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The morning swallowed the shifting lights spread across the landscape.  They wavered and then disappeared as the darkness overtook them.  Clouds blotted out the stars and the rolling fog took care of the rest.  Nothing existed beyond the puffs of my warm breath in the cold air.  The silence of loneliness thundered and echoed in my mind.

Just one of the tricks we allow ourselves to be deceived by.

The lights, the noise, the teeming masses of civilization were still there even though they couldn’t be seen.  But that brief moment when the world goes dark is enough to send our thoughts into waves of panic.  The what of our simple routines crashing down were replaced by the how of the struggle of survival to come.

The entire course of our existence changes in that instant of doubt and fear.

The fog lifted and the glare of our presence, the sheer volume of the evidence that we are here, that we are alive, that we matter, temporarily blinded me with its sharp contrast to the darkness that previously held sway.  The clouds moved on, and the stars twinkled in response and mockery of our feeble displays of might.

Our stubborn ignorance and naiveté are what keep us from slipping over the edge of insanity.

The promise of the sun softened the darkness loitering on the horizon and I fell back into my daily routines.  All was right.  All was well.  My path and purpose in the world were true to me again.  Careers and love and the pursuit of happiness regained their position of prominence.  Nothing mattered more.

Even when the sun blocks our view of them, the stars laugh at our ignorance.

I played my part in our economical game of charades dutifully and then made the reverse trek to the square of concreted nature I call my home.  I hugged my wife and played with my child, emboldened by smiles, laughter and fellowship.  I went to bed content that I was living life to the fullest.  I wanted for nothing.  I mattered.

Just another trick we allow ourselves to be deceived by.

Letting Go of a Soulmate

Head over to Stories That Must Not Die, and read this thought provoking, and at times heart wrenching, post by Kozo. And then weigh in with your own insights and experiences in the comments.

Stories that Must Not Die


Are we still looking for love in all the wrong places?

I’ve always felt like a soul mate would make my life complete. I used to dream about the day I could tell a lover, “You complete me,” just like Jerry Maguire. But the Universe doesn’t seem to have the same dreams as I do.

I used to dream about the day I could tell a lover, “You complete me,” just like Jerry Maguire.

I’m 50 years old and divorced. I’ve met a plethora of individuals I would have sworn were my soul mates, but I never felt totally complete–which might explain why I’m still single.

Soul mates are not meant to complete me; they are meant to teach me how to let go.

Looking back over all my intimate relationships, the Universe seems to be trying to teach me a lesson. Understanding this lesson changed my whole view of…

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The Me I Don’t Like, As Much (Redux)

Hop on over to Stories That Must Not Die to lend some support to (Don) BroJo this weekend.
And, if you have a story that you’d like to share on STMND, please send it along to storiesthatmustnotdie at gmail dot com, or you can email me directly at djmatticus at yahoo dot com. We’d love to hear from you. We’d love to feature you in this wonderful community.

Stories that Must Not Die

This post was originally shared on Brother Jon’s Page, nearly two years ago. It’s nice to go back every so often and reflect on how our lives have changed, even in just a span of two years. Things are getting better, everyday. I believe daily reflection is important for us all. In the past we can find many, many things for us to learn from. But, it is also important for us to not get stuck in the past. Author John Green once wrote* “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia.” Nostalgia, by definition, is a longing for the past. This quote turns it around and helps show the importance of looking forward in our lives. Or, you can just ask what Dory would do. Just Keep Swimming.

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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.


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

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:

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!

so very tempting

It had been a long day.  It had been a week of long days in fact.  And the prior week hadn’t been much better.  The hours had begun to blur together and Carl wasn’t even certain what day it was.

“Except, I’m headed to soccer practice for Benny, so it must be Wednesday.”

He flicked his eyes up to the rear view mirror and saw his youngest son happily singing along to one of his videos.  For Benny, happily singing was more akin to screaming at the top of his lungs.  The cacophony wasn’t helping the pulsing throb between Carl’s temples.  He considered asking Benny to sing quieter but didn’t want to risk a tantrum, or, worse, the ask daddy a thousand questions game.

Movement to Carl’s right made him flash his eyes back to the road in front of him.  A BMW was edging closer and closer to the dotted line that separated it from him minivan.  Expecting the worse, it had been that kind of week after all, Carl eased his foot off the gas just in time.  The BMW merged.  No blinker.  No space.  No clue how close the two vehicles had come to colliding.

Furious, Carl gave the drive a chance to wave in apology, to lift their hand and acknowledge they had made a mistake and they were sorry.  It was the etiquette of the road.  It was the proper thing to do.  The driver did nothing.  No wave.  They didn’t increase their speed and flee from shame and embarrassment.  They just came moving down the road with only inches between bumpers.

Carl sneered.  He seethed.  He cursed under his breath.  Jake was singing so loudly he probably could have screamed the curse and his son wouldn’t have heard it, but he’d gotten in trouble with the wife before for letting the kids overhear him say a few choice things and he wasn’t going to do that again.  Instead, in his mind, he fantasized about slamming his foot down on the gas pedal.

The van rushed forward, fusing with the rear of the BWM, driving it forward, and sending them both into a spiraling tangled mess of fiberglass and steel.  The carnage spread out across the lanes of traffic.  The two vehicles flipped and tumbled to eventually come to a rest as unrecognizable hulks of scrap.  Would serve them right.  Would release him from the misery of his long days.

Carl smiled.  His eyes burned with a fire of malice and desire.  His lips twisted to maniacal angles.

He tapped his brakes to create some more space between his minivan and the BMW.  His eyes flicked back to the rear view mirror to watch as Benny danced along with his song, as much as one can while strapped into a booster seat.  Carl’s eyes softened and the smile became genuine.

“Yep, these days are long, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”


It’s that time again!  Time for another Queen Creative Prompts for the Promptless.  You know you want to play along too!  So, what are you waiting for?  Do it!  Here’s everything you need to know:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

L’appel du vide is French and translates to “Call of the Void”.  It is the unexplainable urge to jump when standing on the edge of a cliff, or tall height.  It can be considered a form of self-destructive ideation, or a protective instinct to let the brain play out what the body should not.  It’s definition has been expanded to describe responding mentally to the call of the siren song– whether that means the desire to reach into a fire, drive into a wall, or walk into the eye of the storm.

Suggested Prompts:

  • Share your thoughts or pictures on l’appel du vide, siren songs, or jumping from heights
  • Consider whether or not it is healthy for the mind to play out these negative scenarios
  • Science doesn’t know why these thoughts flit through people’s minds– give us an explanation
  • Write a story where a character experiences l’appel du vide
  • … or make up your own related prompt!