I had retraced the path that had led me to the moment in which I was. I put the record “Teaser & The Firecat” by Cat Stevens upon the turntable and set the needle to a certain song. I made myself some coffee and sat there beneath a sliver of morning light. I watched the rest of a long-winded grey Sunday passover outside my window. It was an April Sunday that would be rained out due to a tranquility that made it seem that everything would soon be crystal clear.
Tennessee Williams once wrote: “So much for the past and present. The future is maybe called ‘perhaps,’ which is the only possible thing to call the future.”
Yet I must look back on the journey before I can move forward. I can only see in terms of a nebulous perhaps. But all I can perceive is in this moment I call the present, and even this moment is nothing more than what passes through me.
The clouds scurried across an afternoon moon like a flocking squadron of B-52’s, the thickets of a wild forest to the west sat on the fog like a fish-shaped paper weight, the stars seem to be reborn, one by one, like little glimmers of hope scattered about here and there…you get the idea.
Anyways, my thoughts were now attuned to the sights and sounds of a world I had yet to see to a splendid degree. It was as if a veil had been stripped away. I could hear things taking place miles away from where I was: the hooting song of a night owl, people shutting their windows, others talking of love, and even a baseball game.
“What a relief,” I thought to myself.
LETTING GO OF ME
The hum of a metaphoric mental machine had vanished from me. Ditto to the thoughts left with no place to go. Perhaps, there would be no fireworks displayed today in the fashion of a grand finale in the far off distance.
From now on, I vowed, when my mind was exhausted, my sword seemingly broken, and the chinks in my armor rusted, I would lay myself down upon a meadow of worn out carpet and listen to the wind of my soul and let it take me where I was meant to go. And I would follow that path, as I should follow it wherever it took me, whether that be to the bottom of the goodness left in me, or possibly further into the depths of insanity’s quarantine. But either way, my heart and soul would find its way to where it was meant to be, probably perched somewhere upon my sleeve.
I know this brief prelude to the point of this post, will perhaps seem trivial to some of you, for there is no greater circumstance of triviality when dancing through the rain of one’s imagination.
But enough thinking. Enough of it altogether. Instead I remember, perhaps, as to why I ever thought I was able to write.
THE FIRST INKLING
The field was just as I remembered, the same shaved ice lime green, delicately mowed against the opposite pattern of a wilderness green, when which the two were combined, they spoke astoundingly of Spring. The sunshine was as crisp as I can remember as I almost feel the scorching upon my skin, it was quite hot and biting for a mid April day. I poured the peanuts into my coke and stood for the anthem.
The gentle, naked wind spoke soundlessly, as if it were slowly swinging an invisible shaft of light through the dark wheelhouse of my soul. And why was my mind racing through the darkness? Was it to allow the light, an opportunity to keep up with my fast paced imagination? Perhaps, maybe. But this was when the dream was a dream without my own applied substance.
So here I found myself between two glorious places at once, a memory and my reality, both on their way to a long lost dream. And is there any meaning in the glory that will someday be lost, as passing glory is not true glory at all, so it’s best left to be. But this memory, it is something that passes through me in this precise moment of my reality.
A LONG LOST MEMORY
It was a sunny Spring day in April 1998, almost twenty-two years to the day. I was in attendance of a Braves’ baseball game at Turner Field, in Atlanta, Georgia, you know the one, in which they built haphazardly for the ’96 Olympics. It was not a long haul from where I grew up, a hundred and one miles to be exact. It was against the Chicago Cubs, first pitch 2:10 PM. I was a diehard Braves’ fan way back then, and I still am, thought not as rabid about the outcome as I once was. It is just a game after all, much like the creativity of writing has come to be.
But every so often, my buddy and I would drive the quick little jaunt into Atlanta to take in the sights and sounds of a game nurtured in the womb of the American Dream. A game that spoke to the spirit of both mine and America’s personality.
Back then the Braves’ were a perennial powerhouse, year in and year out, with a pitching trifecta unlike any the game has still yet to see. It was the rubber match of a three game series, Greg Maddux was pitted against Kerry Wood. It was a pitching matchup for the ages.
So I sat back, finished my southern childhood snack of peanuts soaked in a coca-cola, and stretched out my soul with what I still consider the most refreshing beer I have ever tasted. The stadium slowly filled with the leisurely approach of a Sunday afternoon, but I could hear nothing but the sound of the game slowly warming up, the leather being whipped around, the crack of wooden bats bouncing in echoes around the stadium. It all reminded me so much of my childhood, that I felt like a kid again. It was all touching my soul in a way I had never known my soul could be touched. That was when it all happened.
I noticed the sky sparkling in different depths of blue, the draft beer was colder than even cold knew to be, the ball strikingly white, outlined with with little red curvatures that spun in the shape of a heart if seen in the right angle of light. Everything was so vibrant amongst the canvassing greens of Spring. It was unlike anything I had ever seen.
Then up to the plate stepped Andruw Jones, a young newcomer who had first showed up on the scene a few years prior. The kid was a six-tooled phenom who took the league by storm in the World Series against the Yankees in ’96. After Wood had pitched 9 straight fastballs in a 1-2-3 inning in the second half of the first frame, up came Jones to leadoff the second half of the second frame.
On the first pitch, we all knew what was coming, and so did Jones, as he sent a high fastball into the bowels of the outfield bleachers for what would be the Braves’ only run of the game. It was a towering solo shot that the entire stadium knew was gone the second it left the bat. The satisfying crack when the bat met the ball resounded through the stadium as well as me that one Sunday afternoon. As the roar of applause echoed around me, I spilled half of the best tasting beer I have ever known due to the excitement that poured into parts of me, that I’m still not sure exist. Yet to this day, I consider it the best twelve bucks I’ve ever spent, as it is the most memorable beer of my life.
In that instant, for absolutely no reason at all, and based on no grounds whatsoever, it struck me unlike anything ever had. I thought perhaps, maybe I could write after all.
BACK TO REALITY
As I lay here now, I can somewhat recall the exact sensation. It felt as if something, like an angel disguised as a little white baseball, came down from the heavens with fluttering red wings, only to fall cleanly into my hands, minus half a beer mind you. But I had no idea until that day, that chance could just fall into one’s grasp so easily, but that day it did. I didn’t know then the power of chance, and perhaps, I will never know.
Whatever it was, it had taken place for a reason I have yet to fathom. Maybe it was a revelation, or perhaps the word “epiphany” might be better suited for said situation. All I can say is that something changed who I was that day in ways so dramatic that my perception of life was permanently altered in an instant—when Andruw Jones belted that towering, beautiful, soul-cracking home run into the left field bleachers on a perfect April day.
The Braves’ won that day due to Maddux throwing a gem of an 88-pitch shutout. As we were about to get up and head for the exits, a flowering patch of fireworks burst onto the scene in the pattern of a perfect day amongst the backdrop of an afternoon twilight.
As I found my way back home that evening. I promptly grabbed my dusty old notebook and a fountain pen. Smartphones weren’t a thing back then, and the computer was probably taken, which meant that the ink had to be spilled from a pen, each character, each word, each thought, had to all creatively spill away from my soul. The sensation of creativity washed over me, writing felt so very fresh, as I saw my surroundings, so vibrant and new.
From then on I knew, I would never be the same. I knew that each day I would have to write something, anything, whatever did not matter. So I sat and I wrote. And then I wrote some more. I wrote whenever I was free, perhaps in order to feel free from me. Over the few months that followed I wrote practically and frantically about everything I could and could not see.
And then along a came a girl in whose beauty, I saw things that went way deeper than even me. Things a man like me should’ve never been supposed to see. I was like a deer caught in the headlights of something more mesmerizing than even writing. I saw poetry. And the rest they say is history.
In retrospect, as I venture back from a memory into reality, it is only natural that I wasn’t able to produce anything good back then, and perhaps this is still true to this day. Perhaps, it is a mistake to assume that someone like me who had never written anything in his life could spin the pitch of something so beautiful right off the bat into the bleachers of his wildest dreams. And was I still swinging too hard to accomplish the impossible?
Then came the voice again, the one in which since that day in 1998 has led this pen. And this is what it said.
Let go of trying to write with such sophistication, forget about all the little self-imposed spiritually prescribed ideas that meander through your mind on a daily basis, as they only force your thoughts into what they sometimes are not.
Write down your feelings and thoughts as they come to you, freely, and in the ways that you remember how good happiness felt, and the things you like, and especially remember those moments that touched your soul when you were exactly where you were meant to be, here with Me.
And so I wonder, as I stand from the floor from which I wasted away this lazy Sunday afternoon. Could I rise with the winds of my soul, above all the parasitic thoughts, the accidental rhymes and phrases of so-called follow through, the mistakes of my misjudgment, the mere phenomena of my own poetic touch, the sometimes wasteful and randomly human words that spilled away in my writing, and finally be fit to maybe find my own little piece of Heaven on earth? Or would I, could I perhaps, at the very least, hit the game winning home run that my wildest dreams were made of?
In the end, who really knows?
But perhaps, maybe.