via Kadampa Life
And at the end of the second week I feel… hmmm… well… umm… yeah… so it’s basically like this… that everything is… and that there’s this… and that… and yeah.
Ok you caught me. I don’t know how I feel. I’m in limb, which isn’t terrible. It’s not great, but it’s not bad and that’s not the end of the world. At least I hope it’s not the end of the world. I have business to attend to that I’d rather not have interrupted. I do a good enough job of distracting myself, so the reduction of outside nonsense would be greatly appreciated.
I had a whole bunch of thoughts, but they seem to have all escaped me which is rather shitty. So give me a moment while I ponder up some new ones.
In order to achieve enlightenment, one must first understand him or herself. You must have affirm understanding and confidence in who you are. Now this, is not easy. It’s easy to fake and pretend as though you have some serious believe in yourself, but when it comes down to just you and yourself and no audience, you can start to see the cracks. Or maybe I should say cracks. We all have things that can be considered flaws. Maybe you speak and act before you think. Maybe you fall in love to easily. Maybe you daydream too much. But things cannot be thought of as flaws. It’s just who you are and nothing should ever be able to change that.
So, to understand myself I have been searching within all I’ve thought and said and done. And now that I have I’ve realized that my whole identity thing, has been stunted or at least appears that way. And yet I am still me, when I don’t think so much about it. Hell, I’m still me when I think too much about it. It’s one of those flaws I have.
I need to escape soon. I’ll probably go to Brooklyn. I’m also going camping. That shall happen for if I do not go into the woods, I’ll never come back out a man.
The weather has been nice. The stars are nice every night. The music is here and the vibes can be. It’s just that whole solitude thing. It hasn’t been bad, but I know that with each day come closer and closer to the day I have to face my demons. I have to because I’m sure life can toss me new ones. I have to deal with everything as it comes and this is coming. But despite my anxiety, I trust I can build this summer. I can create and revive and all those other words that describe positive movement. There’s a whole bunch of them. You can put in the word that works best for you and then you’ll have your very own Sunday Morning Thought. Get that shit trademarked.
That Sears boy is strange, isn’t he?
Yeah he is.
And I’ll tell you another thing, I can only be a little strange. Nothing else works, so deal man. And of course and as always, I speak to myself and just want you, which is no one, to read this lovely little conversation I have with myself every Sunday. I crave the attention and I’ll be damned if I don’t get it. Look at me, I want you to look at me. Don’t forsake me and don’t forget me. That’s what I ask and I’ll do what it takes to make it happen. I’m a go getter type of guy, ya know?
Sorry about that, I get a little crazy sometimes. I’m a man saturated in some sort of fantasy so excuse me if I don’t always act according to the rule of nature. It’s not easy making it in this world if you’re a middle child. It’s not easy making it in this world for a white dude. It’s not easy making it in this world if you’re a beatnik. It’s not easy making it in this world if you’re a romantic sap. It ain’t easy, being cheesy.
I had no idea what his age was or what he looked like, but Rudy became one of my best friends. I imagine that he’s a pretty cool looking dude. You know, sunglasses, beard and the whole universe in the twinkle of his eyes. That sort of thing.
He would play songs meant to inspire and uplift any ears fortunate enough to hear. His passive nature passed through his voice in the things he’d say. He’d quote books on air and have fully fledged conversations with himself. He had no idea if anyone was on the receiving end, he just poured his soul into that microphone and didn’t care what anyone else thought of it. He became my hero. I was inspired. I was jealous.
He, of course, wasn’t the only one. People all over where sending out their own signals saying whatever they pleased. There were distant cries of pulling some sort of society trying to pull itself out of the ashes of the failed and with each day it grew. People began to exchange locations and found each other. There were people meeting for the first time that would have never even looked at each other in the world before. Everyone was equal at the end and so it seemed to stay.
I had never reached out, or at least not yet. I just mindfully listened and learned of the workings going on around me. People crave something to do. They wanted to rebuild and have something that they could call their own. They couldn’t see that the world didn’t belong to any one person. Still they sought each other. Humans crave contact and I was lucky enough to have good company. I’m sure that those circumstances don’t apply to everyone.
However, there is a comfort in all of this. There was life. There were other people besides my little realm of three. I haven’t seen another person in years, at least not one that welcomed me warmly. I suppose you can call the Garths human, but only in shape. I couldn’t go on a date with a Garth. I could hardly go on a date with a girl, when they were around. I suppose all my luck went into after the movie theaters and restaurants all burnt down.
“So it goes,” said Rudy at the precise moment he needed to.
“So it goes, my friend,” I replied to the very existential little radio.
“And to all of you little sentient beings out there who may have the privilege of thought, please indulge with me for a moment, the thought of this,” continued Rudy as the tune changed to Miles Davis. “We have a chance to make anything with our lives. Here, dig it like this. Before all the chaos, we were all held back. I’m not some tripped out hippie or anything like that, you just have to really think about all of the things from before. You were told that you could do anything, but could you really? Disney would toss us a few fairy tales that said we could and you would hear of legends and stories of old. People who took their fate and their success all by themselves. But how often did that happen, and how true is that even really? Now there is nothing and ipso facto, there is nothing in your way. Ah ha!”
Rudy had a great laugh. It wasn’t neither loud nor soft, but it always filled the speaker with such peace and could easily merry even the coldest of hearts.
“You see now, you can dream in real life. Have you always wanted to be a painter? So paint. Writer? Write. Singers can sing as loud as they want and no one can stop you. Go ahead, let me hear you sing. Better yet, let me hear you yell. Come on, I know if you can hear me, I must be able to hear you.”
I humored both Rudy and myself and yelled as loud as I could. It echoed throughout the room and scattered the birds that were so quietly perched upon the vast open window up above. They flew off and I laughed, and then Rudy yelled and laughed with me. It was a nice talk that he and I always have. After all, he is my best friend.
Now, this I wasn’t expecting. Again, I first dismissed it as madness as though they yelled had finally knocked the last screw loose and my mind was in free fall to insanity without making any stops. Then I heard it again.
“AHHHHHHH!” was the sound that fell through the open windows and bounced around in my hall. It rang for what seemed like a blissful eternity and seemed to shake the very fabric of existence.
And then came the laughter. It was the sweetest sound that I believe I had ever heard and have yet to hear still. Chills ran down my spine and suddenly I felt tremendously small. My thoughts fell from my grasp and into a warm orange glow. Images and sounds flooded to my mind that I had long forgotten and buried. My heart raced and there was not a single thing I could do to remove myself from where I sat, so I remained in shock for awhile.
“If you want to do something, you can,” interrupted Rudy. “And that’s it my man, that’s it. Here I am doing what I want, why aren’t you? And if you are, why don’t I know about it? It’s that, or die. In fact either way, someday you’re going to wind up being very dead, dig? Whether it is tomorrow or 20 years from now, you will someday die. So do what you want in the meantime, I mean shiiiittt. It’s now or never kids, so get up out of your chair and go see what’s out there. It might be something that you actually like”.
And so on Rudy’s command, I got up from my chair and walked towards the door. I didn’t even grab my gun. I didn’t even think to grab it as I went to the door but it was safe to assume whatever was out there wouldn’t kill me. It was laughing and anything that can laugh these days, doesn’t kill anyone.
I unlocked the superfluous array of locks on the front door and walked out into the light. Beyond the steps and on the other side of the park in the street were these crazy metal beasts that in my time, were called Winnebago’s. And running all about them, setting things up and starting fires, were these things that we used to call people.
Not all of the people were on the other side of the park though. There was one bouncing around on my side of the park. It was lying out on the grass with a radio like mine, tapping its toe and humming along. It was listening to Rudy and it was beautiful. It was a young woman. She had red hair and from all about her seemed to come this vast source of light that brought some sort of new sight to my eyes, but it was only the sun shining through the trees over her head.
I walked down the steps because I had to. I walked across the street and went into the park because I was supposed to. I walked up to her, but not too close. Just close enough so that I could introduce myself. It didn’t take her long to notice me, in fact it seemed as though she had been playfully watching me the whole time. I wouldn’t doubt if she did. She sat up and looked at me with beautiful green eyes. Her face glowed with warmth as a smile fell so gently and poetically upon her. It was all I could do to just stay standing, let alone raise my hand and speak. But I was supposed to, so I did. Clearly.
“Hello Sarah,” I said timidly with a romantic crack in my voice.
“Hell John,” She replied.
“What if you could finally get that chance to make all of your dreams come true? What if from the ruins of all around us, we finally got to understand life and love and why everything is as it is? Maybe it is all fate and set out before us. Maybe some things just happen and all we have to do is smile and say alright.
“Alright,” Sarah replied.
“Alright,” I said as I melted and went down the old sewer drain.
Over the next few days, I did something that I hadn’t done in quite a while. There was no point or purpose; it was just an action that I just so happen to take part in out of sheer curiosity. Nothing pushed me, not even desperation. I hardly even remember thinking about it before it was done. I turned on the radio.
I couldn’t even dream of coming up with any kind of reason why, I just did one day. Looking around the room in boredom made it nearly inevitable to not have my eyes fixed upon that dusty electronic box on the shelf that stood against the wall on the other side of the table. I stared at what rest there, as if I had never seen it or anything like it there before. I had of course, it just felt as though I hadn’t. I had tried to use it, but there were hardly ever signals. As the streets started to fill more and more with panic, people stopped broadcasting. Even the good stuff was gone. After they went, the airwaves were blank for at least a year, by what I can guess.
Then it started to pick up again while the dust of what was once called life was starting to settle. As the threat of impending death passed from those who survived, people started to reach out. I had the people I needed, so I would only ever sit by and listen as people would call out for loved ones because the lock on the radio station was gone and they were free to use the place as they saw fit. It was painful, and rather boring. Besides, I had gathered a nice little record collection by now, so I had what I was looking for.
And still, here I am sitting back with my feet up on the table, as I listen to the sounds of mixed static and the distant sound of human voices. I was shocked, this little beater transistor radio is picking up the waves. It sat in my lap with that face appliances makes, but this appliance was actually talking back.
“If this thing made toast,” I mumbled under my breath. “I’d buy a million of them”. I often make jokes to myself. Sometimes I’m hilarious. Sometimes.
“What the fuck did you just say?” James yelled from across the room. He has good hearing and the room echo’s a bit when only two people occupy it.
“I’m picking up some weak signals on this radio,” I yelled back. “I can actually understand some of it.”
“Maybe its aliens,” suggested James as he occupied himself fixing an old DVD player. It was for Father McNulty who had just stumbled upon the box set of “Frasier” in what used to be a Best Buy. The man has learned to enjoy the simple things in life. I’m very happy for him.
“That’s what I’m hoping for,” I said lifting the box up to my ear for better reception. I could hear voices and was making out a few words, but all of the channels were either too far away, or too weak. I grow bored easily, so after a few minutes I placed it back on the table, turned the volume down to just above a whisper and went back to my book.
Here and there I would peek up from the pages, as if I heard something but it must have just been my madness and nothing more. It was a nice thought though. I had always sort of fancied the idea of myself becoming a radio D.J., among other things. Of course, I would have wanted the job years before I was even born. But I could see myself quite content maybe playing some records during the 1950’s. Played some tunes and talk about life and whatnot as I puffed away on a cigarette. It’s a nice little fantasy.
Sleep must have somehow snuck up upon my daydream because I woke up to the sound of a voice I had never heard before. It wasn’t alarmed or desperate. It didn’t cry out for help or demand anything from me. The sound of music pierced my ears and I was filled with some sort of unbelievable excitement.
“Well,” said the voice in a passive and peaceful tone. “I’m here and I don’t know where you are. I can tell you that I’ve grown bored. I’ve grown so terribly bored that I can no longer stand to it allow it for a single moment longer. No sir, I had all I can stand of this nonsense and I can’t stands no more. So here’s what I’ve decided to do. That’s right my friends, you’re ears don’t deceive you, I’ve decided to do just this for all my days and possibly some thereafter”.
I pulled my feet off from then table and slowly pulled myself out of my drowsy fantasy and into this new fantasy world that I couldn’t yet understand. My body turned until I found the source of this messiah of my mind. My savior was none other than a small transistor radio sitting on the table directly in front of me. The sound falling from the dusty old speaker sounded to be clear and more importantly, real. I stared at the box as if by looking at it, it would cave to my will and just tell me all of the answers I sought and knew it must be hiding.
“I grow terribly weary of all of this isolation and even wearier of the feeling that it’s all over. I mean, I don’t know about you but I’m still alive and would rather not just rot my gift of a life away. So from hence for, if you tune to this station, I’ll be entertaining. Sorry if you don’t really dig the beats I play but they are all certified to carry a good vibe and since I’m the only one ballsy enough to be able to spin some records these days, you’re stuck with me or the nice tweet-tweet of the birds”.
It was a DJ. I had a radio and a DJ to listen to. There was a little person living in this box that would talk to me anytime I wanted. I half expected to hear a number to call in requests.
“So without further babbling from yours truly,” said the smooth jazz voice as the music began to change. “Here’s a little number from Smokey Robinson. It’s called “You Really Got a Hold on Me” and you can call me Rudy Randle”. By now the music was getting louder and Rudy was speaking even softer than before. I sat there on the edge of my seat hanging on to every word. It had been years since any broadcaster actually wanted and deserved my attention, even before the collapse. Inside that little box was the hope that maybe, just maybe, there may be a world worth living in coming my way. It was beautiful.
via Awesome Sauce
As we walked down the old staircase, my mind began to wander off, as it usually did. I thought about the world before and all the people I’d known. I thought about my family, but not for long. I thought of my parents and how the strived to get their children through life until the day they ceased to live. I thought of all of my friends, who I could only assume were dead. There was Doug Mercer, my best friend, who was one of the greatest human beings to ever live. He was tall and tan and good hearted. He loved sports, as his father had taught him to. He was going to be a sports writer. The world could have used a sports writer like him, or at least I thought so but I never really did care for sports.
Then my mind wandered to my first kiss. I was 15 years old, which I suppose was kind of old for a first kiss. What can I say; I was always a bit intimidated by a pretty girl. I guess I still am, but I haven’t seen a pretty girl outside of a magazine since the collapse. Her name was Monica and she was an actress. She was beautiful and could sing and liked me very much. I had a thing for girls who could sing and suppose I still do. She kissed me, of course, because I was too scared of messing it up to even try. It was a sunny day in April and she kissed outside of the auditorium of her high school as the sun set and turned everything that warm orange color that all of the beautiful memories are made of. I had sat in wonder as she sang on stage and gave her flowers and after the fateful kiss, she went back inside to get changed and my sister picked me up in my mom’s car. She was always mean and was yelling some sort of bullshit the whole ride home, but I didn’t care. I just gazed out the window and sang pretty songs in my head and enjoyed being happy for awhile.
We got to the bottom of the stairs and walked through the door into one of the back hallways that few people ever got to see. I thought about all of the girls I had ever, you know, been with. Not just kissing but that whole sex deal. There were three in total. Two of them were very nice girls that I suppose I was less than kind to. I wasn’t evil by any means, I was just myself and they were themselves and that was just never going to work out, or so I convinced myself. Maybe if I had convinced myself otherwise I could have died a nice happy death at the end holding hands with one of them, but I lived and I could only assume they died. Most people did, after all.
The first one though, the girl that I lost my virginity to, was nothing but pure evil and I hope that a bomb landed directly on top of her evil little head. But I shouldn’t say that because it was my fault really. I, for reasons I suppose I will never understand, wanted to have her and she, I can only assume, fucked me and dated me for a month just so she could finally rid herself of me. It was terrible. But it doesn’t matter now, because she’s probably dead. After she dumped me, I was a mess. It’s funny how I see things like that now. At the time I was devastated and destroyed, but now it’s just a memory as everything else is.
We pushed open the door that opened out into the main reading room and listened as the sound of the door closing echoed through the vast all. I kept the room moderately clean and tried my best to take care of the books, even though I knew that they, like myself, would someday turn into dust and be forgotten.
I never liked the thought of being forgotten. I had never been in love. Well, I don’t think I had been. I was in love with a lovely young lady when at the end but I don’t know if she loved me back. I know she had cared for me, but I had messed that up and tried to fix it but ran out of time. I assume she’s dead now. I never got to tell her that one last time how much I cared for her, even though I don’t know if it would have made a difference. She was everything I had ever dreamt up except one tiny detail. She was real. She was, but now she’s just a wonderfully warm memory. Her name was Sarah and she is the only thing that can still make me cry these days. What if, what if, what if I just got to see her one last time? What if I had dared to kiss her one last time? She had red hair and green eyes and to me was the most beautiful thing imaginable. She’s gone now, just like all the others. I’ll miss her until I’m gone too.
“Why do you have to be such an ass all of the time,” echoed James from the far end of the room.
“Why do you have to be such an idiot all of the time,” I echoed back to him. James was removing the backpack from his shoulders and unloading its contents. He was tall and thin with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes that were hidden behind his Buddy Holly style glasses. Once he piled what he had collected from his trip onto one of the tables in the room, he walked over to the old record player we had and threw on an album. It was the Beatles White Album. We had the same taste in music, which was nice.
“You know you boys shouldn’t be fighting,” McNulty said as we got to the table where James was now sitting. “All you’ve got is each other”.
“Well James needs to smarten up a little,” I replied. “That is if he would like to stay alive any longer. Why didn’t you reload your gun before you left?”
“I forgot,” James said as he rummaged through the cans of food on the table.
“Well you had one shot left,” I said picking up a can of sliced peaches. “What the hell did you use it on?”
“After I got out of the grocery store, I thought the coast was clear,” James muttered. “So I wanted to see if I could shoot a pigeon that was on top of this statue. I hit the bird but the noise got the attention of my little friend. He stared to sprint towards me and with nothing left to shoot at him, I ran for home.”
“Well you’re lucky that John was on the roof, my boy,” McNulty said as his firmly placed his hands on James’s shoulders.
“Well since you’re here now James,” McNulty said taking his hands off of James and placing them in his pocket. “I was wondering if you might be able to help me fix my generator. The wiring is all fucked and I can’t figure it out for the life of me.”
“Yeah,” said James. “No problem Padre.”
James tossed his empty backpack against the wall and turned off the record player. He and McNulty walked over towards the door slowly, but I stayed by the table and looked around for a bit. The sun was shining that orange glow in from the huge windows that lined the walls. I closed my eyes and sighed. I wished I could talk to her, or at least see her one last time but it was no use. My heart ached and I bit the inside of my cheek. She was gone now and would never be anything more than a sweet memory.
“Hey Jimmy,” I said calling James a name he hated. “Don’t you think you’re forgetting something?” I held up his rifle in the sun so he could see it. He turned around, saw it in my hand and grunted. Father McNulty laughed as James ran over to grab his weapon.
“Thanks,” he mumbled under his breath.
“Think you might like to check if it has any bullets in it,” I smirked. “Unless you think you’d rather use it as a walking stick.”
“Asshole,” is all he said as he picked up the magazine that I had left for him on the table.
We walked to the door and pushed it open. After it closed, I turned and locked it up. James and McNulty were already walking down the steps when I turned and made my way down. It was a beautiful scene. The sun was falling below the all the buildings as birds chirped their last songs for the day. There were a few deer walking through the park across the street and I scurried down the steps. It was a very peaceful moment. It’s funny how that works.
I figure it must have been around June. I was at my usual spot, which of course was on the roof of my library sprawled out on an old lawn chair with a book and my M40 Marine Corps sniper rifle. I had never been a fan of guns or violence, but desperate times do call for desperate measures and I’d say that these times are rather desperate. I was a much bigger fan of the book I was reading, which was none other than Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut. You’d think I’d have no interest in reading a book about the end of the world, but Kurt has a way with words.
The sky was blue with big beautiful clouds scattered across the sky. Mother Earth didn’t really waste any time rebuilding herself after the scourge of man was no more. All the bombs had fucked the weather up for the first couple of years, but by now the air felt cleaner and worthy life was finding its way back to all the places that had been taken from them. There were birds everywhere and all sorts of life was now wandering the streets of New York. Of course, you might run into one of those drug induced savages, whom I had affectionately refered to as Garth’s. I never really liked country music and it’s good to try and have some humor these days. But even the Garth’s were becoming less and less, mostly because they were running out of people to kill, so they were all just killing themselves off or dying off from starvation. They rarely caught anything besides humans to eat because they weren’t smart or skilled enough to even open a can of beans, let alone catch some sort of animal. They weren’t all gone of course, and we always had to be on the lookout for anything. I didn’t trust anyone besides James and Father McNulty. I hardly even trust myself anymore.
Still the sun was warm and at the age of 24, I was starting to find little bits of peace here and there. I loved my home. The great thing about where I live is that the library doesn’t really attract the attention of too many post-apocalyptic survivors and even before it all came crashing down, the average person didn’t care to even read a single book in year. Now they were all mine and I loved every second of it. My brother and I had sealed off most of the entrances so no one would be able to sneak in without our noticing and he being the mechanical genius that he was, had fashioned a few generators to a few solar panels, so we had electricity. It wasn’t much, but we didn’t really need all that much. I had also started myself a nice garden across the street at Bryant Park, so we had plenty of good food.
So I sighed and carried on with my book as the clouds would block the sun here and there as they would drift overhead. Then breaking into my little realm of serenity came the sound of the roof access door opening which was on the other side of the building. I couldn’t see it from where I was, so I calmly placed Kurt on the chair and picked up my rifle. I walked towards the side of the door with my gun up to my shoulder and listened to the sound of the door closing and footsteps beginning to make their way towards me. My pace grew slower and quieter as the opposing footstep grew closer. As my heart started to race, I began to hear a strange noise. At first I thought I might be going mad, but as I listened on I accepted the noise to be something that was real and not just the madness of my mind. Whoever was there was whistling an old Clancy Brothers tune.
“I swear to God,” I yelled placing the butt of my rifle on my right foot. “If you don’t start announcing yourself, I’m going to actually shoot you McNulty.”
Around the corner walked a tall grey haired man, dressed in jeans and a black button down shirt. He looked to be old, but not in the least bit frail and I can assure you he wasn’t.
“John,” the man said almost chuckling. “Don’t forget who taught you how to shoot that gun of yours.”
You couldn’t see it, but Father McNulty was heavily armed and was always ready. He had been a chaplain in several of the countries that the U.S. had been warring in before the end. Needless to say, the man had seen the human capacity for evil and violence and like every true holy man, knew the manner that could properly deal with such predicaments. I walked over to meet him and embraced him with a strong hug. He had this theory about how important a good hug is, especially now since there was almost no one left. He said even the slightest embrace of another person can do wonders to save your mind and soul. He said it’s a comfort that nothing can substitute. He was right of course, as he usually was.
“So what brings you over here today Father?” I asked as he firmly grabbed my shoulders.
“I came over to see if you and your brother could help me fix up the wiring for my generator,” he said as he looked around the roof. He was always looking around at everything, half to makes sure nothing was going to jump out and surprise him but also to just sit in awe of the wonder that is life. “Is he about?”
“No, he went out to see if he can find anything in the grocery store down on 34th street,” I said as we walked over towards my lawn chair paradise. “He should be getting back soon”.
It was just then that we heard someone yelling from down below. We couldn’t make out the words at first, but after a few seconds it became perfectly clear.
“JOHN!” yelled the voice. So McNulty and I ran over to the ledge of the building and looked down onto the street below. There was my brother James running for his life from what looked to be another person.
“What happened to your gun?” I yelled down to him with a bit of a laugh.
“I forgot to reload it,” James yelled back sounding very upset. “It only had one shot in it!”
“Why don’t you use it now?” I responded as he grew closer to the building.
“Because I already used it,” He yelled back. “Don’t be a fucking dick and just help me out here!”
“What’s the magic word?”
“Go fuck yourself!”
I raised my rifle up to my eye as James got to be less than a block away from where we were. I rested the barrel on the ledge and looked through the scope. This Garth was a particularly ugly one. His face was scarred and bloody and he wore nothing but a pair of gym shorts. The thing was drooling and foaming and looked as though it was near starvation. I took the shot which landed right between its eyes and put the sad creature out of its misery. The shot rang out through the empty streets and James ran right into the library without even stopping to look behind him. Father McNulty mumbled a little prayer for the dead savage and we went down into the building to meet James.