Every boat had a captain, ours just happened to surf stars. Instead of water, he had the universal currents of space, riding the night in endless gravitational waves. We had no idea how he knew where to head, (it all looked the same to us,) but he did.
One day, or night, or evening, it was so hard to tell, I took a once around the deck. Pointing at comets was a hobby I’d procured; I never dreamt I’d see new life instead. But I did. How I did!
The sun coalesced from vermillion dust cast amongst the star stuff. Right there before my eyes, it sprung into blazing life. I gasped. Who wouldn’t have?
When I felt a tap on my shoulder, I almost jumped overboard, only the ship’s crystal balustrade held me back.
“What do you think, son?”
It was the captain, a strange glint in his ageless eyes.
“It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” I said. And it was.
“Life,” he said almost to himself, “doesn’t get any better than this.”
“But don’t you see such things every trip?” I blurted.
This is my latest post on Medium. I try not to preach but this is a subject close to my heart. I hope you enjoy reading it.
Ask yourself this: how many times have you heard it said he or she is worthless? They’re no good for nothing! He’s a waster! She has no talent! They’re sponging off society! The list goes on, a list almost always spoken with venom. I don’t subscribe it, not one bit.
I have known lads who could barely pick up a pen to write their name. Often this was exaggerated due to boredom, a general disinterest in the what others judged correct etcetera, etcetera. In no way did this change the underlying factor that they were not academically gifted. Not everyone can be. The problem occurred when people would never let them forget it, or worse. Yet, I have seen those selfsame so-called illiterates strip down an engine without instructions, clean it in no particular order and rebuild it better than it was to start with. Some people would have marvelled — I could never have done it — others would’ve claimed it all they were good for. I found the latter looked down their noses at the time — looking down one’s nose is a very English occupation that seems to have spread.
Once, I knew a girl with no school friends, who others proclaimed stupid. Years later, I saw this selfsame girl, now a woman, care for my grandmother with a consideration and patience even family couldn’t have matched (she shall have my eternal gratitude, too).
It takes all kinds to make a country function, and it would be a sad country indeed that offered a landscape without variety. In turn, countries without variety would make for a tedious and rather boring world, at least, in my humble opinion.
I believe everyone is good at something, some more than others, but always something. That certain something might be giving a speech, writing a book, painting someone’s nails or kicking a ball, it is the observer that categories said acts and seeks to appropriate a scaled percentage of proposed quality. They shouldn’t.
You can’t be all things to all people, neither can you do all things well. But I believe if you can do something well, be happy in the doing it and others be happy for you, the world would benefit. What’s more, those supposed worthless people might for once in their lives smile and feel valued, good, fired by self-worth.
I know this to be true because I was one of them. I don’t want to see anyone being made to feel useless and I hope you don’t too.
The brick and glass facades swamped me in shadowed reflections and concrete wrinkles. Never had I felt less part of the city than on that desperate night. Never had life meant less to me than in a cold, winter evening’s weakening of the soul. But angels are there to watch over us in such times with their burning, golden eyes and swanlike wings. My angel wore purple eyeliner and fishnet stockings, but I’d worship her just the same.
I approached her with trepidation. Women were not my speciality one might have said. I lacked the confidence of most men and sex appeal of the rest a combination that never went down well with the opposite sex. It wasn’t that women disliked me just that they never got chance; I wasn’t worth a look. But everybody needs someone, and I was no less than anyone else. That’s why I traipsed the midnight sidewalks counting the notes with my fingertips in a pocketful of lint.
I came to a juddering stop before a woman more girl than gran. She kept on chewing her gum and watching the taxis whizz by without sparing me a second glance, six-inch stilettos clicking out a staccato beat on the curb side. Even to such as she, I was pointless. How desperate I’d become.
Clearing my throat, I tried to catch her attention, failed, and then tried again. Her eyes never left the opposite storefront, her own dim reflection more worthwhile than me.
“How much?” I whispered.
“How much what?”
“Sorry,” I said, and began to walk away.
“I’m just messin’ with ya, kid.”
I was older than her, I was sure of it, but stopped nevertheless.
“What d’ya want?” she asked.
“I… I don’t really know.”
“Well, if you don’t, I don’t.”
She looked me up and down as though I was hung meat in a butcher’s window. Her thick, purple eyeliner must have contained glitter because her eyes twinkled like the stars; I’d forgotten the stars since moving to the city.
“Reminiscing?” she sniffed.
“You have beautiful eyes,” I mumbled.
“Your eyes, they’re beautiful.”
“Thank you,” she replied, a touch surprised, moving her hand from a hip to run slender fingers through long, dark hair. “So?” she said, her mind back to business.
“I don’t have much money.”
“Does anyone these days?”
“S’pose not. I’ll be on my way. I didn’t mean to waste your time.”
“Less than a dollar but more than a dime,” she said, the words hurrying from her mouth like water from a faucet.
“That cheap! I thought it’d cost loads more?”
“Not for this,” she said.
The girl sashayed over, put long bare arms around my neck and gave me the warmest, wettest kiss I’d ever had.
When she pulled away with a smacking of lips, she looked me up and down again as she had before and said, “There’s someone out there for you, kid, you’ve just got to look. Go home.”
And I did. And I did. And I always wondered if she did, too.
They were the last words my mother spoke before she died. I didn’t understand them, how could I? Illness took her before I’d even had chance to get to know her. At least, that’s how it felt once the pain ebbed away.
I didn’t take my mother’s death well. Some might say, I didn’t take it well at all. If one could rampage for years in a drunken haze of spending, women and blundering through all the non-necessities one could wish for, then I did. I was a veritable cornucopia of crap: I spoke it; dealt in it; lived it. Even the advent of the one good thing in my life, a girl by the name of Rochelle, did nothing to assuage the magma that poured over my soul. And thus it went on.
I was in my mid-forties when the illness took hold, the same age as my mother had been. Even then, I blasted my way through badness until my body collapsed with the strain.
I appeared in a hospital bed as though in a dream, Rochelle entering it as an angel a small bundle cradled in her hands.
She wept for me then, as I beckoned her close, my finger trembling with the effort.
“Everything is nothing,” I whispered, but ran out of breath before I could tell her why.
She gave him a coin and told him to put it in his pocket. “Why?” said the boy. “To remind you of the days we used to use money.” “But we do use money?” “Here’s to hoping you’re the clever boy who grows up to prove we don’t need it.”
There’s no value in wealth;
No joy in the coin;
No reason for hoarding,
Less still for greed;
No purpose in want;
No happiness in dollars spent,
And no pockets in a shroud.
I think I shall remain pocketless.
Yes, it’s pocketless for me.
Black Friday, Black Friday, A name that chimes doom, As the promise of sales Draws folks from the room. Saving a dollar Tears Thanksgiving apart, And the child by the fire Feels the loss in its heart. Are we so commercial As to look forward with glee To dates and reminders That split families? I think I’ll continue As though nothing’s occurred. The date in my diary’s Already gone blurred.