Blurbs About Nothing - selected segment

My friend Ben and I write back and forth to one another as often as we can, partly to stay in touch, and partly to have an outlet for our thoughts. The BLURBS ABOUT NOTHING thread started as a means to free form write to clear the head of the stresses of life (as he was having a baby soon and living in Iceland away from his friends and family) and has continued in that tradition for a few years now, though admittedly have become less about nothing and more about something. They have become an outlet, a sounding board of sorts whereby we seldom respond to each others writing and instead just listen and express. At the end of each written piece, we give the other an assigned subject to riff on, some inspiration to spark the dialogue. It's been a really fulfilling experiment. This is a excerpt from a recent one, subject: What does your happy place look like?

 

"With that all said, my happy place, my bliss zone usually occurs on the open road. Driving has always been something I love, a place to clear my head. It’s the distraction of something important happening that is your main point of monotonous focus, allowing your brain to wander and talk to itself. I think meditation works a lot like this, concentrating on the inner workings of your body allowing your mind to float in the black abyss. So to fully answer this, my setting would be the desert and the object would be a motorcycle. And it comes with a memory.

3 years ago now, geez it’s been 3 years, Anna and I both met up in the Palm Springs area. Our families each have a place down there. And every year, my folks would rent me a motorcycle for my birthday in February, for 24 hours. They know how much of a loner I am, all of us Corkle brothers are pretty quiet folk, to ourselves. I’m more social than either of them of course, but I do love my silence. Anyways, I rented a Harley Dyna that year, beautiful machine, lots of low end torque, foot pegs way out front, was like a lazy boy on wheels. Anna’s mom hated the idea, as most mothers do if you never grew up around bikes, but she allowed it on account it was my birthday.

Anyways, out into the desert we went, down through Temecula and around the mountains down there. At one point there is a straight stretch of proper desert highway, just south of everything that connects two nowhere towns and it was the greatest. Warm breeze, sun still high, flat desert and ragged thorny plants on either side for miles that touched the base of a barren mountain side far in the distance. The road was choppy, under maintained but the lazy boy dragged you on a pillow of air and rubber. Not a single other machine around. I drop my left hand and throttle up with the right, my lady's hands squeeze around my waste. “Happy birthday” rings in my head. Pure bliss. For the next 30 minutes, not a car in sight, just a hard warm breeze and a smile under my Harley Davidson bandana. Later that day, I got a call from Danny in some milkshake shop we stopped at letting me know that Pour Retourner made Tribeca. It was one of the most memorable days of my life. We also almost died a little further down the road when a sign said “rough road ahead” which was a pretty big understatement. The road had folded like a sheet when you wake in the morning and at 50 miles an hour we hit a series of lumps, sending the bike and ourselves airborne more than a few times. Thank god Anna was holding on, it was extremely scary. Another bit of that memorable touch. We pulled over and argued after, fuelled by adrenaline and panic. But soon we were laughing, needing to expunge the energy as best as possible. We rolled back to my parents place at the end of the trip, just as the sun was sinking. The adventure of it all was pretty perfect.

I miss having a bike to disappear with. You cannot talk to anyone, your constantly under duress from the wind and weather and you have to be on your game watching the road. There is nothing more meditative than long rides on a bike. And as exhausted as you are when you stop, beaten down by the road like you’ve been toiling a field all day. You give it a moment and a mysterious thing happens. You want to get back out there and continue. It’s like when you stand between a doorway and push your arms out against the doorframe with everything you have, tiring your muscles and building the pain, to then release and feel as though your arms weigh as much as feathers. That feeling of push and pull is inherent with any laborious activity I find. The adaptation of the body is a curious thing."

I WANT, THEREFORE I AM

30's, to which I stand.

Where does one place themselves in the future generation discussion when they are in their 30’s and still making a go at it? They can’t really say they are the next generation, nor can they say they are the elder. Instead, they must continue without support from either side, not doomed by any means, but still overly dramatic about it all. At this point, certain decisions have been made, certain goals achieved and more and more still yet developing. One such as I, would also find themselves single, and yet not interested in the mingle. And why? But why? How why?

Fear. Uncertainty. Independence. And probably fear.

If a tree falls in the forest, how many creatures do you think it crushes in its wake? The answer is a bunch, which wouldn't stand up to any scrutiny but in any case is kind-of correct from a Kootenay Kid perspective. It's mainly an unanswerable riddle designed to give one pause and provoke thinking on their own existence. Does it though? Not really. Even these typed words, which are pretty on the nose in the discussion on inward glancing, probably don’t have much affect either. See, the way I’ve been staring at this screen and free-flow typing, has opened my mind to the possibility of knowing nothing. The possibility of being so comfortable in where I am that I no longer truly question my own existence. The cold weather and icy roads are a welcome change but my current comfort makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps I should start a fight with someone.

I do have fear, I have much fear, I fear fighting, but it mainly has to do with wanting to do something with my life, to find meaning in it. Whatever that might mean. And I’m sure many people feel this way, unable to live in the now as it is called and instead disappear into entertainment and the regret of a future you are yet to live. Each day I find entertainment less and less useful and instead more and more of an addictive substance I cannot stop consuming. And I work in entertainment! Real first world problem stuff. Just finished a gin and tonic, poured it right into the bottle for ease like some teenager at an all ages show trying drunk on for the first time. Speaking of first world. Need some crackers and cheese, back in a tic.

Here I am. I read a quote that I liked recently in the same sooort of realm as we are discussing currently: I want, therefore I am. Which feels very true to life. I do not need to watch Netflix Original programming but I want to. I do not need to have smoked gouda on a veggie thin, but I want to. Life is the accumulation of choices, whether you believe in fate or not is irrelevant in this because, well, I would stop caring if fate was a thing - if I had zero control. So I’ll chose choice for now. See what I did there? I tempted the fate discussion with a choice. The choice for choice. You’re welcome consumerism! But back to the quote, and I think this is somewhat important as it does concern my ability to feel sane, as really we are all animals searching for a "meal" to keep us alive. But survival has become something different, something new to our thoughtful brains, it has become this notion of finding meaning in life as if the miracle of evolutionary life as we know it isn’t meaningful enough. Somewhere along the way, we have evolved into a worrying culture that dies young because of stress. Not like, getting chased by wolves stress, but like, my boss is an asshole stress. And lets be honest - that notion sucks. To be put lightly.

So what is the solution?

Hot tubs. It has been proven that those who spend large periods of time in hot tubs, die less often from stress. And, that those who do not hot tub often, lie about proven ways that people survive longer. So come join me in the bubbles y’all. The water is HOT!

Step Back, Look Forward

I have taken a step back from social media, no longer consuming the constant flow of opinion and/or outrage over ____________. A pause from engaging with a world beyond my present and it has had a rather curious affect on my everyday. Thoughts become clearer. Feelings that were once ignored and distracted from by the "timeline" have become more prevalent, the emotions more piercing and experiential. By not knowing what others are doing, I've found myself more curious and genuinely interested to chat to my friends. As a bi-product of this my alcohol consumption and late night chatter have become a tad excessive and are in need of a slow period. Good thing the holidays are coming.

I will say, that throughout this 'step back' I have 'signed-in' for a moment here and there to feel the effects of infinite scrolling once more as a point of analytic interest, and the first thought that grabbed at me was that I was glaring into an abyss of pettiness. The online society is devouring itself. And that online society I stare at through this window is built of my own friends and family, those closest to me, hating on ____________ in a flurry of articles and opinion pieces meant to be consumerism 'click-bait'. What happened? When did we allow fear to be such a huge part of our existence? And why do we end up hating each other over things we cannot control, or worst, words that get typed or spoken. Disagreement and debate are the cornerstones of all progressive movements. Now we can 'block' each other if the beliefs do not match our own, further distancing ourselves from meaningful and thoughtful points of view. By reaching across the world in an infinite amount of places with wifi, we've actually narrowed an already tight bubble dome dystopia around our close-minded thoughts we all harbor just beyond reasoning and understanding. This was all sparked from Trump winning the election by the way, I unplugged the day after in a completely smothering confusion of how the hell it happened. Plus a hangover.

Discrimination doesn’t make much sense to me. Humanity is the sum of its history and each person a sum of their experience, creating a uniquely different life based on an innumerable amount of victories and defeats. And these differences are what we all have in common. A commonality true of every person, ever. So how can any one person judge another? For the judgment of another, places judgment upon oneself as well. The true balance of the universe – you gain what you give and lose what you take. Sadly, our species allows fear to rule and in turn, we fear our species ignoring love over hate.

And truthfully, even writing all this is judgemental in its own way and I too am being judged hardest by mine own self. And understanding this, seems the first step along the road to acceptance. Assuming this road has an end. Which by all accounts it could not. Another human perspective - that everything has an end. And there is another similarity to consider where all of humanity is related, that our time will one day run out and that this is fucking frightening. So lay off a little, and make the effort to understand each other. Sure he said that about pipelines, or she said this about Trump, or a bunch of folk have a perspective about Castro. Nothing is black or white, we're all stuck in some muddy colourless mush up to our ankles, but we're all here together. Maybe we need to re-evaluate what is important to each of us, and what is merely a distraction. Go Oilers.

You're welcome Kitty

First entry here was a gift I wrote a few years back. It's a kids story more or less, a Little Ryan Adventure.

When I was little, like real little, like hard to remember little, I had a sand box. And it was cool. I had so many little friends come over to play in my cool sandbox. So many. Even when I wasn’t there. I mean it’s a sandbox, it’s not like I could lock it up when I’m gone or anything.

            It was so cool in fact, that people weren’t the only ones who loved it. Our kitty loved it too. So did other neighborhood cats. And dogs! They would dig and dig until the soft white sand turned brown from the soil below.  This was weird to me as a little guy. I’d been playing in this soft white sand and then... where was this brown coming from? I tried to dig to see if it was just in that one spot. But it was not. It was in a lot of spots, all over the box. So I dug it all out to make sure, until all my soft white sand was on the outside of the box - now just a brown hole surround in white.

            You know what it looked like, this hole in our backyard? An anthill. It looked like an anthill for giant ants. A giant anthill just sitting in our backyard. What if it attracts giant ants! It’s so cool looking and popular and it’s summertime and there’s cat poop in it! Ants love poop don’t they… Oh god!

So I hosed it. I rolled out the backyard hose and filled that sucker full of water. Ants can’t swim you see so if I made it look like a pool they’d never come and my kitty wouldn’t get eaten. And I loved my kitty. Even if she did poop in my sandbox.

But mission was not accomplished. The water wouldn’t stay. It would just sink into the ground, there was no pool… Oh god! They could be there any minute, giant pincher claws cutting kitty in half. I had to do something!

And something I did! Connected to the basement was a door and beyond that door was my dads workshop with tools and things, right close to my sand box. My brother would always use that door to sneak out late at night. Probably to play in my sandbox. But that day I was gonna use it to save kitty's life. And I had to act fast, the sound of hundreds of giant ants was getting closer and closer!

So into the basement I went, tools piled all over the place, nothing really that useful honestly. Except maybe some raid cans and bug killer stuff. But what is that going to do to a giant ant? It’ll just sneeze at me and then cut kitty in half. No! I needed a better plan. Behind the door I found a shovel. It was heavy and rusty, but it could still shovel stuff, and that’s exactly what I need it to do!

With the ants getting closer and closer I hurried to the back yard and made that shovel, shovel! If I flattened it out and made it look like any old dirt, the ants would miss it. They’d stampede on by like nothing and I’d whistle to myself and pretend not to see them. The perfect plan!

I began scooping the white sand first, to flatten the pile, and then threw it all over the grass. The wider the spread of sand, the harder it’ll be to spot and time was running out. But the sand was wet and heavy and would pile up creating smaller ant hills all over the yard.  Oh god! With every shovel, I had to slam the pile flat as a pancake. Every scoop a fake breakfast. I destroyed that hill and made delicious pancakes all over the grass. No ant bigger than a cat hair was gonna nest here now. And those guys were okay. They’d clean up my pop when I spilled and eat wasps and flies and stuff. Wasps are the worst.

“Ryan Scooter Corkle!” said my mom from the deck. “Put that shovel down right now.” I made it, just in time. I knew those ants were looking this way. They probably heard mom yelling and were eyeing up the land right now. Too late suckers! Nothing to see here! I slammed that shovel down. Job well done. Just then, mom was coming toward me, fast-walking across the grass. Fast-walking means I’m in trouble. It always means that.

She grabbed my arm and held it high, then slapped my butt. Told you that mean that. “What do you think you were doing?” She asked. “Saving you.” I replied. She just stared at me. For a while too. Any stare like that feels like a while when you’re a kid though, so I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t that long. “Inside now. Go have a shower.” She let go of me and I walked up to the house. When I got to the back deck I looked back at mom. She just stood there, staring at all the sand in the yard. And I could see it all now. No giant ant was gonna find this yard, no way!

And then she looked out into the field in the back yard. Tall dry grass for a pool length. And at that moment, I knew she saw them. She saw the butts of giant ants moving away from us, looking for their next hill to live in. Their big buggy butts waddling away in defeat like a bunch of sorry suckers! HA!

“You’re welcome kitty.”