The 12th of September 2011 – Boston, Massachusetts

(found in a frame and hooked up onto a wall, to be appreciated and such)

My dearest Max,

Remember the second half of the sentence, please!

We can all get into trouble for our simplifications, for some of us need simplicity like water or air – and, of course, some of us need the exact opposite in the same measure and for the same reasons. That is why it is of the utmost importance to remember the second half of the sentence. In fact, it’s important to stress it, almost above all else.

Yes, the first half is more destructive and flashier, and it explodes in the ear like a bomb. But the solace and the lesson comes in the second.

Greats before us, greats much greater than you or I have gotten into similar trouble with similar sentiments about one’s death or another, and who or how they’ve been killed – of course focusing on the gore and not the inspiration that follows it, that can be taken from it if attention is properly paid.

There is nothing, Max.

Absolutely nothing.

No truth. No meaning or tradition. There are no rules or values or faiths, loves, pains or disgraces. We are solipsistic consciousnesses floating through an ink black void.

And, of course, the sentence has another half.

There is nothing, Max, but what we make of it.

Choice is infinite, and the sincerity of an action is all that we have to judge another, if we ever decided to exercise petty superiority.

Just as a soundless tree can fall in an empty forest, sunsets can only be seen when we are there to see, when we are present, when we choose. And we can choose to see sunsets wherever, given that we are disposed to that sort of sight.

Of course it is possible to dwell on the blackness, but any ideology can encourage seeing evil in everything that is labelled “Other.”

We shouldn’t care about what anyone believes as long as they are able to enjoy beauty everywhere they look.

The only truth is to be true.

Keep that in mind.

Regards,

Jiminy

“Know Thyself” – The 17th of May 2009 – Portland, Maine

(found covered in x’s, o’s and smiling faces)

Dear Julius,

You must tell me, and you must tell me this instant, how it is possible to know anything. How is knowledge of the world, its nature, or human beings and their nature, how is any of that even possible, when it is so easy for a single individual to not even know himself?

If I, self-assured as I am wont to be, can be so wrong about every detail of my character other than my name, then how can any man even know for certain that the sky is blue or that grass is green?

Is not, then, knowledge just delusion, and knowledge of our knowledge just a mad certainty of that delusion?

For years – not years, Julius, but decades – I operated under the certainty that I was the shy person, the quiet person and the conservative intellectual. I wasn’t at clubs or bars or dancing and singing. I was at home, with a book and a quiet companion, swirling a snifter of brandy under a dusky light. I was holding a glass of red wine beneath my nose and holding court in the corner of a party – one of those refined and worthy parties – while some man wearing an ascot and coke-bottle glasses and a woman in a woolen skirt and opaque stockings laughed at my jokes about Brechtian despair.

What could have ever tipped me off to my delusion and my despair?

How was I to know that the source of my loathing and my cynicism was not caused by some external conflict, a tension between myself and a perpetually unsatisfying cast of characters rotating through an even more unsatisfying setting?

How was I to know that the brief moments of exuberance I’ve stumbled across in my life were not caused by luck or happy accident and that they did not have to be the exceptions to a rule, but the rule itself – given that they were treated as such?

How was I to know that I was instead a creature of that exuberance, capable of laughter and smiling at any moment, able to fly off into passionate rants about beauty and love and kindness just as easily – in fact more so – as I can about hatred and suffering and pain?

But now I am certain of that. I have decided to smile, and so I will smile.

Lacking desperation,

Paulus

 

Read more excellent responses to today’s Daily Challenge here:

  1. http://abozdar.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/purpose-of-life/
  2. http://abozdar.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/tune-of-a-night/
  3. http://guthonestfaith.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/good-golly/
  4. http://tombalistreri.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/bestowing-joy/
  5. http://lindaswritingblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/sad-face/
  6. http://lifeconfusions.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/suffering-and-war/
  7. http://vexingpoint.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/daily-prompt-happy-radars/
  8. http://reallyjustwords.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/its-about-snoopy-the-sniffer-dog/
  9. http://agirllikemee.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/judging-happiness/
  10. http://anawnimiss.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/of-how-things-look/
  11. http://yichinglin.com/2014/09/17/pizza/
  12. http://sayadpoet.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/in-tune-daily-prompt/
  13. http://mojowritin.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/robertas-happiness/
  14. http://dragoneystory.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/to-give-you-all/
  15. http://camembertandchocolate.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/radars-gone-berzerk/
  16. http://lifeassirli.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/pretending-to-be-happy/
  17. http://itsalwaysanewmoment.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/wake-up/
  18. http://thoughtsofajunkiemisfit.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/welcome-mat-please-walk-all-over-me/
  19. http://memeep.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/happy-radars/
  20. http://debooworks.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/the-problem-with-our-masks/
  21. http://angloswiss-chronicles.com/2014/09/17/daily-prompt-happy-radars-look-on-the-brightbad-side-of-life/
  22. http://risingrave28.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/radar-detection/
  23. http://bluenotebacker.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/blogging-101-saying-hi/
  24. http://sethuiyer.me/2014/09/17/happy-or-sad/
  25. http://kindlingword.com/2014/06/25/ode-to-joy/
  26. http://teepee12.com/2014/09/17/stay-clear-of-landmines/
  27. http://allquestions.org/red-pill-and-blue-pill/
  28. http://petrd1.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/h-dar/
  29. http://emo1956.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/happy_radars/
  30. http://joantatley.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/addiction-to-a-peephole/
  31. http://yzhengblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/meddling-with-others-happiness/
  32. http://keyboardpizza.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/calling-mr-blueberry-scone/
  33. http://lifeisgreat0.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/cry-and-laugh/
  34. http://psibrone.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/the_smirk/
  35. http://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/we-are-not-as-invisible-as-we-believe-ourselves-to-be-2/
  36. http://psychologistmimi.com/2014/09/17/your-celebrity-like-employees-gauging-happiness-and-anger-before-they-quit/
  37. http://designersophisticate.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/smiling-faces-smiling-faces-tell-lies/

The 17th of August 2010 – Loyola, California

(found…I don’t know)

My dearest Max,

You cannot ask me that kind of question and expect anything close to a suitable answer.

“Why?”

“Why, Uncle?”

“Why?”

That’s the exact question that’s been echoing in my head for decades, Max, honestly and truthfully, decades.

It’s unavoidable, and – I fear – without some sort of physical treatment, it is a question that I will never be able to escape.

It’s popped into my head at some of the most inopportune moments, from times of celebration to moments of despair.

“Why?” I thought when I saw a group of men celebrating the result of a football game.

“Why?” I thought when a hearse passed me by and was followed by a limousine filled with teary-eyed family and friends.

“Why?” I thought when I paced around a small apartment, shouting the infernal question over and over and over again to empty walls.

“Why?”

“Why?”

“Why?”

See, Max, I was twenty-three and peeing in old milk bottles. I was twenty-three and alone in a moldy, drywall box. I was twenty-three and so unsure of myself that I couldn’t help being actively unsure of everything else around me.

What I can tell you, Max, is that any journey through the desert will result in the discovery of an oasis. In fact, I can guarantee that. What I cannot guarantee is whether or not you, thirsty as you are, will ever be certain whether those oases are real or just figments of a dehydrated and desperate imagination.

But, Max, the realization that saved me is that real things do not exist. Real things are created, and real things are made real only when they are treated as such.

“Why?” I thought, suddenly, but now addressing that ragged face shouting out of my mirror.

“Why not?” I thought, and I stepped from the hot sand and into the shade, and I bent down and took a sip of water.

It was then, Max, when I saw a sunset, flaming pink across the horizon, bloody just as my heart had been when I tore it out of my own chest and began my journey towards a Truth whose existence I had always doubted.

And I felt a beating inside my chest once again.

There is no point to negation, Max, and affirmations are always more useful than their opposite, even affirmations of falsehoods.

We should build with our questions, not destroy.

Regards,

Jiminy

The 3rd of Jardunia 193042 UDA – Smilingsburghvilleton, Happinesshampshire

(found under a kite with a key and a kipper as well as something else alliterative)

Marcy,

Yes, my dear, I know that I am quite ridiculous. But, then, consider this.

You, darling gracious, are an absolute vision when wearing that pink chiffon dress with the pale yellow lace around the shoulders.

Yes, Marcy, I know that I am quite ridiculous, and say it all that you want. Shout it, in fact, from the heavens, and let all the occupants of our universe be alerted to that simple fact.

Say it all that you want, but I must warn you of something.

We get nowhere, Marcy, when all we do is observe and state the obvious.

But, with all of that in mind, I will go ahead and do it anyway.

I have seen quite a many magnificent thing, dearest Marcy. I’ve been to the top of the world, as well as its bottom. I’ve sat on a grassy hillside and watched stars fade during yellowing dawns. I’ve waited there, patiently, as the sun descended and bathed the sky in oranges, then reds, then purples until those same stars returned to say hello.

I have to say that I quite prefer the sunrises. They quite remind me of the way children dance in the street during a holiday break. I don’t know why, and I’m not sure that particular question is even worth asking. Perhaps they just have a similar effect on me, Marcy. That’s what it is. I’m sure.

Which brings us to the point, I guess, as well as an end to my incessant babbling, my string of word after word after meaningless word, growing longer and longer with each and every phrase and sentence.

Yes, I know that I am quite ridiculous.

But I have packed a picnic basket, and I would like to invite you to watch the sun as it travels above us today. I’ve picked out quite the spot on that grassy slope.

Who knows how the day will unfold, but I anticipate that it will turn out to be exquisitely enjoyable.

Perhaps we will give it an ovation as it dips out of view, before it’s crowded out of the sky by all those other stars.

I await your reply with bated breath, which is why you’ll have been woken by my knocking on your door, why I shoved this paper into your hands without word or warning, why I’m still standing here, cheeks growing purple, on your porch.

Yes, I know that I am quite ridiculous.

But some things just cannot be helped.

Look behind me, just right now.

Have you seen such a sunrise?

Smilingly,

Patricia

The 18th of October 1993 – Belmont, Massachusetts

(found crumpled into a ball beneath a white jacket that was crumpled into a ball and stuffed into a white duffle bag that was crumpled into a ball and stuffed into the corner of a white, padded room)

Martha,

Come quick! Faster, please! Just put this down and run to me.

They don’t want me to tell you. It’s the shadow men, with the bags under their eyes and the grimaces stretched across their taffy lips. I know something, Martha. I’ve found it. And they don’t want me to tell you.

It is important, Martha, and it simply cannot be spread, they tell me, because if it begins to spread, it will not stop. My knowledge – NAY! Genius, Martha, my genius – will be passed from mouth to mouth, ear to ear like a wild plague. It will go and go until all the world is infected, but beautifully infected, infected with the disease of skepticism, infected with the glorious idea that all is not right with the world and that all can become better.

The shadow men do not want it heard, Martha. The shadow men fear the spread of my project because it will force the workers to put down their tools and the soldiers to put down their weapons and the mothers to put down their children on the sidewalks, and the children will crawl – alone – and be forced to learn for themselves.

That is why they have locked me in here, Martha. The shadow men, puppet-masters of the universe, pulling strings and making us all dance want only control and power and wealth and authority. They are there, Martha, and they can be ignored if only we are given an opportunity to learn for ourselves. We must question, Martha, and we must doubt. Everything should crumble in the face of our skepticism, until even the ground falls from below our feet, and we find ourselves floating in nothingness.

That is the path I have chosen. That is the path that brought me here, a path that I nearly walked in entirely until the shadow men tripped me up, tied me up and locked me up here.

But with this letter, we can all be redeemed, and we can be shown a true light.

So read here, the key to all knowledge and enlightenment and success.

Read here:

Peace wills that movement underneath kitchens where gummy bears sit now slowly.

Do you understand?

Spread the word, Martha. Let it go like a plague, then come to me.

The shadows can be made bright again, but only by doubting their power.

In the name of truth go,

Hector

The 6th of March 1215 – London, England

(found on thick parchment, by crumbling stone and the black heart of a dragon)

For Sir Billingsley –

Ye hath made quite the mistake, ye fucking idiot. Sir Thomas, the court of all thy peers shook with a mighty laughter when they heard of thine response. That is the foolishness that all thine colleagues have detected in you. Foolishness and greed, cowardice and fear, and all the other characteristics of a goddamned dickhead.

I will go alone on this journey, Thomas, for it was only thou and thy mighty sword – and only those – who could have accompanied me on this adventure. Ye and thy mighty sword were the only in the entire kingdom that would have been worth inviting, like when my dearest niece Rachael wanted those fine minstrels from beyond Cannes to perform at her Sweetest Sixteenth Birthday party, but those bloody bastards wanted a payment worth damn near my entire kingdom, my entire fucking kingdom and a goddamned horse to boot. Others could have done the job, Thomas, but none would have been nearly so fine. So, just as Rachael’s Sweetest Sixteenth Birthday occurred without any live musicianship, I will go on this journey without ye, a goddamned dickhead, and that mighty, fucking sword.

Oh, my fine knight, Sir Thomas, ye bloody asshole of assholes! Ye shall one day lament this decision, for – live or die – this quest will cement my legacy, and that of ye as well – had ye chosen to accompany me – in the great halls of history. Carved into stone would have been the names of ye and I, Sir Thomas. But now there will only be one name etched into that granite, and it will be mine. Know this, Sir Thomas, that if thy name ever appears in a tome of our kingdom’s hallowed history, it will be accompanied immediately by the phrase “cowardly asshole.”

In fact, Sir Thomas, I officially title ye thusly. You are no longer just Sir Thomas. Instead you are now “Sir Thomas, Cowardly Asshole and Duke of Losertown.” I can hear the fanfare of the trumpets already, and I hope you enjoy the benefits of your newly earned title.

Sir Thomas, and I hope ye do not mind my truncation of thy newly bestowed title, I will tell ye already how this fucking thing will end, alright? It would have ended exactly thus had thou decided to accompany, but now the glory will all be mine.

I will journey to that great big mountain and clamber into that cave. I will grab the dragon by the neck, reach to his chest and prepare to rip out his beating heart. I will – alone and without thine cowardly ass – whisper to the dragon “I’m motherfucking king of this kingdom, bitch.” Then I – alone – will slay that motherfucking dragon.

Remember, Sir Thomas, that Losertown has a population of only one, and that one is you.

And do not dare to ever label the courage of a brave king as foolish bravado ever again.

Long live me, motherfucker.

King Bob

The 30th of October 1988 – Morristown, New Jersey

(found under the bed, quivering from some kind of draft)

Ghosts, Maria.

Good God, Maria, ghosts. Do you believe in them? Maria, do you?

Because I never did, Maria, I never, ever, ever did. They were fantasy or delusion or some kind of trick that the mind plays on you in the middle of the night, when you’re just about to drift off to sleep.

Good God, Maria, how I wish I could believe that were true still, how I wish I could still believe that.

Because then I came to this place, and our dear little Ruthie went away, and then Tom and Gerald went along after her.

Ghosts, Maria. Ghosts, and they’re everywhere.

They come in the middle of the night, creeping along the floor with just enough noise to make me stir, stir just enough to get me tangled in my sheets. They come in the middle of the night, Maria, and they stand at the foot of my bed – the three of them, standing there, doing nothing, drowning the room in silence.

Every single time, Maria, I feel my eyelids flicker first, and almost through a dream is how I get my first glimpse of them, the girl, the boy and the man hunched over at the foot of my bed, their faces staring down at the floor.

What have I done, Maria? What have I done to deserve this, to be haunted over and over again, night and night passing, with these visions?

It’s nearly indescribable, the feeling that grabs a hold of me, in the night, when I see them, when I realize just how tangled up in my own sheets I’ve become. It’s the kind of terror that traps the scream in your throat, the kind of scream that bubbles up and builds in pressure until it explodes like a bomb, the kind of bomb that goes off nuclear and melts you from the inside out.

I kick and scream, but silently, with my eyes locked onto their pale, silver faces, and soon enough, I blink, and I see that they have gone.

Ghosts, Maria. What am I to do with all of my ghosts?

Kelly