Who Am I? It’s A Mystery.

My nephew Mason had his fourth birthday party last December, and the house was saturated with plastic helium balloons. When the festivities were over, I tried to think of things I could do with them (other than make myself sound like a chipmunk) so they wouldn’t completely go to waste.

Suddenly inspired, I grabbed a sheet of paper, scribbled a note and attached it to one of the balloons before releasing it into the sky. It was my hope that I could instill a sense of mystery and wonder into a random stranger’s life.

This is what the note said:

You might be wondering who I am. But who I am is a mystery. All the evidence you have of my existence is this solitary note.

That’s part of what makes life so interesting. From the big mysteries, like what we are and why we’re here, to the small mysteries, like who that crazy guy is who’s sending notes out on balloons.

Enjoy life. Enjoy the mystery. <3

In the very unlikely event you happen to be the person who found my note, please let me know in the comments below!


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Friday Freewrite

What’s Friday Freewrite? Find out here.

Spinning, swirling colors, neon bright, transcendent in splendor, colors that don’t exist in the visible spectrum, only I can see them, for my nature transcends the human experience, though I was once human like all the rest.

Now, I sit atop a cloud of cosmic energy, glowing brighter than a helium star, and from atop my cosmic perch I behold the rise and fall of worlds, colliding, anhilating1, something else I can’t think of2.

Something. A wonderful placeholder, so perfect. Perfection is imperfection. Freewriting. So freeing. I don’t have to know what I want to say, because I can simply let my mind generate ideas by itself.

The mind. Cosmic. Transcendent. It defies a totally materialistic origin, is rooted in a materialistic universe yet is something more. LIke some impossibly ancient tree, its trunk rises high above the material universe, sprouts sprawling branches far above, somewhere in another realm, a higher plane of existence, an abstract world of concepts and ideas, of existence in its purest essence, the elixir of life, the seed of life, with no cumbersome matter to bog it down.


Footnotes

1. This should have been spelled annihilating. English, you so silly.

2. When I can’t think of anything to say and I’m freewriting, I write about that. Eventually, as you’ll see a little further down, I move on to something new. When you’re freewriting, it’s very important to keep the pen moving, even if you have no idea what to write about.


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

#OneLineStories

 

I’ve started a new series on Twitter under the hashtag #OneLineStories. The idea is to capture the essence of (or at least hint at) a complete story in a single tweet. How am I doing? Tweet me back, or reply in the comments below!

You can read my “One Line” stories by clicking here.


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Time

It’s amazing how slowly time seems to go as you experience childhood. You have those landmark days like Christmas and your birthday to mark the year, and it seems almost a lifetime in-between.

You grow up a bit.  Time starts to pick up its pace, but not by much.  You spend six years in Elementary School, convinced you have life all figured out.  Then you reach the end of your sixth grade year, and the pressures of the unknown begin to gnaw at the back of your mind as you contemplate the notion of — GASP! — Junior High.

By this point, time’s speed has increased markedly.  However, you soon discover that Junior High is no big deal, and you once more begin to believe that you have life all figured out, that things will always be as they are in that moment.  You have some notion of existing in a transient state, but as you deal with new friends, new enemies and the stresses that come with peer pressure, it’s really the last thing that enters your mind.

You reach the end of your eighth grade year, another milestone, and uncertainty creeps into your mind once again.  This time, it’s the frightening prospect of High School.  You’re not quite as worried about High School as you were about Junior High, but fear gets the better of you just the same.  You endure sleepless nights over summer vacation dreaming about forgotten classes, getting lost in an endless maze of foreign buildings and embarrassing moments with your peers.  Finally, you attend your first day of school, realize it’s nothing new and settle into your home away from home for the next four years.

This is the moment that time really decides to kick itself into gear.  People always used to tell you this would happen, but you never really believed them. You lose old friends, make new ones, lose yourself, find yourself.  When it’s all said and done, you’re standing there amidst your family and peers getting ready to receive your diploma.  You sing your school’s Alma mater one last time, and you find yourself trying to hide unexpected tears as you realize that, despite what you thought at the time, those really were the best years of your life.


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Friday Freewrite

What’s Friday Freewrite? Find out here.

Wondering what will happen in the future. Will I have success with my writing? Who knows? I want to. Can I, perhaps, be the next Stephen King? It’s an audacious hope1, but I have a lot of ideas, and if I could dedicate myself to my writing full time, I could possibly have some success. Maybe. Who knows.

I would love to make a living by writing.2 I want so bad to be free of the shackles of having to work for someone else full time. It sucks.3

I also want to go back to school. I want to study math and physics full time.4

Oh God, please, hear my pleas. Get it? Please? Pleas? Actually, come to think of it, those two words are only different by one letter.

“The difference between pleas and please is just one letter.”

I swear, there’s ALMOST a teachable plattitude5 in there somewhere…6


Footnotes

1. Yes. Yes, it is.

2. I have a lot of self-discipline to acquire first. Just have to keep trying…

3. Sometimes I whine in my freewriting. True story.

4. I studied some in school before I was forced to graduate with a degree in Computer Science, and the experience changed me in mysterious ways. These two subjects continue to haunt me with their absence, and will probably continue to do so until either the day I pick them up again or the day I die, whichever comes first.

5. Should be platitude.

6. …and a year later, I still haven’t figured out what it is :)


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

How Can I Rediscover the Magic of Childhood?

Your alarm clock rings at seven in the morning. You wake up. Yawn. Stretch. Groan. Great, you think. Another day. You go outside to grab the newspaper, wrapping a robe tight around your waist to block the cold, grumbling about work and the weather. You look up, ready to go back inside, and that’s when you spy a cluster of neighborhood children across the street, running, jumping and shouting like manic chimpanzees.

First you think, why aren’t they in school? Then you remember it’s the middle of July. When did I stop looking forward to the summer, you wonder. You ponder this mystery for a while, and when the answer comes, you sigh in resignation. It’s when I left childhood behind, you realize. It’s when I grew up.

Why is our adult vision constrained to such a narrow field of view, composed only of the ordinary, the boring and the mundane? Children, by contrast, seem capable of perceiving so much more.

In fact, it appears that our kids interact daily with a world unseen, a parallel universe whose existence is always just out of reach to the rest of us, and we secretly (or not so secretly) envy them.

You rightly wonder, “what magic power do children have that I don’t?”

Children look at the world with fresh eyes.

To a child, everything is new. They haven’t had time to articulate the familiar. They haven’t yet derived the abstract theoretical models that make the world predictable. To a child, shadows, reflections and moonbeams are magic, entities without explanation, realities which are to be accepted at face value.

Children don’t know that the wind is composed of loosely coupled molecules, driven about by pressure and momentum. They only feel the cool restorative touch of its invisible caress. Children don’t know that a rainbow is the product of a spectrum of electromagnetic frequencies refracted at different angles through a prism. They only perceive an inexplicable burst of multi-colored light in the aftermath of a storm.

This simple humble acceptance of the world as it is inspires wonder and stimulates the imagination.

Children are faced with a universe saturated in magic. They marvel and conclude that anything is possible.

If birds and planes can fly, why can’t people? If animals, people and other more exotic forms of life can exist, why can’t fairies, dragons and monsters?

Because anything is possible, the world of reality and the world of fantasy are inextricably linked; one connects directly to the other. Through humble awe and wonder, a child is issued a passport to the world of the imagination. Children pass back and forth between the two worlds so fluidly that unless we’re paying close attention, we might not even realize they’re gone.

We adults, on the other hand, take our limited knowledge of the world for granted.

We assume that things will always work the way they do because they always have. Our vision narrows, and anything that doesn’t fit into our empirical model of the universe becomes impossible.

Birds and planes can fly, but not people. Animals exist, but never monsters. There are people, but no fairies, orcs or gnomes.

One by one, the possibilities dwindle. Our vision of the world continues to constrict until we become stodgy old men, cynical and philosophically nearsighted; before we know what’s happened, the world of fantasy has evaporated. We experience sadness in the wake of its disappearance, but we have no idea where to find it again. Instead, we look on as our children pass back and forth between the worlds, and we spend the rest of our lives lamenting the loss of our imagination, convinced that it’s an inescapable consequence of growing up.

But adulthood done properly is actually childhood fulfilled.

What we need is not to surrender what we know of the world in favor of ignorance, but to surrender our skeptical attitude in favor of simple awe and wonder. We adults lose access to the world of fantasy not because we articulate a more complete model of the universe, but because in doing so we often refuse to believe in anything beyond it. We believe that all we know is all there is, and as a result we lose our sense of mystery and wonder.

We must look beyond the surface, so that we can once again perceive the world through a fresh pair of eyes. We understand that a rainbow is the product of light of different frequencies refracted at different angles through a prism. Instead of saying that’s just the way things are and shrugging it off as a solved problem, we might instead dig into the mystery a bit further.

Why does light of different frequences refract at different angles? And what, for that matter, is light? Suddenly, we discover that there’s a whole new set of mysteries, waiting to be explored. We’re plunged into a winding rabbit hole that takes us deep into electromagnetism and the other fundamental forces of nature, things which simply exist for reasons that we don’t yet understand.

Once again, everything is new, and we find that we can use our imaginations once more. If electromagnetism can exist, along with gravity and the strong and the weak nuclear forces, why not other fundamental forces of nature that we haven’t yet discovered?1

The reason why we search for what we lost in childhood is that we’re still children.

We might have bigger bodies, and we might know more about the world and how it works than we did in our nascent existence. But inside, we’re still that five-year-old kid we thought we left behind so many years ago. This is good news, because it means that what we thought we lost when we grew up was really never lost at all! Awe and wonder are accessible to everyone, children and adults alike. We might have learned some bad habits in our old age, but it’s never too late to change our attitude.

Adopt a new outlook, and the magic you thought you’d lost what seems a lifetime ago will return in spades.


Footnotes

1. When I first started studying Math and Physics in 2006 (God, I’m old), I dreamed up a fifth fundamental force of nature that governed interactions between objects at a distance. I came up with a mathematical model to define its properties, then plugged it into real physics to discover how it would behave if it were real. I spent five years combing through the math and making sure everything was consistent, and when I was done I had a new realistic magic system ready to use in a new fantasy series. Now that’s imagination!


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Friday Freewrite

What’s Friday Freewrite? Find out here.

For my head on a silver plate.1

They served up my head on a silver plate, steaming, piping hot, eyes gouged open, popping from the heat of the oven, mouth agape, as if the lifeless stump could still feel pain.

They feasted on my head, those creatures, with their long jagged teeth, clacking on bones like knives grinding against stone.

I watched all of this from the vantage point of eternity, eternally distant, eternally close, a paradox whose words are the only way to describe in human terms such a super-human experience.

They had the rest of the villagers’ heads on pikes, lined up around the rim of a crude stone-framed fire. Orange light danced across their fetid bloated features like ghosts, as if their souls had returned to their homes only to find them broken and abandoned for so long that they’d reverted to some alien (?)2 state.

Those creatures gorged on human flesh until their blackened stomachs, pregnant with rotting meat, threatened to explode.

And when they could eat no more, they slept, hibernated in their buried caves for either a hundred or a thousand years.

They were lost to memory, but not to time.

They would feast again.


Footnotes

1. Coldplay’s Viva La Vida was playing on the radio at El Pollo Loco. These were the last lyrics I heard before sitting down to freewrite, and I decided to base my freewriting on them.

2. I wrote down a question mark because at the time of this writing, I was looking for a descriptive word and couldn’t figure out what it was. Since I was freewriting and had to continue on, lest I get trapped in the tedium of language and lose whatever idea was streaming out of my head at the time, I left a marker to remind myself at a later date that this was an idea I wanted to develop a little further.


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.