Master Of Serenity

Somehow I seem to have maintained my zen-like state for the duration of the afternoon. To be honest, I am just the slightest bit impressed. Normally it takes me nearly forever and a day to calm myself when I have blown my top. Rage is just the flip side of depression, and if there’s anything I’m really good at, it’s being mopey as hell, sometimes for days on end. But today, after the incident with the grasshopper in the parking lot, I felt a level of serenity which I’m normally not accustomed to. I brushed aside all of the frustration and disappointment, and sat down to get back to work. I couldn’t get back exactly to where I’d been before, but the ideas were still there in my head, and I just had to trust that I could get them out again. Sure, they weren’t as beautiful as what had come before, and each near-miss, a tiny stab of heartache, but I stayed with it and managed to get it down, If I’m being honest, though, my favorite part of that entire piece was the epilogue, and that was mainly because it had almost nothing to do with what I’d (failed to have) written. Plus, it either made me look a little more or a little less deranged, depending on how one might view a bald coincidence.

But enough jabs at my lack of hair: it’s time to focus back upon the very best parts of me. I seemed to have discovered a surefire way to find my center in the middle of a storm, and the best part of it is that it only requires a pack of cigarettes and endless supply of grasshoppers. I used to be able to more easily access my happy place, but years and years of falling back in the face of a constant barrage of disappointment and injustice have made it nearly impossible to find. It’s hard to keep an upward glance when you’re caught out in the rain, and by staring at my feet, I’ve missed everything else around me. Pleasant thoughts, like summer breeze, lift upward due to warmth, and the only ones which sink below are scuttled by the chill of sadness driven down by winter winds. Simple serenity, I’ve found, can be discovered in the smallest things, just waiting to be seen. It’s just a matter of letting all the screeching ego simply fade away, and learn to view the world through the eyes of a child again.

I’ve spent the last several years drowning the innocence inside of me, hoping to find the answers I’ve been seeking in the cold reason of adulthood. But all that’s gotten me is an unending stream of stress and misery. In trading youth for understanding, I’ve been left with neither, and the only thing that I can figure is that I’ve gotten it all wrong. The happiest I’ve ever been was when I was still a child, and my whole life lay in front of me, with nothing but endless possibilities as far as I could see. Every day was a new adventure, inspiring me again. From astronaut to baseball player to astrophysicist, each new bit of information launching me ever forward. And through it all, I always knew that I would one day write about it. That was the constant through every other dream: that no matter what I did, I did it so that I would have something I could write about. And as the years marched on, and my options began to thin, much as my hair would in the years which (shortly) followed, so too did my primary dream begin to fade. With every drop in probability, the joy and hope which once defined me continued to recede. Eventually all that was left was the memory of who I used to want to be when I managed to grow up. It never occurred to me to think that growing up would rob me of the very best parts of me.

A Moment of Truth, Presented in the Omniscient Third Person
A Moment of Truth, Presented in the Omniscient Third Person

A single leaping grasshopper in the middle of a parking lot. A man rapidly arriving at the end of what little rope that he’s got left. A thing of beauty, never seen, lost forever in a digital world gone mad. Tensions within the man’s apartment are written on the walls in large, swirling, angry letters spelling in out in great detail each and every slight and misstep committed by the occupants. The smell of hopelessness now permeates the air, the byproduct of the late-night arguments and fading faith in one another. Seven lives, hanging in the balance, each one counting on the other, and disbelieving them, even so. Like animals roaming restlessly, trapped within their cage, these now-empty husks of once fully realized people pace about, bumping into one another, and feel the rage begin to bubble over without the slightest provocation. Hanging above them all, a sense of doom nears palpability. A single spark could set them off, and at least one of them is smoking. But the man outside, having just lit up his cigarette, takes notice of the insect as hops directly in his path. Everything, every little thing then resolves to crystal clarity. The grasshopper is a metaphor, the man begins to realize, for his standing as mere novitiate upon the path toward tranquility. It is a sign that he must let go of all of his pent-up anger, and seek out the words within him once again. He takes a breath, and extinguishes his cigarette, opening the door, and walking back inside. While he has not managed to recapture his inspiration, he has at least found some measure of composure by which he may attempt to finish what he started. He knows that it cannot be the same, but the flicker of his muse has been rekindled and the echoes of his madness still linger in his brain. He breathes deeply, clearing out the doubt and agitation and begins to write again.

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