I’m at starbucks in the Glen. The Glen is like a little retail corridor plopped down in the middle of a field populated with newish subdivisions, relatively high-end, but too slapdash to hold the truly wealthy. Think McMansiony cookie-cutter town homes and long sweeping roads. The Glen is a piece of work. It has the feel of a cross section of retail you might find in a more established town. It’s about an eighth of a mile of retail on both sides, clean and well-planned, quaint and opulent at the same time. Very new. Starbucks, Movie Theater, irish sports bar, clothing stores, gelato, candy store, game store, french café, sushi place, steak place, myriad girl shops, sporting goods for the guys. Everything in its right place. Like a hamster cage for aging and somewhat affluent folks settling down in outer suburbia.

Like I said, I’m at Starbucks. My daughter’s camp is nearby and so I’m killing time here before I have to pick her up, feeling like I don’t belong here, but also realizing that I belong precisely nowhere these days.

The two guys at a nearby table have uniform whitish gray hair. They’re from central casting, in early 60s both, bland gray guys and I’m eavesdropping on their bland gray conversation. In fairness, they’re talking business, so they’re excused for being a bit fake and reserved and well-combed, I’ve had to do the same so many times.

But I can’t forgive them for how good they are at it. They speak in pixel-perfect jargon, back and forth, perfect low-key scripted conversation, zeroing in on their template game plan. I can’t tell who’s selling what to whom, except they’re both selling this moment, this style of being, to each other, and to the universe. Slurping up their mundane fate like two gray hogs. “What I can do is set up a conference call…” “Bottom line is…”

Watch them talk, the cadence, the lack of anything unusual, strictly by the rules, efficient and polite, breezy yet professional. So, so, so far from natural man, grit and sweat and straggly hair and primal yawp and sex and death and poetry, so distant are these men, so far, far away from what I thought I liked about life and what I hoped for myself. And I’m sitting so close, so close to them, separated only by a few years, hair that hasn’t gone gray quite yet (but surely will soon), a pair of Seven Jeans, a Lucky Brand shirt, a faux weathered cap, a three-day bear growth, and nothing to do but ruminate and type. All this, ineffective armor, a full-body combover. Just another kind of grayness and jargon slapped to my being in effort to fight and throe against the white-hot center of mundanity.

I title this moment “Pale bland men doing pale bland things at a Starbucks in an ersatz retail corridor in the middle of nowhere.”

Maybe they look and act like they do because it’s the ONLY way they know of to put their less pale and less bland kids through college, (as if the world won’t eventually chew the flavor and color and music out of them, too. The price of safety and hamster wheels, comfort and security and slumber.)

But it gets worse.

There’s a hot girl over there in the chair, she looks both bookish and hot, a rarity anywhere, long-boned and if not accessible, somehow at least more accessible than other girls who catch my eye. And something about this still-inaccessible accessibility is distracting, tauntingly dark, more unsettling than the gray guys.

Her accessibility is irrelevant, since I’m married, albeit currently mired in some slow-as-iceberg migration soul-killing heart-breaking marital decay. Just the same, I’m not quite in “approaching new women for the purpose of flirting” mode, not that such a mode ever existed.

The girl is just a reminder that if I was in a better place, I’d have a girl, kinda hot and smart, who really sees me, and can be seen back, and who along with me, helps make the moment the destination instead of the destination the moment, and we run off to somewhere more wild than the Glen, maybe a real Glen, whatever a real Glen is.

Today serves as a reminder of my own grayness, compromises, lack of color, lack of originality. And how I, too, willingly wound up here in the Glen, to sit in Starbucks, knowing fully that I don’t belong here while knowing fully that I really do.

Knowing fully that this post belongs in philosophy or creative writing and not mundane babble, and yet it belongs in mundane babble, squarely so.

Realization can ruin a damn fine cup of coffee. Think of existence as a white blank canvas waiting for paint. The entire painting is not exciting just bits and parts. Its those bits and parts that make the painting valuable. If we had strong emotions all day everyday or every month , the potential to become immune to emotion is great. Could you feel the hugs of your daughter if that was all that you ever got?

If I had an unlimited amount of neurotransmitters, and neurons to work with. - [size=150]Yes[/size]. O:)

Great read though.

Hi Gamer :slight_smile:
Nice observations. You inspire me to write some of my thoughts down. Millions of observations a day, I should collect them all, or at least some of them.

Gray area. Gray matter. The grayscale madness of being able to go anywhere and having nowhere to go.

I love hugging my daughter and I love inspiring others to write, so thanks for comments. The question remains…

How do we escape the Glen?

You build your own, and if no one else likes it, you’re on the right path. Like so many of us, you went for the BIG lollipop and ooohh the flavors! the colors! It was all soooo delicious! And now you are gagging on it. Puke it up and make your own glen. But do it quietly, because if you let them, they’ll co-opt your dreams and fantasies or waste your time convincing you you’re wrong… about everything. To thine ownself be true? Nah, to thine own self just be…

It just dawned on me that I still didn’t answer your question. Yeah, build your own glen, but how? First step: Accept the fact that you are what you create. Second step: using whatever physical and mental assets you have, create what you would choose to be. Third step: Ignore your inconsistencies, your hypocracies, your irrationalities, and all the other words designed to make you question your creations. All of creation contains rights and wrongs and so will anything you create - and wear like a second skin. The universe doesn’t care if you would choose to be human.

How? Much evidence suggests we’re the opposite of what we attempt. That we are a bundle of neurosis that stretch back into hazy mystery, tethering us to mediocrity.

And yet your wisdom holds.

I can walk around for weeks thinking I’m doing stuff when all I “do” is actually happening to me. My strange loop becomes less strange and more loop, until there’s no difference between my attempt at consciousness and death-like unconsciousness.

And yet your wisdom still holds. In the particular kind of prison I’m in, I hold the key. I hold they key. I hold the key. I hold…

I have chosen to consume; and to shun risk. Chosen comfort and stillness over movement and striving. I no longer know which motivates me, my desire for stillness, or my aversion to risk. Risk of being perceived as blemished, tiresome, less than perfect. On trial for a hair out of place or a whiff of bad breath or a sentence with too many words saying too little. Any of the million “flaws” I see in others. To be an “other.” It’s okay for them. I can love them through their flaws and see their “flaws” as perfection. Are they wise enough, sensitive enough, to love me through my flaws? I can’t trust them. And even if I could, the stillness beckons…

I would choose to be rational, kind, brave. To love and be loved. To be free, healthy and safe. To be humble and grateful, to see and appreciate the cosmos and my place in it. I would choose adventure and sensuality tempered by a deep, abiding sense of moral values based on empathy and well-being. To create this would require boldness and fear, trust, and the independence to not rely wholly on approval from others.

I’d need to kick my addiction to my own ringing approval of myself, or my penchant for cowering from the harsh judgments emanating from myself. I would need to be He who doesn’t fear his own critical voice, He who doesn’t need His own praise 24/7. He who doesn’t hide from Himself. And Him that ceases to attack He relentlessly, driving me toward shadows.

Carl Sagan said “We are the way for the cosmos to know itself.”

If this be true, one shant tell me what the Universe cares about unless they also mean to comment on what I myself care about. It is not the Universe I fear, it is the Universe in me that fears the I and dares not spill forth.

Ay, perhaps we are the way for the cosmos to hide from itself…


Anyhoozle, this has been fun, JT – your few wizened words never cease to catalyze mountainry. (As if Sisyphus needed more of them.) I shall now retire to the Philosophy or Creative Writing section of these halloweds and see what colorful lollipops I can puke up for the bedazzlement of all mankind, all seven of 'em, anyway. “To thine own self, just be.” Nice!

Create that which you care about and let the internal universe take care of itself. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that the two become one.

Let me just drop this bomb on you, just cause I can. :evilfun:

If you really were able to go anywhere, but “had” nowhere did to go, did you really have the ability to go anywhere, or was that just your mind playing tricks on you once again? :-k



Apparently, you don’t understand soul sickness, not many do, but it has little to do with the mind playing tricks. They’ve all been played into emptiness. Having it all and having nothing isn’t a mind game.

The line was intentionally paradoxical to illustrate the dilemma. I’m glad you caught the paradox, that lie that tells the truth.

Doing things simply because you can, that’s another story. next time you drop a bomb “because you can,” make sure it’s an actual bomb, and maybe drop it for a better reason. Doing things “because we can” is kinda absurd considering all the things we can do and don’t. For instance, I can sense that you fully “can” write a smarter post, and yet you didn’t.

I have long thought the concept of duality (your namesake), the idea of mind separate from matter, to be misguided.

(And yet I have long thought duality to be real. Go figure.)

Grey hair often indicate grey matter. Not disorganised grey matter of youth, but that based on experience.
The trick is how to avoid filling the brain with jargon.
The Glen is a state of mind, only.
Take your brain for a walk.

And yet the Irony is that we are sitting here discussing the things we Don’t do.


Woe is Me. O:)

Far too much positive thinking going on in this thread. :laughing:

Statements like that would be fine if we were all powerful. To an extent, you already are what you’ve chosen to be, it’s just that the decisions were so small, and so spaced out that the result (you) only appeared by slow agglutination over a, possibly 40-ish, span of years. Could you have chosen differently…? We’d all like to say - yes, sure, of course - I am the master of my fate - cue drum-roll. Possibly a shaking of steel plate to simulate Wagneresque thunder. But bollocks really, just bollocks. You made yourself, now lie in it.

Are you a bad bed to lie in…? With your gently decaying wife beside you…?

Let yourself off. The world made you. All those random events, random collisions. To change you, you’d have had to have changed the world. Drink the coffee, be glad you’re not bland, be glad to have a camp-going daughter, and to not need viscerally the attention of longboned nerd-girls. Not enough…? Aw. You miss the old you, that’s all, the one without the clutter, the one who would have gone over and slapped the jargon-spouters with a handful of, I dunno, existentialism or something; the one who’d have sat down and charmed the knickers off the bony chick.

But he wasn’t content, and tried his best to become you as of now. Stay on the path Aladdin. The path is all there is. No genie.

Surely not by branding yourself!

The only question is whether or not you see through your own act. Then you can wear whatever you want and talk however you want and even if you don’t want to wear what you wear or talk how you talk - even if it’s just how you were raised, where you live, who you work with, habits you can’t break… at least you can accept it for what it is, relax, and maybe even laugh at yourself.

Yeah, I realize there’s plenty of irony in what you wrote. I get it. But even irony can be overcome. :-"

Well written story - thanks for the distraction.

The only comfort is in the feeling that it’s deja vou. The idea that this was done over and over, before and long after. Then it doesent matter where it’s leading, even if it gets shorter by the minute, the reverse of the the turtle’s course with the hare.

If you can get through the block that is the crisis, the crisis of the conventional You, and then after having gone through it, whether the block is permeable, so as to enbable you to go through it’s pores, unseen,
And then take a glance backward and see what you left behind without regret, and see yourself, forgiving the caricature of the image you were, and the beast you will be, then it will be as before: strawberry fields. Gamer nice to meet you nice scetch