1703 AD

I climbed the hill one final time to talk to him.

Upon reaching the summit, I was greeted by a warm and now familiar sight I had come to enjoy daily over the past two years. For the briefest moment I wondered how much I will miss this place; then I let it go. The cobble-lined walkway towards the temple, found atop The Ascent of a Thousand Steps and leading up to the proving grounds and the main halls beyond, was opened in the middle by a sturdy and determined cherry blossom tree featured in perpetual bloom—a truly spectacular sight to behold. The surrounding earth was carpeted in thick, attentively manicured grass, and the butterflies still preferred this particular spot over any other in the entirety of the vast temple gardens to frolic about.

Senpai Yasahiro was raking the fallen blossoms again into neat little piles on the lawn. I always thought he approached the task of yard work with more delicacy than required, but he always seemed so content in his decision that I never felt the need to question him about it.

He greeted my smiling approach without breaking from his flowers.

“We remain foolish, brother. Always so eager to exact our will–“

He drew the rake across the lawn, pulling a few flowers along; others would slip between the prongs and be left behind.

“–that we never appreciate what can be all by itself.”

He gestured with his down-turned head to the remainder of unraked flowers off at the rear of the cherry blossom before turning back to me and capturing my gaze. His eyes were the softest sky blue.

“Just as you already know the answers you think you seek, you come not seeking truth.”

He returns to the fallen flora.

“My final teaching to you is this:  Even as I willingly rake these flowers, it is done with the understanding that tomorrow the wind will blow again.”

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Questions

Are you pleased with your life? Are you happy with it? Do you wake up in the morning excited? Do you crash into bed at night, exhausted for the right reasons? Have you found love? Have you fought to keep that love? Do you challenge your body? Your mind? Your perceptions? Do you act out of fear or love? Have you read a truly great book yet? Have you truly let go of the past? Have you told your parents you love them today? Have you told yourself you love you today? What’s your favourite word? Do you believe you have a purpose? Do you believe you’ll ever see it through? Are you afraid of dying? Do you ever wonder who else is? Is passion a part of your day? Ever think that being an adult is stupid and you should totally just be a kid again? Ever act like a kid when no one is around? Ever do more than just merely survive?

Where Did My Greatness Go?

I used to be great… I can still remember.sword forging

I remember the fire, the fuel and the willingness to scribe down the epics. I remember the heat that tempered, the hate that soothed and the “I NEED TO GET THIS OFF MY CHEST BEFORE I KILL SOMEONE!”(s).

Where did my greatness go? It and I, cut seemingly from the same cloth, used to dwell in this same space, both occupying this very moment in time. Did I lose it? My gusto? My mind? Did I ever have it in the first place? I think I can still remember…

When I was younger I enjoyed art in its entirety. My inability to focus on one thing for extended periods, coupled with my switch-like ability to become bored with a mental or emotional thread in an instant, meant I needed many outlets with which to express and assess myself. Acrylic painting, spray painting, poetry, origami, daydreaming, that time I ruined an entire classroom’s desks with nothing more than a ballpoint pen and flashing hot rage – the world was my outlet. “Wayne’s World” was a colourful place. Demented, perhaps, but colourful.

And now I feel as though I am just blue. Not “blue” as in “to feel sad” – blue like the colour of the bottomless ocean I drown in right before I wake up out of breath, overexerted by the weight of the nothingness I am. Blue like a palette with only one colour: ocean-fucking-blue.

I fear for my art and my sanity. It feels as though a lifetime of introspection and (occasionally) healthy dealings with my demons has left me with no more stories to tell. I feel like that up-and-coming rapper who drives an Escalade at the shoot, but drives home in a Hyundai.

At least the music is good.

Erindi in Imagery

erindi

Returning to nature is a grounding experience. Vital. And every so often it’s necessary for humans to feel the dirt beneath their feet again, to breathe the clean air, and to stand in awe of things truly awe-inspiring.

I went to Erindi this past long weekend. This is my story.

Prologue: The road to nowhere

“A man grows most tired while standing still” – Chinese proverb

the road to nowhere

Chapter 1: Hit the road

“We meet no ordinary people in our lives.” – C.S. Lewis

on the road again

Chapter 2: Rock on!

“And I can’t get it on without you. No way!” – The Rockets

the rockets at karibib

the rockets in nam

Chapter 3: The scenic route

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

the scenic route

Chapter 4: Welcome to Erindi

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.” – Lewis Carroll

Erindi

Intermission: Life-driven

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

driven

Chapter 5: Carnivores

“This is a ruthless world and one must be ruthless to cope with it.” – Charlie Chaplin

carnivores

Chapter 6: Herbivores

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Gandhi

herbivores

Chapter 7: The Lone Ranger

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

the lone ranger

Chapter 8: Sunfall and Sunfly

“My sun sets to rise again.” – Robert Browning

sunfall and sunfly

Chapter 9: I saw the signs

“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein

i saw the signs

Chapter 10: When giants walk

“What we do now echoes in eternity” – Marcus Aurelius

giants walk

Epilogue: It was all a blur

“The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” – Henri Bergson

blurry hill blurrylope

The End.

Write, but don’t read

I’m a professional writer. That is to say I get paid by companies and clients to apply my personal insights and persuasive expertise in written form to the end of sales. Just as an athlete applies their quadriceps, explosive reaction times or hard-as-a-rock head to the end of goals/points/concussed enemies and sponsorship ROIs, I am expected to be good at what I do. And great at what I do if I ever wish to make a real name for myself. I am Capitalism’s deep and stirring voice reminding you to “Just do it.”

That aside, it has happened before where, upon learning what I actually do for a living (note: copywriting has zilch to do with law*), I have been asked what literature I choose to indulge in. This is usually posed by fiction readers whom I can only assume see me as some kind of credible authority on what makes great writing. Maybe they hope I read the same books they do. Perhaps they want a new genre or author to get wrapped up in under a blanket with a cup of cocoa on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Maybe they’re just humouring me because I tell the occasionally witty joke and offer my hoodie to dames when it gets cold out**.

Whatever their reasons, I usually get the same reaction when I do tell them.

Her: *smiling* So you’re a writer? What books do you enjoy reading?

Me: Yeah, I don’t really read.

*face loses expression*

Her: At all?

Me: No, not really.

Her: But you’re a writer…

And she has a point. According to my LinkedIn profile, blog title and box of business cards I never hand out, I am “a writer”.

Me: I read the papers occasionally, but then I get depressed and do spec domestic violence campaigns instead.

She’s unsure of how to respond. Her boyfriend grabs her by the arm and they leave. I’ve seen the type before.

This week has been different, though. My girlfriend bought me a copy of “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss (or Tim to his friends) and I haven’t been able to put the damn thing down. It’s strange, but in a good way. And it got me thinking: The last book I truly enjoyed this much was Freakonomics. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on here before, but if you haven’t read it (and the follow-up sensation SuperFreakonomics), do yourself a favour and order a copy. Today. Available now in paperback on Amazon for the low low price of $12. “Just do it.”

Anyway, the conclusion I have arrived at is this: I read what I find deeply interesting, and it’s a pity that it doesn’t happen all that often. At this junction, mind you, my life coach would reprimand me for justifying why I don’t read as much as I should, but on this point I stand firm***. If I’m going to invest twenty hours in reading a book, I want it to be an absolute pleasure whenever I pick it up. Anything less and I ask you, “What’s the point?”

I look at bookworms with a sense of awe and (on some level) jealousy. I wish I could pick up any book, or go to a book swap and walk away with five novels I know will be coursed cover-to-cover by next week, but I can’t. It’s too painful. I’m not strong enough.

Maybe I’d be a better writer if I did read more. Maybe I’d feel more fulfilled. I don’t know. All I know is this: 1) I read what I love to read and don’t find nearly enough books to satisfy my particular taste, and 2) I highly recommend The 4-Hour Work Week to anyone who has not read it yet.

###

*E&OE. Ts and Cs apply.

** I’m old school like that.

*** That’s what SHE said, amirite?