the particularly dry seasons (of which there are many), to find inspiration amidst the woefully ordinary, and to give my heart a little shock so it doesn’t go out on me.

I just read an article on what makes the soul die. I swear the writer of the article is in my office, noting my every move, because I am a textbook example of living out the process of killing a soul. He must work in a different section of the office, though, because he clearly hasn’t discovered that my secret to keeping my soul lies within this URL.

I never wanted to work anywhere for the money. I now have a job that, to me, is only for the money. I never thought I’d be this opposed to a cubicle, but I am. I very well may be making moves to get out of this place, but it’s a slow process, and I’m a much more patient person now than I’ve ever been before. I’m willing to wait and make sure it’s exactly what I’m looking for. No sense in going from one bad situation to another.

And why am I telling you all of this? Because if even one person gets all the way to these lines and is still reading, they typically either sympathize with how I feel and need to know they’re not alone, or they are simply encouraged that a dying soul can think with its heart. At 24 years old, I am ashamed to admit I have a dying soul, but I’m doing all I can to jump-start it back to life. The most honest truth in this whole post: It is YOU that helps me jump-start daily. It is the community of semi-like-minded writers that keeps me coming back for more. If I can reach even one person and be encouraging to them, then I’ve done my job and become an integral part of this community.

Ruminations of a Working Man, Pt. IV (On Boredom and Inspiration)

It’s so funny how I

I can feel so lost in no time

No time at all, and no rhyme

as to why

I

feel just a tiny bit dead inside

But that’s not right at all

making a zephyr out of a squall

And now I am just appalled

I recall

all

Now, totally dead, I fall and fall

Tumbling down to the earth

with a crash and a burn and a rebirth

lengthening shadow from dearth

a small firth

mirth

reminding me I’m Something of worth

Death, something oh so silly

sillie

Never one syllable, really

It’s my lily

frilly

Making my thoughts go willy-nilly

Ruminations of a Working Man, Pt. III

In an odd place… Somewhere far, far away from home.

… Or is it home, after all?

Embittered by all that surrounds me day after day, anywhere seems like home. Mayhaps it’s simply a sign that I’ve been home too long. The monotonous 30-minute drive to and from work Monday through Friday, and the eight hours of spent, occasionally wasted, existence in between. At this point, it feels as if all I have to leave behind is a carbon footprint.

But now, it feels like the first day the sun has truly shined in a week. But do I truly wish I were there, or am I increasingly infatuated with it because I am here and I may only go there in my mind?

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then reminiscence is the essence of Love.

Substandard

Ruminations of a Working Man, Pt. II

I walk through these bleak, gray-infested corridors, with naught but the monotonous tapping of fingers slowly deteriorating keyboards, degrading one keystroke at a time. Whitewashed walls and ceilings, the typical carpet not good enough for hotel floors, but not yet tattered enough to be thrown into a trash can; it all just screams for release. Rushing through these halls desperate to escape, yet the winding labyrinth only serves as a brilliant façade designed to offer the promise of something more. Fresh air does not, in fact, lie just outside of the doorways, there are only more halls and doorways. There are no gardens nor fountains nor chirping birds. What I see… All that envelopes me… An ingenious cage of my own specification and design. I imagine my captor watching from a room filled with many monitors, policing the noir scene with a smug grin, satisfaction as he watches the skin beneath my eyes slowly sag lower and lower, jowls forming, creases from a furrowed brow defining my features. But the room is not somewhere inside the building, but rather, somewhere inside my head, tucked away in a seemingly infallible fortress, an office with no doors yet no roof. Yet he sits there, controlling the scene as it unfolds, making the walls tint an off-white, dimming the fluorescent lights, photoshopping a splash of melancholy and austerity to every surface.

Onward I move, briskly passing the rows and columns of cubicles, all the little ones and zeros like myself sitting there, churning out their workflow with a ravenous anti-glimmer in their eyes. The antithesis of wanderlust, these Boolean, sedentary lab rats crave another number, another report, another contract to anchor them carefully to their seats. They are the definition of success, but even I catch grammatical errors as I nearly sweep a stack of papers onto the floor in my haste. I turn sharply one corner after another, my shoulder brushing past doorframes and windows through which one may either see the Trojan horse or the city of Troy.

Finally, my destiny in sight, two more doorways and I am home captive… But as I nearly blast open my second to last doorway, I come face to face with a one, slightly smaller than me, perhaps he is a 0.82. Startled by the near-collision, his head thrusts upwards, my neck craning low to identify the obstacle. The one stares up at me, and for a moment, the entire universe shudders to a halt. His identification system scans its many lines of code until, at last, it can be seen in his eyes that there is a positive identity match. Then, the gears stop grinding and a fluidity comes about his furrow lines, the mathematics deconstruct until he looks at me and recognizes me. I am no longer simply an identifiable entity, I am known.

Deep in his eyes, down into the depths of his sea of knowledge and experiences, there is something almost humanlike. I daresay, something similar to myself lies in those cavernous pupils. The golden hazel halo, faded by years upon years of gazing at a screen, shines one candela brighter. Perhaps only 0.82, for consistency’s sake. But there is also something more, something undefinable, unidentifiable by the one’s standards.

Beneath the cavern, between the halo and deep space beyond, there is an ember. Faintly, it glows. It is there, but only just, as if it is only his source of surviving, yet life is no longer defined. Memories swim in  the nebulous darkness and ember-glow. He once was not too different from myself, I imagine. forty, perhaps fifty years earlier, he too longed to breathe and jump and have hope that one more doorway would lead to a creation garden rather than a cubicle farm.

He once held a wooden sword at a worthy adversary, as thin air often does make for a prime war scene. His chest puffed out, eyes wide, mouth agape as he screams guttural roars and hurls insults and battle cries, he swings his sword with utter surety, threatening to lop off the head of the dragon, thrust the iron deep into the chest of the lion, rent asunder the great belly of the serpent. Bloodlust and expedition once beckoned him; broken bones were of no concern nor hindrance. He once stood on the precipice overlooking his kingdom.

He once looked upon the kingdom and became dumbstruck by a fair maiden. Her flowing, chestnut locks whipped in the east wind, overtaking his cynosure. Becoming his cynosure. He once offered deeds of strength and great courage, gifts of high value and no small degree of consideration. He once offered his very self, his heart on his sleeve and chest to bear, stepping out upon the longest, thinnest limb, all for the sake of her hand. He once had a romance as passionate and scandalous as the meeting of the sea and the sky upon the horizon at sunset. And he was once the sea and she was once the sky, and they made the stars. Perhaps his every dream came true, and he offered himself up for her once more in order to offer stability and a relatively worry-free life. Perhaps he traded his wooden sword for a wooden measuring stick, and his valor was calculated in numbers instead of heads rolling on the floor.

He once believed in the impossible, throwing paper airplanes across the room and imagining himself in the cockpit. He once was destined for greatness, if not fame. The hair atop his head would prickle at the discussion of distant places and the limelights that shone there. Now, his loyalty to the Machine can be seen in his matted tonsure and his faithful, trembling fingers.

He comes back to himself and I to myself, the tire swings and boyish dreams fading back into the oblivion, reentering the buried cosmos, and the mechanical shifting of his eyes averts them from my sympathetic gaze back to the task at hand.

He shuffles past me, and I look upon the Final Door, my means of Escape, my Free. Nearly knocking the placard off the wall next to my final door, I feel my shoulders relax, my fingers steady and arms swing freely. I unzip my trousers to complete the initiation into the outside world.

Man, I really had to piss.

Ruminations of a Working Man

My heart is pounding.

In some distant, echoing canyon, it reverberates against the walls like timpani drums at the crescendo of a symphony, announcing the grand entrance of the hero in a film. My head… my very being, is jarred. The poor quivering hair atop my head and along my arms, all standing at attention unceasingly, only taking a half-respite as I frenetically jump from one adventure to the next. My eyes, darting and dashing about every nook and cranny, searching for the esoteric truth, the depth of an austere rock face.

My intrepid fingers reach out into the open, the nebulous oblivion, the vivacious abyss, and they do not falter. They wrap around a bit of the swaddling blackness and tear, threatening to rip a hole and allow light to flood the cavern, ending the mystery.

A gentle mist tickles my nose while the relentless waterfall buffets my back, holding me fast against the indefinite yet infinite wall. Imperfections and jagged edges bloody my fingertips, the crimson in stark contrast with my white knuckles. I’ve never seen a deeper yet more vibrant shade of red. I plead to my knees to remain sturdy and vigilant lest I be swept away and cease to be. The closer I am to the edge of death, the more Life I become acquainted with.

And in an instant, I am thrown atop a 50-story skyscraper overlooking a vast concrete jungle. The skyline a mere illusion as the night sky only contrasts with the city lights, stars on both sides of the horizon. Silhouette against a pitch backdrop, each side holds immense mystery and untold tales. Each as hopelessly lonely as the other. Each offering the invitation of risk and discovery, gain and loss.

I look up and see a fluorescent green ribbon, throbbing. It casts angel rays into the Lake below, a Lake fraught with myths and legends of its ferocity. Edmond Fitzgerald possesses first-hand accounts of the terror; the mortified, steely fingers hold with an iron grip to secrets whispered in deafening gales. A scene so placid and serene in the daylight, it’s a wonder she be capable of such treachery.

Speaking of placid, there is nothing quite like the top of a mountain in Honduras on a foggy morning; the orchids dripping with dew, the song of a Mot Mot beckoning from somewhere in the distance. The smell of hot coffee wakes my consciousness, but my aching muscles won’t catch up for a couple hours.

Or something a bit closer to home: a back yard, resting in the shade of a mulberry tree, standing every few minutes to grab a few fistfuls of mulberries and eating them as I lazily breathe and sigh, letting the clouds pass me by, speaking their own form of lethargy into the air.

And then I look up at my computer screen at work. Heart palpitating, palms sweating, breathing heavily. If that is Living… What is this?