I slip quietly into a smaller bar down the street and take a seat at the elbow of the bar to order a whiskey on ice.
And I stare at myself in the mirror that’s situated just above the top shelf across from me.
The strangeness of mirrors. There is an entire universe just beyond the glass. There is an entire universe lurking on the other side of the wall. Infinite and opposite of our universe. The elegant forever that spills out on the other side of the wall across from me. And I am the protagonist in the middle of everything. I am the one thing these two universes turn on. I am the fulcrum.
I think about the brevity of things. Life turns into death. And no one knows how much runway they have left.
These tiny, tiny stories.
Will any of them matter in a century’s time?
The NASA Tommy’s of the world and the little heartbreaks I hear about at the end of the table. A couple fighting. A man planning his divorce. A woman falling in love. All these little stories. All these little tales.
Will anyone care in a century’s time?
But we keep telling them.
We keep telling the tales over and over and over.
Because we need to.
Because we need to make sense of this strange thing that has no beginning or end. The universe that never began and will never end. Time that never started and never seems to go away.
The enormity of things.
We tell stories to put those things into small, digestible pieces.
Time heals much. But time also dashes hopes against rocks and makes a mess of things.
But we keep telling tales.
I sip my whiskey and look at my reflection in the mirror on the wall sitting across from me.
No tomorrow guaranteed.
And we keep telling tales.
And we keep fighting.
We keep slaying dragons.
Why do we slay them?
Do we slay dragons for the treasure?
And where do we need to go to slay those dragons?
But not the cave I’m sitting in.
I’m sitting in a bunker with a drink in hand.
The edge of the lair seems meaningless. So far away.
What dragons do I need to slay?
I need to kill the fear that I am not enough.
I need to kill the fear that I will never be enough.
I need to kill the fear that I will never find safety.
I need to kill the fear that I will never find security.
I need to kill the fear that it’s all for nothing.
What if it’s all for nothing?
I think back to a few weeks ago as I traveled to Texas to spread our much beloved Uncle Chuck’s ashes in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park. I can remember the reconstituted chalk milk he used to make mixing powder with water. The powder was a similar consistency to the ash I held in my hand as I spread my uncle’s remains into the winds of West Texas.
He climbed so many of those mountains.
Those were his dragons to slay.
And why did he slay them?
I don’t think he wanted treasure or glory or maidens.
I think he just wanted the view.
It was strange driving through the mountains I had been driven through as a child. Now a full grown adult navigating the desert roads with my New York State driver’s license.
Uncle Chuck had lost me in the wilderness as a child.
And now I was sending his remains off into that same wilderness.
Why do I write these words?
These are my dragons.
And I’m just hoping you’ll love me.
Please love me for my words.
I have nothing else to give.
Love me for my words and my poetry.
Love me for the stories I tell.
Love me for the poetry I spin.
These are my dragons.
For God’s sake.
Just love me.
Loves past, present, and future.
Just love me.
I was just trying to slay all these dragons.
Because no tomorrow has ever been guaranteed.
No tomorrow will ever be guaranteed.
I slay dragons.
I take one last sip of my whiskey and toast my reflection in the mirror across the bar from me.
The only other person in the bar who will ever truly understand me.
I toast him farewell and give my glass back to the bartender.
I slip out of the bar and back onto the street.
(To Be Continued…)