What Can Happen in a Second

(My best friend for christmas gave me a book called 642 Reasons to Write this was the first prompt. A simple question, “what can happen in a second?” brought this about, idk if it’s worth a read that’s for you to decide. It only takes a second to decide what you’re going to occupy the succeeding seconds with, so in that second I decided to be arguably productive.)

What can happen in a second? If you think about it a second is a long time. It takes a second for a bullet to reach your heart. Only a second from when a beautiful girl catches your eye until your heart starts racing. A second can make or break a relationship, there is only a fraction of a second difference between “I love you,” and “I think we should break up.”

A second is the difference between winning or losing. I was in a race in higschool, 100 meter freestyle swim. My opponent and I were neck and neck way ahead of the other racers. Each stroke put us ahead or behind the other. We had no idea, however, we only wanted to be the fastest we could. It’s hard to see your opponent in the pool and looking would cost an all important second. A second away from your time and in a race that often takes a minute ± 4 seconds that is a lot of time. The race ended in just under a minute; 56 seconds for him, 57 for me. In that second all of the immense effort I put forth into swimming my ass off became meaningless as it only meant 2nd place. I’d beaten my best time, and most of my teams best times, but in that second I became second place.

Paramedics work in seconds. In that second that they lost getting stuck behind a wall of idiot drivers at an intersection they lose the heart attack, spider-bite, stroke victim they were racing toward. Same with police or firefighters. Any emergency is measured in fractions of a second. I’m sure and have heard stories of people being saved on 9/11/01 by the second they “wasted” at a stop sign, or turning back for their keys, or dressing their kids.

Songs and film even paintings work in seconds. In a second a piece of music can swell to a heart wrenching crescendo, or an actor can deliver that one line that brings the whole plot reeling from twist after twist to that final satisfying conclusion. When observing a painting, the extra second one takes to breathe and truly open their eyes to it can mean the difference between understanding or disregarding the piece.

In writing a second can mean everything. In the second that a potential reader takes to read the title or the first line of a story is the subconscious decision to continue reading or putting the book down.

The universe was created in a second, it took several more for it to become what it is, but it only took a second to explode into being. You, me, and everyone who’s ever lived were created in that final climactic second of passion. Well, speaking technically (read: less poetically) some people were created in that second of fertilization when a sperm – be it from the oh so satisfying natural way or the miraculous life changing science of insemination – all humans were created.

So there you have it, all life, humanity, animals, everything began in a second, and every second afterward can mean the creation or destruction of any number of things. So, and I usually steer away from such platitudes, but it seems so appropriate to say now, make every second count.

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Nonproblems of a Member of the Privileged Class

This afternoon I was struck with the dire decision of where to get first meal. I’d slept in later than normal and when I got up my roommate was watching the episode of sherlock with That Woman. So, of course, I had to stay and watch before getting on with my routine of yoga, breakfast burrito, coffee and writing.

Anyway after watching I was way to hungry to do yoga but also feeling fat so the breakfast burrito was out of the question. Now incredibly hungry, a little stoned, and without the predetermination of a routine I got into my car and haphazardly drove off to figure it out on the way. As some of you may know that was a terrible decision.

As I waited at the first stoplight the true weight of the matter fell upon my feeble mind. Where would I eat? The myriad restaurants passed through my mind faster than I could process them as every car on the road seemed like they wanted to slam into me. It had to be somewhat healthy (veggies, no grease, etc.). I know I was disgusted with myself too however I skipped yoga, my dubious excuse for eating like an american, but everything that came to mind was the opposite.

Breakfast bagel from my favorite spot? No, right direction but too late. Breakfast burrito? No, stupid. Okay fine, something from the coffee shop? No not enough food. The buffet of choice overwhelmed me as I drove aimlessly. I lamented the plethora of choice and my own indecisiveness. It seemed there would be the perfect solution if only I sifted through the proverbial haystack.

That or I should just pick something, anything, and get on with my day. I mean, it’s all clean, edible, and in most cases delicious. How was this even a problem. In fact it wasn’t and shouldn’t have been at all. The plethora of choice of food is the pinnacle of society.

I began imagining a nondescript third world community of huts, scavenging the slim amount of edibles from the plain on which they live. They had no problem deciding what to eat all they could do was happily accept the bland wheat and whatever meat would pass by. Their entire life is based around scarcity. Everything from what they could eat to their job in the community is determined by working with what they have.

I envied them. In The States, well at least the part in which I live, there is no scarcity. We have an abundance of places to eat, types of jobs and anxieties about which to choose. It reminded me of an episode of Malcom in the Middle where Malcom was caught in the middle of the indecision the plethora inevitably creates. He was faced with choosing a career, and only told he could be whatever he wanted. Some would see that as nice problem to have, especially the fictional third world community I made up above, others would point out it’s fiction.

However, it points to a very real problem what do you choose when you could literally do anything and nothing seems right.

Then my stomach growled and I was on a road with no food at all so I pointed my car toward the coffee shop and settled on the terrible sandwich shop next to it and wrote this.

A Love Story, Part 1

Bananas, or My First Lesson

 

Everyday I take the same way home after school; go left out of the main entrance, walk three blocks, turn right, pass the zoo, and my house is four blocks down on the left. Its a simple route that my dad taught me when I was in 3rd grade and I’ve been taking it ever since. I’m nearing the end of 8th grade now and soon I’ll be in a new school, and I’ll have to take a different way home; maybe I’ll have to take the bus, maybe it’ll be miles away and there won’t even be a bus. As I was overthinking every possible danger of my new route I heard the familiar howl of my friend bananas.

 

“Bananas,” I call back with the name I’d given him the first day I walked home on my own.

 

“Where are you, I hear you but I can’t see you” I yell to him playfully as he bursts out of the trees and lands on the bars. He howls and screeches at me as if he’s catching me up on the events of his day. I pull out the banana I always bring to give him on my way home. He crawls down the bars to meet me at shoulder level and starts grabbing at the banana.

 

“No, Bananas, what did I tell you about manners? Now ask politely.” He complies and asks in his native tongue for his banana as I peel it, “here, since you asked so nicely” I hand him his banana then unwrap my own. We sit for a moment enjoying our fruit, usually I run my mouth when I meet up with bananas at the end of the day but today, I guess, I just had too much on my mind, or not enough. He just sits there, though, as unexpectant as ever. I’ve always like that about him, sometimes its nice not having another person around. They always expect you to contribute when sometimes you just want to focus on yourself.

 

“I’m going to miss you bananas, next year, when I’m off to high school. I really hope I can make time to see you, but my older brother keeps telling me ‘enjoy this time, you’re not going to have time to later.’ He’s an idiot though, he always tries to scare me with that stuff.” I pet bananas as I explain, he lengthens his body to extend the feeling of my hand on his fur each time I stroke it. “I don’t know, maybe he’s right, he always comes home and closes his door and doesn’t come out until dinner. Mom and Dad did just give him a computer though, he’s probably just playing with it the whole time. I can’t wait to get my own though, he says its the best thing ever. Well, he says the internet is the best thing ever, he never says why though, I mean I’ve used it before, it is pretty cool; I can do all my school work on it without having to go the library and carry books, but I’m always locked out of stuff on it.”

 

I continue absent-mindedly petting him, he purrs and closes his eyes, he still hangs on the bars, lower now as I’d taken a seat against the fence, and enjoys his banana. I take a bite out of mine. We sit again in silence. The only sounds are the common and usually ignored; cars passing on the street behind me, passersby patting the ground with their feet, and sometimes brief confused whispers between pedestrians as they pass by me sitting at the fence of the zoo as I stare glassy-eyed in no particular direction while I stroke my friend.

 

“You know, Bananas, I think you’re the only one that ever listens to me. Yeah, my parents always say I can tell them anything but its so uncomfortable talking to them about… stuff. Mom always tells me to talk to Dad, Dad always tells me to talk to my brother, and he just tells me to google it and when I do its blocked. I just want to know why Jenny makes me feel weird.” Bananas twitched drowsily while I continued to pet his soft little body. “I just get so… so weird when I talk to her now; like, my body tenses up, I start mumbling and forgetting my words, then, the worst part, my stomach feels like it’s fallen out completely and I feel like I might throw up all over her. I’ve known her all my life, and, I mean, we’ve grown up together. We’ve always been in the same grade. We used to live next door to each other and play everyday. I remember our moms used to wash us in the bathtub together when we came inside covered in dirt.” Bananas wriggled under my hand so I took it off and let him stretch, when he was done he laid on his belly, fully extended now in the dirt on the edge of his habitat. He opens one eye and looks up at me expectantly so I continue to stroke him. “We did everything together; made mudpies, played doctor, climbed trees. She’s my best friend and now I can hardly look her in the eye.”

 

“Who in the eye?” Bananas and I both jump out of our skin, he curls up and retreats slightly under a bush as I look around to see a familiar face.

 

“Jenny, hi!” The words stumble out of my mouth as I fall over myself to greet her.

 

“Hey I thought I’d find you here, I wanted to hang out with you after school but you left in such a hurry.” She says as I hug her. My stomach flips upside down and I can’t find anything to say to her.

 

After a pause she says, “Who were you talking to?”

 

“Just bananas, he’s my friend.” I reply, I really hope she didn’t just hear my voice crack.

 

She giggled even before I finished my thought, and it just made my stomach churn even more. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen him,” she goes over to the edge of the fence and begins calling him out of his hiding place. “Bananas, Bananaaas,” she repeats this a few times until he eventually crawls out from under his bush, “Hi, Bananas, its been a long time huh?” She croons to him.

 

As she bent over to say, “come here boy, come here,” my eyes, uncontrollably and unnaturally, run the length of her body. When did her skin get so smooth? Had her hair always been so soft looking? Then, when my breathless eyes finally ended on her chest I thought, what are those; had those always been there?

 

I catch myself before she does and step a little closer to her. She already got bananas to fully come out of his bush and was petting him gently but firmly.

 

“I think he likes you more than me,” I say as I watch my monkey wriggle and purr more than I’d ever seen him before.

 

She giggles again, like she wants me to faint, and says, “yeah, I think I have a softer touch because I’m a girl.”

 

“Yeah,” I say back, forgetting every other word I’d ever heard.

 

“Hey, Timmy…” She pauses, seemingly entranced by petting Bananas. I noticed he was fully extended on the ground, trying to feel her hand on as much of his body as he could. It looked as if he’d never felt anything so perfect in his life. Just as I began wishing that was me Jenny looks up at me and says, “I came here to find you because today was the last day of school and I just really wanted to tell you, I think I really like you, like, like you, like you.”

 

I feel my heart fly right out of my chest, my stomach, nowhere to be found. My palms start sweating and my face explodes with fire, I finally manage to say, “uhh… bluh… guh…” She just continues to stare at me while she absent-mindedly pets bananas into an absolute frenzy.

She stops immediately and jumps away in terror, straight into me, knocking us onto the ground. I just lay there dazzled by her sparkling green eyes, “I never really noticed how pretty your eyes were.” She smiles the biggest most heartfelt smile I’d ever seen and wraps her arms around me pulling us up. Her arms still holding me tight. I wrap mine around hers, but now It doesn’t feel so weird, now I just feel perfect; whole.

Forgetting the Fundamentals, Or Why the Devil is in the Details.

Effort and return:
We sit and eat and watch, effortless, while others play for us, useless, death,
Inflated and exalted, leeching life, dead
in spite of our heartbeat.
They work and produce what we consume, necessary, growth,
Laboured and tired, giving life, dead
in service of a better life.

Language:
Words spoken and written and agreed upon in meaning, clear, defined,
Created and evolved, describing reality, understood
by everyone.
Intentions confused in pretentious choices or purposeful misdirection, foggy, shapeless,
Hollowed and debased, meaning forgotten, understood
by no one.

Religion:
We sing and dance and sip the wine, together, united,
Glorious and righteous, soaring accounts, lessened
for each other.
They weep from the pain in their stomachs, separate, untied,
Povertous and powerless, suffering dutifully, lessened
by the ones above.

Unity in separation, or one is all, all is one:
It created and grew and provided for us everything, generous, whole,
Separate and connected, encompassing all, living
as individual pieces.
We described and detailed it apart from each other, selfish, incomplete,
Separate and disconnected, dignifying differences, dying
as individual pieces.

A Leech Becomes a Lilypad

In this story we find a young man, an ordinary 20-something, one whose station in life has yet to be decided. He is not bright but certainly above average, and full of the passion and energy of youth. His time mostly spent in an altered state of mind communing and enjoying the energy and ideas of the peers closest to him. Ultimately, however, he was of no service to anyone outside this chosen community of similar leeches. His mind was full of how things ought to be, solutions to the problems of society, his misdirected energy has yet to converge with these ideas, and therefore were caged in his mind, of no use to society as a whole.

He’d attended school, as per the norm; grade school, middle school, high school, and for a short while he dipped his feet into the less structured and, to him,  more attractive world of college. Presently, however, he was stagnant, having lost interest in school after 13 arduous years; 12 mandatory, 1 chosen and regrettable. Lost, actually, may be the wrong descriptor for how could he lose something he never possessed. During this time he’d been advised by those wiser than he to appreciate this opportunity to gain knowledge without having to give in return, but how could he appreciate what was seemingly structured to take for granted? He was kindly forced to sit and stay and receive proper knowledge without regard to understanding and application. Some could argue he was a fated leech, for it was the norm to him to receive without return.

David and his closest friend conversed, inhaling thick smoke and altering the filter through which they saw the world, expositing theory after theory searching for nothing but learning and discovering many things previously unknown. He greatly enjoyed these talks and through them he gained understanding, for when they talked it wasn’t of the daily lives of their peers or checkstand-rag gossip it was of causes and effects, of the “why” and “how” of human action.

It was during one of these talks that david discovered an eyelash resting on his hand. It was thick and black, only about a centimeter long, he, being in a state which allowed for prolonged focus on normally unimportant objects, stared at it for a long minute. He noticed a the thick end was pure white, in stark contrast to the rest of its pitch color, he perceived the almost sharpened looking tip at the other end. “Taylor,” he addressed his friend excitedly, “look, I have one wish, I wonder what it should be?”

Taylor suggested, “you should wish for millions of dollars-”

“what would I do with it?”

“I don’t know, maybe buy a house, a nicer car, live comfortably?”

“yes, thats very true, but I live comfortably now; I have an apartment, I have a car, I eat well, I need nothing.”

“That’s true, but this all comes from your parents, and the meager amount they decided to give you, imagine you, driving your ferrari home to your huge house in newport coast,” Taylor argued.

“you’re right that would be absolutely fantastic, the life of a millionaire, but how much should I wish for? What would be enough so I never run out, after having this life I don’t suppose i’d like to stop,” David agreed, finally after much thought, “I was also thinking, what about the people who can’t even eat? I mean I lead a comfortable life-“

“well, I think you’d be comfortable in any situation, you’re you”

“sure, well, no I don’t think I’d like starving to the point of death, which, you know, millions of people do everyday, I could wish that every one lived comfortably and no one was in need,” He said, as he blew the eyelash out the window of his car, sending his altruistic sentiment to all the less fortunate in the world like a letter wishing you well from a relative who’s never taken the time to learn to spell your name.

David, content in his deed, continued his comfortable life, sleeping on a large plush mattress, lounging in a comfortable chair surfing the web and watching television. He’d read articles and keep current on the plight of those less fortunate, explain to others that something needed to be done. He’d tell anyone who’d listen believing whole-heartedly in the changes he was making, but day after day, month after month, he continued to read and hear of new plights and new groups of less fortunates. This was disheartening. After a long and rigorous summer, winter, fall and another summer of late nights out with friends and many speeches on how everyone’s lives could be better if they would just listen to him, his parents grew tired of supporting him.

“You have been living well this past year, but what have you to show from your leisure? You talk of helping others and that’s great, I’ve raised you well, but what have you done to make their lives better? You’re bright and have the capacity and the vision to really make this world a better place but you just go out with your friends and do God knows what every night,” his father explained.

Indignant, david replied, “Well, when I’m with my friends we talk and discover new ways to make these people’s lives better-“

“That very well may be,” his father replied calmly, remembering this very same conversation with his own dear dad, “but how have these conversations affected the world? What can you say you’ve done that has bettered the life of anyone? Telling people how much worse other’s lives are just depresses them, you’re not helping anyone, all you do is blow hot air-“

“But, if the world was a hot air balloon I’d be doing wonders,” david butted in sarcastically, realizing that yes telling people things they don’t want to hear does in fact depress them, “I see what you’re saying dad, but what am I to do?”

“You could go to school and learn I don’t have all the answers, but they might have some.”

This short piece of advice blew david’s mind wide open, had that been what school was for this whole time? To put in effort and attain a desired result?

“Dad, your advice has given me beautiful new insight, I finally see what i have to do!”

So when the time to register for school came around at the end of that summer he talked to counselors who showed him the proper classes to take, which he did, he attended every class and put all the effort he’d previously used so unwisely into his assignments. As his knowledge grew he discovered a brand new world of opportunities to better people’s lives. He continued in this fashion, ravenous and driven, all the way to the white house, where he rivaled the great FDR in his policy.

Reflecting, after his tenure as leader of the free world he looked down at his hand and noticed a small thick follicle, pitch-black, pointed at one end and white on the other, he smiled and shook his hand so that it floated away without a thought.