Ambiance of circadian disposition

 

I first posted this on my other blog, ‘Further Ramblings’ as it is not directly connected to writing, to which this blog is dedicated.

That said and after reading these words again it stuck me that most, if not all, who write will understand the the thoughts herin.

Therefore, I now post this here. Comments and feedback are, as always, welcome.

Thank you, Paul


 

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    There is far more to our personal dispositions than the simple ticking of our circadian clock. External influences abound. None more so, in my view than the diurnal effect of the sun and the moon, of light and dark.

   While they are each autonomous in their distinct natures, each flow seamlessly into and from one another. A unified merging of opposing natural qualities.

   The respective character of all, felt by our minds as their progress inexorably continues, thus affecting our moods and temperaments at any particular given time.

   I for one have often been aware of such ethereal properties impacting on my senses. How time slows in the darkness of the early hours, the clock ticks visibly slower, the second hand creeping hesitantly onwards.

   Late night cafés; unhurried, peaceful; the darkness smothering the world in its cloak of slumber, slowing all movement to a stumble.

   Bus terminals, sitting, waiting under glowing industrial fluorescence, fighting to hold back the invading night. Time yawns and stretches towards dawn.

   Early winter mornings, chill air and goosebumps. Sunlight, bright yet devoid of heat. Eyes still encrusted by the Sandman’s nocturnal visit as time begins to rouse itself; a new dawn.

  The nights as we lay in the arms of a lover, wishing that this time could last forever and dreading the breaking of dawn.

   These times are factors of circadian variation. All and more, separate yet connected, quotidian, diurnal, circadian. Influenced, induced, impelled. Time is not constant, time is respective, subjective and particular. Time is a substance, a distillate, a quintessence of our moods.

    Yesterday, during the darkening hours we thought so.

   Yet as the morning breaks once more, uncertainties arise with the sun. Such are our thoughts, our minds and the subconscious workings of deep cognative processes within ourselves.

    We are not separate entities of individual consciousness, we are simply cogs; one single gear of many within the greater unity of encompassing life, affected by influences beyond that of our singular understanding.

   I am, therefore time dictates.

   Tempus fugit. Carp diem, amicis meis

 

 

 

 

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The Wind & the Sun

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  This is a story my father used to tell me as a young child.

  Way back then I had no idea that this story was his version of an Aesop’s fable.

  I loved listening to him regale it over and again; although I had heard this story many times, it was not until I was about seven that I began to understand how the moral of the tale, or at least the basic message it carried, related to life.

   My father has now been dead for over thirty five years, yet I still recall his voice when I think of the Wind & the Sun.

   Moreover I am still learning the true extent of how the simple and basic message this story carries can affect every part of our lives, in work, play, socially, and in our domestic and love life relationships.

   I will try my best to recount this tale as closely to my father’s recitation as I can recall, because I still prefer his version to that of Aesop!

   Maybe you would too, if you could hear his voice as clearly I still do.


One day the Wind and the Sun were looking down upon the earth when they saw a man walking along a footpath.

‘Look at that man’ said the Wind, ‘I bet I can get his jacket off him quicker than you ’.

‘You think you can?’ answered the Sun.

‘Of course’ the Wind replied ‘because I am strong and powerful’.

‘Go on then’ said the Sun ‘let me see what you can do’.

So the Wind began to blow. As the Wind blew the man’s jacket flapped in the breeze. The Wind blew harder, whipping up clouds of dust and blowing the leaves from the trees.

The man buttoned his jacket, turned up his collar, lowered his head and continued walking.

Displeased with his efforts so far the Wind let a howling gale bellow over the ground. It was so forceful that the man had to fold his arms across his chest to stop his jacket from being blown off.

The Wind saw what the man was doing took a huge puff and let loose a tempest.

The man clutched his jacket tighter to himself, holding it firm with both hands.

Again and again the Wind blew and blew. The harder the Wind blew the tighter the man clung to his Jacket.

Eventually the Wind had puffed so hard for so long that he blew himself out.

The sun laughed and said to the Wind ‘Now it is my turn to try and get this man’s jacket off’.

So the Sun smiled and shone his gentle rays of warm sunlight upon the earth and upon the man.

The man took his hands from his jacket.

The Sun continued to smile and spread his warmth.

The man unbuttoned his jacket and loosened his tie.

After a while the man, bathed in the glorious heat from the sun, removed his jacket, slung it over his shoulder and began to whistle as he walked.

‘You see, Wind’ said the Sun, ‘you can accomplish far more by being gentle and giving than you can with brute force alone’.

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I hope you enjoyed my father’s version of this story.


You can read more by visiting https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com/

It’s been a long walk home.

Many of you will be aware that I am (almost) at the publishing stage for a book I have been working on for a little over three years. The book is titled ‘Life in the Warzone’ it is about the effects that living in an area of conflict has on people, be they combatants or innocent civilians, even children.

During my research and interviews (from Sarajevo, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, and the Ukraine) I often come across essays, poems and other forms of accounts which expresses personal trauma.

Here is one such piece I would like to share with you.

This is not my work. I take no credit for these words.

 


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It’s been a long walk home.

(Author unknown)

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It’s been a long walk home, I’m almost there,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

I’m right back there again,

lost in that same damn firefight,

It’s been forty years,

When will it end?

Every night it’s that same damn firefight,

We lost Sam and Bill,

Tag’em and bag’em,

we were told,

we’d never seen em again.

But every night, it’s their faces that I see,

and I ask myself why wasn’t it me,

my name should be etched in that cold black wall of stone,

It’s been a long walk home,

I’m almost there.

.

But I hear that chopper so near,

Raining tracers down,

Can’t they see us here?

Marine down, corpsman up,

But silence is all I hear.

Why am I the only one left,

Screaming GOD get me outta here?

It’s been forty years,

I still see that day,

We were almost there.

.

The edge of the jungle,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

Tag’em n bag’em the list goes on,

To many to remember,

It was their last firefight.

I’m the only one left,

Lost and running looking for my way out.

It’s been a long walk home.

.

My family, don’t understand

When I say that this can’t be real

Just let me wake up one time and this not be,

But it’s that same damn firefight every night,

I wake up shaking like a leaf in the wind,

Tell’n my wife that it was just a chill,

Not that rage to kill,

But she sees it in my eyes,

That same damn firefight,

It’s been a long walk home, I’m almost there.

.

I was telling her good-bye,

When she realized I didn’t fear death anymore,

It was my life I was about to take,

She cried out for me to come out of that jungle, out into the daylight,

Think of the kids and what this would do,

She took me by the hand helping me make that first step,

Coming out of that jungle into the daylight,

It’s been a long walk home.

.

Forty years and I’m almost there,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

but this time it’s a younger brother yelling out,

trying to find his way out into the daylight,

Out of that smoky fog of that same damn firefight,

It’s been forty years for me,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

It’s their pain that I feel,

Knowing that this damn firefight is not real,

I’m here to help lead my younger brothers out,

Not to walk forty years as I,

Lost in that same damn firefight of PTSD!


If you would like to know more about my forthcoming book ‘Life in the Warzone’ please visit my website and look on the ‘works in progress’ page. http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white

Thank you, Paul.

Late train home

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I find the dull metallic hum, as the train pulls away from the harsh glow of neon lights on the station platform, somewhat comforting in its reassurance. As is entering the dark cavern of the subway tunnel whilst cocooned in the dim warmth of the vibrating carriage.

Once again the familiar tempo of steel wheels upon the rails, and the irregular rocking as the train rumbles along, calms the customary angst which always seemed too accompany me in hectic, overcrowded places.

Seated comfortably, time slows. Harmony descends upon me like a cloak of serene velvet. I sigh out loudly, a liberated wisp of disquiet flutters away, disappearing into the ether.

Unbuttoning my coat and flicking the hood from my head, I leaned back stretching my weary legs out in front of me. The carriage is empty. I am alone. Peace and calm descend.

At this time of night the subway takes on a different form, its very structure becomes prominent. Vibrations resound in every wall, wafts of cool air frequently gust throughout; inhale, exhale, the subway breathes deeply. Recurrent metallic taps echo from the depths of the black underpasses in harmony with those rustling organic whispers. It is as if the subway comes to life, wakens as an entity in itself.

I love the subway at this time of night, which is why I like to take the late train home. I can relax.

I like to stare through the glass, trying to make out what the indistinct passing shapes that flash by actually are. Long, thick wires twist together, hanging in sooty swags from the tunnel walls, like massive black anacondas awaiting unsuspecting prey. The occasional light, dulled by a layer of caked on grime, giant fireflies? And dark recesses, small arches sunken into the curvature of the walls. What lays within? Possibly a door, a secrete door to another world, a parallel universe?

Then there is the reflection, my reflection, eerily unfocused, staring back at me from the darkened window pane. But is that me? I think not. Looking I see the reflection has a smirk on his face, he is hiding his knowledge of me, or a secret. He has the answers I seek. The answers I have spent my whole life trying to find. He smiles before fading away as the train enters a brightly lit station.

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These are my fantasies, my late night daydreams as I travel home. This is where my reality and illusion merge, where imagination and invention combine.

This is the birthplace of whimsy and caprice.

This is why I like to take the late train home.

© Paul White 2014

FFCO1808‎2014

Naked thoughts in New York City

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Restless.

I throw back the white cotton sheet.

Laying naked, letting the air circulate over my skin hoping for coolness.

No relief.

Padding barefoot I cross the room.

Sliding the glass doors open, stepping onto the balcony.

The slight breeze a welcome freshness.

Looking down, way down below,

I see the cars snaking through the city,

Yellow cars.

All cars are taxis at night, cabs running to and fro,

Making frivolous journeys for inconsequential people.

I see dots, little dots moving irregularly.

They are humans, tiny individuals,

Way below.

A fire truck passes, lights flashing,

Multiple glints against the glass buildings.

The deep honk of the fire trucks horn billows,

Suffocating all other sounds for that instant.

I look out, around me.

Towers.

Reflections, light and glass.

I see inside lighted rooms, empty offices, lounges, bedrooms.

Nobody has curtains, nobody draws their blinds.

Seduced by the height, blinded by reflection,

They think they are obscured from vision.

But I can see them, all of them.

I am standing in darkness, hidden in the shadows, looking out.

One pair of a thousand eyes, from a thousand dark places,

Windows, balconies, rooftops, all staring at the city,

Watching it move, pulsate, vibrate, gyrate.

Who, I wonder, is watching me as I stand here naked,

Breathing in the night air, cooling my skin.

I do not care.

Look all you want, feast your eyes,

Fantasise, ogle, masturbate if you wish, I do not know you, nor you me.

Even if you are there, in one of those thousand windows,

Or upon one of a thousand rooftops, if you exist anywhere but in my imagination,

I still do not care.

Another siren, echoes reverberating up the sides of the towers,

Lights flashing, reflected, refracted, distorted in the mirror glass.

I turn around and pad barefoot back to the bed.

The faint light falls on her skin, she sleeping with one leg out,

Twisted in the sheet I discarded, the other splayed wide and her arms akimbo.

Hair pouring over the pillows, a delta of soft threads.

There is no room for me now.

I do not want to wake her, or disturb her slumber.

I am not tired, I have no desire to sleep.

I grab a drink from the kitchen and go back onto the balcony,

This time I sit, open my laptop and light a cigarette.

I write this, my random thoughts of dark recesses, prying eyes,

Mirrored glass walls, and yellow taxis,

I write of my sleepless night in New York City.

END

© Paul White 2014

FFCO‎0911‎2014

Ex Libris legatum

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As we age we amass many life skills; some taught to us by teachers, lecturers, professors and our parents, some self-learned by patient practice and repetition, while most such lessons are thrust into our consciousness simply by the pure events of living life itself; births, love, passion, loss, hurt, pain, grief and death.

At some point during the period betwixt being born and gasping our last breath we have also, hopefully, gained some wisdom.

Although, only too often, such wisdom is realised and recognised far too late in life for us to use it in any true and meaningful way, such is the cruel nature of growing older.

However for those who manage to avoid a premature departure from this world, those who never got hit by lightning or run over by a trolley bus, become in some respect like a soggy sponge! Yes we droop and some often uncontrollably leak and dribble I am sure, but the analogy I was trying to draw was one of absorption and storage.

I know for a fact that I know more than I know I know, even if in that knowledge there is the realisation of knowing that one knows nothing.

With that stated clearly I will return to the train of thought which initiated my fingers to start tapping away today; that is, that within these southerly wilting, rather wrinkly, fading bodies which those ‘of a certain age’ seem to acquire, for the majority of us at least, are still our sprightly, lively young minds that have seldom aged beyond fifteen…or maybe (for legal reasons) that should read eighteen!

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Now….these minds of ours need a little control. You see they tend too often fool us by considering that whatever they think that we, (those of us who are over 40 something…{no not waist size}…years of being alive), still have the physical ability to achieve such things as skateboarding, zip-lining, mountaineering and even imbibing in a large amount of alcoholic beverages and awaking in the morning with a clear head….hummph….I wish.

The reason that our minds ignore our creaking joints, throbbing tendons, scar tissues that pull as taught as an elastic band every time we move like this…ouch….I should not have done that! Is that once-upon-a-time we have done all of those things, once –upon-a-time when that same mind was in its infancy and knew nothing of risk or fear, that mind which we (mostly) protected from going too far; well far too far, too often.

Now during all those life threatening adventures, (those naughty and dangerous liaisons, the arguments and battles, the fights and flights that our immature brains took us on), we collected lots and lots of information, comprehension, realisation, skills and familiarity.

In other words we gained awareness, understanding and experience, this is how we became educated and intelligent, and this is what gives us an erudition of life. This is what we loosely and casually refer to as wisdom and knowledge.

These are the life skills one collects in the only way possible, by living over a long period of time, or at least the longest period that time allows our weak and feeble bodies to function. Gladly, but tinged with some forms of sadly, mine is doing…..okay….at this moment.

You see I have out-lived many thousands of others over the years I have been walking upon this earth, (which I can still do….unaided). I am glad that I saw the sunrise this morning, the sad is that many did not.

Over the preceding years, many of those who never got to see the sunlight today are a whole host of friends and family, many older than I, many younger. Worst of all some had only minutes of life with which we could chart their age.

IMG_4424The fact is, that the number of people who are older than I is quickly diminishing. Now my mourning’s are frequently for those of my own generation, a generation who should use the life skills and knowledge that they have acquired to help and nurture those who are young enough and fortunate enough to have one of those minds which believes it is protected by an invincible body, such as our own did all those years past.

All that we have learned by events of life and living; those births we have witnessed, our loves, both lost and lasting. The passionate moments, some intimate, comprised of twisting limbs and thrusting loins, others of the soul; music, art, theater, dreams and scenes, vistas of natural beauty. The recollection of our times of loss, of hurt, of feeling pain; both physical and of the heart, not forgetting the grief and deaths.

This is our accumulated wisdom.

This is what we should share, what we should endeavour to teach our children and their children.

‘Ahh’, I hear you say, but children do not listen, do not take heed, so it is best to leave them to find their own way.

I do not disagree.

However, (which is a nicer way to say but, because there is always a but)! If we share our knowledge, leave it somewhere our future generations can discover it for themselves, then they will learn, or at least hopefully be guided by that which we have spent a lifetime accumulating.

This is why I believe I have a duty to leave my own thoughts behind me when I have gone, when I have shuffled from this mortal coil.

No one can teach from our personal experiences as we ourselves can.

This is why I choose to write. Even within the lines of my fiction, on the pages of my fantasies, are woven the truths of life and the facts of living.MagicBook

The words within my books and short stories are my bequest to the world, to a future I cannot be a part of, at least in person.

I chose to be a writer, not for monetary wealth or recognition, but to leave a legacy beyond the simplistic value of personal greed.

My wish is that my words are read by the generations yet to come.

Maybe then my life will not have been lived in vein.

Ex Libris legatum Paul White.


Thank you for reading this Rambling.

To find out about my Published Books & Short Stories please visit my web page, http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white-writer

© Paul White 2015

The ‘Dirtiest’ word of them all.

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It may come as a bit of a surprise, (to those of you who know that I have written the most explicit adult erotic book ever, ‘Red Satin’), that I think the dirtiest word is one which has absolutely nothing to do with sex, sexuality, licentiousness, or swearing.

For those who are more familiar with my mainstream Novels the shock will not be quite so great, I am sure.

That said I am certain that I shall have to explain why I have chosen the word ‘Conventional‘ as the worst word in the English language.

I will start by saying that we all, or at least a great many of us, like to think that we are unique individuals, a bit off beat, a little crazy, even wacky at times, but the truth the majority of people, and that most probably includes you, are not.

I agree that we all have moments where we do things that we, or our friends, may consider stupid, out of character, or down right idiotic.

Sometimes we embarrass ourselves in public, sometimes we regret certain acts that we perform, but this is not unique, crazy or out of the ordinary. Far from it in fact, it is ‘normal‘ behaviour, behaviour that is accepted as pretty much standard in our modern society and therefor it is conventional.

Some of you, I am sure, are already rebelling at my last statement, how dare I call you, of even begin to describe your last act of stupidity, as conventional?

I am glad you are thinking like that, because this is one of the reasons I dislike this word, just as you are now beginning to do now.

That said, I have just scratched the surface of my reasons, so I shall continue with my explanation while you muse over the quandary of being, or not, a conventional conformist.

conventional

kənˈvɛnʃ(ə)n(ə)l/ Submit adjective

  1. based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed.

“a conventional morality had dictated behaviour” synonyms: normal, standard, regular, ordinary, usual, traditional, typical.

The next point I will examine is why, if you are so bloody special, do you then conform to societies conventional practices?

   When you had your last job interview how wild and wacky were you then?

I bet you presented yourself as a very straight laced conventional human being in that instance, am I right?

When did you last go to eat in a restaurant wearing only underwear belonging to the opposite sex?article-0-039D8C95000005DC-403_468x586

My bet is never………………my point, well my point is that to have done either of those things is considered, by current convention, wrong.

You would not have got the position you wanted if the interviewers did not consider your mental state within conventionally accepted boundaries.

Chances are you would not have been allowed entry into the restaurant, maybe even been arrested for indecent exposure in a public place!

My point has two distinct facets, one is that of financial gain/loss.

Having control over our personal income is one way we are conditioned to accept convention. The government, banking and financial institutions use fiscal policy to keep the general public, including you, under control and help to ensure that we work within the conventional framework they have engineered.

That is why you acted so meekly at that interview.

The second facet is peer pressure.

As those about us, including family, friends, colleagues and associates have been conditioned by the state, and the media, to accept what they wish us to believe is ‘normal‘ or ‘regular‘ behaviour, the threat of losing our status among our peers is often greater than the loss itself.

image  This social pressure is also present in the second of the scenarios outlined. Loosing friends, or their respect, just because you wanted to eat sushi while dancing naked in the civic fountain may be appealing for your inner wish to be free, but under the domination of conventional social interactivity it is a no no!

The Law, be it enforced by local authorities, state or county police, is just another control over our freedoms and liberties that give the majority of us no option but to follow the demands of this infectious and deliberating virus termed convention.

Are you beginning now to see why I think this word is bad, or to be honest, why this words definition is dirty?

   So what of those / us who defy convention?

Hobo’s, dropouts, weirdo’s, perverts, hippies, off their rockers, crazies, are all names I have heard people, and that means you too, call those that have raised two fingers to convention. You know, the people who acted the way you wished you had the courage to act.

OK, so sometimes one of these names may be correctly applied to a certain individual, but then that individual is not one of the ones I am referring to here.

Here I am speaking about intelligent civilised human beings who by conscious effort, situation or downright fortune, (good or bad), have elected to disassociate themselves as much from conventional life as is possible. I say possible because even those who withdraw far away from society are still, inevitably, affected by the modern world in some degree, at some point.

However the majority of those /us who choose alternative lifestyles are not looking to turn our backs on everyday life, and not looking to hide away from social contact.

While we seek to live our lives in association with others with the same, or similar mind-set. We will blend in with the ordinary ‘vanilla’ folks on the street, we act and intermingle with you, and yet hold a key to a world where riches and dreams are the freedoms and expressions of the mind, body, soul, and spirit.

It is a world which when found, few wish to leave. This is true uniqueness, true individuality of character, (and not just occasionally singing out of key during a drunken stumble home on a wet and rainy night).

Conventional means living under the will of those that control society, this is why I think that conventional is a dirty and disgusting word.

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Thank you for reading.

To find out more about me visit my website 🙂

http://fluffybunnypj.wix.com/paul-white

In the Darkness of Illusion

 

 In the Darkness of Illusion

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It is two thirty in the morning.writers-block

I should be sleeping.

But like many writers it is in these ‘wee hours’ that our minds race, that our thoughts begin to gel into some recognisable form of understanding. Thoughts that we must ‘get down on paper’ NOW.

Not later. Later is no good.

By later the concepts, the feelings, the ideas will have shrivelled like the skin of a rotting fruit. No longer will these ideas have the shiny skin of freshness. No longer will each sentence be sweet with the flowing fructose of conception. So now is the time to allow our words to freely spill onto those blank pages, pages of lingering anticipation.

By sunrise sleep has yet again passed us by. Another coffee and a cool shower invigorates, just enough to face the daylight hours which queue before us, clambering for our attention, calling us to deal with the mundane tasks of reality, the chores of daily living.

Distracted our thoughts, our fantasies and whimsies sink into the subconscious. Some hide in the darker shadows, others play truant, while many are lost forever. Those dark hours, the late nights and early mornings are the vampiric lair of the writer.

Sunrise brings only loss of procession, a stilling of conscious reasoning, a slowing of creativity. Staggering along throughout the day we long for the sun to set, look towards the dusk with wistful eyes, longing for the darkness to envelop once us once more, to fold us in its soft cloak of imagination.

Because here in the quiet, in the still of the night is where the bats of illusion flit freely in the caverns of our minds. All that is witnessed, touched, seen, tasted and heard during the day is fired in the cauldron if concept and fantastical prophecy. This is the time when mystical worlds are created from a scattering of magical runes and symbols we call letters.

Twenty Six7f3f9ede89ac78685ce79af4fbeffb18 tiny marks which have the power to enter the mind and take control of whomever is reading, whisking reality away and replacing it with netherworld where all is possible and perception an illusion.

Yet it takes a mighty wizard of the quill to cast such formidable spells from so few tiny symbols. The craft of wordsmithing is often a lonely and long journey through the forests of despair and foreboding.

Yet when the daylight of publication looms bright, the rewards of satisfaction bring the cost of toiling through those darkest of late nights, the journey of self-doubt and inner loathing, well worth the pain and agony’s suffered.

The price can be high, but the rewards glorious.

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Thank you for walking with me tonight, Paul.

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© Paul White 2014

http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white-writer

Guest Blog – Shawn Jones

Shawn Jones

Today I hand my Rambling’s blog over to Shawn Jones, He may like his dog better than he likes you or I but I can forgive him for that, so long as he continues to write superb sci-fi like The Warrior Chronicles, a science fiction series available exclusively from Amazon .(http://www.amazon.com/Shawn-Jones/e/B00I3JJFYW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1)

I read a poem by Jessika O’Sullivan recently.

The day you no longer remember your childhood dreams.

How the world blurs when you are on a swing.

The smell of your classroom.

Your best friend’s eyes.

Your teenage confusion.

How your first love made you feel.

The hours in the dark, listening to music.

The taste of beer and snow in someone’s breath.

When you no longer remember.

You might blame adulthood.

But the truth is you lost something.

Jessika’s word are the difference between everyone else and a fiction writer. Those memories… the smells… the tastes… fiction writers never forget them. The rest of world grows up and moves on, but not us. We never forget the bump on our bicycle handlebar grip that was the trigger stud for a laser that protected the girl we had a crush on, hoping to be rewarded with a kiss. We remember climbing into our treehouse and ‘targeting’ the top of the round apartment building down by the river, because in our minds, it’s not a building. It’s a rocket. A starship filled with aliens about to overtake the Earth. We were, no I was, on a simple wooden platform in an old fruitless mulberry tree, the only thing standing between those aliens and the end of humanity.

The vinegar I smelled when I walked into the house when Mom was canning pickles… No, it wasn’t vinegar. It was toxic gas, and I had just seconds to make it to my bedroom before I would be overcome by them and breathe my last breath, never knowing the feel of Debbie Koffman’s kiss on my cheek.

We had an old wood pile in our back yard behind the garage. When we were having a cookout, Dad would build the fire and leave me to monitor it while he did whatever dads do while the fire died down to a nice bed of coals. I would see ants start to pour out of an old log, which was my cue to get to work. I’d run behind the garage and grab some branches from that old mulberry tree and hurry back to the fire, where I’d carefully place the fresh limbs to give the ants a way to escape. Then I’d use another branch to gently guide some of the ants to the escape route. Once they were moving across the sticks and away from certain doom, I would rest on my laurels knowing I’d saved lives. Because that’s what heroes did.

People who don’t write do have memories like mine. But I remember the texture of the handlebar grip. The curl in Debbie’s coarse, black hair. The shape of that apartment building’s roof. The smell of the fire coming from our old, square fire pit. Dad made it with concrete and flint rock, so the first few years it would get really hot once in a while and a rock would shatter, sending shards of flint at one of us unsuspecting boys. There was a cool aspect to it as well. If you hit one of those flint rocks with a hammer just right, you didn’t need a match to light the fire.

Writers never grow up. Even when we write about adult things like crime and physics and politics, we are still kids. In every other aspect of our lives, we are told that we are immature and have overactive imaginations. But when you put a real (or digital) piece of paper in front of us, we become gods. It’s not because we are smarter, or even more imaginative. It’s because we never stopped being kids.

My wife rolls her eyes at me when I come up with some new idea for an alien. One of my brothers thinks I have something loose in my head. My sister is amazed at my memories of our childhood. They aren’t always a blessing, though.

I remember the eyes of Lady, my first dog, just before she died. I remember a bitter, evil woman’s hatred of me because I was adopted. I remember the sting of getting swats in elementary school. I remember the smell of Mom’s cigarette-laced breath as she gave me mouth-to-mouth because of my asthma. I also remember the smell of her hospital room as she slipped away from this realm.

And Debbie Koffman? I remember getting her a necklace at the state fair. She loved it. For a week anyway. Then it broke, and she thought it was a sign that we weren’t supposed to be sweethearts anymore. I never got that kiss.

Think about this moment. This one right now, as you read these words. Look around you. As surely as you can see the things in front of your face, a writer can see the past. We can see the future. We can see into the mind of a killer, or the soul of a dog.

You live your life in this moment. Writers live theirs in every moment. Every single one. Past, present, and future, they are as vivid to us as the screen you are reading this on. Speaking of the future, I have a universe to build. I’ll see you there.

Footnote. Why not check out Shawn’s Sci fi blog at http://shawnjonesscifi.blogspot.co.uk/