Tuesday, May 29, 2007


In this dream, I'm narrating, as on a sunny day, a small group of teenagers and their high school science teacher are walking through a peaceful meadow. Up ahead, the teacher notices a beehive. It stands approximately 7 feet tall and resembles a building. The teacher is excited, rushing over to the hive as the students follow behind him.

“Wow!” the teacher says, “This is really cool.” He touches the hive, as the busy bees move about, unconcerned by their excited visitors. The bees have never seen a man before, so they have no fear. Neither has a man ever seen such bees, as fat as strawberries and as tamed as kittens.

The teacher picks up one of the bees, allowing it to play on his palm; but he is concerned that it will sting him. The teacher then thoughtlessly turns the trusting bee upside down, exposing its thin black stinger. Then he plucks out the stinger and allows the puzzled bee to fall to the grass.

Betrayed, the plump bee springs into the air and flies back to its hive. Then, within three seconds, the entire hive of once friendly bees swarm up from the top of the hive like a tornado and then angrily rain down on the teacher and his students, stinging, as they run franticly through the once peaceful meadow.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Attic Window

One day, a fellow Marine named Shaffer shared a story with me. It was something he had seen as a young boy. According to Shaffer, Miss Jones was an elderly woman who lived near him and had a reputation for being eccentric. She lived alone in her large house and could sometimes be seen from the street, peering out from her attic window at passers by.

When Miss Jones passed away, rumors soon began to spread among the neighborhood kids that her house was haunted. One afternoon, months after Miss Jones had passed away, Shaffer and four of his friends were gathered in the street in front of her house. The doors and windows were partially boarded up, and the louvered attic window was in clear view. “That’s where her ghost is,” said one of the boys. “She's probably watching us right now.”

They looked over at the window as Shaffer laughed, “You sissies! There’s no such thing as ghosts!” Opinions were then tossed back and forth until Shaffer finally announced that he would prove it by entering the house. The four boys agreed to accompany him. They entered the yard, went around to the back, and pulled boards way from the kitchen door to gain access.

Inside, they made their way through the kitchen, and through the living room which was crowded with sheet-covered furniture. Up the stairs, they found a rope that when pulled would lower steps that led up into the attic. They climbed the steps and were soon standing in a dark attic, dusty and filled with cobwebbed boxes of whatnots, where beyond sat the old rocking chair at the louvered window.

“See! I told you!” one boy announced, “That’s her rocking chair.” Motionless, it sat where Miss Jones had left it, shrouded by shadows, cobwebs, and streaks of sunlight that peek in through the window.

“So!” said Shaffer, “That’s doesn’t prove anything. There’s nothing up here.”

They soon began looking through some of the boxes and drawers. One the boys even moved the rocking chair away from the window, so he could see outside. After twenty minutes or so, they became bored and went back out to the street. That’s where Shaffer reminded them that they were a bunch of sissies.

“Since you’re so tough, let’s see you to in there at night,” one boy said. Without hesitation, Shaffer said that he would go there anytime; day or night—and they agreed to meet in front of the house at ten o’clock that evening.

That night, no one would volunteer to accompany Shaffer inside the house. Its electricity had been turned off, so there would be no lights. It looked spooky even to Shaffer, but he wasn’t going to admit it.

“There’s no way I’m going in there,” one boy said, looking up at the window. The four boys agreed to wait in the street. Shaffer would prove himself by waving at them from the attic window. The window was illuminated by a full moon and striped with shadows from a nearby tree.

The boys watched as Shaffer entered the yard and disappeared into the darkness. Shaffer found the boards still pulled away from the backdoor and he made his way inside. That was stupid of me, he thought Shaffer, realizing that he had forgotten to bring a flashlight. Luckily, some moonlight peeked in through the boarded windows, through the cracks, enough that Shaffer was able to make his way through the shadows, up the stairs, and to the base of the attic.

He pulled on the rope which lowered the steps that led into the attic. His anxiety thickened as he climbed, and then peeked inside, scanning the darkness for nothing in particular, as dust particles floated on the moonbeams that poured in through the louvered window. Let me get this over with, he thought to himself, stepping fully into the attic. He paused to gather his senses; then began creeping towards the window. Something was wrong; he halted in his tracks, scanning more intently. The chair had been placed back in front of the window.

He tried to calm himself with the notion that someone was possibly playing a trick on him, but it didn’t work. He scanned the room once more, and then looked back at the chair. It had a high back and it was facing away from him, outwards towards the window. He took another step, tilting his head to the right for a better angle—not wanting to believe that someone was there. Then, no sooner than he thought it, someone stood up from the chair and turned towards him.

His mind went blank, staring as the figure began to creep towards him. It was an elderly woman, and her face showed no emotion. Her eyes stared into Shaffer’s eyes, coaxing him not to run as she inched even closer. For a moment, Shaffer was in a trance. He then came to his senses.

The moment he thought about running, the woman’s expression turned angry. It was as if she knew that he would try to run, so she tried to get between him and the exit. Shaffer was out of his mind with terror, darting as fast as he could, so fast that he stumbled and fell down the hatch.

His body crashed hard into the floor below; then he continued running, stumbling, tripped and falling down the stairs. When he landed at the bottom, he quickly spun around, expecting her to be there.

The woman was standing at the top of the stairway, peering down at him. She didn’t come down after him, but it didn’t matter to Shaffer. He quickly shook off the fall and continued running towards the kitchen, crashing out the backdoor, convinced that the woman was right behind him. He fell out onto the porch, sprung up and ran around to the street where his friends were waiting. None of them believed his story—but as he told the story to me there was a tear in his eye.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Sweetest Ride

When I was twelve, Stephan was one of my best friends, though we sometimes had our difficulties. I don’t remember what it was he said. It had something to do with my bike, and I was offended. Stephan sugarcoated nothing. In fact, sometimes he could be downright abrasive, blurting it out with his hands on his hips.

“Well,” I said to him, “Since you have a problem with my bike, you’ll never ride it again.”

“Fine,” he answered back, “I don’t like your ugly bike anyway.”

Over the next few months, Stephan and I remained friends. We hung out together all the time, but my bike remained off limits to him. Some days he would test the waters. He would watch as I allowed other boys to ride. Then, when he thought I was in a good mood, he would ask for a ride. My answer was always, "No."

Sometimes the other boys would ask what was going on. Neither Stephan nor I ever told them. In fact, I had forgotten what Stephan originally said to offend me. All that mattered was that I had given my word, and I was standing my ground, whether it was rational or not. Stephan, however, continued to pick happy moments to ask his question.

“Can I ride your bike?” His question was always the same. So was my answer.

“No.” Then we would continue playing.

One day, several of us were jumping ramps in front of Stephan’s yard, nearly six months had passed since I had announced my bike off-limits to him—and he hadn’t asked his question in nearly two months. He approached me in the middle of the laughter.

“Can I ride your bike?”

“Yes,” I answered.

He did a double take. “Did you say, yes?”

“Yes,” I said.

The biggest smile came across his face as ran over to the boy who was sitting on my bike.

“Junior said I could ride!” Stephan announced, excited. In deed, my bike was ugly; but it was big deal to Stephan. I watched him as he climbed on and started riding. He rode that raggedy bike as if it was the best ride of his life, sitting high in the seat and smiling the entire time.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sanctuary Revisited

I was twelve when I first began to practice meditation. It was my private way of relaxing. I imagined myself on a secluded tropical beach, barefoot, and walking across the sands. The crystal blue ocean was calm, and on its surface, amid shimmering sky-born lights, were reflections of distant places old and new. The sands gently massaged the soles of my feet, and as I entered the waters, they sank from warm to moist. Its waves lapped against my ankles, as slanted sunrays rested across my chest. My legs and thighs committed to the waters as I softly inhaled heavens mist. Then I submerged. Underneath the waters’ blanket, I had left all my earthly concerns behind. The perfectly warm waters gradually cooled as my body fell to deeper depths. They were still the perfect temperature when I found—against the seawall—the entrance to secret caverns. I entered them, in where I found magical underground shores, even more tranquil than those above. There, I had found my sanctuary