Dad, RIP

Dad, RIP

Last Breath

My brother, sister, and I sat around the bed our dad lay in watching each breath get more brief and shallow. It had been nearly six days of making sure there was no more pain, but that also meant there was no more ‘dad’ for us to connect with. I watched this once pivotal, bigger than life, story-teller of a man shrink and drift away.

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale.

And then a long pause.

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale. …

Another long pause.

We each placed a hand on him.

inhale. …

exhale. …

inhale. …

exhale. …

The vein in his neck stopped pulsing.

exhale. … …

We all looked up and said ‘good-bye’ as we imagined him finally being free of the pain he had suffered over the past year, both physically, and emotionally.

On September 2nd, 2017 at approximately 8:00 pm CST, my dad died.

The next hour or so was the three of us cleaning up the hospice room we’d been in for nearly a week, taking turns sleeping overnight, waking when his breathing changed, or chatting with family and friends who came to visit. But, to me, he had been gone for nearly a week.

With my wife and my brother-in-law present, both coming to hospice after dad’s passing, we said a prayer and a final goodbye as dad’s body lay in bed cool to the touch. We all left, and the funeral home people went in to take dad away for cremation. I decided to stay in the hall outside, while everyone continued to walk to the exit… except my wife who stayed by my side, holding me – just holding on to me.

I was his firstborn. I felt it my job to at least see his body taken away. Probably wasn’t, though. It was actually the first time I got choked up thinking about the fact that the man who had been there since the day I was born was really gone.

Denial

My feeling that this just couldn’t be happening had been going on for months. That there was no way dad could die from this stupid thing called cancer. His family genetics were strong and his own parents grew to be in their 80s and 90s, not a mere 74 years of age. His sister was sixteen years older and his brother, who had unfortunately passed away a little over a year earlier, was ten years older. How could dad die of cancer?

Where my denial came into play was only a few weeks earlier, just before the total eclipse of 2017 that was visible in the United States.

My dad had beat the cancer that had formed a tumor in his neck. Cancer was not a surprise. He was a weapon’s specialist in the Air Force during Vietnam loading up bombs, some of which were radioactive. He also smoked for years – apparently saying since he was fourteen, “But I’ve quit several times and can anytime I want,” he would tell us still smelling fresh cigarette smoke in the air.

There had been many issues as he had been in the VA system and from the time he was diagnosed to the time he started treatment was nearly three months or more. But we thought with the cessation of smoking, he’d have many years ahead.

There was no way he wouldn’t beat this too.

But a few months after finding out he had beat the throat cancer, they found spots on his lungs. His mental exhaustion kicked in. It was apparent he was tired of the process and had thought once he had finished the throat treatments, he could return to a normal semblance of life again.

Sunday’s were our time to ‘get out’ of the VA Retirement Home and grab a Dr. Pepper or snack and drive around town. While the conversations always started kind of negative, most of the time, by the end of the drive, there was hope and positivity.

When the treatment was to begin for the lung cancer, and dad’s physical issues really came into play: cataracts, on-going back problems, swallowing and refusing to even try to eat, receive physical therapy, or even speech therapy (for eating), I started to get really irritated with my dad.

How could he not do everything that was asked of him to beat the cancer?

Anger

Now here is where I vent.

We all were furiously frustrated with the VA System, the doctors, the hospitals, and many others for taking so long to get started. Once started, the process seemed overly complicated. My siblings and our spouses set up smartphone apps, email addresses, and more just to track all the medications, appointments, reports, logins, and crazy documents.

Dad would complain about the various staff, the doctors, the medications, the retirement home and staff, how he felt, the food, and many other things that escape me at the moment (or that I’ve blocked out).

All of us changed our schedules, missed meetings, missed days of work and home life. We tirelessly organized rides, made calls, and paid bills. All the while listening to our dad complain. ‘Was he always this way?’ I would ask myself.

His back hurt. He couldn’t see. He couldn’t taste anything. He couldn’t swallow. He couldn’t shower. On and on and on.

Compassion told me that he had isolated himself and needed connection.

Anger said he did it to himself. Sitting for ten to fifteen years in front of a computer, drinking beer, often smoking, not exercising, not eating well – or at all. He had ‘done everything’ he had wanted in life but did not participate in it at all. The few visits he had with his kids were generally relegated to us visiting him. His visits lasted an hour or so and he would leave.

Not always, mind you. He had engaged with us early on when he arrived after leaving his second wife in Canada. He joined a multi-level marketing company my wife and I tried involving ‘healthy’ chocolate. He even went out on some dates, but – from feedback we heard – they did not go well. He would go out to dinners, and events, and stayed active. Until he went to live by himself.

But I was angry because I knew if he didn’t do everything he could to beat the cancer, I would lose my dad. My dad who pushed me to do the hard things to be better. To follow the things you love to do. To experience the world. To – and here is where I get a little cheesy – seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before! Yes…he introduced me to Star Trek.

So when I got the call, after a particularly rough two weeks, that dad just wanted to go to hospice and die.

I was so angry I went numb.

Bargaining

“If only he hadn’t left mom and moved to Canada,” I thought.

“If only I had met up with him more often.”

“Made him get his back fixed.”

“Forced the doctors to start treatment sooner.”

“Been a better son.”

Yeah.  All that ‘bargaining’ and more went on and still does. But most of it goes back to wishing he had done things differently. I know that’s the selfish part, as now he’s not here to talk to, ask questions about the family, talk about heraldry, or just listen to his crazy stories. Stories, which we discovered after his passing, were what nearly all our friends in high school loved about coming to our house. Stories his friends shared.

I cannot recall a single fictional story, like short stories or novels, that he ever wrote, but I can recall a time my brother and I caught him making up a story to our sister’s boyfriend (way back in the day). It was the first time we caught him and it was huge for my brother and me to discover that, indeed, he made stuff up. He constantly defended his authenticity, but we knew the truth.

All that being said, I think the only thing I’d really like to bargain for is less for me and more for some of his friends and family. Too late we realized we could have used video calls to allow him some final words, but in the end, he said he was sorry. “I feel like I’ve let everybody down.” We tried to convince him we thought otherwise. And sad that one of his friends from high school drove nineteen hours to say goodbye only to find dad already drifted off in a morphine haze. He had said ‘no food or water’ and to bring him out of the drugged state would more than likely have been excruciating. His friend stayed for about three hours, visited with us, stood over dad’s hospital bed sharing some words, and left.

The trouble with dad’s oldest son is (as he writes briefly in third person), is that he knows what is right, why people do things they do, and can logically understand why his father made the choices he did until his death, but he feels let down – and guilty because of it.

Depression

This is not my first ‘death’ in the family.

Although I wasn’t as close to my grandparents, since they lived so far away in Pennsylvania, I still felt pretty sad. Though, if I’m honest, I think I felt more empathy for my parents at their loss.

My mother died twenty years earlier, suddenly. She had also struggled with smoking and severe alcohol addiction – one of the things that drove my dad away and had him file for divorce. We hadn’t ‘seen’ her for several years. Every encounter was a repeat of things discussed, or random slurred discussions we knew wouldn’t be remembered the next time we spoke. We were stunned when she showed up after a three-hour drive already intoxicated.

Luckily, after a second hospitalization due to extreme intoxication, an intervention with friends and family occurred and she went into rehab for several weeks. When she came out, it was the first time we had seen and heard our mom in years. She did the normal steps from those kinds of programs and apologized to us. We said, “We’re all still here, mom.” She looked and said, “Not all of you.” And we knew, she meant dad.

She had always said he had been a crappy husband but had been an awesome friend, and a great dad.

That year, several people she knew passed away. I attended a few of the funerals.

One week, mom called me at work. Busy, I told her I’d give her a shout that night. I didn’t call. I was watching a movie and feeling lazy.

Arriving at work early, I got the call she passed away the night before sometime. They were certain it was sudden. Sitting on the edge of the bed, one foot propped up on the edge, one on the floor, she was laying back with one hand on her temple – as if simply resting for a moment. I recalled the phone call and remembered she said she’d been fighting a bad headache.

The verdict was an aneurysm sometime after ten o’clock. About an hour or so later than when I said I’d call…and didn’t.

It was about two or three months later when I recognized that I wasn’t sleeping well, was breaking out into rashes, and otherwise feeling bad. I didn’t drink, at the time, but I did eat poorly.

Coming out of that experience, I know things to watch in myself for similar depression symptoms. I also know I’ve created an environment so stressful, that it is simply allowing me to avoid depression, sadness, and all the grief. I am careful in most other aspects, but part of writing this as a coping mechanism for what I’m currently feeling; hopelessness.

What’s it all for? What’s next? What am I supposed to do? How much time do I have left? My mom was 54 when she died. I’m 51 at the moment. Do I have another 23 until I reach dad’s age of 74? How can I motivate myself to do more? Be more?

Luckily, it’s all just ‘this moment.’ I’ve followed a fairly optimistic viewpoint in life. Maybe with a little pessimism. “Expect the worst. Hope for the best.” I heard…from dad, really. I have started three businesses in the past, endured heartbreak, loss, and failure. So, hopelessness for me is fleeting, but often crushing – only for a bit.

This phrase came to me while writing: As long as there is life, there is hope. As long as there is hope, there is life. I like that.

I wish dad would have believed it a little bit more.

Acceptance

This part has already come to pass.

While I don’t like accepting what has happened and will no doubt loop around the five stages of grief, I do accept it. Unlike my mother’s death, I was with my dad when he transitioned. I had better closure, I think.

Still so fresh in my heart, his passing, I still find times where I start to call him or think, ‘I should bring dad here,’ when I find a place or food he’d like. Reality quickly crashes back in, but not horribly. With my mom, it was more intense, but infrequent, and took a long time to heal. With dad, he made his choices, he lived his life, and he chose when he was done.

Mostly, and the whole reason I’m even slightly accepting of his passing is that I couldn’t stand to watch my dad suffer so much pain. My heart tells me that some of the pain he experienced was simply from numbing himself for years with beer, cigarettes, video games, and zoning out. That, in the end, he had to really feel all the things he had shoved away. Many conversations were had about mom, his leaving, his regret, and more. We’ll never really know what happened between our parents. Mom never really said. Dad only said a few things after mom passed, but they seemed – unimportant, somehow.

I’d like to think – envision – the two of them together as they were as teenagers. Before dad’s open heart surgery. Before mom’s struggles. Before money, fights, and struggles, that pushed them apart. Before their own parents passed. Even before us kids – though I know they loved us all.

No, I like to think of them back in their high school days, out with their science club on a hillside in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania on a dark night, their telescope out watching the stars, laughing, in awe, and thinking of a bright shiny future filled with possibilities.

Epitaph

David Earl Huber
Sept 30, 1942 – Sept 2, 2017
“See you in a bit” – Dave

Obituary
Facebook Memorial

On Pain

~ Kahlil Gibran

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

Heading Back to Elementary School

Heading Back to Elementary School

Sometime between sixth grade elementary and seventh grade junior high, my father brought home a tape recorder that was designed for hearing or vision impaired students. It was bright orange and all the buttons were colored and had braille on them. But besides being such a vibrant styled tape recorder, it had two other unique functions: variable speed and play-in-reverse.

It was AMAZING! I could slow recordings down, speed them up, play them in reverse (slow or fast). But, being a fan of radio plays, record albums with stories, and most of all, the Orson Wells version of War of the Worlds radio broadcast, I was able to reproduce many of the cool effects I heard in audio recordings.

In sixth grade, having been recently exposed to Star Wars (which was life changing for me) and being a fan of Cracked and Mad magazines, I had started writing stories that were parodies of my favorite shows and movies. Specifically, a series of stories titled “Star Crack” about a goofball captain named Captain Joke and his trusty science officer Mr. Pimple. They were, of course, amalgams of myself,  my best friend at the time, and a couple of TV characters you may be able to guess. He, the funny class clown, and more popular was Captain Joke, and with my newly sprouting acne issues, and more academic mindset (not to mention my ‘by the rules’ activity that landed me as a Safety Patrol officer), I was Mr. Pimple.

I won’t bore you with the adventures of the USS Refuse (the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy) or their first trip to the planets Caramel, Chocolate and Nougat foiling the nefarious Klingtoes evil plot by creating “Milky Way” candy bars to make them all fat. NO! I won’t bore you with that or their other adventures, but I will tell you what happened as we entered seventh grade.

No, not the awkward teenage issues (there were many) or bullies (there were some…that all seemed to have the name Tony for some reason) OR the Friday night skating rink adventures. NO dear reader, I will tell you of the librarian who asked if my friend and I would be interested in recording our stories, creating art, and making slideshows to set up in the library in a listening pod.

I was SO excited and, of course, fearful of being judged. Honestly, and more precisely, I was fearful that my crush – who shall remain nameless – wouldn’t think I was ‘cool.’ Not that she ever did. But other people liked them. So I did a few more and kept writing odd stories ever since. But those audio programs were just plain fun.

Some 40 years later, I remember recording various sound effects with some electronics kit I had, a trip into a black hole that slowed time (and lowered voices), as well as creating echoing voices in the empty underbelly of the USS Refuse’s empty bowels (ewwwww).

All this reminiscing got me thinking about all the tools, software and experience in production I have. So, dear readers, I decided to transform one of my recent short stories into an audio program. Not quite an audio drama, but more than a simple reading.

Below is a culmination of about 8-10 hours of production (and a few more hours of brainstorming and researching). Of course, I’ll get faster as I learn. Already I’ve found some great podcasts, gotten some good information on equipment, and otherwise stupendous feedback on how to make each one better. I won’t lie. I’m not going to pull a George Lucas and keep rerecording stories, but I’ll try to learn as I go along.

I’ve been trying to write and post a new short story every month and am currently at tad behind due to, well, you all know… life.

I hope you all enjoy this audio version of Palengenesis. You can visit the link if you prefer to read. I’ve added the audio version on that page as well.

Palengenesis

by Eric Huber | Stories from the Edge

Notes: I found a photo and video showcasing what is referred as a book player from the Telex corporation circa 1975-76


© 20016 Eric Huber. Palingenesis is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Artwork by Eric Huber

©2017 Audio recording by Eric Huber. Music from FreeMusicArchive.org | Kwartet Japonski I by Maciej Żołnowski | The Warbird EP by Tri-Tachyon | Additional audio from NASA

The Piano

The Piano

The Path

The feeling of the brisk air on his face, the sound of the wind shaking leaves from the trees, and the smell of pine in the woods on a beautiful sunny fall day all combined together did absolutely nothing to offset the feeling of utter loss Joe had experienced just a few short weeks ago.

As a man, Joe was taught that you were supposed to be the strong one. The one everyone leans on. He was not expected to feel loss, pain, or even suffer like his wife when a miscarriage occurred. And while it’s true that the experience is not the same, it doesn’t mean that a man, like Joe, could simply move on or ‘get over it.’

And when he found out that it was much, much worse than a miscarriage, that it was a trauma of such magnitude that children were not even a possibility anymore, Joe’s world fell apart.

He fell to his knees.

He actually broke.

But we all heal.

Scars cover the wounds.

And after time passes a man, such as Joe, begins to feel something besides pain and sorrow again. Every now and then he laughed. But immediately he felt guilty as he realized the enormity of what was lost.

It’s not just the loss of a child, but the loss of the entire future imagined ahead of him, his wife and the child, and the child Joe and his wife named Joy.

She was actually going to be named Joy. The irony left Joe and his wife with sorrow instead.

It wasn’t long before well-meaning people started saying, “You can always adopt.” Trying to give hope for building the family they had planned and talked about for several years. And while they could have done so, and it would have been wonderful, the thing they were ignoring was what was lost.

You see, Joe got to hold Joy in his arms on the day she was born. He stayed up with her at night when his wife was too tired. He watched her first steps. Made her laugh uncontrollably. Joy would run to Joe when she was scared in the middle of the night because monsters lurked under the bed, in the closet, or in the shadows. She would fall asleep in his arms after a long day of playing, laughing, and exploring the outdoors. Joe would carry her from his parent’s house to the car as her head lolled to one side completely oblivious to the world; trusting so completely that she never stirred. And when he tucked her in at night, she’d would curl up on her side and softly snore as she tightly hugged her favorite bunny doll next to her.

His wife stayed at home with Joy taking time out from her home business to play, cook, dress up, draw, sing, dance, and learn. They’d have entire performances ready for Joe to watch after he’d get back from a long day at the office.

Their inevitable trip to Disney World when she turned six was miraculous. Watching her wide-eyed amazement of all the movie characters come to life was sheer happiness for Joe and his wife.

Her first school dance. Her first heartbreak. Her first solo. Her graduation. Her acceptance to college. Her first big job in her chosen career. Her husband. Her first born.

Joy was a dancer and an actress and a scientist and a mother.

But none of it happened. None of it would happen.

It was all gone.

Other people just didn’t get it.

They didn’t understand what was lost.

Joe and his wife didn’t talk about it either. Probably not the best approach, but they knew they’d just break down. Joe and his wife stayed focused on what they could do in front of them each day and tried to take the time to just heal. They spoke to their pastor and found some solace in their faith, even if not understanding God’s plan. They believed there was a purpose. There had to be.

But sometimes, a man has to break away and step out of his life for a time to just get some perspective. Perhaps even some enlightenment elsewhere to be free of his daily routine that keeps him locked into his feelings and his loss.

Joe had been strong. But he needed to not be. So Joe arranged for his wife’s sister to take her away for a few days to break her out of her daily rituals and Joe planned to do so for himself. Luckily, his wife silently understood. She knew Joe needed to grieve as much as she had to.

And so, he found himself hiking in the woods, passing other hikers who smiled and commented, “Beautiful day for a hike, isn’t it?” Joe would smile back and say, “Amazing!” or some such thing until they passed and he could let his happy visage slip away.

His trip to the woods was on a day after several weeks of cold wet weather. But the trails had dried up enough for hiking and they were packed with people from town ready for some sunshine. It was one of the reasons Joe chose this as his escape from reality as well.

But there were too many people. He grew weary of the pleasantries and decided to go off the trail and create his own path in the woods.

The Cliff

Joe must have just gone into auto pilot as he plunged headlong into the woods. One foot in front of the other. Mechanical. Methodical. Meditative.

The woods, usually fairly spacious, started to close in with a lot more underbrush than Joe ever remember. Where there weren’t underbrush, there were huge boulders. He had to slow down and consider his footsteps more carefully.

As he moved through the underbrush, he looked up for a moment and noticed the sun was reaching the noon hour and clouds were coming together. As he did, he managed to step into a leafy patch that had nothing beneath.

His left foot rolled sideways and Joe felt tendons pop. Keeping his wits about him, he tried to roll to the left to keep his foot from slipping down further and possibly breaking. Unfortunately, a large boulder was all that he had to catch himself. He missed with his hand and, instead, hit the boulder hard with the left forearm and raked it down across it before finally hitting the ground.

Pain and fire shot across his arm, which he was sure was not broken, but definitely scraped and bruised – perhaps even lacerated. He quickly freed his foot from the hole he’d slipped into. He could move his toes, but the ankle was definitely sprained and swelling.

Joe laid there for a while, cursed a bit, and yelled in frustration a little more than he’d admit to others later. It was like he had to let out some primal screaming with the hell he’d been through – they both had been through.

It felt good. So still laying on his back, he screamed again. He screamed until his throat was raw.

The pain, sorrow, and loss were still there, however.

It didn’t vanish.

He didn’t know how long he had laid there screaming. He started to wonder if someone had heard him and grew concerned that someone may think he was in real trouble and needed help.

Slowly Joe sat up and took stock of his condition.

Besides his throat being sore, and his abs aching from the spasms of crying, he rolled up his left sleeve to find that his arm was pretty scraped up and a little bloody. He could twist his arm, flex his fingers and no blood was gushing out, just really bruised and battered. It wasn’t broken or fractured and definitely still usable.

Joe’s foot, however, was a little different. As he removed his hiking boot, and rolled off his sock, Joe found the ankle to be crazy swollen and the side of his foot, where he felt the tendons pop, were bruised and swollen as well.

‘Great.’

Sitting there, he again flexed his foot and wiggled his toes, all without any serious pain. While the foot was throbbing, there was no piercing pain. He thought that was good and counted his blessings.

Slowly, Joe rolled his sock back on and put his boot back on which caused some discomfort. He then laced up the boot tight and tried standing up.

‘THERE’S the pain!’ Joe thought as it shot from the whole foot up to his brain.

He quickly used the boulder for balance (instead of a cheese grater this time). Joe put a little weight on his foot and it was a little less painful. He took some time to take some short steps, and it got even a little better. The problem now was that he was a little off balance.

Looking around, Joe found a wood of some weight, length and strength and started using it as a walking stick.

Before moving on, however, Joe sat on the boulder and broke out his pack to clean up his bloody arm. While there, he also took a short lunch break and considered how he would proceed with his hike from here on out.

With the weather still nice, but cloudy, Joe decided to keep hiking. He hadn’t been to this part of the woods and was interested in what may lay ahead.

With his arm cleaned up, foot taking his weight, and pack all stowed, Joe grabbed his new walking stick and made his way through the brush which was still surprisingly dense.

The wind started to kick up and he could hear the sound of water flowing ahead. After some time and effort, the brush started to thin to the point where he just had to duck and dodge a few branches.

With just a few steps more, there was a sudden break in the tree line and a huge outcropping of stone lay ahead. Joe stepped out from the tree line and saw it was a rocky ledge overlooking a valley with a small river that flowed below – the source of the water sound he had heard.

Joe stepped closer to the cliff to get a better view just as the sun broke free of the clouds and shined a beam down upon the valley. It was glorious. All the pain and suffering of the hike made this moment especially fantastic to see.

Finally having a bit of a good feeling was nice, but as always, it didn’t last long.The guilt kicked in. Joe dropped his shoulders and slumped. His head dropped  looking straight down. When he did, he got a bit of the vertigo feeling and started to step back from the ledge. But just then, a thought hit him, ‘Why not just fall?’ Why not let go of all this pain and move on?

But Joe stepped back from the ledge suddenly and reflected, ‘What if I didn’t die and just ended up paralyzed? My wife would have to take care of me the rest of our lives… if she even would after everything else.’

Joe sat down and stared at the view.

There were no sounds now but the wind above and water below. No traffic from the trails. No highway noise. No planes. Joe was surprised there were no trails to this spot with such an amazing view.

He pulled his pack off and laid back on it using it as a pillow and stared into the sky.

After some time, he noticed two eagles played on the currents of wind nearly directly above where he lay. They seemed to just hang above him in the air at times as the wind was so strong and steady. He wondered what it would be like to fly on the currents of the wind. He wondered if these events were simply currents that needed to be coasted upon instead of fighting against them. The eagles didn’t fight. They soared.

Joe’s mind cleared. He stayed in the moment watching the eagles.

He listened to the water that flowed in the valley below.

He drifted into sleep.

The Dischord

Joe woke with the sound of music.

It must have been a dream. As he sat up, there was nothing but wind and the water nearby. The eagles had flown away. And the sun, still behind the clouds, was definitely lower than it had been when he nodded off.

Joe tried to remember what music was he dreaming about.

Getting up from his nap, he adjusted his pack over his shoulders and used his walking stick to stand up. Once again, the pain in his foot was jarring, but the more he moved around, the less it hurt.

He turned to gain his bearings and decided he should probably head back and that an overnight in the woods with the injuries he had may not be the best idea. While he had brought a tent along, he thought it might also be too cold in his present condition to sleep well.

Joe noticed that he had come through the trees a little further from the top of a ridge that the rocky outcropping and cliff seemed to run up to. He decided to go higher, walk along the ridge and head back to the trails and, eventually, his car.

As he he made his way heading up the ridge, over the shuffling of his feet and the other sounds of the woods, Joe heard a single noise that sounded like a piano key. A single high note coming from the woods.

He paused for a few moments, but the sound never returned.

He shrugged it off and continued up to the ridge.

As he approached the top, he turned and headed into the woods again. ‘It’s only mid afternoon and I still have plenty of time before dark,’ he thought to himself.

It was just as he entered the tree line into the rustling leaves, that Joe  heard another musical note. This one was lower than the first. It repeated several times before only the sounds of the wind in the trees returned..

Joe turned around several times listening for the sound to return and to try to get a bearing on where it was coming from. “Once? I’m imagining. Twice? I could be hallucinating.”

The music returned. A few ethereal notes played together floating gracefully and harmoniously through the trees. And then they stopped.

Joe locked in on the music and it was coming from straight ahead just over the rise. “It has to be coming from there.”

He limped and hurried as fast as his bruised and swollen foot would carry him.

Muted and rich deep sustained tones now carried on the wind drawing him ever closer to the source of the music.

But as Joe reached the crest of the ridge, he tripped and went tumbling head over heels down the other side hitting rocks and sticks along way down. Piles of leaves came sliding down with him as he skidded down the hillside. After what felt like forever to Joe, he came to a sudden and jarring halt as his his head hit the base of a tree with a sickening thud.

“SON OF A …. OWWWWWW!” he shouted face down into the leaves that had tumbled down the hill with him and under him.

Joe slowly rolled onto his side and managed to open his eyes to get his bearings as dizziness engulfed him and fire lanced across his chest from where, he knew, ribs had been broken.

Something warm and wet flowed down his forehead and into his right eye. He wiped his hand across his face and discovered it was now covered in blood.

Slowly sitting up, and as his vision cleared, Joe saw something that his brain wouldn’t let him believe was really there.

There, in the middle of the woods, in a very small clearing, was a grand piano. A squirrel sat on a few keys with a pecan in its paws. It gnawed on the nut and then tried to bash it against one of the keys making a repetitive plinking sound. The nut broke, and the squirrel shoved it in his mouth and leaped off the keys, landing on the lid, and scurrying across the back side finally leaping into and up a tree.

While Joe’s first thought was, ‘Oh, the squirrel was playing the music,’ his second thought – which should have been the first thought – was, ‘Why the hell is there a grand piano in the middle of the woods?!’

Dizzily, Joe struggled to his feet. He definitely bruised his back and side in several places, cracked his head, ribs (not broken, but hurt enough that it was hard to breathe), and discovered that his knee cap was also in considerable pain. But that was all overshadowed by the discovery of the piano.

Joe thought it was weird enough that the piano was there in the first place, but what was even more odd is that it looked nearly brand new with no weathering at all. There was no way anyone could have put it here. There were no trails. And although this was a clearing, the trees surrounding it would not have allowed for any kind of vehicle to bring it here, especially without leaving ruts or some kind of mark in the dirt.

‘I suppose a helicopter could have lowered it here,’ Joe said to himself looking up past the trees. But he shook his head as he realized the stupidity of the comment.

There was also a piano bench.

‘Why wouldn’t there be one?’

Joe hobbled over to the piano, a little scared, a little in wonder, and a little confused. He pulled the bench out and decided to lift the lid. There, inside, was a single piece of sheet music.

Joe picked it up and stared at it. The color drained from his face and he dropped the walking stick and grabbed the piano as if the world had started to shift beneath him.

He didn’t exactly sit on the piano bench, but rather fell onto it perfectly seated and still clutching the music in one hand and the piano with the other. His eyes never left the sheet music.

Slowly, he put the music on the stand, already propped up ready for the sheet to be placed there. Tears welled up in his eyes as he shakily placed his right hand on the piano keyboard, only remembering a few parts of music from his high school days, but enough to know a basic scale. In a steady rhythm, he looked at the first two notes, he recognized, were on the treble clef and an E on the scale. From there he ascended one key to F and then G. Repeating G, then down to F, then E, then D and finally landing on C twice before progressing back up to D, E and repeating E but holding a slight bit longer before briefly hitting the D key and then hitting it again.

Joe leaned back holding the last note for a moment before letting go of the note and staring a the keyboard for several minutes.

He looked around the woods, but no one was there. Not even the squirrel that had been there earlier was still around.

Joe looked back at the sheet music.

It was Beethoven’s piece, Ode to Joy.

The Melody

Joe sat staring at the sheet music for a very, very long time. So long, in fact, that the sun had started to set. And yet, Joe sat staring.

“I’m dreaming. This is a dream,” was a recurring thought that was accompanied by a numbness that felt akin to being drunk, stoned, or otherwise isolated from all outside thought other than what was right in front of a person.

Finally, Joe stood as if in a trance.

He gathered wood, cleared a space near the piano, and started a fire in a ring of stones he had painfully moved to the clearing. He unpacked his tent and set it up, hammering in anchor pegs, and unrolled his thermal sleeping bag. From time to time, he would stop, turn, and stare at the piano and the sheet music that never moved, even though a breeze would kick up from time to time strong enough to move leaves on the ground. But the sheet music never fluttered.

Night fell and Joe cooked food on the fire, constantly staring at the piano and the music. The fire illuminated and danced across the finely polished surface of the piano’s housing.

As the darkness of the forest enveloped his campsite, Joe slowly retired to the tent for the night, his eyes never wandering too far from the oddity that lay before him. His mind never wandered either. Nor did it wonder. It simply fixated on the music of Beethoven and the piano that existed where it should not.

The wind had died down and the only sound was the crackling of the fire.

As Joe slipped into slumber, he realized he no longer felt the pain he had in his body. The emotional pain was gone as well. There, in the silence and tranquility of the forest, something seen and unseen was moving about him. He didn’t understand why. Just that it was.

While the fire kept Joe warm, he dreamed of his wife and of Joy. Of days in the park. Of days of conflict. Of days of laughter. Of days of sadness. He dreamed of how he and his wife had come together and created this being of light who never got to shine, and yet affected them so deeply and forever.

Finally, Joe dreamed of standing on the cliff that he had slept upon the day before. Joy was by his side holding his hand. She appeared to be a young girl of ten. He could remember all ten years of their time together. And none of it.

He looked down as she looked up at him, smiling taking his hand.

“You didn’t lose me, daddy. I’ll be with you forever. Besides, I would have tortured you as a teenager.”

“You would have been perfect,” Joe said to her. She smiled.

“I have to go. It will be okay.”

“I know. But it’s hard.”

“You’ll know when it’s easy because of this moment,” she squeezed his hand.

“I know.”

Joy turned to Joe and he lifted her into his arms and hugged her hard in an embrace that he hoped he would never forget. An embrace of warmth, connection, and love.

She kissed him on the cheek and said, “I love you, daddy.”

“I love you too. You have fun, okay? Maybe I’ll see you again someday,” Joe said to her as he set her down.

“You will.”

Joy smiled and started skipping and dancing away. The wind picked up and it appeared to take her away and she dissolved into the sky as Joe watched.

Joe woke at peace, but still sad.

He slowly sat up, sore, bruised, battered, and yet, a feeling of acceptance. He was, by no means, over his loss. But the visions, dreams and strange occurrence in the forest gave him some peace.

As he opened his tent, he was not at all surprised that the piano, bench and music were gone from the clearing. No sign of it existed. Not even an indention in the ground. He accepted the experience as it was without any question.

Joe slowly packed up his campsite, strapped it all on his back, grabbed his walking stick, took a last look at the clearing, turned away, and headed home.

The Prophet

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet,
excerpt from On Joy and Sorrow

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises
was often times filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find
it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board,
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver,
needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Author’s Note

I love stories with a twist. And I also love finding weird occurrences in the world. This story was inspired by a news article in 2008 about a woman in Harwich, Massachusetts who came across a new piano fully tuned in the woods while on a trail and no idea how it got there.

But a weird news story is not a story. You have to have a human connection. Someone to travel with to experience the strange event. And it has to have some meaning or why make a story.

I wrote this story shortly after a series of losses that occurred closely together. Loosing both uncles on each side of my family (my dad’s brother and my mom’s brother) in the same year was more difficult than I care to admit. My mother died nearly twenty years ago. A member of our spiritual community also died in an accident. It brought up lots of memories.

I used the words of Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet in my own mother’s eulogy and have gone back to the text many times.

The point of the story, of course, is loss and hope and how part of our existence is filled with duality and extremes. I hope you all realize that even the worst experiences in life give us the contrast for the best experiences that life has to offer.

Ode to Joy

If you’re not familiar with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, here is a magnificent flash mob that builds and builds and builds. I like that this version is triggered when a little girl throws a few coins into a hat and stands there and watches the whole performance completely transfixed, but disappears at the final crescendo and final notes.

She also appears to be about 10 years old.

Coincidence?

© 2017 Eric Huber. The Piano is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Photo from Unsplash.com photographer Ryan Holloway of https://unsplash.com/@hollowaykryan

2017 Theme: Accepting the Glass is Half Empty Too

2017 Theme: Accepting the Glass is Half Empty Too

2016 was rough, ya’ll.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, and I won’t go on a diatribe listing what all happened. Because, really, some GOOD things happened along with all the bad. SOME good things came out of SOME of the bad as well.

But here’s something I haven’t shared and that doesn’t often present itself in public: I’m angry a LOT.

Not that kind of angry that I take it out physically on others, and don’t always lash out verbally. More of an internal rage that builds and builds until I feel like my head is going to explode. Sometimes, and more and more often, because of all the anger, I DO lash out much more vocally than my reputation of cool-headedness would otherwise be the norm. I can think of three instances that I wish had not.

Now, here’s the thing; I research, I try new things, I listen to stuff, I read, and more. All this to try to understand WHY I’m so angry a lot. I’ve sat in a group to exorcise it. I’ve drawn images and burned it. I even tried stuffing it WAY DOWN DEEP inside into a little ball and forgetting about it (just kidding…sorta).

One thing I read said, ‘anger lets you know when boundaries are being crossed.’ That held some truth, but it wasn’t really hitting the mark.

So what the heck? WHY DO I GET SO ANGRY?

Anger Sharks by Eric Huber
(based on a line from Anger Management)

Another Disappointment

Christmas is, traditionally, the beginning of fun, family, friends and time off from work from my business. A time to recharge. A time to plan for the next year. To set goals. To reconnect. To… relax.

This year, as part of the whole 2016 debacle, there was loss of a relative, a loss of a friend, and I got sicker than I have been in many years basically putting me down for nearly the entire break. The GOOD was that I did get to enjoy Christmas and felt a little better to be with friends and my sweetie on New Years Eve. But overall, it was a bust for what I had hoped for.

But a strange thing happened over the break. A random video popped up on a non-account YouTube channel that presented a title that gave me pause: “How Not to be Angry All the Time.”

Ding. Ding. Ding. Of COURSE I watched it.

And MAN did I disagree with it. A lot!

But there was something about it. Some nugget of wisdom. And I decided to stay open with it and ‘play’ with the idea.

Might watch it and then read more of what I’ve decided to try…

PESSIMISM? Really?

I’ve nearly always been a glass is half full, or even the funnier, “Even if the glass is empty, you can refill it” kinda person. My philosophy has been, “Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.” I always thought that made me a pessimistic optimist… or an optimistic pessimist.

But this video is saying that my anger is all from being disappointed that my deep deep hopes are being crushed by reality. That I should just accept that everything is horrible in the world and be a pessimist and life will be better.

I disagreed, as I said above, a lot. But I decided to stay open and see when I got angry and why.

Low and behold, I got angry when things didn’t go as I had ‘hoped’ or ‘planned’ for them to go.

What does this mean for my persona? My very soul!?? Do I need to become a pessimist to be happy?

 

Going to the Well

So… I researched, asked questions, even talked to my dad (who, most likely, was a source of my optimistic pessimism). Within a few conversations, people disagreed, but then came back to an interesting point. And, to my surprise, it was my father who said, after confessing he got the same message from his dad, “Maybe instead of ‘Planning for the worst and hoping for the best,’ it’s more of ‘Planning for the worst and accepting whatever happens.'” (I may have paraphrased). Accepting what ‘is’ then?

Realizing this sounded familiar, a friend said, ‘That’s Buddhist; Acceptance of what presents.” And my smart, learned, lovely wife shared, “You should let go of how you think things should be and accept them as they are.”

Man, they all pissed me off!

Just kidding.

 

The Theme, Then…

No, I’m not going to be pessimistic in life, but I think I understand. I believe I have, in some situations, adopted that belief.

The video says, “Despite all life experience proving otherwise, Fred has a deep deep hope that…” he’ll get the outcome that he wants. And when he doesn’t, he gets angry. I’ve experienced that with airline flights and I now expect that I will always have a delay. I don’t. But I expect it now. My reaction if it is delayed is simply, ‘meh.’ And when it runs on time, ‘cool!’

My theme for the year is to do my best to see situations as they really are, to listen to people where they really are, and to look at myself, where I really am. The glass is half-empty, sure. It is also half-full. Plus, it is a glass, and can be emptied and refilled. That’s how glasses work.

Here’s to an amazing year ahead. But if it’s not, that’s okay too.

Whoa. This might just work.

Palingenesis

Palingenesis

SYSTEMS CHECK

“Ground Command, this is Leo Station. Ground, Leo. Over. Ground Command, this is Leo Station. Do you read? Over.” Commander Su’e Inana finished her daily call to Ground Command for the 393rd day without response. Only occasional static was ever returned and the monitor screen continually displayed ‘no signal.’

She gave a slight sigh as she finished her broadcast and then turned to her duties to ensure the integrity of Leo Station. The station was located on the solitary natural satellite that orbited around her home world of Egom. They named it, Naan. There was no atmosphere on Naan and it had taken her people many decades to develop the technology to reach such heights after seeing it in the skies for millennia. A network of stations had been planned to spread across the surface and beneath, but due to various political and global situations, once the Naan had been reached, plans for expansion were delayed.

Su’e started, as always, by reviewing all of the command center’s various monitors, systems and readouts before taking a quick glance at the exterior of the station for any problems by way of cameras located outside on the surface of the Naan.

Seeing nothing out of the ordinary and with her mind at ease, Su’e left the command center on her way to the rest of the station. Before leaving, she paused and spoke, “System: Play ‘Ocean Sunset’ on all station speakers. Quarter volume.” A series of tones followed by the requested music that began to play. She smiled and manually closed the door to the command center careful to ensure the seal of the door was secure.

Su’e headed to engineering at the far end of the station to check all of the equipment operations even though the command center showed nearly everything was functioning nominally. She liked visual confirmation just to be sure. Once there, nearly all readings were in good shape except one, as she expected. She didn’t seem too concerned about it, but simply gave a slight sigh. All the equipment was running well, batteries were at peak charge, and the geothermal equipment looked like it would not fail for many many years in the future.

She headed to the dining hall to get some breakfast and passed the crew and guest quarters along the way. At it’s height, Leo Station housed over three dozen scientists, students and citizens who focused on expanding knowledge for the world of Egom. Most people only stayed for a week or two, serious researchers a few months, but the permanent staff of five stayed for six months at a time to ensure continued operations and station integrity.

She sat alone eating and drinking in the hall that easily housed ten to fifteen people at a time when the station was buzzing with activity. While there, she looked over at a screen and spoke, “System: Play last message received from my daughter.” Again, a few tones were emitted as the music stopped and another series of tones began and were followed by moving images and sounds of a young beautiful woman in her early twenties. Her long dark hair fell across her shoulders onto the rich bright blue material of her blouse. Around her neck, she wore a bright green scarf that nearly matched the vibrant color of her eyes.

“Hey ma-ma! I just wanted to send you this. I know we’re not scheduled to talk until this weekend and you’re probably in a sleep cycle, but I couldn’t wait.”

The woman raised her hands and pulled away the scarf revealing an intricate necklace of polished crystals, stones and wood. At the bottom of the necklace rested two strands forming a knot: the traditional symbol for an engagement. The young woman then screamed in excitement and joy to Su’e on the recording.

A young man poked his head into view smiling, “Hope you’re okay with this, Ma-ma!”

Her daughter kissed the young man on the cheek and turned back to the screen, “Can’t wait to talk to you about all the plans we’ve made…”

Static appeared in the recording and the screen’s colors and image shifted and twisted for a moment and then resolved.

“..and you’ll love the place the we picked…” and then finally the screen went black with a total loss of signal.

Su’e stared at the screen for a moment, a slight smile on her face, but her eyes showed sadness. She sighed, returning to her meal and finished her last bite. As always, she picked up her plates and made sure to wash them and stow them away. As she left, she powered everything down and turned out the lights.

It was time for her to get busy in the library. Su’e went to inspect all the work stations and banks of crystals that stored much of the world’s knowledge accumulated by her people over the past several thousand years. At least up until fourteen and a half cycles of Naan ago. Once she was satisfied that everything was in order, she wandered over to one of the larger screens and took a seat.

“System: Playback log date 3751.15 northern hemisphere.”

The screen flickered into action and showed a beautiful blue and green planet with clouds floating over land and sea. Much was covered with grand glaciers, but where it wasn’t, vast lush green areas of forests and fields spread across all the visible continents.

But it was on this day, fourteen and a half months ago, that the unthinkable happened. Su’e watched it unfold on the recording, just as she had seen upon awakening that day and had forced herself to do every day since then.

On the screen, she watched as Egom slowly rotated in space. Dawn was just hitting the western most coast of her home continent. Suddenly, a burst of light in the northern hemisphere appeared. The light becomes a streak of light for a few seconds before suddenly impacting one of the northern glaciers and becoming a massive explosion on the surface. While horrifying in itself, this moment was followed by three more smaller burst of light that ended in explosions; two more on land and one impacting in the eastern ocean. Each one emitting such an intense flash that the exterior cameras were temporarily blinded. As she watched, she could see the red hot blaze radiating from each point of impact and debris being thrown up miles into the atmosphere. Pressure waves emanated in all directions and she could see the clouds being forced away from the blasts all the way to the equator and beyond. Watching the recording made Su’e hold her breathe every time until she finally gasped for air.

No contact with anyone on Egom had been established since that day and even trying to reach someone using the man-made satellites in orbit for relaying signals yielded no results.

She finished the playback, and made sure to file the recording properly before turning off the monitor and getting up to leave. Su’e left the library shutting down all additional power and lights.

From the library, she went down past the medical bay ensuring all power was turned off there, and headed to the exterior hatch to do an external inspection. She donned a space suit, sleek in design and with a wide vision helmet. After checking her supply of air and ensuring her suit was adequately secure, she equalized the pressure in the room inside the hatch and exited the station.

She walked slowly across the surface of the Naan and rounded to the side where the greenhouse, now dark and cold, was located. She looked up into the night sky to her old home world. The skies were dark over Egom and the once vast green lush lands were blackened. Some fires still burned after all those long monts ago. The coastlines weren’t recognizable any more as the glaciers had nearly all melted. And since nearly eighty percent of the world’s population had lived by the oceans, she was fairly certain that anyone still left in the center of the continents would not have lasted long.

A ring of debris was visible around the planet she once called home creating an amazing banded ring. It was both beautiful and terrible at the same time. She knew she’d never see Egom from the ground again, let alone the sight of the rings from the same perspective. No one was left.

Su’e looked down to the burial mounds where she had buried her fellow crew members over the past months. None of them had been able to deal with the catastrophe or the fact that their days were numbered on the Naan. Each one died by their own hand and own manner and were kind enough to not to do anything too drastic that those remaining would have to clean up. However, someone did need to remove the bodies and bury them. Su’e took it upon herself to give the final rites upon each passing.

As the commander, Su’e knew she would never kill herself. With the others gone, the food and air lasted much longer than they normally would have. However, without replenishing, she had calculated the time remaining, and while not obsessing, she decided to find a way to allow Leo Station to last as long as possible, just in case someone finally did make it back to the Naan.

After changing out of the space suit, Su’e powered down the rest of the station. One thing she knew, from various studies, was that allowing everything to keep running after all the air was gone, without people performing maintenance, could result in an accident that could destroy the facilities. So her next step was to power down all the equipment except the last bit of energy provided by solar and batteries. She left engineering and headed back to her quarters where she picked up an image of her daughter and a pillow before heading up to the command center.

All lights and power were now turned off in the station as she closed and latched the door to the command center. Su’e set the photo of her daughter on the console in front of her and sat down in a chair placing the pillow on her lap.

“System: Record and broadcast to Ground Command,” the system gave a series of tones as always.

“Leo Station to Ground Command. Leo to Ground. This will be the last recording and report from Leo Station, Commander Su’e Inana reporting. It has been fourteen months and fifteen days since the asteroids impacted on Egom and we have never been able to regain contact. While I wish more people had been here on Leo Station to survive the disaster, instead of back on Egom while we were in a maintenance period, we wouldn’t have lasted but a few months. The members of the crew all passed on in their own way and lay interred outside the station.” she paused and reflected.

“I have no idea if anyone will ever get this message, or if anyone will ever reach the Naan again to find what is left here, but my hope is that someone will one day and with no atmosphere here, the facility and all the records will remain and that the technology is easy enough to use for someone to understand. I’ve spent the past fourteen months attempting to find ways for those with different languages to be able to interpret the knowledge stored here. Hopefully some of our technology will survive. I’ve set the station’s system to remain in low power mode, but be triggered by any communications it may pick up. The system will trigger a low power signal back. Hopefully, it will be before all the power drains.”

Su’e picked up her daughter’s image, “Dearest Aribel, I hope you did not suffer and you and your love were together as the asteroids fell. I’m glad you were happy and hope you did not feel much fear.” She set the image down gently.

“If you find this message, this station, or me, know that the disaster that fell upon our world was one that could happen at any time. We focused so much on ourselves, what was happening around us in our daily lives, and what might happen tomorrow, that we forgot to look outside and see what may be coming. Too shortsighted in thinking of the timeline of the universe that we had only just begun.”

“If you find this message, and you have come from Egom, I hope you plan for the future of our world and our children. While this disaster may be the most horrible thing to have ever happened, I am at peace.”

“System: End recording.” A final series of tones indicated that the recording and system were completed.

Su’e pulled the pillow from her lap and laid it on the console. She carefully laid her head down on the pillow with a view of her daughter’s image and a view of Egom through a window. A quick glance at a nearby monitor showed that air would last for approximately two hours more. As she drifted off to sleep for the last time, she held onto her memories of holding Aribel in her arms and watching the sunset over the hills from their home in the hillsides of Egom.

EPILOGUE

Millenia passed.

The debris of thousands of asteroids impacted Naan.

Dust, rocks and debris covered Leo Station from the asteroid impacts and destroyed some of the weaker parts of the structures that still stood.

Egom’s rings disappeared, the debris pulled back into the planet by gravity.

The skies cleared and the glaciers returned for few thousand years and then receded again in a much less disastrous and more natural way.

The system on Leo Station began to falter. Every now and then, it picked up a random signal, something with a pattern, but Su’e had programmed it only respond if more than a few random signals were picked up and within a certain range.

The batteries were failing, no longer being fed by sunlight, and the geothermal energy had long ago stopped working.

And then it happened.

The system picked up a signal.

Strong and local, right on the surface of the Naan. A few key systems powered up in the command center where the body of Su’e still lay entombed. An ancient monitor flickered with a tiny bit of light showing an image of the Naan’s surface coming from some visual feed. Static from barely functioning speakers vibrated against the dust of ages. The images came into focus and a voice came from the speakers for the first time in nearly thirteen thousand years.

“Houston. Tranquilty Base, here. The Eagle has landed.”

© 20016 Eric Huber. Palingenesis is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Artwork by Eric Huber

©2017 Audio recording by Eric Huber. Music from FreeMusicArchive.org.

Audio credits at end of story.

Revised Intro to “Black Dragon”

Revised Intro to “Black Dragon”

First stab at my first rewrite of the intro.
_______________

A low rasping moan echoed through the dank dark entombed ruins causing sleeping bat wings to flutter as well as small rodents and thousand-footed insects to scatter back into holes for safety. No light had reached this place in a millennium and no living soul had entered in at least a quarter as many years. And yet, as frequently happened, the rhythmic sound of shambling footsteps paired with the dragging of wood on stone began to rise in the darkness. Even though the cave dwellers that lived in the pitch black of the ruins could not see, they recognized the smell of death and could hear it’s scuffling progression as it passed them by in their hidden burrows.

They waited, as those that survived over the years had learned to do, until the sounds faded into the distance until even the occasional rasping moan could not be heard. Only then did the normal sounds of the underground return.

One small rodent scampered out to sniff out the path of the creature in search of any morsels to eat. In a short time, it finally patted out far enough to discover a bit of dried flesh. If anyone could have seen in the darkness, it was obvious that with a twitch of its nose and a turn of it’s head, the discovery was not pleasant at all. It scampered a good distance away from the droppings and came to a quick stop.

The rodent lifted his chin up and it’s ears rotated hearing something unusual. Quickly, it scampered away as part of the ceiling collapsed with a cascade of water, rain, dirt, rocks, wood, and a body that was screaming as it fell some twenty feet down into the ruins. The screaming stopped as it hit the ground with a muffled thud.

“Kaelyn! Are you okay? Hold on, cousin! I’m coming down,” a panicked voice called down from a gaping hole where the first light in ages came flooding down onto Kaelyn’s motionless body.

Copy © 2015-2016 by Eric Huber
Artwork by Sean Wong

Theme for 2016: “Why Not?”

Theme for 2016: “Why Not?”

2015 was an interesting experiment in goal setting. It was more about focus and theme vs specific goals. However, I did have one specific mandate for my business and that was profit. Yes, part of my ‘theme’ for the year, but it was a very pointed and specific goal. I actually hired a business coach and stopped trying to just have my business partner and I try to figure things out. We also worked on brining in strategic partners and that made a difference as well.

It was a success. And I’m stupendously happy about that aspect.

Not that I want to put a damper on success, but certain personal troubles occurred specifically around automobiles. Some good. Some bad. Lost a car. Got a car. Lost a car. Got a car. Very odd and unexpected all scenarios.

But even more than that, I started hearing phrases that started rubbing me the wrong way. Why? Did they raise doubts in my own goals and convictions?

Yes, they did.

  • “I would never want to be a millionaire.”
  • “I wouldn’t want to have a company that big.”
  • “All big companies are just greedy and taking advantage of the common Joe.”

The first thought that popped into my head has been, “WHY NOT?”

Why WOULDN’T you want to be a millionaire, have a big company, and are you sure that big companies are greedy? Or is it that you don’t understand business? Do you feel it’s better and more noble to serve people in a soup line and look them in the eyes or to be a business owner who has managed to make money enough to pay for hundreds of meals for those same people?

We bitch and moan about corporations like Walmart and others and still go shop there for the low prices. What a bunch of hypocrites! Now…those that complain and don’t shop, bravo!

The fact is we live in a capitalist Republic that runs on money. Play the game or get out. And while I agree it’s not the most just system, with a little effort you can make changes that work. Until we figure out a way to move to a resource based economy posited by The Venus Project, these are the rules we have to play within.

But I digress, as usual.

Why NotWe give ribbons for participation these days. I say find ways to question, think differently, challenge the status quo, and learn from past successes and failures. In 1984, I was picked as one of top ten seniors who the faculty believed would go on to do great things. Have I?

As I hit level 50 in a few weeks, this is the question I keep coming back to. What have I done to make people’s lives better? What have I done to help others. How have I made a dent in the Universe?

So, my theme for this year when offered big opportunities is simply…

‘WHY NOT?!’

Play big or go home.

Can I sustain? I have no idea.
Can I help everyone I want to? Probably not.
But if I don’t try, I know I won’t.

Semi-Daily Journal: 002

Semi-Daily Journal: 002

Semi-Daily blog, indeed.

Ten days after the first, and there has been a lot of things occur. But primarily I would say that being a parent, husband, business owner, teacher, friend, sibling and creative is a challenging juggling act.

I found myself leaning against a column in an older part of Fayetteville this weekend. It was a moment of relaxation for the first time in weeks. As I watched people of all races, genders, ages and economic levels, I stopped an thought, “How would I view this moment if I was ten years older and in a different place in my life?”

Will it matter in ten years all the things I’m doing now? Should I work harder? Should I work on a different harmony of actions?

The Greeks asked of a person’s life at the end, “Did he have passion?”

The five regrets of the dying by Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, are:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Perhaps I’m a work-a-holic and too much free time makes me question existence, ponder the possibilities of the universe, and/or fall asleep. I do wish to work smart than harder, but I also know that I have a lot of fun doing what I do for a living and helping a lot of people. I also GET lots of help from others.

I don’t have all the answers today. Just questions.

How is your life progressing?

Semi-Daily Journal: 001

Semi-Daily Journal: 001

Tomorrow is Columbus Day. People want to change it to Indigenous People’s Day. I do understand. History showed a much different portrait of Columbus than people of the past portrayed him and his actions. It’s kind of a big deal, in a Confederate Flag debate level deal.

But, aren’t there are more important fish to fry?

Maybe. At least until we come to terms that our consuming fish has been mass genocide upon the aquarian lifeforms of Earth. And that they actually had a hive consciousness that was hierarchically led by Dolphins for the past 20 millennia. Which was after a mass migration from the planet Venus by way of sonic resonance of Humpback whales. But they only did this when the Greenhouse effect began to boil the water away. All because a small species of arachnids unleashed a devastating methane bomb forcing the Aquarians to flee to Earth.

But, I digress.

Mostly because I haven’t been able to unleash my creativity on my own non-Blue Zooey endeavors.


 

Let’s see how this daily journal thing works. I’m only committing to Semi-Daily at this point.

Creative Connections 0002

Creative Connections 0002

I should really have shared more creative connections since October of 2014 when I posted my first connection, but… Cie la vie!

Creative Connection 0002: Why People ‘snap’ so much in the USA.

Oh, sure, there is violence and craziness everywhere in the world. I won’t disagree. But today I saw a connection that our craziness is due to the fact that we have created a society of antagonistic living.

What do I mean by “Antagonistic living?” I mean we are bombarded by conflicting messages telling us what is good and right, what is fun and adventurous, what is achievable and imaginable, followed by how each can be bad and wrong.

  1. Ads for dieting and ads for ‘lobster fest’ back to back.
  2. Work hard or you are a loser. Live life to the fullest or you’re a loser.
  3. Sex is bad. Sex is awesome.
  4. Religion makes you feel great to be part of something bigger. Religion tells you are born in sin.
  5. Buy our cigarettes. FDA says, “Learn the real cost of smoking.”
  6. Love one another. Hate people who are different than us.
  7. “Why’d he hit me, momma?” “Oh, that little boy probably likes you is all.” “Why does my husband beat me?”
  8. Rich people are evil. Please donate to our cause so we can help others.

Antagonistic Confusion

I could go on and on, but it’s these same things make me feel crazy as well.

But I’ve been told, nothing can MAKE you feel anything. It’s the way I interpret these events.

Well…I feel crazy…sometimes.

How about you?