Drifting: The Pillar (5)

Read part 4 here Drifting: Glass. (4)

I don’t know why I kept going. I was so close now. The sky was eclipsed by a new tidal wave after every strike of the drum. At the top of every swell I looked towards the source of the sound. Clouds. I only ever saw clouds and wind and waves.

My ship maintained through every wave, but with every shattering blow of the drum I lost some courage. The sky was dark and frightening. Clouds were encroaching everywhere; fastening to my clothes and clinging around the ship. Every time I rose above the swell of an enormous tidal wave, a bigger one was always behind it. I was a spec of dust that floated atop the granite of a colossus.

Every time I rose to the top of a wave I could only see fog and clouds. These waves brought me higher than any bird could fly.

The air was weak in my lungs. It made me gasp.

Closer and closer I came to the source of the sound. I was starting to think that it was a spirit. Some invisible force beneath the waves. . . . Once the fog cleared a bit, however, I finally saw it.

There was an island far off in the distance. It was as round as an eye, surrounded by sand and rocks and gravel. Trees grew inland with no order or reason. Some were tall and old and gaunt. Some were just beginning to take root; eager and strong. A pillar rose out of the island. From the very center of the eye. It was black as darkness itself and cast no shadow. It was as if the sun avoided it, for fear that the pillar would steal it’s light. It was taller than the height of the greatest tidal wave, and continued on well above the sky itself; reaching into the stars.

I knew immediately: This is where the hammer falls.

Far above, where the sky touches the earth, the top of the pillar could be seen. As I breached the top of the highest wave, I could see it. At the top of the pillar was a massive hammer. It floated with no handle. It was a massive bulk of stone; floating above the pillar. With every strike the earth shook, and a shock wave ripped through the air and the waves exploded again and again.

The pillar was being driven into the earth like a stake. It must have been a microscopic amount, thinner than a hair. The hammer was unrelenting nonetheless. It struck with excruciating tempo. And with every strike the earth gave way a bit more. Cracks had already formed as the pillar pushed deeper and deeper. Diamond and coal, gold and bedrock, all was the same to the pillar. It broke it. It melted it. The Pillar felt nothing. The pillar was harder.

Suddenly the fear hit me. The darkness enveloped me like a sudden fog. The pillar was all I saw. The hammer rose and fell, and with every thud it pierced my heart. I was standing. Now kneeling. Now on the floor of the boat. I thrashed and hid my face, yet the darkness still cradled me with it’s menacing grip. The pillar was stamped onto my eyelids. Every blink a new strike. Every pound of my heart was a pound of the hammer.

The boat turned with alacrity. We zoomed down the cliffs of a wave with such speed I nearly rose in the air. The rigging of the boat wrapped around me as if to brace me from the force of our escape. The air returned slowly to my lungs, and the darkness slowly receded as we sped away from the island.

I can see it when I close my eyes. The darkness. The hammer.

My pulse will forever remind me of the stake that pierced the heart of the earth.

We sailed on.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Drifting: Glass. (4)

Read part 3 here: Drifting: A Gift. (3)

The sea was a gentle rising valley. My ship was a slender invader, a feather, running faster than a gazelle. It never slowed. Even among the giant sweeping swells of the ocean. Even when the wind died to a whisper. The valley would swell to form mountains as far reaching as the sky, yet I did not fear the ocean. We simply sped across it, up and over, down and through. Never slowing. Home was calling, and I could feel it.

A few days had passed since I left the giant forest. It had pained me to leave, but I knew that it was not my place. I wondered if the Father Tree would think of me. In the eons he has existed I would be as insignificant as a blade of grass in this valley of water. Yet, I hoped he would remember me. I would remember him.

Upon the peak of the highest mountain, I saw nothing. Nothing but sea. My hopes often would rise and fall just as the waves of the sea. It was mid-day when I had reached the top of the oceans swell. Then I started my decent once again. The sun was hot against my back as I shot down the water ramp. The ship softly burrowed against the soft water. Cheerfully speeding down the massive ravine. I grasped the boat eagerly, and stared down with no fear as the mountain of water flew past.

With a yell, we reached the bottom of the great mountain. That was when the ocean flattened out again. No longer was I sailing through a valley, now it was a window. Wherever I looked down in the water I saw a world of ancient shifting darkness. The water was clear, clearer than air itself. Yet as far as I could see, I only saw one thing, the deep abyss.

We barely caused a ripple in the glass as we continued on. The sun was now cool. It settled behind my back. My vision began to blur as the sky darkened. I still had the hope that on the horizon something would appear. I could feel the sleep on me, and after hours of staring into nothing, I submitted to it.

Waking, staring, sleeping. I brought myself to the front of the boat every day to peer ahead, and search for something new; some sign of land. The boat continued to cut through the still water. Days on days nothing changed. No more sweeping vistas, no more giant mountains. Only glass. At first I was glad for it. The sky was clear and the wind was a brushing breeze. Over time, though, the glass cut into my mind. It seemed that the ocean had lost it’s fierceness. I no longer felt like a strong sailor; skating across the sea with careful respect. I now felt like a trespasser: A man who was not welcome to even see anger or ferocity. Only a mask of glass, with nothing but darkness below.

More days would pass. More and more glass. I would talk to the sea, with no response. I would sometimes throw pieces of wood from the boat, or leftover meals into it, to attempt to get some kind of response. Nothing.

I had finally reached despair. I lost my will to steer the ship, and we simply stopped in the water. The sun just continued on. Pressing forward cheerfully as always; above the glass, below the glass. And soon, everything was glass. I crept to the front of the ship, as I did every day. I peered off across the glass. My face was turning to glass; just like the sea.

Nothing, more nothing. Always nothing. Never changing. Glass. Glass. Glass. I peered down at the frozen water for hours. Glass. Days. Glass. My heart became a stone, and I sank to my bed day after day.

After nearly a month, I was still a slave to hope. I would crawl out of my bed every morning still. I was not looking for land anymore. I was just looking for the glass to change. My mind was broken. My heart was a rock, but the hope; the terrible hope; brought me back to the glass.

A microscopic ripple.

Did I imagine it? Was it there? Did my mind finally betray me? Was I hallucinating? My hope was callused. It did not want to start dripping again.

Another ripple. Barely visible. It was thinner than a slice of paper, but I saw it. Again and again.

The hope began to flow. I willed the sails to go forward full bore. On wards toward the ripple. It was getting stronger now. It was a pulse. The life of the ocean was returning.

The ripple was now turning to a rhythmic drum. The ocean’s valley’s were stronger than ever. I screamed with delight as we plunged down the rolling waves, only to rise again and again. They only continued to get stronger.

There was no storm, only the ripple. My delight soon turned to curiosity. The ripple was only strengthening, yet there wasn’t a cloud in sight and the wind was as light and pleasant as always. My curiosity continued to grow, until finally something new happened.

I heard the cause of the ripple. It wasn’t the ocean waking up. It wasn’t life returning to the glass. It was a quiet drum. A barking, groaning, violent yet distant drum. It was shaking the very earth. Once I first heard it, it only got stronger. I was sailing towards it fast. Before the day was over I heard nothing but the shaking booming drum. I could plug my ears and hum a loud tune, but every ripple brought a new beat of the drum with it. Louder and louder until it felt like God himself was striking the earth over and over again with a hammer. It shook my bones and thrashed my eardrums. All while the pulse of the sea grow to monstrous size.

Little did I know: I would not see God, but I would see the hammer.

Photo by Matthew Clark on Unsplash

Travel: Branson, MO.

Today i’m in Branson Missouri. We came down here to see Sampson: The Play. I’ve never been to Branson before, but i’d say it’s nice. There’s always too many tourists when a place is nice, though.

Branson is named after a the man who started the town in the late 1800’s. He opened a post office. That’s how you started towns back then I guess.

Later on some other guy bought a cave and started charging for entry. That’s also another thing you could do back then. Just put some rope around any boring thing and start charging for admission. If you put rope around it, people will come.

Now you know everything there is to know about Branson. Or at least, everything I know about this place.

I’ve been in Branson for two days. I started writing this blog yesterday (see the four really SOLID paragraphs above.) and now we’re heading home. Branson was awesome. We didn’t get too heavily invested in the history or the museums, but we did get invested in mini-golf and ice-cream. Branson does have several museums though. I’m sure they’re nice.

My trip to Branson got me thinking about the importance of travel. I think sometimes when we get so settled into our routine time starts to get away from us. We end up stagnating a bit and just doing the same old stuff. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my routine. It makes me feel accomplished, and like my days have purpose. But it’s important to break your routine every now and then, and the perfect way to do that is with travel.

New experiences are good for you.

When you go to a new place, and see new things, your brain wakes up. Going to a location you’re unfamiliar with makes you pay more attention to what’s going on around you. It allows you to live your life in a way that is different for you. Are you the type of person who loves theater and sees plays all the time? No? Maybe in Branson you’re that type of person. Are you the type of person that imagines yourself walking on the beach drinking pina colada’s? Maybe you need to go to the beach and find out.

A lot of what defines who you are in the moment is your atmosphere. Are you boring Joe who yells at everyone about how they never change the coffee filter in the office? Or are you awesome Joe who feels awesome because he’s not in the office, but instead he’s wrapped up like a burrito camping in the mountains. Joe might be a grump in the office sometimes, but he’s probably a cool dude. If you’re a grump, maybe you need a vacation. Or maybe you need a change in location all-together. Joe could also have anger issues. If that’s you, Joe, a great location for you to be in is anger management.

Your brain loves travel. You create long lasting memories way easier while travelling, because you’re constantly experiencing new things that you’re not used to. If you travel a lot, your brain is learning and remember new things. This makes you smarter,  and makes your brain work better! Does your brain not work good sometimes? Maybe you need a vacation.

Travelling is flipping fun. Go to Branson. They have funnel cakes.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

Drifting: The Forest (2)

(Read Part 1 Here. )

The stranger said nothing, but I could see he had much to say. He was a proud island. Smooth rolling hills gave way to fierce and rigid mountain ranges. The forest was mighty and ever present. The trees were green and smooth, with the smallest tree being taller than any building. Their branches extended far beyond their bodies, with flower buds sprouting everywhere, yet they were closed, as if they slept while the sun was shining.

From where I was standing, I could see where the widest and tallest tree stood. It was a Goliath, ever watching the island. From wherever I stood, I could look up and see him, gazing down at me; judging my every move; seeking to understand. I only dared to look up a few times. I felt insignificant. I was insignificant.

The densest and most wild part of the forest stemmed out from that one magnificent tree. He was the father of this brooding island. His children dominated his flanks, and their seed spread to the rest of the island. They all stood, proud like their father. Ever watching, but swaying in the wind, while the Father Tree never wavered. While they were rooted in the island, he was rooted far below. The island was his, it was grafted to him at the beginning of the age.

I was a ghost in a forgotten land. I hovered from the lifeboat to the sand, and from the sand to the forest. The sun was climbing already; I had not noticed. The trees were bathing in it’s light, and I bathed in the shade.

I had all but forgotten my dire needs in the shock of my present discovery, but now the thirst clawed at my throat again. I could not fathom that this threatening and strange place could be my savior and solitude. At once, though, my needs screamed all the louder, and I heard a faint sound: A stream.

At once I fell into the stream and opened my mouth to drink. I gulped it into my stomach till I could barely breath. Even then my body was tempted to forgo breath, and inhale the sweet cold water; just to taste more on my broken and bleeding lips. . . I stood. Alive.

The trees swayed. The wind no longer furiously shook their limbs, but still lightly caressed them. I walked deeper into the forest. The creaking trunks had made some space for each other, and for travelers to walk beneath their shade. Their roots ate the soil hungrily, and drove deep into the hardened ground. I had to climb over some and jump back to the dirt.

Deeper and deeper I went. My body fueled by nothing but an ever present desire to discover. To get to know this strange land, this forest of whispers. The Father Tree could be seen in the spaces between the fingers of the trees. He judged me.

There were fruits hanging from the vines of the ancient trees. Growing so far down from the branches that you did not need to climb. They were soft as plums, with a fuzzy skin. When I bit down I was surprised and overwhelmed by the lack of juice. It was sweet and creamy, like a custard. I grabbed two more and greedily devoured them.

I walked on. The silence within the trees assaulted my senses. Nothing but the slight brush of wind along the tree branches, and the soft tread of my feet against the soil. The birds were quiet today, or there were no birds at all. Dawn had come and gone and they did not sing a cheerful tune. No sound of the world waking up, for this world was always asleep.

No man had walked this land for a long time. My footsteps would remind the trees of a long forgotten age. I could not speak, I could not yell for someone. The silence had drowned out my voice.

I stopped to rest from walking, for I had been walking for a long time. I was now approaching the foot of the Father Tree. He was frowning down at me now; intimidating me with his massive presence. I could hear my heart-beat amidst the silence; screaming for something other than the sound of my own body, my own feet, and my own trembling uncertainty.

I started my long trek around the Father Tree. As I stood near him, I could feel his ever deepening roots searching the lowest parts of the world. The tree was taller than the sky itself. Perhaps he wanted to meet the stars.

As the sky darkened, I was still not passed the tree. I wondered if anything lay beyond it, or if this was the end of the earth, and the Father Tree blocked the way to heaven itself. My wondering was false, though, as finally when night was deepening, and the stars were again greeting me; the father tree was at my back.

I could hardly see the stars above me, as they were blocked by thousands of gently rocking branches. Yet, as darkness had completely shrouded me, and I was fumbling in the dark, the blossoms on every tree opened in a sudden flourish. Bright green light erupted from every petal. They had become shards of glass, reflecting the sun they had absorbed during the day.

As my eyes adjusted, I gazed back at the Father Tree. His blossoms were brightest of all. His proud and powerful demeanor gave way to a bright and cheerful warmth. They looked up to the stars, and they were children of the stars.

I continued, the blossoms lighting my path. I don’t know what I sought, but my spirit led me on. Survival was no longer my concern; curiosity was in my heart. . . I followed the trees, and they led me to a small clearing, and when I saw where they led me, I gasped in surprise. There was a house.

Small and bright it stood. It was round as a trunk of a tree, with bright orange petals shining all around it. This house was not built by a man, but grown out of the ground. It was as much a tree as the trees around me, and it was alive just as they were. There was no door, but a thick sheet of vines covered the entry way. I parted them and stepped inside. I was not greeted by anyone. There was no fire, yet the house was warm and welcoming. The same orange petals bloomed along the top and sides of the inside of the tree-house. I could see a table and chairs, with a cot in the corner. The same creamy fruit was growing in patches near the walls. Casks of water were stacked near the food. They were of the same craft as the house around me; they were grown straight out of the ground. They were sealed completely, with no cork. I would have to prick them open with a knife or a rock, which I was loath to do, as they seemed just as alive as everything else around me.

I wondered if I was invading some hermits home, the lord of this wild and magical forest. Yet I did not think so. This house did not belong to anyone. It was a gift to lost souls. A place to rest, and carry on.

I thanked The Father Tree, and drifted to a peaceful sleep.

Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash

Drifting: My Friends (1)

I awoke with the sea breathing heavily on me. “Wake up” it said. I don’t know why. The stars were still brightly weighing the sky, scattered like dust. I lay on my back. All the better to view the sky rotating around me. My arms hung limply at my sides, their strength sapped from rowing. They no longer worked for me, they decided the work was meaningless. I told them “row to safety” but in the vast ocean, safety doesn’t exist. So instead of work, they rest. They accepted their fate, and so have I. I sobbed weakly. My tears would mingle with the salt of the ocean. I could taste them on my lips.

The water lapped curiously around the boat. I ignored it. I was surrounded by the shell of the lifeboat. My only window into the world was directly in front of me, the sky. As small as I felt, i only had to close my eyes and the sky would be gone. Powerless as I was, I could ignore the sky, just as I ignored the waves.

While the hunger had left me, the thirst had pressed on. I only hoped the thirst would leave me as well. It was a selfish comforter. It nagged at my stomach and dried my mouth. The furious thirst only wanted to be quenched, yet I could not obliged it, so it punished me. Powerless, I drift, and I want.

I could hear myself murmuring. Murmuring to my friend the sky, to my grudging companion the sea, to the fear gripping my soul. I asked for forgiveness, I whispered for help, my reply was the wind, and the stars melting into the horizon. I told them farewell, I hoped they’d return.

Steeped in bitterness I awaited the rising sun. His bright gladness only made me suffer more. The heat of the day blistered my lips. I could not stare up any longer, I had to face the sea, or face down and cower before my rivals.

The sun is honest, it does not play favorites. The sun will shine no matter what, and it does not listen to your prayers for shade or respite. It’s responsibilities are larger than your whining. It needs to grow, to nurture the land, to give life to all before it has to travel to other lands, to spread its warmth again. The sun doesn’t mind if you seek shelter, but it cannot hide itself from you. The sea is a different matter.

The sea is fickle. It plays on your desires, it hears your prayers. It sweeps you up in its arms, and makes you its friend, only to dash you against the rocks. It will swallow you whole after gently rocking you to sleep. One day it will rush you to safety, the next it will bar you from returning home, and laugh as it glides you to uncertain oceans. . .  Right now in the calm, smooth ocean, the sea and I were friends. I would gently slide my hands into the water, and feel the cool liquid against my sun-baked skin. Water would continue to brush the side of my boat warmly. Threatening to jump right in and sink me, but today it showed restraint; even playfulness.

I strained my eyes to see in the distance, which I did often during the days. Always to be disappointed with the same: Ocean, as far as I could see in every direction. My strength to hope dwindled every day; yet not matter what, the light where the sky and the ocean touched always gave me the slightest brimming hope.

My heat stricken body could take no more, I drifted into a broken and exhausted sleep. Only to be awoken again in the night, by my rival, the sea, and my friend the sky, greeting me, “Goodnight” it said.

“Goodnight” I said, and after four days and four nights of drifting, I thought I would sleep a bit longer this time, perhaps for all eternity.

The sea had different plans. I awoke again, after a long time, to a sound I had not heard in a long, long time: The breaking of waves against the sand.

“Hello” I said to the stranger.