on the path of a jester

After college I was forced to do some soul searching to figure out not only what made me tick, but also to find what I needed in my life to be happy.  They were dark days.  Eventually, I discovered that my path to leading a content and peaceful life was far simpler than I ever could have imagined.

It came down to two things.  Family and the mountains.  As long as I had family close to me I knew I was going to be okay.  They had always been my biggest supporters.  They had always continued to stand by me even when I had actively been trying to push them away.  It made sense that I wasn’t happy during that time because they were such a key part of what I needed.  The other thing I realized was that the mountains represented my recharging station and I needed at least a week camping or backpacking every summer to remain sane.  Again, I had stopped venturing into the wild for awhile, intentionally trying to avoid that part of my life and basically sabotaging any chance I had of being happy.  Two easy fixes – hang with my family and go camping – and I was suddenly back to my easy going, happy, bring on all challenges because I can take them, self.

Before coming to terms with my unhappiness and figuring out how easy it was to move away from that, how easy it was to return to who I was supposed to be, those around me could clearly see how much I was struggling.  They could see how miserable I was even when I could not.  My family and true friends did their best to help me along, to help me see that I was missing something, but sometimes we can be too close to these situations, feelings, emotions, to see them clearly.  Even though they affect us deeply, we are blind to the full scope of our experiences.

It’s funny to say that though, because while I may not have been aware how depressed I was, I did know that something wasn’t right.  I knew that because I was fighting against dark thoughts that hadn’t plagued me since the worst of my bullying in high school years before.  My closest friends and my family, whom I was still mostly pushing away at that time, never knew how dark my thoughts had grown.  I shared them with no one, safely tucked away within the confines of my mind.

Perhaps it was realizing that I was keeping those thoughts a secret that led me on my path to discovery?  Perhaps it was just taking the time I needed to heal?  Perhaps it was just getting to the point where I felt I had nothing to lose and so was open to anything and everything?  How I finally came to my point of self discovery, came up with my short two item list (family and the mountains), is unknown.  I don’t need to know the how and why of it, though.  What’s important is that I was able to step out of the darkness and be happy again.

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Queen Creative have thrown out a real challenge for their final episode in this season’s Prompts for the Promptless:

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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

The Johari Window is a method of representing information (regarding feelings, experiences, motivations, intentions, attitudes, etc) – from 4 specific perspectives.  It is a technique to help you understand how you are perceived by others, and how you see yourself.  The perspectives are as follows:

  1. Open area: The things that you about yourself, that others also know about you.

  2. Blind area: The things you don’t know about yourself, but others know.

  3. Hidden area: The things you know about yourself that others do not know.

  4. Unknown self: The things no one knows about you.

The four perspectives are not always equal.  Someone who regularly self-examines may have little to no content in window 4– “unknown”.  Someone who is secretive by nature may have a large window 3 – “hidden”. Creators of the Johari Window use 56 adjectives to guide the completion of these four perspectives.  Those can be found here, along with more information about how the window works: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window

Suggested Prompts:

  • Share one, or all, of your areas with us
  • Show us a picture that represent perception
  • Compare a self-perspective to an outside-world-perspective
  • Describe yourself from the perspective of a stranger
  • … or make up your own related prompt!

and what a story it is

When people around me start to complain about it being cold, I usually nod and smile, ask if I can grab them a sweater or scarf, or turn on a heater, and then offer up the following story:

The cold no longer bothers me.

Two days into a week long backpacking trip from North Lake to South Lake in the Sierra, near Bishop, it started to hail on us.  We reached our destination for the night and realized we had to break up the surface ice on the lake we were camping next to in order to pump water for dinner and to refill our canteens.  Night brought a thunder storm that kept us all awake and kept the hail coming.  Morning brought more hail, and the day brought a snow covered pass we had to trudge to the top of, the trail buried so thoroughly we had to forge our own, more hail, three icy river fords and a campsite for that night that brought with it, you guessed it, more hail.  The following day it decided to be different and hail some more.

Three days of the most miserable conditions I have ever experienced in the Sierra.  Three days of cursing the mountains and the clouds and the trail and the hail.  I hated every step of it.  I couldn’t wait to be dry and warm.  I couldn’t wait to be out of the mountains and safely home where I could jump in a warm shower, where there was a roof to keep the elements off my head, where I had a bed that was off the frozen ground.

A strange thing happened, though, as the following summer approached, I found that I was looking forward to venturing back into the mountains.  I couldn’t wait to see what the new trip would have in store for me.  I know, there was definitely something wrong with me, and yet when I looked back on the disaster trip from the year before the experience had taken on a new light, a new warmth.  It no longer sent shivers down my spine thinking about how miserably cold I had been.  It no longer made me grimace.  I had a story…

The beauty of the mountains I love, the wonderment of getting lost in the wilderness for a week, the triumph of having accomplished something so few every even attempt was made that much more special, that much more beautiful, because of the extra struggles, because the trip was hard, because it was broken.

And now, the cold no longer bothers me.

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Queen Creative have prompted me yet again:

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Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Kintsukuroi is a Japanese noun meaning “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

Idea by Braith an’ Lithe

Suggested Prompts:

  • Share a story about something that is more beautiful for having been broken
  • Write a poem about something that is more beautiful for having been broken
  • Show us a picture of something repaired
  • … or make up your own related prompt!

don’t forget the soap

Anton looking through the contents he had piled on the counter and frowned.  He knew he was missing something but he couldn’t immediately see what he had forgotten.  He pulled his shopping list out of one of the pockets deep within the recesses of his robes and consulted it.

“Filament, check.”

“Spring, check.”

“Mortar and pestle, check.”

“Mixing tub, check.”

“Soap…”

How could he have forgotten the soap?  It was only the most important ingrediant in what he was making.  With a slight shake of his head and the raising of the forefinger on his right hand, he indicated to the clerk that he would be right back and then disappeared into the depths of the store again.

He didn’t just need soap.  He needed a lot of soap.  Usually, he liked to make his own, but that took time and when a rush job came in Anton was forced to buy it along with the rest of the items that could only be used once per project.  Luckily, he was paid well enough for those rush jobs that it didn’t impact his revenue stream.

Still, without making it himself, he couldn’t always predict how potent the purchased soap would be.  It was more unstable.  It was more dangerous to work with.  Anton knew what he was doing, knew that he was in a perilous profession, but he didn’t like taking unnecessary risks all the same.

As he carried an armload of soap boxes back to the front of the store he weighed the pros and cons of telling the professor that he was no longer going to be able to do these rush jobs.  She and her cohort would just have to plan further in advance if they wanted to enlist his services.  The idea of having that much more control over his creations was very appealing, but the idea of her turning him into a newt or torturing him through some curse or hex outweighed all his counter arguments.

He would just have to continue to be careful.

After one last scan over his shopping list to make sure he had gathered all the necessary supplies, Anton let the clerk ring him up, then handed over the necessary coins to pay for the transaction, loaded everything into a satchel and headed home.

Despite the danger he was about to face, Anton thoroughly enjoyed the creation process.  He loved putting together his bombs almost as much as he loved watching them go boom.

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It’s Wednesday.  It’s early.  It must be another Queen Creative Prompts for the Promptless:

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Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

A shopping list (noun) is a list of items needed to be purchased by a shopper, a grocery list is a the most popular type of shopping list– including items that need to be procured on the next visit to the grocery store.

Idea by NotAPunkRocker.

Suggested Prompts:

  • It’s time to get extremely personal.  Share your grocery list with us! Scan it, snap a photo, or write it out.
  • Make an unusual shopping list.
  • Tell us a story where a shopping list plays an important role.
  • … or make up your own related prompt!

second date

“Give me your heart.”

“What?”

“Hand.  Give me your hand.”

“Where are we going?”

“There’s this cute new restaurant a block over I want to try.”

“Is it spicy?”

“No, it’s savory.”

“That’s what you said last time.”

“Don’t even pretend like you didn’t have a good time.”

“Can’t we just order a pizza?”

“I know you are just trying to get under my skin.”

“Always.  I’m a stickler for consistency.”

“You’re something.”

“You wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Sometimes I just want to kiss you.”

“Kiss me?”

“Kill you!”

“I think I’d prefer the kiss.”

“Well, you are getting spicy food instead.”

“I thought you said it was savory.”

“Can’t I be both?”

“Hah!  What?”

“Can’t it be both.”
“The food.”
“The restaurant.”
“That’s it.  No more talking until after we eat!”

“How are we going to place our orders then?”

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I was promptless, and then I was prompted!  Queen Creative are at it again:

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Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

A noun that refers to a “slip of the tongue”.  Malapropisms and spoonerisms are two examples.

Suggested Prompts:

  • Write a story based around a slip of the tongue
  • Tell us about the time you let a secret slip
  • List your top 3 television/movie “lapsus linguae” moments
  • Share your favorite spoonerism or malapropism
  • … or make up your own related prompt!

A billet-doux for my wife

My Queen,

We spoke the words.  We meant them.  We locked eyes and said from that day on as we sought out what this world has to offer we would do so side by side, each others greatest supporter.  We promised love and adventure.  And Craig Armstrong’s “Portuguese Love Theme” played in the background.

We danced.  Our first dance.  Our movements in unison.  Our bodies as one.  Working together we told a story of love and our new life together.  And Michael Buble’s “Everything” played in the background:

“And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times
It’s you, it’s you, You make me sing.
You’re every line, you’re every word, you’re everything.”

We lived.  Bought a home.  Adopted kittens.  Brought a child into this world.  Of adventure, there has been plenty.  Our promises have been kept and will continue to be kept.  I wouldn’t want to share this life with anyone else.  I wouldn’t want to share our adventures with anyone else.  And +44’s “Make You Smile” played in the background.

The future is ours.  We will seek out new adventures.  We will walk hand-in-hand.  We will explore and learn and grow.  Through it all, my love will never falter.  I will lift you up just as you always lift me up.  We will dance always.  Our bodies moving as one.  And Michael Buble’s “Everything” will play in the background.

“And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times
It’s you, it’s you, You make me sing.
You’re every line, you’re every word, you’re everything.”

My love for you shines through in every line – those from the songs I sing to you, those from our bodies as we dance together.  My love shines through in every word – those I write to you, those I whisper in your ears late at night, those that go unspoken.

You ARE my everything,

Matticus

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Thank you Queen Creative for this wonderful opportunity to tell my wife how wonderful she is and how much she means to me:

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Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Sometimes called a billet-doux, or a love letter, a love note is a personal letter to a loved one expressing affection.  The loved one does not necessarily have to be animate, human, alive, or known.

Suggested Prompts:

  • Write a love note to someone.  It can be to the love of your life, the world, or to yourself.  It can be an open letter to a celebrity, or the last love note of your life, or the one you’ve never sent.
  • Tell us about the a love note you received.
  • Show us a picture that represents writing with love, for love.
  • Imagine someone wrote you the perfect love note.  Make a list of all the things it includes.
  • … or make up your own related prompt!

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And! I publicized this post, the first one I’ve ever done, through Twitter to comply with the request from this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge:

For this week’s featured-based challenge, try to find a blogging event through our Events Listings page and use one of these features to give some extra oomph to your entry:

  • Publicize your submission, making sure you edit your custom Publicize message to include any relevant hashtags or @mentions when your post is shared. In case you missed it, you can now automatically share your posts on Google+ as well.
  • If you’re going to be attending a few real world events and want to let your readers know where to find you, try creating your own custom calendar to use with the Upcoming Events Widget, which shows a list of happenings on a specific calendar feed. It’s a fun way to connect with others, while keeping track of your own social and writerly engagements.
  • Sometimes a contest or event takes place on other social networks, such as Facebook. If you participate in a Facebook-based event, try embedding a post from Facebook to get as much mileage as possible from your social networks to your blog.
  • Similarly, use the Media Explorer to search for and embed Tweets related to the event in which you’re participating. Many competitions will include a related hashtag — like #nablowrimo, or even #postaday — which lets you easily find fellow participants, and include yourself in the dialogue. With the Media Explorer, you can give a shout out to other participants who you particularly admire, or share a Twitter conversation with your blog followers.