Br Still and Listen.
Br Still and Listen.
There is a variety of people gathered, sitting around a somewhat long, maybe medium-sized wooden table. The room is your average room; one with pasty white walls and a few paintings hanging, well spaced seemingly at random. Everyone sitting around the table is nicely dressed. Some of the men in suits, some in just well ironed slacks and a nicely patterned tie. All of them have very fancy hair styles and only two are wearing glasses, one rather business like, the other with very wide frames that are striped with brown and black. Are you bored yet?
The women are all very good looking, depending on your definition of good or not and if you are in to making that sort of distinction. The point is, all of the women are wearing their cute business-like skirts and their best jewelry. Because that is what makes a woman good looking. Just kidding, they are all attractive in their very own unique way; a way that is making me think how this story would be better told from a woman’s point of view, but you are stuck with me as your narrator. A man.
Don is the name of one of the men. He is in his mid to late twenties and is the one with the large framed glasses. Wait, no. He is the one sitting next to the guy with the long framed glasses. But that guy is not important for now. For now, it is Don who is of the importance. Don is listening to the guy at the end of the table, the only one standing. At least that is what everyone else thinks, and anyone who would be discretely watching who has nothing to do with narrating this story. I know better, because I am your narrator and I have the specially unfortunate privilege of peering into Don’s head, which is currently thinking about how badly he needs to fart. And I know what you’re thinking, reader. “Awh, this is going to just be a stupid story about farts. That’s why he (the narrator, aka me) made it such a big deal about him being of the male sex.” Well, reader, I am happy to inform you that this story is not at all about farts, though it contains one small, fart-based instance.
Don sits, paying attention with only his face to the bald, standing boss man, but in his mind, Don is thinking about his stomach and how it is pushing some sort of natural methane based gassy substance through his bowls and to the gates of his butt crack. It is beginning to send a physical pain to Don’s stomach, so he leans forward, as if he is suddenly experiencing a sharp spike in interest to what his boss is saying. He has absolutely no idea what his boss is saying, and his change in posture only worsens the gassy pain.
A loud, rubbery noise begins to whisper through the room. No one acknowledges it, but most certainly everyone hears it. The noise, however, then grows and is no longer rubbery and no longer a whisper. It is now a shout resounding that of a yelling goat, and everyone sitting around the table, even the guy with wide brimmed glasses is now looking directly at Don, who suddenly feels a thick liquid leak into his underwear. He can feel the red in his face and looks around the table at everyone, stopping to make eye contact with his boss. Completely and utterly ashamed.
“May I please be excused,” Don growls politely, possibly the only time in history someone has successfully achieved such a polite growl.
BUT, Don never actually farted. That part was all a part of his own imagination. He was able to contain his need to fart and then, realizing the absurdity of the situation his mind has just taken him, he lets slip a slight grin that no one seems to notice except for Shayla, who is sitting directly across the table from Don.
Shayla quickly looks back to the head of the table, frustrated that, yet again, she has accidentally made eye contact with Don, who she only knows to refer to as Don because of his name tag that says, “HELLO, MY NAME IS don.” It’s not like she has been staring at Don this entire time, which she is sure he thinks by now, it’s just a matter of sitting directly across from Don. He could be anyone and this same thing would probably happen, thanks to the simple matter of chance. She is not looking into Don’s eyes, she is repeatedly looking ahead of her at nothing in particular only to eventually realize that her eyes are aimed in the direction of Don’s own eyes. And now he’s going to want to come up and talk to Shayla after this meeting, which she has already missed the point of and has given up attempting to piece together.
She looks over at Don and his smirk is no longer there. He is looking ahead at the boss, who she can’t remember the name of. Don is now giving the occasional nod. But, she knows that the nodding is only an act. She looks at him, quickly examining him, his style, his face, his hair and realizes that if she were the kind of girl to intentionally flirt during a business meeting, she would find Don a very welcoming target. And so she imitates Don for the rest of the meeting, occasionally fake head nodding as if to really be getting some good information out of the rest of the meeting. Once, it finally ends, which she knows only due to her boss’ back now being turned and various people scooting their chairs back to stand up, she makes it a point to intentionally make some clearly-not-an-accident eye contact with Don, who is now fully standing up and stretching his hands above his head as if just waking up from a nap. Shayla finds this act very cute. He puts his hands back down and looks around the room, as if wondering what to do next. Boom. He makes eye contact with Shayla and she holds it, making sure not to be the first to look away, or even say something.
“Exciting meeting, huh,” Don says with a sudden sense of confidence. She knows that she and her not-so-subtle-but-still-slightly-subtle eye contact is the source of said confidence.
“I learned absolutely nothing,” she says softly and smiles. “It was about world poverty, right?” she jokes.
“If by poverty you mean boredom, then yes,” he says. He’s not terribly witty, she thinks, but she can tell he has a good heart. It’s his mannerisms and the tone of his voice. His joke was still enough to get a soft chuckle out of her, and the way he holds the door open for her as they continue their conversation to-go means that he is considerate. She’s been with plenty inconsiderate men. A change is needed.
They walk down the street and he eventually walks her all the way home.
“Well, this is me,” she says and motions up the steps.
“Oh, right,” he says caught off guard, but then he quickly regathers his composure. “I didn’t even realize I was walking you home,” he jokes. “I had no intentions to walk over to this neighborhood, but I’m sure glad I did. It was really great talking to you.”
She smiles, more brightly than she has since she was a little girl blowing dandelions.
BUT none of this actually happened outside of Shayla’s own head. Don has remained motionless and has hardly even noticed the numerous accidental eye contacts between him and Shayla. She lets out a quiet sigh and turns back to the bald, standing boss at the head of the table.
The bald, standing boss is talking about the corporation that Shayla and Don have just recently been hired on to. The company is not important, but it’s a large corporation so feel free to boo out loud. Go ahead, it’ll start an interesting, not at all hostile conversation with your neighbor. Are you on a subway? A bus? A park bench? A library? Any of those should be a great place for such a conversation.
The bald, standing boss finishes his talk, knowing that only two, maybe three but probably more along the lines of two and a half people listened to any of the words that have been coming out of his mouth for the last half hour. In fact, he didn’t even get to the conclusion that he had written out before hand, because it was completely unnecessary. He probably could have just turned around and walked out of the room mid sentence and no one would have known any difference. This is completely true and did not just happen in his head (in the contents of the story anyway. So it is just as true as his existence as a fictional character in a fictional story. That clear things up? You’re welcome.) The bald, now walking boss man makes his way to his office where he sits down and stares at the picture of his wife and two little girls on the shelf beside him. They depend on the success of this branch. In many ways, they depend on the success of the meeting he just had, which he knows was a complete failure. He leans back in his chair and thinks about the bottle of scotch he has hidden in the trunk of his car.
Let me just interrupt this story here. I didn’t want this to be a politically charged story about corporate America, but it’s really turning out that way thanks to the damn unnamed bald, now sitting, boss. I would really rather not write a depressing story. Not this time. So let us just either end the story here and save you, the reader, the time it will take to get to the predictable tragic ending, or we can interrupt the story entirely and I will narrate a hypothetical situation in which a fictional character, much different from Don, Shayla, wide brimmed glasses guy, and bald, standing boss, has a strange run in with an actual cyclops, only the cyclops turns out only to be a very tall man who lost his eye at a young age when he fell on a rusty nail.
“Woah,” Jerry thinks as he rounds the corner of the nature trail located in the heart of Seattle, Washington. There is a tall man walking towards him who is wearing a brown shirt that is slightly frayed at the shoulders. The man, as he grows closer is not a man at all, but rather a cyclops.
“Hello,” the cyclops says in a deep, friendly growl – okay, that’s enough paradoxical growls for one narrator. And no one, I’m sure wants to read this story, so I will just end it here. Good night.
I attempted to make a video during my four day voyage…yes voyage, in the Wind River Range.
Forgive my mumble mouth and the length and also the boredom.
A madman is one who believes himself to be perfectly normal, according to the philosophy of G.K. Chesterton. I have recognized that I am not normal and in the past, this made me feel as if it was me that is mad. But Chesterton disagrees.
A Man Without a Human Head is a journey where I begin to open up my imagination. It is my recognition that we, as a culture are relying far too much on our logic and not near enough on our imagination. We see ourselves as normal, but really we are strange, we are mad, and frankly, we are fucked up. People, are replacing their human heads all around.
“A man who thinks himself as a chicken,” Chesterton wrote in his book Orthodoxy, “is to himself as ordinary as a chicken. A man who thinks he is a bit of glass is to himself as dull as a bit of glass. It is the homogeneity of his mind which makes him dull, and which makes him mad.”
I am not in any way excluded from this. Though I have come to realize the absurdity of it all, as an artist I believe it is my job to experience this all myself. I cannot understand people unless I get inside people’s minds and I am not at all doing it for my own benefit, but for yours and for God’s. This is not a record made for money, for notoriety, or anything of the sort. This is a sacrifice.
Therefore, I too must think myself as a chicken (and often I do unintentionally), as a man without a human head in order to understand and communicate this. A small circle is as infinite as a large circle, it just has the appearance as smaller. So, no matter how large you think your circle is, know that it is as infinite as any other circle, size aside.
A Man Without a Human Head is my attempt to expose all of this, and the absurdity of how we are all living. We must open up our imaginations and allow the fairy tales to once again forgive our logic, and to embrace that which simply does not make sense, rather than strain to make it make some sense.
“And if great reasoners are often maniacal, it is equally true that maniacs are commonly great reasoners.”
“If the chain of causation can be broken for a madman, it can be broken for a man.”
– G.K. Chesterton
There’s a feeling inside all of us that we can only grasp momentarily. It’s like a deep icy hot burn in the darkest crevice of our hearts. There was a man once who said he lived in that crevice and that it was the brightest place on the face of the earth. But so bright that it didn’t blind. Sight was based solely on color contrast, he said. Not not on contrast of light and dark. He was a strange man who had very poor eye sight, but refused the use of glasses.
“It’s unnatural,” he said. I asked him if he was able to record much of his experience in the crevice.
“Unfortunately no,” he said. “That would be pointless. Nothing would make any sense to anyone else. I’m not sure if words, pictures, or music could do it justice. It was beyond all of that.”
I grew uncomfortable at this point. It was like his eyes began to turn into his head, as if he was beginning to crawl back into his crevice. I took a drink of water, for I could feel the radiant growth of his passion. Was it the feeling of love? of Ecstasy? of meaning? Maybe it was all of these and more. I suddenly felt as if we were standing on a desolate mountain, growing with the most striking and colorful vegetation I’ve ever seen.
“What is happening?” I asked and suddenly, it was all gone. We were back amidst the busy chatter of the downtown coffee shop.
“We were almost there,” he said. I asked him why we left so soon, but he didn’t answer fully.
“You can’t analyze this,” he said. I had so many questions to ask him, but I couldn’t keep them straight, so we sat there. I was looking down at the table, and him with his eyes clothes, a blissful smile overtaking his face.
“I would like to write a book about his,” I said.
“Don’t,” he said, not all at interrupted from his apparent state of bliss. “It’s not about words. All a book will do is confine.” And then, as if that’s what he had been wanting to tell me all along and there was nothing left for conversation, he got up and gently touched my shoulder as he walked away.
Days passed, I continued to work a busy life delivering packages to people’s doors, but that state of wonder never left me. I needed more, but confused and overwhelmed, I tried to avoid further seeking. I continued to work, and when I wasn’t working, I kept busy. Why is it that the most natural feeling of meaning is so intimidating, that it takes such courage to seek?
“You’re being ridiculous,” my friend Conner told me. “I think I know what feeling you’re talking about. It’s just a matter of perception. I could feel it right now if I wanted to, but it’s highly impractical.”
“I don’t think you understand,” I told him. “It’s not something you can just call up. It’s like a tornado, or an earthquake. It just happens sometimes, whether you want it to, or expect it to or not.”
Soon, my experience with the man who lived in the crevice faded from my consciousness, like a childhood memory. When it did occasionally pop up in my mind without warning, it seemed so distant that I viewed it like a dream. The reality of it became lost and I continued on with my life, delivering packages to people doors, going to the bars, dating girls – some successfully, some anything but. Life continued and it was good. I was happy and content. There were few problems and the ones that came along did not seem very significant.
Then, years after my run in with the man, I felt something deep in my heart. It was so foreign by this point that it gave me the chills. I was at a concert, one of my favorite bands, and I became overwhelmed with something resembling an intense passion or maybe love. It confused me as I had to casually make my way to the bathroom stall, where I broke down and wept. There was something that was telling me that my life was too easy, that happiness was not in ease. Happiness was in struggle and difficulty, and triumph.
“Hey,” a voice sounded beside me as I made my way back to the crowd. “I know you from somewhere, don’t I?” I immediately recognized him as the man I talked to years ago. He looked aged from the last I saw him, his eyes sunken further into his face, his beard less tame.
“You’re him,” was all I could say.
“I’m a him,” he said with a gentle smirk.
“You’re the guy who lived in the crevice.”
“That’s right,” he said, his face lighting up with epiphany. “I knew I recognized you. We talked in that coffee shop a while ago. How have you been?” he asked.
“I’ve been fine,” I said, trying, but not quite hard enough to hide my recent realization of uncertainty.
“Hmmm,” he said and seemed to be straining himself with deep thought.
“How have you been?” I said.
“Fine,” he replied. “You seem to be struggling with something.”
“No,” I said. “What makes you think that?”
“I can sense it.”
“I don’t know what to say,” I said in denial.
“Have you tried it again?” he asked.
“Tried what?” I answered, hoping he wouldn’t ask about the crevice.
“You know, the crevice.”
“Oh,” I said, disappointed. “No. You?”
“No,” he said, surprising me.
“Really? I thought you were like, an expert or something.”
“There’s no such thing as an expert. I’m beginning to think it was chance that it occurred at all for me. It’s hard to find meaning now, you know?”
We stood there as the band played in the seemingly vast distance. I wasn’t sure what to say, or how to react.
“I was hoping you had figured it out after we met,” he said. “When I saw you – I thought it might have been you – I was hoping you’d figured it out.” I stood, too confused by guilt to say anything.
“I guess that proves that it was chance,” he said, staring into nowhere.
“Do you want to get a beer?” I asked, not sure what else to say. “After the show, of course.”
“No,” he replied, still staring into nowhere. “I can’t. I have plans. I have to go.” He walked away, now resembling a lost mental patient. He stormed out through the glass door and I never saw him again.
I wondered for weeks how he could seem like such two different people after our second encounter. The only thing that was consistent, and even that was a bit of a stretch, was his appearance. He was so sure and confident before, so filled with passion that it bled into me, and then, only years later, he was just the opposite. His uncertainty bled into me, equally as contagious. I felt lost, confused. Suddenly, my life seemed meaningless, everything seemed mundane and unimportant. The thought crossed my mind occasionally to take out a loan and start my own business, a used book store that I would later add a coffee shop to. But for some reason, I never found the courage to do it. I never even told anyone, not even my wife, when I married a year later.
At first, I thought she was the answer to all these uncertainties. My life, for the first year or two of our marriage, seemed to have meaning again. I experienced glimpses into that crevice in my heart, but that soon faded. We got divorced before having any kids. And I was back to where I was before, only more lonely than ever before.
Now, I sit in a bookstore/coffee shop every day and read books, everything from self-help, to poetry. I feel at home in this place, but more lost than ever. At least I feel something, I tell myself. At least I have some place to go that strikes something inside me, no matter how conflicting and unidentifiable it may seem. I sit here, waiting for someone like the man who lived in the crevice to converse with. But waiting only turns into more waiting and that, I fear, will turn into despair. I will die alone, I’m afraid, longing to experience that mountain peak that seemed so real inside my heart. But it’s not real. It never was real. Like my friend Conner said, it was nothing special, I just dramatized it. I shouldn’t do that. I should focus on something else.
My album has been released. If you’re interested, you can listen to it at the link below and download it too. Or if you see me sometime, I can sell you a physical copy that includes a short story and the color brown. Thank you for your love and support, I hope I can return it in some way.
Here is what will be track three on A Man Without a Human Head.
The rest will be available on July 13th, TBA.
Twenty-three days until the release of A Man Without a Human Head. Here’s a bit of a preview…