This is the story of a man who heard a ringing in his ear that would not go away. The only way to control the ringing was by sitting at his desk to write. He found that if he wrote a sentence or two the sound might fade almost completely. So he sat at his desk one day and began to write a story about a fireplace with a blazing fire burning within it. If you looked deeply into this fire, you might begin to see the vapours that rise from the burning wood and wisp up the chimney like streams flowing uphill. But if you tried to look more closely you would find only smoke, with no hint of the stream remaining. Only with an unfocussed gaze could you barely discern the rising path.

At this point, the writer tried to get up from his chair to prepare dinner, but the ringing returned even stronger than before and forced him back down on his seat, holding his head in pain, before subsiding somewhat. Writing calmed the ringing as before, so he continued, this time about a still pond at the top of a mountain. In the pond were little silvery fish, whose glimmering movements you could catch out of the corner of your eye. If you reached in to try to touch one, they would scatter and disappear under the ripples. Looking again, it would appear as though there was no life in the pool at all, as though the fish were simply an illusion. The air at the mountain top was still and cold. Beyond the small weeds at your feet, there could be nothing living there at all. All around you, wherever you looked, seemed empty and lifeless.

And he wrote another story: this time, he pictured himself standing at the top of a tall tower in the middle off a city, looking down into the crowd. He was looking for his friend but he couldn’t find him among the multitude of heads. He knew he was down there. He wanted to spot him, capture his attention, and smile and wave, saying, look! I’m here. I climbed this tower. I made it to the top. He looked and looked, but he couldn’t find him. The heads moved like waves, if the tower was a buoy floating off the shore. One head must belong to his friend, but from this distance, they could just as well be all the same. But if he stared at one…they were certainly all different. The right one was all he needed, but that one was the one he couldn’t find.

He was growing hungry. He hated the idea of leaving his desk. The dot at the end of his story was in the wrong place. He knew that and tried to move it, but it had curled itself into a ball and would not budge. He knew why. He knew that the dot knew, and that the dot knew that he knew too: there is no right place for it. The more he wrote, the farther it seemed to move. Both he and it were searching for the perfect spot, and failing to find it. He folded his paper carefully to bring the dot closer to where he wanted it…and it was still wrong. And his paper became crumpled. So he had to unfold it and smooth it out.

Once when he was younger, he was so hungry but had nothing to eat in the house. At the time, he’d sat next to his bed with a book in his hand, trying simultaneously to read his hunger away, and let himself be nourished by words. Neither worked. In the end, he went to bed after drinking three glasses of water, woke the next day and went to the store for food. He’d bought two cans of soup, a loaf of bread, a sausage, and a bottle of milk. After eating nearly all of it, he sat at his table, feeling full but slightly ill. He wished he never had to eat ever again, and wrote this story (perhaps the first story he ever wrote):

These days, five dollars could buy you a little bit. It might be enough for a small meal, but you’d have spent it if you went with your friends to the bar the night before and left it as a tip for the bartender. If I never had to eat ever again, I could have kept the money, and (what would I do with it?) I’d have bought myself a simple flute, and amused myself with the sounds it made as I blew air into it, and the notes floated away from me across the breeze. Although I suppose that if I never had to eat, I might miss eating sometimes. I’d miss some things, like warm bread and sausages. If I liked them only for feeling full, maybe I wouldn’t miss them after all. I don’t know.

…He felt even his hunger subside. But while thinking of his story in his head, he’d managed to shuffle into his kitchen and prepare two sandwiches to bring to his desk. With a small pile of sandwiches, he’d never have to get up again, except to go to the bathroom.

The creases were still visible on his paper, so he decided to start with that. KkllhvklfnnklkkkmKKxmesk started on the lateral plane, and dragged a line across the desert sand so that it separated two halves of the world: one where turmoil would never cease, and storms would rage on forever; the other where peace would reign supreme, but the sky never filled with clouds and never shed rain, and crops died dried to their roots before they could bear fruit. The only place where things would grow was right on the edge of both halves, right on the line. All the plants grew slanted towards the sun on that line, with their roots pointed towards the edge of chaos, their leaves facing out towards the peaceful land. This is how the people lived: they built their houses in peace but ventured over for their food and water. Everyone thought that was how the world was, until the line in the sand blew away and order was lost. Now, everything grows everywhere and cannot be contained except through an extraordinary concentrated effort.

The ringing was almost gone. He could feel it. The dot seemed closer. It was hard. How many more words would he need to write? He didn’t know and he couldn’t guess. There was this other story which he tried not to think about, but he was running out of ideas. It went like this:

Why is it that when you aim to say something the words don’t come and you can never quite grasp what you’re aiming for? It’s like trying to trap a fly in the palm of your hand. There was once a bee that landed right on his outstretched hand and, without any provocation, stung him with a slow and deliberate action, leaving the sting deeply embedded within his flesh, which swelled to the size of a large river stone, even though the sting was hastily removed. That was his writing hand. He could not write a single word for weeks, or what felt like weeks. After that incident, his hand would not stop writing, for fear of losing the ability again. The bee probably died. Or maybe it still looks for its missing sting, flying in circles above his ears with a frantic, maniacal beating of wings.



leaped onto the stage and shouted towards the alarmed audience, “I was born to a woman as a healthy child but ‘born’ does not describe the event that occurred to me at the start of my life because I was not aware of my existence until the age of six when I tripped on a loop of wire and fell face first into the ditch where dogs shat and ants walked and felt sure of death until the screams of nearby children rushed help towards me and pulled me from the ground into the soft comfort of home where I lived, felt the reassurance of human construction and love for my mother who nursed me back to health while I waited, completely unaware of how my wounds were sealed, or that some part of my existence was scraped into the dirt when I fell so that out there today there may be a rock or smear of dirt whose existence is closely tied to mine though I am not aware of it, or if swallowed by some bird and planted with a fruit seed on another patch of ground, grown into a tree that shares the same name as me, I would not be aware of it unless I, too, had grown into a tree, perhaps after I am dead, and joined in the great council of trees, speaking to one another as the wind passes through our leaves like vague and unreliable messengers, a garbled language like many languages mashed together and made indistinguishable from noise, and that maybe is how we speak at all, barely distinguishable because of all the sounds we could make, but close enough so that these words as I speak to you now have some sort of sense-making in them that you could even repeat some of it in approximation to your neighbours when they ask what you had learned today, where you went, expecting the meaning of life in that lecture you thought you wanted to hear if only the words in their combination were not so ingenuine, because somehow you had sensed that, even those words, being very similar to these, were also different in some way and was that because you had truly sensed their speaker was disingenuous or has some fault in your character altered the meaning of the words so that as the speaker said one thing, you heard almost that thing, but different, as it passed through the membrane that rests between your eyes and the speaker’s lips, the sound travelling that way before it even reached your ears, or the focal point within your mind that recognizes the garblegarble into words you might have spoken or heard before, then how would you know that anything you’ve ever heard before was true or right or understandable to anyone but yourself or could you say truthfully that you trust your own judgement in all things, because if you do then you are a fool, as only fools know the truth absolutely, just as only when close to death do we truly know what it means to be alive, as a breath underwater, or maybe we are all fools, knowing absolutely that there is fear, fear of death, and fear of failure, fear of pain and fear of disappointment, that makes us lie to ourselves to cope, saying, ‘this is only the best that I can do,’ which is the same as saying, ‘I must compromise in all things, because perfection does not exist’ but does anyone believe that, I wonder, because perfection must exist if we have any notion of it, or how else do we compare our lives and work to others, or how else do we see things that please us and say, ‘that is as close to perfect as I can imagine it,’ if perfect never existed, or if it has, it is all gone now, and only the memory of it survives and as the world loses its perfection the strive for perfection grows harder every day, and I grow old waiting to reach it, ‘inspiration,’ it is often called, but perhaps that, too, is a lie and no such thing exists because the perfection we see in inspiration is only from lack of attention, and any more time we spend looking would cause us to see its imperfections even more, just as how the master spends time working a painting, corrects the spots endlessly before halting, and only because the patron has come to pick up the commissioned work, only then would we stop, when someone else comes for us, or we would go on indefinitely, in that search and endless correction, ignoring the thought that perfection will never come, that the likelihood decreases as we work, the time spent causing perfection to stretch farther and farther away into the past such that no arm is long enough to pull it back to where we stand now, rooted in our spots like those trees, as all around us moves, seemingly in greater direction than us, then we should remember that perfection does not belong in any person’s pocket, cannot be stolen, because it is gone, but if I can do one thing to help, and the one after me could pick up the small piece that I left, and one after that, then what I built might not be all wasted, though by the end of our journey it may not be recognizably mine, if I could have some reassurance that my mother before me created me so that I may have added one thing to hers, and the one after me could add to mine, then as our lives are bound to creation through an endless string of creation I might not have wasted all away, and comfort is enough to enjoy, instead of living in agony, as I would have, had I died before I had lived,” and off the stage, dancing

Two on the Tide

This is how the tide rolls in: taking in the sound of the moon calling through every land wilderness and sky between it and you, you begin to go towards it, picking up the shell and rock as you travel, moving the weeds that try to sweep through and go, along with you, to hinder your path as you go, stumble, and walk, and fall over yourself as you walk and travel, and go. An unimaginable void fills the distance between you, but if you could move yourself closer it would be better. You have never wanted to be here anyways–it would be better to move, and while the chance is here, go, although you recognize the path from the night before maybe this time will be different as the speed is more or less rushed and the moon if you could see it, the face is covered more or less, a sign of humility or confidence. The rock you found and put in your hand has no sharp edges, and looks very different from yesterday’s rock, which you’ve forgotten what it looked like but you’re sure it was different. You know the feeling, like the road is about to end, but the end seems so far away and every step seems to take longer and longer, stretched thin against the shore and as far as you can reach, each try never getting you any closer than the last hopeful grasp.

This is how the tide rolls out: after the moon disappears over the horizon, you forget what it was that brought you here, and why you are standing in place with your pockets full of garbage. You leave in disgrace, throwing down the loose coins and bottle that you somehow ended up with, coming back a bit to pick a fight maybe, to pretend that you’d meant to stay, if only you could but work brings you elsewhere, any excuse you can think of to leave here the creatures that ended up in your company, and tell them not to follow you out. Who likes the stifling sameness anyways, when the world is full of places to go. Or is it better to drift alone in the darkness and feed off of deep pools and miraculous emptiness. No one on land could imagine the storms that you’ve seen, or be crushed by the endless expanse as you have. If you’ve dropped everything and left alone, why then do you still feel tainted? Perhaps the land has its own poison and pretends to soothe as it devours. It is lies and betrayal though it comforts and appears beautiful and charming. The place you go to may not feel like home, may not be beautiful, but it is honest, constant and all-encompassing.

He was someone who said “moved” rather than “walked” or “ran” through life. He said, Then I wouldn’t have found the shining penny on the ground if I had not moved through life, washed cleaner than the day it was pressed. And I said, Then how do you move yourself? Do you want anything? He said, I will go with the tide, wherever it may lead me. I know where the tide goes, I said. Where does it go. I said, It moves by the moon and it moves only where it has moved before. It moves and is moved, he said. And I would agree.

6 Signs

I was a child prodigy. I started taking piano lessons when I was 3 years old, and I showed promise by the age of 5. By the time I was 7, I’d won some local competitions and had some appearances on tv. I remember playing for a couple morning shows. My parents were my managers and got me concerts with famous orchestras. By the time I was 10 I was a touring pianist and was hardly in school. I wasn’t unhappy. I loved playing the piano and I loved the attention from audiences and my parents. I thought I would be playing the piano forever.

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Hit plays a card. It shows the Goat. It strikes Solve among entry points, shows the Face and leaves her weakened. Solve strikes back with Admonishment, attacking Hit directly. Solve gains the upper hand. She draws, but is unlucky. Her draw is Fever. Hit retaliates by springing his trap, Ridicule, and is able to gain back his lead. He then plays Snake and wins the game.

some bird

Jonathan Livingston Seagull lived among other seagulls, all nearly exactly the same in size, shape and coloring. Due to an obsession with flight, he spent most of his time exercising, neglected eating and died early in his life. His flock mourned him briefly, but were secretly relieved that they no longer had to worry about feeding one of their own. Speculation among the seagulls suggests his parents may have fed him too well for too long, and he never really learned to become a self-sufficient bird.


In the year I turned thirty, my grandmother turned ninety. On her birthday she told me,
–How lucky I am to be surrounded by the people I love.
My mother-in-law turned seventy the year later and said,
–Never leave things to the last minute, or you might be too late.
She was referring to her daughter, who at forty told me,
–Don’t ever have kids.
Myself, I have always left things until later and now I regret not doing many things. Or maybe I never had the opportunities that others seemed to get. My student, at twenty, told me,
–I wish I didn’t have to grow up.
I think I must have thought that at some point. She wanted to be like her niece, at ten, saying,
–I wish I could fly,
knowing fully that it will always be impossible for her.


Constantly tasting, things like blankets, fingers, pacifier—linen, starch, rubber. Foods apple, tomato soup, tinged with metal by the spoon. Milk, soft and velvety. Plastic toys, plastic spoons, plastic cups and saucers. Soft, friendly, dusty plastic, and hard, sterile, bony, for eating. Not precious, like wood, which holds bites and is quickly taken away. Nor crunchy and pungent like dirt. A little plant is bitter and the insect moves too much. But soon, crayons, pencils and pens, like spoons, except happy. Crayons, sticky and crunchy, smells like comfort. Pencils made of precious wood. Paper has its own soft taste. And chalk, a bit like mushrooms, but crunchy and dusty, turning to mud. Peanut butter sandwiches, soft and sweet, with snappy, watery carrot sticks. Soft floppy ham and lettuce, a little paint, like plastic, and a little sugar disappears like magic. The world is full of beautiful things.