Unspoken voice

its-all-make-believeI am nothing but a figment of your imagination. I am nonexistent in the physical sense. But even imaginary entities deserve a name. Mine is George. I know, it’s a rather plain name. Maybe that explains why it has been such a struggle to have my story told. You see, there are so many other imaginary creatures inside my author’s mind – he is real, by the way – I think. Anyway, these other voices have much more interesting names like Francesca, Isadora, and Anastasia – or Broderick, Ignatius, and Nicodemus. Forget for a few minutes that these voices come in male and female counterparts. That’s another story for another day, if I am able to be heard again. It was difficult enough edging my way into the conscious corner of my writer’s mind this time around.

All those other voices? They have elegant and pretentious sounding names. And the stories they beg to tell prey on the ego of its readers. They weave plot twists together to compose the most daring adventures. They hide magical talismans in the most unlikely but fortuitous locations that lead to wonderful tales of discovery. This is not one of those stories. So, if you are looking to travel around the world, discover hidden treasure, and be surprised by unexpected plot twists, you may as well stop reading now. Well, on second thought, maybe you do want to continue reading. Take a chance, why don’t you?

This is a story about a man. The entire story takes place on a park bench. Pretty interesting, huh? This man has a name, but nobody knows it. It’s Fred, by the way – his name that is. Another one of those plain names. Maybe that’s why his story has remained untold for so long. I can relate, but I digress. I must stay focused lest my creator banish me from existence. I have seen him do it before.

Seated on this park bench, Fred stares at the sidewalk in front of him. He wears a brown hooded jacket and tattered blue jeans that look as if they have been worn for the past week and a half. Truth is, they have probably been worn for much longer than that. He holds a can of peach slices in his one hand, picking out the pieces of fruit from the syrup inside with great care. He doesn’t want to waste the juice. It is sustenance that he needs to help him get through the day.

Fred tilts his head to the side as a mom walks by with her young son. He must be ashamed of his primitive existence here on the bench. He looks away to avoid eye contact. No one has seen his eyes, it seems. People waltz by talking on their cell phone, listening to their music, absorbed in their own world. They are oblivious to the existence of this other human being – one who deserves to have their story heard as much as anyone else. But no one stops to ask what that story is.

He snorts long and hard through his nostrils. The cold fall weather, his clothes that inadequately cover his extremities, and the evident malnutrition has probably led to some medical condition that will never be diagnosed, never treated, and will only cause his health to deteriorate further over time.

It seems like a sad life, doesn’t it? To our materialistic and egocentric selves, yes. But, you see, I think that is why I exist. If only for a fleeting moment, I am that unspoken voice that finally edges his way into the conversation to shed some light on reality – and the truth.

Remember when I said no one knew Fred’s name? No one cared enough to ask? I suppose that’s why I did ask. Well, I can’t ask of course. I don’t exist, remember? But, I somehow coerced my inventor to carry out this request on my behalf. It’s not something he usually does so I was quite surprised by his obliging manner. I was even more surprised – and I think he was too – by what happened next.

“Good morning, what’s your name?”


Just one word was spoken, and yet the message conveyed through those steel blue eyes spoke a seemingly infinite number of words painted in the most charismatic hues. Time seemed to stand still. Yeah, I know, it’s one of the clichés you find in those other stories. This was no cliché, however – this was real. It was as if the rewind button had been pressed, the movie just witnessed was replayed frame by frame in the space between our collective eyes, momentarily locked upon each other.

Fred stared at the ground – he wasn’t mired in feelings of self-pity and depression. He was watching the line of ants navigating around the twig at his feet. Undeterred, the tiny insects always seemed to find a way to persevere and survive despite their lacking physical endowments. Inspiration from an ant – the same ants that are considered pesky and annoying to the rest of us.

house-wrenFred tilted his head – he wasn’t ashamed of his disheveled appearance or poverty stricken lifestyle. He was simply directing his good ear towards the chirping bird in the tree above him. The house wren was plain and simple in appearance. And yet, he was still able to create beautiful and exquisite music. No one could ever convince him that he should not sing his song to the world. Everyone else misses out on these simple pleasures. We have a cell phone to our ear. We have our latest mile time to beat. We have more important things to worry about. Not Fred. No, not Fred.

Fred snorts through his nostrils – he isn’t sick, not yet at least. No, he is grabbing hold of that crisp fall air as it blows by him. Pulling it back through his nostrils, he inhales it deeply into his lungs. The air, filled with the scent of fall leaves, sends a message to his subconscious mind. He is catapulted back to his childhood, recalling fond memories of jumping into the leaves that his dad had just raked into a tall pile under the giant oak tree in his backyard. He is struck with a sense of humility – and gratitude. Things can change in the blink of an eye. He appreciated what he had now, even if it was only a can of peaches and a second or third hand brown hooded jacket. It could be much worse. Of course, the rest of us look upon this situation and feel a mix of pity, remorse, maybe even anger – surely, it couldn’t get any worse than this – and geez, all you have to do is get off your butt and do something. You have control over your own life, after all.

listen-to-the-quietest-whispersHard to believe, isn’t it? All this from a glance into someone’s eyes. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. Things are rarely as they appear on the surface. Maybe that’s the whole point though. We don’t really know how a story is going to unfold before our eyes. We can’t appreciate the seemingly insignificant or misconstrued details until we decide to listen to a story – deeply – whether it’s through our eyes, our ears, or those unspoken voices inside our head that we seem to neglect far too often.



Supported by a thousand blades of grass

Eyes directed towards the heavens

The water droplets are coalescing

Arranging themselves twice

Against the blue canvas overhead

Then in the infinite dimensions of my mind

A dragon soars across the sky

His spiny tail whipping to and fro

And in the next instant

The violent apparition has morphed

Into a trail of steam from a soothing cup of tea

The capacity of our imaginative mind


Without it we are not human

With it we become something beyond human form

Able to do anything

Go anywhere

Be anyone

All this courtesy of a passing cloud

A fleeting thought

And an imagination that we take for granted

Imagine that

Tipping point

educate-the-heartStraining my eyes to focus through the scratches of my protective eye gear, I meticulously rotate the knob on the Bunsen burner, watching the color transition from a warm orange to a cooler shade of blue that is anything but cool. As the tip of the flame approaches the base of the test tube, my fingers delicately pull away and wait. Given the proper ratio of elements, the correct external stimuli, and the necessary atmospheric conditions, a transformation takes place. A chemical reaction that occurs at the intersection of these circles of influence. The tipping point. It is a term that holds a unique meaning in the world of chemistry, but also applies to many other facets of the world around us.

In sociology, it describes a previously rare phenomenon becoming dramatically more common. In the areas of physics and climatology, it refers to the change in a system from one stable state to a different stable state. In between, chaos may ensue.

For the majority of my life to date, I have been a reader. Given my fondness for the written word, this is most likely not a surprising revelation. What may be unexpected, however, is the reading material that occupied my attention.

The eye gear that protected me from imminent danger in the chemistry lab also served as blinders to the world of literary fiction for too many years to count. For all of my childhood and well into my adult years, the words which passed through my eyes and into my brain always veered in the same direction at the fork in the road, headed for the left-brain and the pursuit of knowledge. The path to the right-brain, overgrown with weeds, had never been ventured through, the adventurous possibilities never explored.

Over the summer months through each of my high school years, the mandatory reading list carried with it titles such as David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, and Greek Mythology. Although comprehending the words in each of these tomes, they were never felt. They were merely words to be read, pages to be turned, in order to compile a report as proof of completion. The emptiness of the words in my report reflected the emptiness of the feeling in my heart. It was all I could muster to work through these necessities and get back to my physics textbook so I could digest the real educational material found in the likes of principles such as the Schrodinger Wave Equation.

The energy of the mind is the essence of life. ~Aristotle

And then. It struck like a bolt of lightning out of the clear blue sky. To Kill A Mockingbird. With the intensity of a flame magnitudes stronger than any I had ever seen in a laboratory, that overgrown path of weeds leading to the right-brain was burned and cleared, providing an invitation to enter the world of enchantment. And enter it, I did. My own personal tipping point had been reached. All sense of time was lost. Pages began to turn themselves, sometimes what seemed like fifty at a time until the back cover was reached.

Since that epic revelation, I have embarked on adventurous journeys through the arid deserts of Africa. I have discovered treasures from the depths of the deepest ocean. I have inhabited an island off the western coast of Australia. I have shared in the joy, felt the pain, and experienced the sorrow of countless people. These are not fictional characters as suggested by the thoughts postulated in some book review. No, these are real people, alive in your mind, walking alongside you as you share every intimate detail of their story. The two dimensional words on a page are magically transformed into a wave of multidimensional images and emotions in the mind.

As my eyes blur, they transition from the world behind the page into the earthly world I inhabit. Although, for just a moment, I question which world is real. As the picturesque landscape in my mind fades to the subconscious, I become aware of the three cats on the bed around me that were not there before. Absorbed in another time and place, I am unaware of everything that has transpired around me. The alarm clock sitting next to me reads two o’clock in the morning. I am exhausted. Not from physical fatigue, but rather from the emotional roller coaster that has been endured over the last hundred pages. And the feeling is perfectly beautiful.

keep-readingEach evening since my son was an infant, we lay by the dim light of his bedside lamp for story time. Beginning first with picture books, we have now traveled on many adventures through The Hundred Acre Wood. We have experienced how a fine balance of tenacity and love can facilitate an unbreakable bond between dragon and boy. And more recently, we have trudged across the frozen tundra of the Arctic alongside Buck, Jack London’s iconic canine in The Call Of The Wild. Then it occurs to me. This is education for the heart. As I reach the end of a chapter and prepare to close the book, a plea for just a few more pages accompanies a grin on his face. Another tipping point has been crossed. As I turn the page to continue on, the smile on my face reflects his own.