It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘dreams’

My Psychedelic Cat – Rev2

My Psychedelic Cat (Revised)

By Daphne Taylor Street

As soon as he heard the clinking of ice cubes in the near empty highball glass behind him, Eliot’s head pulsed in time with the percussion to an explosive clash, flinging his hand above his head to catch the diamond cuff-linked wrist of the menacing middle-aged noise-maker who winced in pain when Eliot’s claw clasped unforgivingly, cutting off his circulation. The highball glass fell to the overly-polished teak wood floor, sending shards of glass in a kaleidoscopic display underfoot of too many gleaming and sparkling dark shoes. And all the senseless and grating chatter was silenced by the first crack of the glass and replaced by the frantic pace of the hired help in the background ushering in the clean-up crew. The host, too dizzy from a high gin buzz to react, and the hostess too numbed from Xanax to bother lifting her head off of the red velvet arm of the sofa. It was late. But not late enough for parties such as these to end. Just late enough for all of the degradation of the wealthy to show through their pasty masks, and the banal plainness of their true characters to step forth and begin their first authentic introductions past midnight, or later.psycat

Eliot decided to leave, and he made his way through the obstacles of countless uptight mannequin-posed humans robed in formal wear and through the double stained glass panel doors, the size and weight of tall forest trees, swinging on easy hinges. His lungs inhaled an herbal infused smoky frigid winter breath, and his sense-recognition kicked into overdrive. He pivoted left, swayed his head in snake-like elegance and emerged as an apparition to the boys, appearing at once through the smoke-filled valet caboose–a blend of sweet hookah herbs blending with cigar and cigarette tobacco wafted through the air, and whiskey poured liberally. Without a word, he pulled up a stool to take his turn at the shiny red dice bouncing around a beautiful felt-lined crap table. He laid two one hundred dollar bills on the table that was quickly scooped up by “The House.” A late night game of craps was a young persons ritual in this house, reminding him of times past and moonlight dancing in clear skies and upon summer-tanned lakeside thighs glowing in natures reflection, marveling at how bright the night could be. As he tossed the dice against the back of the table, he looked at the faces of the young eager men surrounding him. Eliot doesn’t even look at the dice–just the men’s faces, and he stacks a set of 3 hundred dollar bills in front of “The House” and walks away—his philanthropic gesture for the boys’ kind hospitality. He could afford to be generous. He owed this and a hell of a lot more back to the world for all it has given to him. “The House” winks at him. He nods back.

He removes his own keys from the valet board, and begins strutting ever so slowly towards his car, distracted by a set of enlarging headlights and the small green reflection on cat’s eyes just up ahead. Disturbed by the inevitable end that is sure to manifest within seconds and feeling the full extent of his powerlessness of this soon-to-be lost life, he begins walking towards the upcoming scene of a very sad occasion. And screeeetch! Shreeeek! It’s done. Old Sammy the beloved tabby is no more. Eliot decides not to progress any further and instead hides in the shadow of a large tree examining the goings on as a few unexpected tears well up and drip down his cheeks, which he wipes swiftly away. From the driver’s side of a silver BMW unfolds a youngish and very tall gangly man in an awkwardly-fitted and obviously rented tuxedo. His shoulder-length dark hair is a bit stringy, hanging around his angular face. He stands staring at the squashed mess that once was a cat and scratches at his patchy beard, which is too short to be intentional. He turns back, folding himself again inside of the car, turning the wheel, bouncing up over the curb and onto the circular garden surrounding an ornate limestone fountain, glowing in soft a light that lies just before the front lawn of the estate. He parks there, under another large tree, then makes his way with freakishly long strides carried by stork-like legs with a black leather guitar case swung onto his back.

Eliot is intrigued, and decides to leave the poor cat. After all, he’s dead now. Nothing can be done to reverse this misfortune, and he did live a long, luxurious life, even by a cat’s standards. He winks and says a silent, Goodbye Old Sammy, my friend, to the loving cat that always greeted him fondly upon every visit to the estate. Perhaps the only authentically friendly face you’d ever find around these parts. Oh, he’ll be missed. He’ll be missed dearly. Eliot turns and follows back to the party, after the stranger with the guitar.

The stranger enters through those remarkable stained glass doors and makes a bee-line for the intoxicated host, Eliot’s father, who seems to come alive at the gleaming aura beaming from the stranger’s smile. He shakes his had vigorously and leads him to the parlor, and as they make way through the guests, Eliot’s dad actually looked excited, gathering the crowed to follow after them, saying, “This is Badou, Tallon Badou! He’s from South Africa—the Ivory Coast! Come, and hear this. You won’t believe your ears!” Even Eliot’s mother arose from her Xanax-induced coma, rising off the edge of the velvet sofa to revel in her husband’s delight and proclamations.

And so Badou began to play his guitar and sing and tell stories of decadence, obscene excess, war and injustice, greed and depravity—things hey could all relate to in myriad ways. And then he sang of skinny dipping in lakes on the moon and sniffing on stardust, licking the spicy trails of comets and taking trips through wormholes to new universes where gleeful aliens danced in bright waves of light.

As Badou played, the crowd packed into the parlor, and not one soul was outside of that room. Shoulder to shoulder they swayed and tapped their pointy toes, hummed and fixed their eyes upon the performer. And swirling colors of spectrum light incantations playfully petted the heads of each spectator, beckoning them ever farther, deeper into the magic of the bizarre world that was unfolding before them.

And they all danced and laughed and dreamed. And the walls transformed to puffy clouds that transported them above the Earth. They laughed and twirled and the music turned into something no longer audible—it manifested into being, you could feel it. Like the fabric of crisp linen bed sheets, you could feel the sound and be shrouded in it and play with it like warm ocean waves splashing against your skin, and you could dive into it, like a pool of colorful plastic child’s balls. And they did all of that. And Eliot watched. And they all glowed warm auras of moonlight. And Badou played his music.

And Eliot wondered when the last time was that any of them had dreamed—really dreamed of things never before imagined. If they dared, they might find themselves far less dull, he thought. Far less dead inside than he knew them to be. Maybe even alive.

And as enchanted things are, they go. So this was no different. Badou’s music came to a close. The cloud descended, the music ended, and the afterglow on all the faces of all the men and women dripped from their chins and arms and fingertips, like a haunted ectoplasm of pale pink happiness, it melted off of them, and their weary frowns returned to their rightful places. And things were once gain exactly as they were to be, as they always were unfortunately. The crowd applauded with exuberance and their plastic smiles shifted beneath their steady noses violating the statuesque botoxed cheeks that hate to be bothered with damn smiles.

Eliot feels a stirring in the pit of his stomach. It has quickly augmented to a deep burning. Hs nerves were unsettled at first and now it’s as if the rage of a thousand abused and banished souls have taken refuge in the pit of his gut. He feels something snap, literally snap, like a green twig in his brain, and his eyes blaze fire. He blinks and finds the calm needed o breathe again. And a cool, mad creature has become him.

Eliot sees Badou walk carefully through a crowd of praise and adoration with his guitar slung onto his back once more. Badou thanks his host who slides a wad of big bills into his palm and continues his slow journey out the door. But something makes him pause once more. A deep pain radiates from his side and down his leg—too sharp and agonizing to even make a sound, he falls to his other side, instinctively try to escape from the vicinity of the trauma. It’s still there. Wet, hot to touch and gut-wrenching. He can’t breath. He lifts his had to grab at his throat to find it covered, dripping in blood. Eliot sees blood pouring out of Badou’s side, and he looks down to view a sterling silver dinner knife, with deep red blood souring its tip clenched in his hand. Eliot drops the knife to the floor. He shuts his eyes again only opening them when he feels a warm, strong hand soothingly gripped around his shoulder. He opens his eyes.

Badou is standing in front of him, as healthy as the day he was born, holding Eliot’s shoulder. “Hey man,” says Badou. “You look like you just saw a ghost, huh? You okay?” Eliot nods. Badou gives him a friendly pat and smiles a gleaming happy grin, a great dichotomy it seemed in this place of misery. Eliot succumbed to the contagion and smiled back.

psychedelic_catBadou finally made his way out the door and towards his car, silently noticing Eliot following close behind. This time Eliot truly was wielding a knife, and Badou could he soft sobs whimpering from him. Badou continued to his car. Suddenly, Eliot lunged at him with the dull blade, and Badou caught his arm, struggling with him to the ground, near where Eliot saw Old Sammy lose his life. But Old Sammy wasn’t there. Instead, a crushed Heineken bottle rested before his raging eyes when Old Sammy himself, came up rubbing against the wrestling men, butting them hard with his loving head and shaking their bodies with his loud purr. Eliot immediately rolled off of Badou and onto the grass. Old Sammy was now between the two men, cleaning hi face. Smiling. Badou hopped up onto the hood of his car looking down at Eliot, “Friend, what the hell is your problem?”

Eliot began to sob, “I thought you killed my cat.”

“That cat?” Badou pointed to Old Sammy.

“Ye-es,” Eliot screeched out through his tears.

“Why would I kill that beautiful creature? Why, friend, would you think I killed your cat.”

“I thought you hi- hit him with you ca- car.”

Badou sensing the danger was gone, hopped off of his car next to Old Sammy, scratching him gently behind the ears, “No, friend. A beer bottle. And it retaliated. I could use some help changing my tire if you think you’re up to it.”

And Old Sammy watched then wandered off. Eliot and Badou took a look at him as he sauntered back into the garden, and his tabby fur began to lighten to a strange translucence, then took on an electric glow of pastel lighted colors as a fiber-optic fantasy in psychedelic patterns. “Did you see that?” Eliot asked Badou.

“I’ve seen that and a whole lot more, friend. What matters now is that he’s let you see, and you won’t be able to see anything the same way again. You should follow him. You won’t fit in around here anymore.”

Advertisements

Book writing process: strengthened the book and me

magic-book

I’m squaring up the loose ends of setting the content for a nearly 200 pg research-based book. Sounds daunting? Well, after editing, it won’t be that long. I suspect I’ll have it cut back to about 150-125 by Monday. The experience is the point of this post, though. It has been nothing short of mind-blowing and life-altering. It all began with an idea and a fifteen minute interview, followed by another ten minute interview. Between that and some research, it all began taking shape, and I suspect, so did I.

What do you value?

This is perhaps the most important question that has been facing me since I started on this journey, and the shifting answers to this seemingly simple question have been shaping my life through this writing process. No, this question does not appear in the book anywhere, and it has very little to do with the content of the book on the surface. However, I promise you that this question became the driving force behind the book’s construct, and it literally changed my life as well.

What do you value? For me the answers shifted between many things until they whittled down to just two. No, it’s no coincidence that this question is strikingly similar to another question: What do you want? (for those of you who know the co-author of this book well 😉 ). What were these shifting values? They were all over the map from good physical health to strong financial health and from stability to freedom with adventure, notoriety, “success” – whatever the hell that means, and fun all tangled up together in one confusing mass. And frankly, the couple of false starts I had on this book were the tangled mess that my values were, too. Don’t get me wrong, the  content was strong, and the organization was okay, but it wasn’t great. The whole project lacked greatness, because it lacked focus. Guess what? So did I.

Driving home one day from a job that was paying me well but was eating away at the rest of my values, it became clear to me. Everything became clear to me. I discovered the real focus of the book and its values along with the real focus on my life and my values. The core of this book is heart-centered. It’s about relationships, one relationship in particular, and holistic health–health of mind, body and spirit and finding and maintaining that balance. I realized that if I used these values as the frame of the book–its skeleton–the rest would fall into place. I pitched the idea to the co-author, whom this book is about, and she loved it! It’s all been falling into place ever since.

My personal values came into focus, also. During that same car ride home, I found myself miserable again–living once more in a perpetual state of ennui–a horrible, foggy feeling that I shook a couple of years ago when I resigned from a long-term career as a grant writer and communications director and turned freelance full time. I swore that I would never return to that state of mind, where I was an owned employee, ever again, and here I was, trapped in a cubicle-littered, florescent-lighted hell. I shuddered, and I knew instantly that I needed to make drastic changes to align myself with my values. But what the hell were my values? Too many to count–too out of focus. A mess. A couple of minutes later it struck me–all of those thing that I thought mattered to me came in the form of two things: freedom and creation. <– Those were my values!

I abruptly quit my job.

Daring? Not really. This last horrible job at least taught me what I was worth monetarily–I had been undercharging like mad until I landed some private clients through new-found professional contacts. I also learned how invaluable my work truly is to a business–I’m arrogant enough to have thought this all along, but to see it in action and have it proven to me was something else. So, I took the leap, without a net, and here I am falling off of the proverbial cliff. It’s okay, though. I pieced enough small projects to pay most of my major bills immediately, and I’m still scrambling to figure out how to pay the rest–with no help coming from the United States Postal Service, which has decided that it will take more than a week to deliver one of my client’s checks to me… but, I digress. This decision allowed me to do three critically important things: 1) Return to being authentically me and happy without compromising my values; 2) Open up opportunities exponentially so that I can resume the work I was meant to do to realize my dreams; and 3) Complete this book!

Oh, wait, this book development process also had other unintended consequences… I’m getting healthier physically by eating better and exercising more while also linking like-minded people together, which is manifesting into a small grass-roots movement. Imagine a network of planet-loving, holistic wellness-minded small business owners banding together to share their resources, cross promote and support one another for the greater health and success of their community. Yep. It’s pretty cool, and I’m in the middle of it all.

Thank you, book. And thank you, Forbes Riley, who planted the seed for all of this to grow.

Freedom Possessed (from The Book of Carver)

Poor chap. He’s obviously here on a tropical vacation. I can smell the stress oozing out of his pours mixing with the faint smell of rum frombeach-bar the night before. It’s about 9am, and yes, we’re sitting at the bar—a quaint seaside bar in a Costa Rica fishing village around Potrero. His eyes poured over me in an attempt to size me up, and he was a handsome gringo from the States. Sandy, blonde, disheveled hair with a sturdy athletic build framing a small, plump belly that no doubt served as the aftermath of far too many craft beers. I’d say that he looked ordinary and familiar, except that over the three months that I have been living here, the familiarity of America had dimmed to the flickering of a candle—a memory that I can still recall, but only in glimpses.

 He began three seats over, and I pretended not to notice him much. Within the course of a full minute, he had maneuvered his way to the seat next to mine through a series of gestures, beginning with taking a lime out of the bar caddy to squeeze into his seltzer water, then shifting over to give room for his right leg, which sported the faint scar of a jellyfish sting.

 “Hi. I’m Carver,” he said, and reached his smooth hand over to offer mine a polite shake.

 I took his hand and cupped them in both of mine, rolled his palm upward and began tracing the lines with my finger. “You’re here on vacation. You had a terrible encounter with a sea creature when you first arrived, and you’re only hear for less than two weeks. You drank too much rum last night, but your leg is feeling much better.” I continued examining the palm of his hand.”

 “You read palms?”

 “No. I just don’t think you’ve ever done a hard day’s work in your life,” I winked at him and smiled. “I’m Veronica,” I said, as I smoothed over his hand and gave it back to him. He suddenly broke open with a smile that engulfed his entire face, and he lit up with beams of gorgeous energy. I’m certain I blushed, so I looked away to conceal my excitement.

 “Do you live here?” he asked.

 “I think so,” I said and turned back to him. “I’ve been here for three months. An expatriate of sorts. I don’t know how long I’ll stay. I’ll stay as long as I like.”

 “Wow. An extended vacation. Must be nice. I might have met a rich heiress, or just a freedom-loving beach bum who roams the world unencumbered. Intriguing. I want to know your story.”

 Oh, and what story is that?” I asked leaning into him slightly.

 “What is your take on being rich or freedom-loving?’ He looked down and his face dimmed as if he were being reminded of all that stress that had recently started melting away from him. “I could sure use a different perspective right now.”

“You really want to know. Want to know what I really think about all of that?”

 “You have no idea how badly I need to know,” he sad as he craned his neck over to glance into my eyes.

 I placed my hand gently on his shoulders and glided my fingers over them, “Well then I’ll tell you.’

 “About money. I prefer having money over not. I’ve had a whole lot of both. But, I’ve also learned that I prefer freedom over money. I used to think that money could buy freedom, and that it broadens our spectrum of choices. That’s only partially true. It matters where the money comes from. In looking drearily over the state of our political affairs back in the States, it’s clear the effects of having a bought government has on our liberties. The same can be said for most Americans. We are a bought society mostly, as most of our countrymen (and women) are owned by another corporation or set of persons for the better part of their day, nearly every day, with some temporary time off for good behavior. During the time we are at work—another party benefits far greater for our service than we do, and the majority of our actions, behaviors and even image is dictated by another. And, usually, the better we are at feeding the monster’s greed in some fashion: money or prestige or obedience, we are rewarded with a small share of money for ourselves and a few regulated freedoms.”

“Some smaller than others, and yes. I can’t disagree with any of that. But what can we do? We have bills, mortgages, responsibilities. We must obey,” he said, sitting up straight and taking a few gulps of his soda. “We’re in the machine—just a cog in a dysfunctional, evil wheel.”

 “Well, we don’t have to have all of those responsibilities. That’s the first part of the trap. We need shelter, food and clothing and a few dollars to help us get around and handle an emergency if needed. That’s it. It’s all the other shiny stuff that lures us in, and then we find ourselves trapped. Or perhaps we just think we’re trapped. In fact, they left the cage door open. We just didn’t realize it. We continued behaving like we were trapped, so they didn’t bother locking the door. They got lazy because so did we.

 “Okay, but if walking through that door really was easy, don’t you think more people would do it?” he said.

 “Most people never see the beast. One day, I saw the monster for what it was. It showed itself to me, and I spit on him. I took the most unimaginable leap into freedom that most people could not fathom, and I walked out into a sea of limitless uncertainty. It was easy for me to do—I just put the focus on “limitless” and used the power of uncertainty to fuel my adventure!”

 “Oh come on! I believe you’re good. But you didn’t escape clean like that. I know you didn’t,” he said.

 “I made a few small missteps along the way. At one point, I became “self-employed,” working on projects with dozens of individual clients, and it didn’t take me long to realize the horrible truth—that I had traded in one master for many! The only thing that I had taken control over was my earnings. I was still owned.”

 “I can see that. But, then what? That didn’t land you here, did it? You still need to pay for the shelter, food and clothing, right? Someone has to provide the cash for you to do it, and you are accountable to them for something, right?” he asked.

 “Sure, and that wasn’t the end of my mistakes, either. In my ennui, knowing that I didn’t want to be owned by these people either, I started doing more things I enjoyed for much lower pay, and my income and expenses were not even remotely in synch. A little of that had to do with me helping to support a sick family member… back to those emergencies I mentioned. So, I was in a whole, behind on most of my bills, and I needed to catch up. Along came an opportunity—one high-paying client. After three months there, and allowing another fluorescent-lighted cubicle littered hell to eat my life for a bit, I walked away.”

 “But,” I said, “I walked away with an epiphany. I learned that I could command a much higher rate of pay than I thought. My expenses had already been reduced to a minimum, combine that with a high rate of pay, and now I’ve found the balance that I needed. I take on just enough work, doing work that mostly I enjoy, for people I enjoy working with, to cover my expenses and a little more to pad the wallet for rainy days and my work can keep me roaming about the planet as I please. I can do what I do from any corner of the globe where I have internet access.”

 “And that mostly sums up my perspective on money and freedom and how I like to keep it balanced for me. Not to fulfill everyone’s dream—my dream.”

 Carver stood up, and rubbed his eyes, then he slowly began walking away back to his motel room.

 “Where are you going?” I asked.

 “I’m instructing my brother to sell my Porsche.” 

Tag Cloud