by Michael S McCown
by Michael S McCown
Another year, another birthday. I’m not a “birthday” kinda guy. I don’t like the attention and would prefer that it passed quietly and unnoticed. This year I was feeling extra-curmudgeonly and spent the day avoiding most everyone, which is almost impossible, because I have the most wonderful family in the world and they know right where to find me. I usually get through the day by reflecting on the past and thinking of what I can do to improve things going forward.
Despite my shortfalls, I know that I’m truly loved by my family. I spent the afternoon examining the details of our past and how amazing it has been. I thought about my little “quirks” as I poured through a lifetime of saved pictures. My life is wonderful because my family is wonderful. Our biggest blessing? A gloriously twisted sense of humor and the ability to laugh at ourselves. When we get together, decorum, manners and sanity, all get left at the door.
After looking through the pictures, I’m left with one thought; Who AM I and what the hell have I done to the kids…🤔
Me spending some quiet time with my favorite Slippers
…and then there was that one Halloween
And that awesome sale on cold weather gear
Apparently, I’m told I know way too much about chickens…
at least I’m setting a good example for the Grandkids…
We like to pick a theme for Thanksgiving, maybe Pilgrims or …
Last Thanksgiving we all made shirts with Fruit loop patches…
and oddly, needles terrify me, seriously
I also cry like a little girl at weddings, ok, my daughter’s weddings…
My Grandmother, Sister and Nephew came over for a visit. A Christmas card in the making…
and then there was Austria. I just couldn’t get the Sound of Music out of my head
I am the luckiest guy in the world to be a part of this glorious troupe. Something strange happens to normal people when they cross our threshold. They smile and then head for the kitchen.
The reflection in the store window followed my every movement. The Edges blurred, the detail faint yet, familiar. I paused and peered deeply into the glass; It was my Father, it was my Sons.
With each step, the gallon of water in his hand seemed to grow heavier. In the other, he had a large plastic bag. It was heavy and cutting into his palm, but it was worth it; the bag was filled with cans of food, given to him by a generous family at a gas station a few miles back. Like a Christmas present, he didn’t want to open it until he found a place to relax, where he could savor this special moment. This unopened bag gave him something to look forward to, which was a rare feeling these days.
Ahead, dark clouds were gathering and on the radio at the gas station, he had heard there was a chance of rain. Experience had taught him that with the rain, cold weather would soon follow and that he needed to find an overpass quickly. He liked overpasses as there was usually a flat spot near the top where he could be dry, warm and stay hidden from the prying eyes of others. Unfortunately, there were none in sight and as the radio predicted, it was beginning to rain.
Between his old heavy backpack, the gallon of water and the plastic bag, each step along the litter covered highway was difficult and growing harder as the mud was beginning to cover his worn shoes and seep inside, filling the gaps between his toes, which were making a squishing sound with each step.
Once, while walking, he had found a five dollar bill and to this day, he had trouble keeping his eyes looking ahead as he was afraid that he might step over a twenty or something. This had become an obsession for him and he found that occasionally he would become so focused that he would wander onto the highway, looking up at the last second as a car came speeding by.
At night, he dreamed of finding a lost wallet full of cash. He pictured himself in a hotel room, soaking in a warm bathtub full of white suds with bubbles floating in the air. Then he would lay on the bed wrapped in the soft blankets, warm and safe, where he would drift off to sleep; no longer afraid of being harmed by others who may discover his hiding place and take from him his precious food and the last of his possessions. He could finally breathe and be at peace, if only just for a night.
It was starting to rain harder now and he wished for some kind of shelter, anything. He was looking forward to eating soon, as through the plastic, he could see a can with a picture of pasta covered in a delicious red sauce. One of his favorites, heated or not. But not yet, he had to keep going.
He always walked against traffic, afraid of being hit from behind by a distracted driver, who was digging around in the floorboard for a misplaced diamond ring or something. Occasionally, he would look into the drivers eyes as they approached. They all had somewhere to be; someone waiting for them. He would smile and occasionally wave, but most would just look away, pretending not to see him.
The rain was running down his neck, giving him chills as it spread across his back. Lightning was filling the skies, beautiful but deadly as he was the tallest object in sight. He outstretched his arm, daring the storm to find him, secretly praying that it would.
To his dismay, it was now the middle of the night and he had still found no shelter. The rain had passed and as expected, the temperature was falling. He was in the middle of nowhere. He finally accepted that it was just going to be a long, cold night and the pasta would have to wait for the sunrise.
It was too dark to look for money now and he was able to hold his head up as he walked. He liked the break. Staring at the ground constantly made his neck ache. With an old blanket over his shoulder and a faster pace, he found he was able to keep somewhat warm and decided to push on, searching for the lights of the next town. He hoped that maybe things would be better there, that maybe something good would happen. Maybe.
The World: Hey Michael, Karma called looking for you.
Me: Crap! What did she want?
The World: I don’t know, but she was really pissed!
Me: What did you tell her?
The World: I told her right where to find you.
Me: Why would you do that? You’re not still mad about the…
The World: Uh huh, I told you I would get…
Me: Seriously?, Gawd…
Unbound, the Muse joyfully dances and frolics in the sleeping mind of the dreamer, casting aside all thoughts of fear and doubt, she puts forth the glorious possibilities of human existence, painting their dreams with a colorful palette of emotion and light.
Emerging at twilight, she adores the night’s skies as the waxing moon releases her from earthly bonds and with chains cast aside, she is free to explore, to create, to wander the resting minds of all she encounters.
While the Artist paints, the dreamer dreams, who, while lost in the warmth of her inspiration and feeling of absolute joy, still catches a glimpse of life’s infinite potential in each delicate stroke of the master’s brush.
Her canvas complete, she tries in vain to gently awaken from slumber all who desire to remember her canvas before the darkness yields to the chaos of the morning’s light.
For the Muse knows that all dreams do flee as the rising Sun, ever so jealous, chases them away from the depths of the dreamer; Their intimate encounter lost to the stars, forever.
Again, she whispers to the dreamer, pleading that he arise as she is anxious to peer deep into his eyes, hoping he remembers with lasting joy, all that She has shared.
Sadly, the dreamer resists, wanting only to delay the morning’s looming chaos, seeking refuge beneath the warmth and comfort of the sheets, which protect the dreamer from reality as a warrior’s shield protects the warrior from harm. Her memory fades, the painting is lost; all that remains, hidden deep within the cluttered human mind, now lost to consciousness.
The waning Moon watches the folly unfold and like a shepherd tending his flock, summons home the Muse as the Moon must now yield the night’s slumber to the rising sun. The Muse now weary, lays down her palette, envious of all who dream; a desired gift denied, as a Muse can have no Muse. The Moon, in love, watches her from afar and with gentle voice begs she seek solace and allow her weary soul the respite so earned.
As she closes her eyes, wrapped is a blanket of stars, the Moon whispers in her ear, “O’ sweet Muse, joyous peace has eluded your soul for far too long.” The waning Moon smiles as she finally sleeps, and with the tenderest of love, sends a Muse to joyfully dance and frolic within her dreams.
“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.
“A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
“Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on
“Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”