Character is Everything
"Do you swear in your writing?" is not really the apt question. It is more illuminating to ask, "Do my characters swear?"
Some do. Some don't.
My story "Rideshare" follows an angry, shallow, and lonely young corporate type . Here he is, drunkenly offering his Uber driver money to hang out with him:
“Look… Luis—glad your fucking nametag’s there—Luis, Bill Murray is the coolest guy in the world. Hands down. There’s this night out in LA, Bill Murray is going to a club or a movie or wherever the fuck a Bill Murray goes, and he takes this cab and the driver says he plays the saxophone, but Bill Murray talks to him and learns that he never gets the time to play. So Bill Murray says, drive to your apartment and get your fucking saxophone, and then they drove to a parking lot someplace and Bill Murray pays this guy for a whole night so he can just listen to him fucking play the saxophone on the hood of the cab. Now I’m not as cool as fucking Bill Murray, but I got some cash, man. How much you make in a night?”
He's glib. He's boastful. He makes a show of how impressive and manly he is because he tries, desperately, not to reveal what he really feels. (Full story here: https://www.sleetmagazine.com/selected/love_v13n2.html) He swears the way a child would, peppering his speech with an excess of profanity that does not make him as tough as he thinks. The Uber driver never swears once. He is a family man, empathetic and grounded. They are different people; if they are to be real, they need to talk differently.
By way of contrast, here's William Mumler in my yet-unpublished novel, justifying his practice of photographing people with deceased spirits:
Mumler watched the flame, coming forth steadily from the brass.
“Jonah told as destined. He gave the people the message they needed from the Lord,” Mumler said. “The Almighty knows all: my sins, your sins, what will become of us, what would become of Jonah and the Ninevites. Though He knew He would spare the city, He suffered Jonah to spread the message of its destruction. A small untruth in service of a greater truth.”
He appealed to Guay’s unmoving face. “Prophets must serve the truth. That is what I have learned. One cannot choose to be a prophet, Mr. Guay. One cannot choose even the details of the message. The truth chooses the prophet. There are spirits, manifesting in this new age. We must serve that truth, or we will be swallowed.”
If a profane syllable left that man's tongue, his entire character would crumble like a clay-footed statue. In a moment of crisis that could destroy everything he holds dear, my Mumler might use the word "damn," though if anyone heard, he would feel shame.
The character, the narrative, the style determine the language I use in my writing. I am perfectly content to write an academic analysis, or to drop an f-bomb if it makes a joke funnier. I'll write that businessman out on a bender or that photographer who reads his Bible nightly. My task is to write them true.
You, The Modern Angel
You were born of particle and dust, carefully sewn with trails of light, and filled with worlds unseen.
But then, you were pushed into the abyss, swallowed by the viscous black. It filled the spaces where there should be air and enveloped you, suffocating you with flesh and all its unruly demands. Pieces of you, vulnerable, contorted sinew push through your holy threads and leave you hapless. Hopeless.
You've felt this.
It's in the way you wail for love, for fame. The way you glutton, though all discernable needs are met. Like an insect met with the shock of fate, you pour into the flashing light, for it has promised you so much. You fall, willingly so, into your own siren song of self-preservation. You jump from wheel to wheel, picking asphalt from your wounds. You peer into the depth of glass and plastic, hoping to catch remnants of your birth, that familiar glimmer within the darkness of dimensions. But the spark isn't there. It never is.
You despise this.
There is a piece of yourself, petulant and whining, just as you did when forced onto this Earth. Its cries keep you up at night as you stare yards into the black, merging with the déjà-rêvé. You mask the natural light, afraid of its illumination. And so, your Petulant Self is "disciplined", neglected, ignored, abused. It's forced into the background, unsure of how to reach you, for petulance is its only defense against the voracious black. It will wail until its needs are met. A thread tugs at your heart and you slice it, annoyed. You are too tired for the truth.
You're denying this.
The smiles formed with brick and string are not the same as the ones that appear in those quiet moments when you recall your composition of dust and light. As you float along cyclicality, you discover how to move with grace through the uncanny valley, how to walk within the plotted chaos of the moon. The nature of your intelligence usurps the desire for control and the ancient truths of the past push you into the future. The guiding light of your Self relived will tell you stories of dust and stars. If you listen, you release.
But you knew this.
Swearing Is An Expression of Emotion and Should Be Used Sparingly
Swearing is an expression of great emotion and should be used sparingly, with the notable exception of some works of screenplay such as television shows or animated works.
In my eyes, swearing is an expression of a fair deal of emotion as swear words are often cast as taboo and unacceptable in common discussion. Proper utilization of swear words calls for intriguing analysis of characters who are expressing their feelings, whether angry or sorrowful. If used as but another figure of speech, as littered as metaphors or idioms, swear words lose any impact they could have had; if a character who never swears lets a word slip in a time of weakness, you will think "Oh, this is a real time of weakness."
Because of my own personal beliefs and views, I tend to hold back on swearing in my writing, but if appropriate, a word can slip. Additionally, if a character's arc is to be redeemed from a lower portion of life, transitioning from sailorhood swearing to awesome abstinence would be a commendable metaphor for their transformation. Nonetheless, I hold back on swear words in my own writing.
A Spa for the Tortured
Instead of cucumbers
I place pickles over my eyes
because I prefer to think that self-induced agony
makes me stronger and more resilient.
I’m a glutton for punishment,
so, I lay back and let the brine work its way in,
never wincing, never offering a single reaction to its burn.
The cohesion of pickle juice and natural saline
works its way toward my brain
like a starving parasite eating its last meal.
I welcome this torture
because I find comfort in pain
and already know the sting will fade away in time,
or, I’ll just become too numb to feel it.
After all, pain is more familiar than love,
which for me is like love,
because it’s always there for me even when I never need it—
I deeply appreciate its loyalty and commitment,
and though it’s not reciprocated, it’s unconditional.
I light a candle to unwind.
A flickering flame soothes my unrest.
Lavender releases from the wax prison it was held in,
but still, I prefer the Sulphur of a match
over a deceased flower’s final excrement
because the aroma of hell is how I relax.
Dead Flowers and hell. They’re both the same anyways, right?
Everything revolves around death and ends in death.
Even while the oil bleeds out of an unsuspecting aromatic herb,
its beautiful aroma is squeezed from its last breath.
So, everything is resolved in death.
There is only one place for us in the end. For me, it’s hell.
So, I decided to get there sooner by living in one.
I wonder if they can make a candle that smells like hell.
Do you think they can extract the essence of a decaying body
and place it in a wax jar like they did that Lavandula?
I flip on a tune,
to set the mood with my favorite soundscape—
A waterfall crashing into a rainforest.
Now that’s a sound I can drown myself in.
It spills down from three thousand feet above
and smothers me like I'm being waterboarded by nature.
How interesting that water gives life, yet can so easily take it away.
Angel Falls is not my guardian protector,
but it is a fallen angel I must protect and guard
because she lifts me up closer to heaven than I’ve ever been,
then drops me back down to earth where I guess I belong. For now.
I place a warm rag over my face to simulate the Amazonian climate,
Then turn on the faucet to full blast
so, I can practice how to breathe.
No gills mean there’s a struggle,
but a struggle is what I crave.
With every gulp of oxygen I lose, my existence fades,
and I start to appreciate all the small things a little more.
Who knew being closer to death,
helps you love life a little better?
Why can’t I just get there on my own instead of forcing it?
Am I fucked up for living this way,
or is living this way how I fuck?
The timer blares a turbulent cry,
and my deprivation is complete.
While the tank opens to birth me back into reality,
I can’t help but wonder,
If I am reflecting on thoughts of death because I want it,
or if it’s how I cope with knowing the fate of humanity.
The salty bath I floated in slides off me like how water repels oil,
like how cheaters repel love.
and like how humans repel humans.
I rinse off my secret thoughts in the shower,
dry off self-hatred with a towel,
then put on a costume of lies so I may enter the world,
and on the way out I schedule another visit
to my torture spa.
I can’t wait to live again,
©2023 Chris Sadhill
A Purpose to Fill
What came from a seed, saw itself through sunny hot days, to unexpected cold spells, from too much or too little rain...what has fought so very hard to not only live but to thrive has a gift to give.
Can you begin to imagine the power in feeding the hungry....to be responsible for helping a child grow tall and strong, giving them the energy they need for all day long? How about seniors who live by barely scraping by...my gosh can you imagine how sweet it must be to fill their plates? What about the men and women who proudly serve our country...what an honor to give them nourishment.
What came forth from those little seeds, I can only imagine how it must feel so very happy knowing that it has blessed those who were able to enjoy the nourishment received....but what about all the waste, all that which was thrown away....the heavy sadness that must be felt of knowing it could have been on a plate...it could have been in a belly....
Thank God for the farmers who work so hard from sunup to sundown. In the land of plenty.... sadly there are plenty who do not have....
Lord, thank you for the food....bless it from the farmers to the tables....Please let all the food find its way to every soul so no one ever misses a meal.
Carbon Piles With Anxiety
I used to say I'd never be one of those desk monkeys shuffling papers around for 40 hours each week. I was right back then. I never did do that. No, instead I sit at a laptop for 50–60 hours each week. Progress is truly inspiring, isn't it?
I used to want to be an artist. Then I found out how hard I'd have to work at my second and third jobs just to support my art career. Instead, I went into advertising. I work really hard to bring to life the campaigns you actively try to block out.
I'm sensitive, you see. It's not just the money. I can't handle my creative work being criticized too harshly. I don't want to see my ideas get killed and over-sanitized into tasteless oblivion. I just wanted to be given the space to think creatively, given the environment in which overthinking was not just encouraged but rewarded.
Then I found the world of strategy, and I dove in with the methodical yet whirlwind nature it required of me. You see, my memory is fleeting but my mind's an incurable overthinker. I write everything down, agonize over it, review and rewrite, and share my good work with the team. They just see that final cut and get to skip past the stages where I'm pulling my hair out and wondering how I'm ever going to finish the task in front of me.
It's tough. It's a lot of hours to spend with your brain sprinting on a treadmill. So I just write it all down. I write down what I want to remember, what I need to save, what I hope to pass on. I think I finally found my place in this big information machine that our society is dedicated to running.
I don't beat myself up when I don't have the answers. I just know I have to start looking for them — or for someone with them. We're all just a bunch of carbon piles with anxiety crashing into each other and trying to sound smart. The only thing that expects you to be a genius is your own intolerable ego. So throw it out the window.
Yes, we're all such important people in our blazers and pencil skirts. We all decided to sell pieces of our lives and souls to the same buyer, and that's about all we need to have in common. We don't have to be tied by some cultish mission or deep life purpose.
The next time you're driven mad by anxiety at a spreadsheet or slide deck, take a deep breath and remember this quote by Kurt Vonnegut:
“We are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.”
I believe in much the similar veins of other pieces of mine, where I delve into the personal details of my life and multi-faceted faces of my psyche that a cartoon can best explain.
Young Justice Season 3.
I'd never been more angry watching a TV show.
As often happens in superhero and other fantasy media superpowers and the overall abnormal insanity of their Earth become allegories for prejudice, intolerance, and alienation. Often affecting the already vulnerable of society.
Often it is the burden of people of color or of poor social background and that is a running theme, however the wider demographic is one often not talked about or addressed. Understandably, since it's an adult's world and an adult's news anchor. Such informational TV isn't made for vapid, underdeveloped teenagers to tune into. And yet stories are littered with victims no older than ten on borders or forever shaken by school shootings, murder attempts, exploitation, abuse-- blasted on the media for all to see with never even the chance to actually let them speak.
Certain government organizations such as CIRCLE-- which centers on the civic engagement of demographics across the country-- invested research on this use of children as victims and just as often, instigators of violence without providing actually nuanced perspective on issues at hand in a way that makes them real contributors in overall discussion or what their perspective may have to offer in an emotional or pragmatic appeal.
They thoroughly disprove the notion that youth would "age into," so-called serious media which these days takes a much more politically charged, sensationalist slant in their broadcasts, rather than supposed objectivity. Instead, they smartly analyze the faults found and alienate completely from traditional news forms and by the numbers and figures instead turn to alternative media providers. Namely, social media and video platforms where those like them dominate the conversation.
It has been reported that teenagers are most politically and socially active through social media platforms to eloquently and passionately express their views and discourse on world events or social injustice. And better yet, they're listened to and warmly received as teens often make content that provides active conversation they can participate in and engage with on a deeper level than a constant rerun of the same news cycle speaking on issues but never offering any form of solution or analysis.
Young people want solutions, they want discussions, but more often than not the news proves disappointing.
While slightly exaggerated the fictional news around "meta-humans," in the Young Justice show was much the same format. Sensationalist fear-mongering and political plays of adults using the kids exploited and displaced from across the globe by business and government powers as playing pieces with near no mention of how the problem of rampant human-trafficking hunting meta-genes and child soldiers would be dealt with.
Outsiders was certainly an apt title for the season as the child protagonists under the wing of a now grown up main cast often had no other place to turn to. Pillars of morals and light that were once respected and admired by the world were forced into the shadows, seemingly for no other reason to anyone looking in, for wishing to offer active solutions and relief.
It is stated within the League: "metahumans are the newest exploitable resource."
Anytime a metahuman turns on a TV, whether from their own home or possibly a hospital room or the sole youth center available the news will feature a segment of a UN representative-- a peace organization-- sneering and blustering nastily about "the meta-youth delinquent center," as if many victims weren't known victims of abduction and disappearance. As if they'd somehow committed a crime to end up needing the services of a non-profit to provide lessons for their powers or a stable environment to emotionally heal.
And it was often premiered and touted as a main theme every episode.
The adults seeming all too content to judge while otherwise never addressing the underlying issue or even looking into increased disappearances, of course, save for the superheroes. And villainous characters hardly having to do the work of isolating and turning public opinion towards monitoring and near criminalization of having a meta-power.
In many ways it came off as apathetic, it came off as just horrible, incompetent, and irresponsible.
And yet with programming like Young Justice that uses such allegories and realism in their storytelling there is a real-world equivalent. And those comparisons come quite easily.
Meta-power, trauma, marginalized youths, teens taking to social media in affirming others. It speaks to issues of mental illness and neurodivergence in our real world just to name a few.
It speaks of the politicians and political parties more interested in keeping power and hold over the public's minds than doing the jobs they were sworn in to do. Such as, protecting the peace and instilling tolerance and love towards all nations. Instead of hate-speech and victim blaming.
Outsiders saw Garfield Logan, empowered similarly by violent circumstances and intervention that could not be refused, taking Martian blood to save his own life and so given the morphing power similar to theirs. And at sixteen a child actor with a presence in the news and using his program and role as a hero in that fiction to promote action among individuals.
"See something-- say a kidnapping-- scream something."
"See something, say something."
Don't let a child be kidnapped. Don't let a name and a face disappear.
However, as is super tradition Garfield was set for the heroic track by tragedy. First the cruel murder of his Mother by his country's corrupt monarch, then the untimely death of an adoptive mother and so, in the hands of a stepfather managing his career and a sweet old woman.
That is, until he began making connections towards her[Granny Goodness] involvement in the meta-human trafficking industry. Subtly cornered as she undercuts him during his work, and told by the adult supposed to look out for him to "make things right," "Whatever [it may be] he did to make her mad." When he'd been the one acting professionally and her picking out mistakes where there were none.
However, he has no support and is instead told to keep his tongue, respect his elders. Even when those elders-- neither-- respect him in turn.
That is, until he is able to act in his role as a hero, where he does have the power to act and possibly more vital, the respect of his elders to take his words seriously. And even more than that, take what he does as a person into account instead of just a teen with green skin.
Beast Boy had always been an "openly out," meta-human" but never more than that until pushback forced him to take a closer look and realize their voice wasn't in the media cycle. Not until he forced it there via social media.
And so, formed the Outsiders, a public version of the initial Young Justice team formed with the intent of striking from their respected mentors into the world they were promised. Where in the open Beast Boy and other meta-teens, notably most also being expelled or exiled from most spaces or runaway, served as direct contradictions and proof as to the very best metahumans could be for the world if given the opportunity.
And yet, they were met with red tape and derision for responding to crises. New laws targeting them specifically from doing their work: "forbidding of any meta-teen in certain states," meta-teen, not hero. And that distinction is important as a future episode will display this applies to newly activated meta-humans like a small boy in Cuba whose mother worked loyally with the military.
Season 3 encapsulates really what the world is today. Had been just five years prior. Where kids are ignored and devalued as little more than props, used for a political agenda when said agenda has no room to deal with their injustices anyway. So often, if any grown-up sympathizes and extends help it's a fair chance to say it's because they've experienced the alienation and complete ignorance first-hand.
Young people are told that until they can speak and act like the adults around them their ideas aren't worth acknowledging yet often when they comply, the only ways to get their message across is in youth dominated spaces such as social media and the wider web.
So then, what's left but to get emotional? To be a bit angry and impetuous?
In opposition to so much anger was the savage, vindictive satisfaction to see a rebellion take shape.
We are all Outsiders.
Becoming a chant and rally cry to an unreasonable authority or stubborn audacity to ordinances forbidding superheroes from responding to the super-powered emergencies they simply cannot handle by "normal" "human" means.
We are all Outsiders.
We are all just trying to find our way. And some of us are wired a bit different, do we deserve to be locked out then? Because, I hate to say but in some ways physical punishment and the whole "seen and not heard," as if we were some designer dolls than living flesh that popped out of a-- well just seems weird and not just weird. Downright obscene sometimes.
I believe, after half a two thousand words of grievance and impotent, the most composite ladylike rage we are well past polite words and macchiatos.
Get on board or get out of the way.
Today he took inventory. He did this every year on this particular date. His Chief Officer had cancelled his appointments. He slept in, but finally got out of bed for coffee, leaving his wife on her side of the bed.
It wasn't his birthday. It wasn't anyone's birthday. Not his wife's, nor his children's. It wasn't even an anniversary — his marriage or his business incorporation. Not a day of any geopolitical or historical significance, except that the comic strip, Popeye the Sailor, had debuted today.
And some game thing in Miami, Florida.
He did this on every January 17 because it was the day his parents had met. They had died young, and he still mourned. But he and his wife had their children. And of course, his vocation, running his company which had changed the world: it had developed the first vaccine against the novel virus that had emerged from its original SARS variant. Having raged worldwide for 12 years, it had killed almost a billion people.
When he thinks of the lives saved, he couldn't help but think of those lost. This is the real reason he took this day to himself every year. Those lost, mainly children, meant countless progeny who would never be. Offspring never realized — who would never fall in love, never have their own chidren and grandchildren who would further change the world. With such a gap, the world spun a little differently than was meant to be.
What a waste! A pyramid of waste atop countless generations — Nobel Laureates, Presidents, inventors, great discoverers and their discoveries. Our tree, spindly branches pruned away as the rings grew around each forever-changed generation. He wept.
His parents had first met in Miami on this day in 1971, at Superbowl V. Both diehard Baltimore fans, they found themselves sitting in adjacent $1,500 seats wearing the same colored jerseys. It was only natural that, before long, they talked, drank, and cheered together. At several intervals, marked by perfect spirals, one-hand catches, and points on the board, they clasped each other in celebration. But the 4th Quareter they were even kissing after each celebration-worthy occurrence.
Had they not met, of course, he would not exist — would never have been born. None of that would have happened. He would not have even been conceived. But they had met. Their story didn't stop at the stadium. A night of celebration was in order for these two. The rankings and the season's record had put these machinations in motion. And, as it turned out, this happenstance had changed the world, responsible for so many lives to avert disease; responsible for so many lives saved. Responsible for so many lives to come — and their accomplishments and progeny and progeny's accomplishments to come. No, their story had not ended with the final whistle. They had married four months later.
They had to.
The Colts were not the only ones scoring, as it turned out. He laughed at the imagery, from scoring to splitting the uprights, to extra points, to first down to second to third to fourth, to fumbles, and even to endzones.
The world would change the night of Superbowl V: he was — existed — only because of a field goal. He wondered about the different ways a world could spin and how many other lives had come to be — only because the Colts beat those damn Cowboys in the last five seconds.
This is something I think about often. I have to. I'm involved in youth work with my church, the local government, and through another voluntary organisation akin to scouts. This a big issue, and it is often a stumbling block to many of our projects.
Unfortunately, I don't believe it is one issue. It is many issues, some big, some small, and some things that really just shouldn't be issues, all intertwined in a big, tangled ball of interconnected problems. A great way of putting it is "integrated complexity" (Uncontrolled, Manzi, Jim, 2012). Our society is so complex that no phenomenon has a single, isolated cause, and no factor would create exactly the same phenomenon, other factors being different. We can't hope to change everything by changing one thing. Changing everything requires changing everything, and that is both almost unachievable, and bound to create new, unexpected problems. So maybe our society itself is the issue? I don't think it's that simple either.
First, let us ask, how deep does this generational disconnect run? Let us take an (almost real) case study. John wants to be an engineer. He enjoys the practical skills of designing and building things in a workshop. Locally, there is a group of men, mostly of a well-matured age, who maintain and operate a working vintage railway. They have a well-equipped workshop and would teach any young person who choose to show interest with passion, happy to have someone interested in their craft. Even if John knew of their existence, which he probably doesn't, he would rather pay to take a class with a bunch of other people and a single tutor, than step into that workshop full people waiting to teach him for free. Why?
Well, first of all, John probably doesn't even know they're there. Older people seem to find it hard to interest younger people in their hobbies and interests. They often move in different circles and connect in different ways. That doesn't mean it's impossible, just difficult. Sometimes older people struggle to learn how to adapt to new patterns, and sometimes no-one makes the effort to help them.
Even if John did know they were there, the same issue crops up. Older people struggle to make their interests relevant to young people. John probably doesn't see the connection between what they do and his aspirations. And if he does, he probably thinks that what they have to teach him is outdated and irrelevant. Sure, it may not be up with the newest technology, but that workshop contains hundreds of cumulative years of knowledge and experience that is worth learning from.
However, things don't end here. Despite any impressions that John may or may not have, they're not the only factors at play. There are plenty of older people that think young people are irreverent, obnoxious, and self-obsessed. Unfortunately, sometimes they are right. But, at least as often, they are not. These people can tend to be very vocal about their opinion, which further clouds young people's perception of the older generation. Whether or not the men in the railway workshop hold this opinion, John may expect that they do, and so keep away from them.
And so we see that young people may think that older people are irrelevant, stuck in the past, and judgemental. While older people, in turn, may see younger people as lacking wisdom, impulsive, and disrespectful. Those who are young need to learn to appreciate the wisdom of the old. While those who are older need to learn to appreciate the energy of youth, and consider how to harness and temper it effectively.
Wait, you ask, what about the generation between? Surely they appreciate both the wisdom of age and the energy of youth? Let them be the mediators. Spot on, well said. I could not agree more. But why isn't it working? Well, my observations would suggest that the current generation of young people feel let down by the previous generation. If you think someone has let you down in the past, why would you listen to them now. So exactly how have they been let down? And why?
This is another issue with no straight-forward answer. Let's briefly look at what I think are a few of the issues. We all know that the cost of living is rising. Pressure to have the newest and best, along with the never-ending onwards race of technology has pushed more and more parents into working longer hours, and spending less time with each other and their families. Young people may feel sidelined or forgotten, and the newest tech seldom truly makes up for the lost bond of time spent together. This, along with other issues related to how our society perceives marriage relationships (@voiceinthewind has some relevant thoughts here), have lead to increased break downs in family stability, which also affects young people. Further, we encourage young people to break free from anything perceived to define them, to decide their own identity. Perhaps we force this choice upon them at too young an age, before they are ready to understand and choose their own path. (For more on this, see my recent post The problem of choice). This results in our young people growing up disconnected from faith, gender, race, and family, among other things. In short, the things that provide them with a framework for their identity. Lastly, some parents have allowed technology to parent their children. They are not made to learn any social skills or life skills. Their devices become more familiar to them than the physical world. All these things add up. Not every family is affected by them all, and there are plenty of good families out there. But perhaps young people are simply disillusioned about how they have been raised, and what they were taught (or not). Perhaps they feel that it does not match the reality of the world.
Finally, this is not entirely new. The issue runs generations deep. Different factors, different issues, but a similar result. We are trapped in a vicious cycle, each generation letting down the next, and then criticising when they do the same again. But to change everything requires changing everything, and that is both almost unachievable, and bound to create new, unexpected problems.
For too long the desert below had been silent. For too long it had been arid and barren, any water jots immediately seized into the squandering, dessicant wind above. For too long that wind was hot, weathering all it blew over in an unprovoked war of erosive attrition.
Good for nothing.
Nowhere to go.
Inert and wasteful.
A static chemistry of wasted potential.
Like a fractal, the desert is recursive. You could inspect half and it is still a desert. You can take half of that, and it is just as barren. You can go down to the very depths of exploration, from macroscopic to microscopic to nanoscopic, to each grain of sand, and there sits a homunculus of the desert. Yet another little matrëshka doll with nothing to say. A speck. A smithereen.
Just as arid. Just as barren. Spurning the very chrysalid molecule of that which might hydrate it.
The desert is immeasurable. How dry is dry? All its facts or figures repeat with merely any dissection, digging, or surveying. Like the atom that can be explored down to its quarks, Planck lengths, and even strings, the desert's singularity is something that is only dry. It is one-dimensional, and that dimension is dry. A blotter unrealized.
We fear those unlike us, and there is nothing or no one more unlike us than the desert. Strangers make for enemies, and this wasteland is mine. It is the unapologetic opposite of the human heart, lacking the fluids and the pulse and even the purpose-driven destiny to animate the otherwise non-living and dormant.
From my granular footing sinking ominously into the cracked earth, I stand my ground. Then I look up and I am humbled.
Recursion goes both ways.
And I serve as the conduit, suffering the mighty transmission that connects nothing to everything-all-at-once. I whirl in the vortex of vacuum where all and none reach equilbrium. It is an awesome obligation.
It is not intuitive. One must search, as I did, for the largest differential between the disparities of what is and what is not. It can be sensed with a sixth sense: the sense of our place in the Universe. I walk and search, not quite knowing what to look for. Like a vacuum, I will know it when it populates my shadow into relevance.
As such, one knows it when they find it.
Like a divining rod, I am drawn to the linchpin between the two realms. Within the probability cloud where all bobs in and out of existence, I feel the perilous tug from both realities:
Reality One: Nothing.
Reality Two: Everything else.
The vortex seems cold at first. Am I a stranger here? Can I belong? What is my purpose?
But probability generates heat. And as if to underscore its importance, possibility burns! It might have been; it might be; it shouldn't have been. And their counterparts, shimmying in a dance of vying creation, setting up the galvanic charge that fuels eternity.
Looking both ways — down to the dirt and up to the stars — is both being blind, yet blinding, respectively. I perspire. Soon I can smell my hair being singed. Unresolved existentialism hurts. However...
I AM THE OBSERVER.
I make the reaction go. I determine the collapse from plausible possibility to potential probability to perceived presence: what is real is in the mind of the beholder — the observer.
The one who puts their fingers into the quantum slits, making the shadows and shadow hand puppets beyond.
I look up to the skies and can distance myself with perspective: stepping out from the waterfall's deafening inundation, I am so much more than the torrent of conception falling through the still air. And when I look down, my view is now complete, for what I am below is as much a part of the continuum: a grain of sand.