One Day I Woke

Cherry drops onto my hand

Sideways glance and fingers rapping
against a table, mumbles across the room.
Silence awkward and tense,
expectations of a response churning
The strains of a long, empty day start
in these moments of sound stewing
Remaining engaged with each other, sparks
of thought rushing
through the air, eyes aligned instead of
scattered, sight-lines crossing, perception intense,
this is not where we are.
Confusion and apathy reign in this kingdom,
white on grey slide decks with bland text
shuffle in and out of a disinterested audience’s collective.
There are no rapid firings and exponentially expanding random networks
occasional snaps of energy serve to kick awake the
tired minds – just enough to keep me
aware enough to unwrap sugar-coated pebbles
That fall from my hand into my mouth.
Most heads are down.

We are not victims but blessed individuals,
aimless through life. The gifts of
our elders are not unnoticed, and we are perhaps
grateful. Acknowledgement does not make the grind
any easier.
As the unwavering taskmaster ticks away, our attention falls deeper into
a subdued state.

We have to deal with the steady banter of individuals, eager to return to other forms of conformed monotony. Even here, where the venue is different and the speakers are changing, a one-way street pushes ideas into our homes, the oncoming headlights from traffic do not do much but blind us into boredom.
How do the people of such fortunate backgrounds push on? Great bodies of work: a history of tradition, a culmination of past knowledge building upon itself. These volumes are impressed on heavy heads, and quietly we admit the weight of the world’s future does not concern us. It is the daily trifling that makes us compatible with each other, and the rarely seen visionary is not easily conceived without the important details coupling within themselves, squirming together in a bubbly mess of living and breathing.

We will not stay here forever, but our lives will bubble and churn slowly for the balance of actuality. Days into years and I am seeing the unwavering taskmaster smack me around more, an unforgiving driver of stimulant excess and forward thinking. It is this aggressive yet subtle overlord that has pushed humanity into ever-expanding progress. Live longer, love more. It is a consequence of the traditions of history that formerly natural conflicts have been abstracted into a delicate and subversive competition, one where the slow death is favored over a quick blow to the head, eliminating you from taking my food, shelter, and family. It is the kind of fuzzy idea that is salient and silent, sneaking around in our heads (while we drift off listening to old men tout the glories of yesteryear) and seeping through out mental plumbing, into every neural crevice.
The taskmaster is smart, because a gradual extermination of something is more ingenious than direct genocide. The poison slips into the air, unavoidable at birth, and puts us into an ambivalence, sharpening our conscious desires like a never-ending grindstone against steel alloy, sparks flying beautifully, randomly into the air, the precursor to something more dangerous, more provocative. The blade slides forward and the connections fire; the finished product rises up and the silence returns to inhibit any more action. This repeats until the blade is sharp, and it cuts into us. There are two or three of them, spinning around in perfect circular arcs. The wounds are not painful, but dulling, the kind of impact that makes one accept their place more easily, despite the overwhelming feeling that something is out of place. A feeling – that gut feeling for some, sometimes inductive logic, or outright plain sight for others. As time passes, we stretch our arms out, crack our shoulders and ribs, roll to our rides, and melt into the darkness of inviting sleep.
The poison is not like the sickness that is averted by diet and exercise. The symptoms are not cured by swallowing the cherry-flavored rocks that come in plastic wrappers in plastic bags and stuffed into bins and racks. There is not any specific way that can arouse one to stop breathing – the consequences are too dear. Gasping for clean air is not a pleasant act, asphyxiation slipping into my mind first, and then settling into reality second, lungs and throat burning and hot, onset of dizziness, blacking out. There isn’t an alarm clock to bring you back to life, but we are moving around. We are sleep-walking.

One day I woke to find myself fluttering in the clouds, hazel nuts and deep chocolates swirling in a foggy trance of morning glory.
Howling wind strikes the walls, and my room trembles, the bed frame rattling. I sit up and look around, and the ferocity of nature, vicious and beautiful, is everywhere. I cannot return to sleep ever again, because the lights are too bright, and the shadows are too dark. Like the better alkaloid which remains present in your palette for many meals, the perceptions of being awake are hard to remove, and the memory of such things linger forever, swimming around in your head.

Clouds open their doors for the king, who rides in on sunlight wings. Golden skies bring brilliant rain onto the desolate landscape, breathing life into the sleepwalkers.
It is not like the alarm at the crack of down: the drowsy rollover, eyes half-opened, arm extending over to smack the infernal chattering trinket, slapping something hard and unforgiving in the dim lighting. The awakening is a fluttering butterfly, graceful in the morning sunlight. A deep breath arrives with the first signs of sight, senses cracking open from the familiar muddled state of submission. Silk and cotton brushes against rested skin, enervating a long-denied feeling of comfort – it is not the mere presence of the material but the movement, the cross-connecting of organic matter, stretching out around calloused and corpse-like bodies. You can see the pitch black sky slither away into light blue, and the first sign of the king calls out to something important, deep within our souls, so natural and inherent yet unused and possibly nearly forgotten. Looking around, the windows blow open the doors for the king’s arrival, flooding my vision with clean-cut beams, aligned with the contours of the room.  Sunlight streams do not run unpredictably like flowing rivers here – there is no overwhelming surge or devastating flood. The king’s extensions are fast-moving and far-reaching, smooth and uplifting. There is no fear that should be extracted from the onset of the bright bubbling sunlight system.
I welcome the warmth, trying to grasp the new feelings flooding into my hands. It’s difficult to wrap yourself around an emotion like so when years of your life have been entrenched in poisoned air. The brightness of the king makes me blink, shifting gazes, and blink often, bleeding the old taint out and cleansing the field of unruly desires and unnatural wants.
This is when I say, “This is how we must truly be,” engaged and sensitive, responsive and creative, the colors of the world presenting themselves like never before. And yet I’ve not gone anywhere different, for the bed is in the same room, in the same building, on the same plot of land, resting on the same planet. Yet I can see the streams like never before, witnessing the birth of day for the first time.
I cut through that well-rehearsed landscape, dislocating mountains and raising forests up from the barren earth. Even the thinnest blade of grass holds all the keys for regenerating this feeling, so powerful that the memory can never be left behind, forever stamped into my consciousness, ripped away from my past’s subconscious realm.
The details of the world do not need to be swept away and lost in the day-to-day grindings of teeth and fingers, the endless zeroes matched up against the homeless wandering highway off-ramps and busy intersections. These events are important, but do not forget the importance of the simple design of a thread, or the patterns on a white ceiling. To open the doors to the king is to relieve yourself of a great burden – the inhibition of personal capabilities. We are certainly able to withstand the enveloping sunlight after a lifetime of poison, cold, and numbing. I remember the simpler life of acceptance took, but after blasting open the doors, it is not something I could or even would want to return to – the sleepwalking complacency.
To see the world as we are meant to see it. This is something every person can embrace.

Wake up, the king beckons! And one day I woke.

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