Quiet Water


Charlie Davis ran a bandana over the balding spot on the top of his head and returned his sweat-stained cap to its perch.  He liked to consider it his “lucky fishing hat” and last time he figured it, he’d had it most of the last 30 years of his life.  Today the luck hadn’t shown up, though; not yet anyway.  He squinted with one eye up at the sun.  This day was going to be a hot one.  The morning air was dead still and the mosquitoes were making the most of it.  He slapped one on his arm and flicked it into the water.  The pond was as flat and as perfect as a mirror.  Charlie didn’t mind any of this, though.  There was just something about fishing that made not catching anything perfectly okay with him.  Communing with the sun and the bugs and the water fed his soul in ways other things just didn’t.  He arranged himself more comfortably in his lawn chair with a creak and watched his companion dangle her feet over of the edge of the dock and swing them just above the water’s surface.

“How come they’re not biting, Mr. Charlie?” Andrea Sanders asked with a flip of her red 8-year-old pigtails.

“Just call me Charlie, Andie.  That’d be just fine.  Don’t you be worrying about them fish.  They’ll bite when it’s the right time.  Just you wait and see.  Just gotta be patient a little bit is all.”

Andie wrinkled her nose at him but smiled.  He adored the child and didn’t mind bringing her along with him.  It seemed to him her momma didn’t mind either, not that she paid much attention to the girl unless she was yelling at her.  That woman seemed to yell about a lot of things but Charlie didn’t have much to do with her.  He didn’t mind it; except when it came to Andrea.  At least out here she was getting some peace.

He was amazed such a beautiful child came from such a woman as that.  It made him wonder at times about who her daddy was.  He never asked and Andie never talked about him so he figured to leave it at that.  Some things were fine left hanging in the air.  Sometimes they just belonged there.  He enjoyed her company and sharing all he knew about fishing and it was enough.  He figured she enjoyed him just about as much because all he had to do was walk to his truck with his pole and bucket and she would come a-running.  He had to admit, if she didn’t, he would purposefully bang the bucket around the truck bed a few times like a dinner bell.

So here they sat together on the old wooden dock, bobbers motionless in the water, swatting at mosquitoes.  He thought to himself what an odd pair they must be; an old black man and little pig-tailed white girl with freckles.  This wasn’t exactly the norm around these parts, but Charlie wasn’t one to question life in this way and Andie he knew well enough didn’t see color that way.  They were just happy to be doing what they loved best.

“Charlie?”  Andie asked.

“Yes, child?”

“Teach me something new today,” she replied, scratching a mosquito bite.

He wiped his face and neck with his bandana and thought a moment.

“Yes, I guess yo’ right.  We haven’t had our fishin’ lesson today, have we?” he chuckled.

“Nope.”

“Alright.  Since these fish ain’t hungry I suppose now’s a good time as any.  Just be sure we don’t fo’get to keep an eye on those bobbers.  You never can tell when a fish is gonna come along and take a bite,” he winked.

This made Andie squeeze herself and shift so she was facing the water beside Charlie’s chair.

Eyes fixed on the pair of lazy bobbers she declared, “Okay Charlie.  I’m ready.”

He chuckled low in his chest and tugged on one of her pig tail making her giggle.

“Let’s see.  Today we’ll talk about the quiet water.”

“Quiet water?”

“Yes.  See how the water is all still and quiet, like a mirror?  That’s what I call ‘the quiet water’.  Now, the quiet water is very special, Andie;  like magic.”

Andie’s eyes grew wide and she tore her gaze away from the bobbers to look up at him.

“Magic?” she asked, filled with awe.

“Oh yes.  Just watch.”

Charlie and Andie sat watching the water.  After a few silent minutes passed a little fish broke the surface snatching a floating bug.

“See there?”  Charlie exclaimed.  “If the water hadn’t been quiet we wouldn’t have seen that little fish right there.  We wouldn’t even knows he’s there or what he’s eatin’.  So, like magic, when the water goes quiet it can tell us a lot.”

“That’s funny, Charlie,” Andie giggled.  “Anything that’s quiet doesn’t say anything at all.”

“Well now, that’s the mystery, Andie.  Quiet things can sometimes tell us mo’ than noisy things.”

Charlie paused to dip his pipe into a rumpled pouch he produced from his pocket and took his time packing the tobacco firmly into the bowl.  He watched the child as she watched the bobbers.  He knew she was chewing on what he’d said.  He could almost hear the wheels turning in her head and it made him grin.  Another little fish rippled the surface and Andie flinched.

“There’s another one!” she squealed, pointing.

Charlie chuckled again, “Yep.  There’s another one.  Just came like an idea out of nowhere, didn’t it?”

Andie turned her wide eyes to him again.  He saw she was nibbling at his analogy and doing a much better job of it than those fish were at the corn-baited fishhooks.

“That’s like them artsy folk,” he continue while lighting the pipe.  “Ever wonder how they get those ideas for they’s paintin’s or writin’s?”  He didn’t wait for a reply.  “It’s like if they’s mind wasn’t quiet water then those ideas wouldn’t never be seen.  Just imagine this here pond if all the little fish decided to jump at the same time.”

“I would be like a sea storm!” Andie exclaimed.  “Tidal waves!” she squealed and jumped up waving her arms around wildly.  Charlie laughed.

“Sit down, youngun, or you’ll scare away all those fish.”

Andie complied, hugging her knees tightly to her chest, restraining herself.

“As I was sayin’,” Charlie puffed, “if all these fish were jumping at the same time, the water would be too rough to see any of them.  We’d just be seein’ the waves and hearin’ the splashes.  We might think there’s no fish here at all; just rough water.  Just like folks and they’s ideas.  If they’s mind is all rough with all kinds of ideas jumpin’ at the same time, they’d miss the good ones.  So those artsy folk know the magic of the quiet water.  See?”

Andie nodded.

“Mmhm.  If you need to find an important thought in all those ideas swimmin’ around in yo’ head, Andie, you need to have quiet water.”

He paused to puff on his pipe and watch the bobbers.

“You mean make my mind like quiet water, right?” Andie asked.

Charlie smiled.

“Yep.  You’s a smart girl, you know that, Andie?”

She leaned her head against the arm of his chair and he patted her soft head.

“I wish my Mom thought so,” she sighed.

The words made Charlie’s heart ache and he hated it.

“Don’t you worry, child.  Don’t you worry now.  She knows you’s smart, she just don’t say it is all.”

He had to resist the urge to take the child onto his lap.  He tugged her pig tail again instead.

“Just keep yo’ mind like quiet water, child.  Everything you need’ll come like those little fish out there, one at a time so you can see ‘em.  Just be the quiet water and watch.”

Andie sucked in a breath and caught him by surprise.

“I’m going to try it right now!”

She squinted in concentration and stared hard at the water.  A good belly laugh seized Charlie up before he could catch it at the sight.

“Andie girl, you can’t force the water quiet by catchin’ all the fish first,” he grinned.  “Just relax yo’self and be quiet.”

“Oh, I think I get it,” she nodded, and settled herself quietly on the dock again.

Some time passed.  The mosquitoes buzzed.  Charlie wiped his bald spot at least half a dozen times and was doing so again when Andie sprang to her feet.

“I did it!  I did it!” she cried.  “I was quiet water then I got an idea!  I know why the fish aren’t biting!”

She raced down the dock onto the bank and began turning over rocks and sticks.  Charlie watched her in amusement and chewed absently on the stem of his pipe.  She crouched and pried a stubborn rock from the ground and turned it over.  She began digging at something then sprung up with a grin.

“I got one!” she announced.  “I got one!  It’s a fat one too!”

She ran back down the dock waving her wriggling prize.

“The fish don’t want corn today.  They want worms!” she cried waving the fat wet worm in Charlie’s face.

He let out a guffaw and clapped his hands.

“Girl, you done lost your mind,” he laughed.

Together they reeled their lines in and plucked the soggy corn kernels from the hooks.  Charlie popped the worm into 2 pieces and they re-baited.  Grinning at each other, they cast their lines again.  The bobbers hit the water with a “plop, plop” and they sat to wait.  A few tedious minutes passed when Andie’s bobber flinched in the water.  Then it bounced.  Andie squealed and grabbed her pole.

“Wait, now.  Wait,” Charlie advised.  “Be sure he takes it all the way under.  We don’t want to lose him now.”

Andie stood still as a statue, her face a work of wonder and excitement.  Her fingers were wrapped around the pole handle so tightly the knuckles were showing white but she didn’t move a muscle.

“Quiet water, quiet water,” she whispered to herself.

Suddenly as Sunday the little red and white bobber disappeared.

“Now, Andie!  Now!”  Charlie cried, sitting forward in his chair.

Andie gave a sharp tug and sang out in triumph when it was met with struggling resistance.

“I got ‘im!”

“Hold yo’ tip up!  Don’t let him get away!”  Charlie yelled.

Tongue caught in the corner of her mouth, Andie fought to reel the fish in.  Her pole bent sharply but she didn’t relent.  Her grip remained firm and determined.

“It’s a big one, Andie.  Oh he’s a fine one.!  It’s yo’ biggest one yet!”  Charlie sang.

Finally, the little girl managed to haul the catfish up onto the dock, panting.  Charlie grabbed it before it could flop back off and they both laughed.

“My, my.  Would you look at that fish!”  Charlie exclaimed.  “He’s big enough fo’ both of us to have us a nice dinner tonight.  Maybe yo’ momma, too.”

Andie swelled with her accomplishment.  She gazed up at Charlie as if frozen in the shimmering buzzing summer swelter, her green eyes fixed on his.  He watched the emotion moving behind them.

“I’m proud of you, Andie girl.”

The words were out before he realized he’d said them, but they were the truth.  He was damn proud.

Suddenly the child flung herself at the old man and hugged him.  It wasn’t just a hug with her arms.  It was a hug from her whole being.

“I love you, Charlie,” she whispered.

He held her to him as the world distorted and swam through sudden tears and he uttered, “Quiet water, Andie girl.  Quiet water.”

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Where are You Going?


Where are you going?  The future is a destination you’ll never reach no matter how far you travel and how fair the weather.  The past is a place you can never return to no matter how sharp your memory and how accurate your map.  These are both illusory places; castles built of smoke on shifting sands in the windy lands of the mind.  So, where are you going?

There is only one destination and to reach it there is nowhere to go.  You have been there since the day of your birth and will remain until the end of your life, yet it’s a place rarely glimpsed.  In this Shambala, secrets are revealed in its pristine breezes.  Life is as effortless as the sunrise and sunset.  That’s if you can find it with nowhere to go.

This place is no secret.  You’re already there.  The destination you have to go nowhere to reach is this very moment.  There is nothing else.  You have had this moment your entire life.  What you are doing or experiencing in this moment may change, but the moment does not.  You and this moment are inseparable; one in the same.  Embrace this and freedom is yours.

A Boy’s Question


This is the latest entry in the 100-Word-Challenge for Adults.  This week’s challenge was to use the words “… I’m exhausted. Shut the door behind you..”

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“What’s the meaning of life?”  the boy asked the old man.

Rearranging noisy bones he replied, “Life has no meaning, boy.”

The boy stared, thunderstruck.

“But why are we here?”

“Look, to know what life is you first have to learn what life isn’t.  And believe me, son, there are almost as many things that life isn’t as there are stars in the sky.  When you’ve exhausted them all you’ll have your answer.”

“But I’ll never figure it out!” the boy whined.

“Some don’t,” the old man agreed.  “Now, I’m exhausted. Shut the door behind you so I can rest.”

He smiled as the door clicked closed.

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To see my other 100-Word-Challenge entries go here.  To learn more about the 100-Word Challenge for Adults, read here.

Why I Don’t Use the Word “God”


Those of you who regularly visit this blog know the subject of most of my posts is spiritual or inspirational in nature.  I deviate occasionally into creative writing or sharing an interesting bit of news, but the crux is spiritual.  There is something interesting about this blog, however, you may not have noticed.  Very rarely will you find the word “God”.

I know there are people out there that would find this offensive.  There are probably those who find it at the least odd and in the extreme even atheistic.  How is it possible to write about spirituality without mentioning God?

I don’t use the word “God” because I feel it ultimately causes confusion, even if it’s on a subconscious level.  I leave God as the implication behind the words.  If you believe and how you believe are left entirely and respectfully up to you.

Evoking the word “God” is inevitably emotionally provocative.  People have strong ideas either for or against the subject and how they arrange their beliefs around it.  It’s a very personal thing and probably the most highly-valued and protected opinion an individual holds.

But here’s the tricky part.  Although people may share similar ideas about what or who God is, no two viewpoints will ever be identical.  What I experience and how I perceive something will always be undeniably a bit different than anyone else.  Perspective is always unique and in this I find a beauty so sacred I simply don’t want to disturb the stillness of your waters.  I want to leave the God experience utterly untouched so your own experiencing is pure and unsullied.

Regardless of how you believe in God, which God you believe in, or if you subscribe to any God-belief at all, I want my readers to be able to find a little pebble of inspiration somewhere in my words that’s been left undisturbed just for them to find.  Truth, as they say, is where you find.  I hope you find a little bit here.

A Perfect Rippling


Existence simply is.  It didn’t require religion to come to be.  It doesn’t require being right, devotional, or philosophical to continue.  It cannot be any less or more than it already is.  It simply wants to be realized.  It wants its Truth, which is not separable from your Truth, to be known.

Religion, devotion and even philosophy are paths or methods one can use to reach the Truth but they are not Truth itself.  They can guide one towards realization and conversely they can lead far away from it.  To realize Truth, one needs to be supple-hearted and quiet-minded.  If one is overly-attached to any religion, devotion, or philosophy then one becomes too rigid or single-minded in the fervor of trying to “get it right” and there is no room for Truth to enter.

Truth is not a blaring of trumpets or blinding lights.  It can’t be bought or earned.  It can only be realized. Truth is as silent and subtle as a falling feather spiraling slowly towards a pond.  It kisses the surface almost imperceptibly as it lights.  In that instant there is the slightest perfect disturbance in rippling circles to let the water know it’s there.  The water accepts it completely and moves with it as it will.

Don’t be surprised when you reach Truth to find there are no words.  There are no sky rockets or flags to wave.  There is only a perfect rippling in the moment to let you know it’s there and it will move you as it will.

“I said to my soul, be still, and wait…So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
T.S. Eliot

Courage


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” – Anais Nin

Sometimes the smallest things in life are the hardest to find the courage to face.  The most troubling of those, the 100-headed dragon, is the simple act of letting go.  As a child, all the joy, the fun and the wonder was in letting go and just being a child; being curious, being wild and untamed, not harboring a care in the world.  We were the wind that rocked the trees and billowed the sails of life.

But something happens as we age.  Life goes from being an unexplored beach of soft sand and whimsical sea creatures washed ashore to something hard and cold and formidable that must be shoe-boxed, pigeon-holed, alphabetized and ultimately controlled.  We find we’re no longer the wind but the tree struggling not to be rocked by it.  Our sails become tattered and torn.  Simply put, we go from letting go straight into resistance.  And if Life teaches us anything, it teaches us that resistance is futile.

What is it we’re holding onto so desperately?  The illusion, or perhaps better stated, the delusion that we’re in control.  Unfortunately control isn’t something tangible; you can’t hold it in your hand.  It’s an idea much like the color blue.  It doesn’t actually physically exist.  It’s merely an idea.  How do you control an idea?  You might as well try holding smoke in your hands.

Sometimes the delusion succeeds.  We get lucky and that thing we’re trying so desperately to control goes our way.  Victory!  Nothing tastes sweeter than victory, does it?  We congratulate ourselves on a war well fought, a job well done, and take up arms ready for the next life event we must vanquish.

Other times luck isn’t on our side and things don’t go our way.  Things are out of control.  We feel defeated.  We “should have…”  “If only…”  Shoulda-coulda-woulda.  Time to beat that sense of control right back into ourselves so we don’t mess up again!  Grab that wheel!  Hoist that sail!  Tiring isn’t it?

I won’t deny that some things can be controlled, somewhat, by things like foresight, planning, acquiring skills, and saving but these things aren’t even guarantees.  They may better your odds a bit, but they’re still not a 100% guarantee of much of anything other than at some point Life will turn a corner you hadn’t planned on and you’re spinning out of control again.

The truth is Life has its own currents.  It’s a wide and amazing river we’re all traveling.  We can neither see the currents nor can we control them.  All we can do is go along for the ride.  The beauty is that we can at any time re-find the courage to become like a child again; to be the wind.  Instead of tirelessly paddling against the tides we can simply ride them, hands in the air, embrace the adventure and wonder at the vistas.

Let go.  Go with the flow.  Be brave.  Bloom.

The Follies of Dainty-Dilly-Dalliness and Mysterious Eggs


The dwarves sat effort-knotted clenching the gnarled stump between them.  Derp hunched, tongue jammed up one toadstooly-nostril with effort.  He painted a wobbly line on the robin’s egg.

“Ack!  My fingers are too thickish for this dainty-dilly-dalliness,” he huffed.  “I don’t like painting eggs. I want to go home!”

Herp leapt to his feet, his bad eye spinning.

“I can help!” he cried.

With a grin as big as summer, he dug around in his pocket and produced a suspiciously large leathery egg.

“I found THIS one in the swamp!”

Derp grinned at the croc’s egg.

“I think you should just keep that prize in yer pocket awhile, Herpy boy.”

 

This is the latest entry in the 100-Word-Challenge for Adults.  This week’s challenge was the second part of two.  We were to take the last 10 words of another participant’s story and use it somewhere in our entry for this week.  You can see the original challenge here.

If you’d like to see the story I used the last 10 words from, visit How the Cookie Crumbles and read that story here.

To see my other 100-Word-Challenge entries, and more installments of this saga, go here.