My grandmother had the worst luck with back yards. Every year, she expected something to grow. Not even grass seemed willing to venture out into our backyard. What we were left with was a bunch of dirt. Between the two houses that she lived in most of her life, she was blessed with two boys who were willing to try every year to make something grow, as well as a few trees that brought more shade than we deserved. The roots dug deep into our backyard. Nothing grew for the entire time that I lived there.
One day, the landlord decided the trees were too much of a liability. He sent in a crew to cut them all down. He cut them in half and leaved the broken halves to rot into our backyard. It was such an ugly ornament, but my grandmother decorated the nearly seven foot corpse with flowers and hanging plants, as well as some solar lights and some other things to make it nice.
The thing that happened can’t be described as a miracle. I think we all understand that without such a massive obstruction to the sun, the grass, the weeds, the various plants that she attempted to sustain throughout the years, they all came back in a flash. Within a few weeks, her backyard was overrun. It was beautiful and terrifying. She had weeds running across her five-foot chain-link fence, so much so that we couldn’t see anything on the other side. Even the grass grew a much brighter shade of green.
Something had to assume control. There was far too much light for everyone to share. The weeds, I admire and detest. They grow with little difficulty and strangle the life out of everything in their path. That’s survival. That’s all they know. I wish we could click off that instinct in their DNA. They’d be much prettier and easier to appreciate. Instead, I resent the weeds, because they made my grandmother a fake tree. She loved it, but I saw the roots. It grew out of the weeds, which seeped into the ground, like poison. They jutted out and… I have to say, were quite convincing as a tree. It took a keen eye and some examination to understand that it was taking advantage of us.
When I wanted to cut it down, grandma wouldn’t have it… so, it remains. That’s how life works. It’ll grow out of control, but unlike the trees, it will provide no benefit to the world around us. In a few years, maybe more, the fertile soil will have been changed by the weeds and the narrative will change. Fertile soil gives birth to so many possibilities, but if we don’t do our best to seize these rare opportunities and make them a benefit for the good and righteous, it’ll all collapse into the earth and be forgotten for all eternity.
Follow me on Reddit… or something… or just enjoy!
I’m not sure if this is the equivalent of me smelling my own farts, but I like to share different stories I’ve written and have found a platform that I find challenging and productive. I hope you all enjoy. If not, tell me I’m an asshole. Also, if you happen to be on reddit, I’ll gladly accept your ‘friend request’… even though they’re pointless… also, have a nice day!
I’ve been working on a puzzle based around stories with several connections, but I forgot to number them. Part of that is, well, I didn’t realize I was building a puzzle until the second story. Now, I see the picture much clearer… and I hope to share it with you from time to time. Sidenote: I also enjoy r/nosleep, which is a subreddit dedicated to horror stories, but really it’s the place that I enjoy. It’s a world where you must adhere to tradition, suspend disbelief and accept your reality. It’s a good thing to do from time to time. I hope you enjoy it!
“When Nachiketa went to the home of death, he had to wait three days, until death returned. Upset by having the Brahman waiting, Death offered him three boons: (1) he could be greeted warmly by death, (2) he could live amongst the gods or (3) he could know the secret of himself.”
If I count the days in front of me I count an infinite number. It’s only infinite, because I refuse to measure the time I have left, not to mention the chances of my demise or possibilities for cataclysm. If my time isn’t infinite, than I’d rather it be impossible, because I’d rather not know how many days I have left. I can, however, count the days of my life if I’m willing to look back. So few are that memorable, but still there are ones that connect on an emotional level. You hold onto them when life shows its fangs. You take the good with the bad and then you move on. After a while, you look back and can say, ‘oh god… I remember that day… how in the hell did I ever get out of that mess?’
Now, considering the same physical model of the universe, we are interacting with others, as well as our environments. We can look to the past and say, ‘I remember that guy! Whatever happened to him?’, although we can’t do the same in the future. We can’t say that we know that someone is going to have such a major effect on our lives in the future. That type of logic belongs in the past. I can’t poke you in the chest and tell you that some day you’ll mean the world to me. The future reveals its truth through experience. You have to feel it. You have to accept it into your life with every passing day. It’s much harder to do, especially compared to how simple it is to reminisce about days long since passed. The ability of the mind to pull you back to ‘the simpler times’ cannot be overstated… or underestimated, because it comes with a cost.
The future lacks understanding and the past lacks context. From the present, the past seems like a long ride from one age into another, for which you never bought a ticket. It’s a blur to the present. The future never materializes. It’s a looming specter, for which we can fear, respect or, through a severe bout of mental gymnastics, do both. It’s our inability to control the future that makes it harder to move closer to it, because the further into the future you go, the brighter the distant past starts to look. The ever-looming specter of death is on the other side of the future, but the past becomes a comforting certainty. You can even connect with those for which you’ve lost touch. The past makes even your enemies seem… quaint. They lose that threat that they once possessed, when the past was the present and it seemed like you had to fight for territory or squabble over nonsense or oppose a certain opinion because it appeared to be an offense to your ego.
Hindsight is an impossible gift that could prove itself to be more of a curse. Some believe you can look into the future with the same pair of eyes and use hindsight to protect you. Fear of the future is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Witch doctors count the days of your life through chicken entrails. You kiss the back of his hand and say a few hundred ‘Hail Marys’ and all is well. It can, in the least, provide a bit of solace in a world that offers so little, but that’s not what these gifts are for. Hindsight, if used properly, can reveal an ugly, visceral truth. If we look to the future with those same eyes, if maybe we’re willing to ask a few questions and step a bit further with every passing day, the prospect of death won’t be so terrifying, but in the least, humbling enough that we accept our lot.
I grew up around some of the great narcissists of our time. History won’t remember them, so I have to. They were great storytellers, who forged a knack for survival into an unequivocal hunger to live like kings. They spoke of riches and wealth that they couldn’t have possibly known, yet painted a picture so alluring we had no choice but to believe. They were raconteurs, wizards possessed of a singular illusion that painted the world in their image and presented it to us, as if it were ours.
A Raconteur is “a person who excels in telling anecdotes”. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/raconteur Also, an anecdote (Please note: I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence. I mean to provide clarity.) is “a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident”. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anecdote A raconteur is a great storyteller. I’ve always considered the word to be closer to ‘being a good bullshitter’, which is worth its weight in gold. Anyone can tell a story, but getting people to care is a miracle akin to walking on water.
Storytellers are plentiful. You can see them in coffee shops behind laptops, biding their time until they have a chance to share, connect and separate. It’s in that singular moment, where we connect, that things change. They can become dangerous in a moment’s notice, as they infect your mind with complex riddles that the storytellers have been working on since the dawn of time. You might wonder, ‘why would a person share such a riddle?’ you can’t think like that. It’s how any good storyteller wants you to think. They want you to assume they have no reason to hurt you. There’s no harm in believing what they believe. There’s no harm in believing them without question.
The thing that all decent ‘raconteurs’ must ask themselves periodically is ‘do I care more about myself than I do the story?’ I’ve lived among some of the great bullshitters of modern history. We heard plenty of stories growing up, yet so few of them added up in a way that it could make me care. The raconteurs possessed this trait that added depth to their stories, not just with what images they infused, but with how they made us feel. We felt involved. They tugged on our heartstrings and moved us toward an end that we couldn’t see. They possessed our future, as we waited for these mindless heathens to comb through the vast wasteland of their psyches in search of an end to whatever narrative they were painting.
Any good story comes from a single point. It’s not the beginning. It’s just a point. They wanted to make a point. They’d lie about having sex, so they’d present a narrative that made the possibility of them having sex seem possible. They’d plant a few mental images here and there, forming past and future around this premise. Ultimately, their goal was to forge a real, however unlikely, narrative, in order to make us believe.
The raconteurs believed what they said. The proof was in their words. They told us to take it from there, because taking a man at his word is as good as taking it in blood… at least when you’re a child. When we were kids we lied and it helped. We had impossible things to accomplish in a collapsing world full of poverty and the imminent threat of some incomprehensible bullshit. We had to hide sensitive information from our parents, while taking advantage of our God-like inertia, limitless energy and simple-mindedness. We had to prove to other kids that we were cool, while, at the same time, making our parents think we’d never do the cool things that get you into trouble. It added to our personal mystique, having accomplished nothing, we needed something to set us apart. We’d lie about drinking and drugs, losing our virginity, feats of the utmost stupidity… you know… harmless bullshit.
Truth is the trickiest thing. Everyone says they want it, but when it’s not something they agree with they have a reaction that makes you wonder. Truth. It’s a funny thing, because I could write out the truth as I see it and (hopefully) half of you would love me and the other would hate me. The trick for any good raconteur is understanding the right formula, while having as full an understanding as you can of the truth. I believe that you can’t write a decent story, even if it sounds like nonsense, without a sense of truth. It has to be written, spoken and lived with conviction. Truth has to appear in every word, exactly as you’ve seen it, while managing not to conflict with the truth, as it is. You should, as a good storyteller, align yourself with the truth in order to make your narrative more honest and compelling.
I never thought about truth when I was young enough to fall for these stories. The morality of lying, as one presents it to himself, so that he might further his ends, has become all the more staggering as I’ve reached adulthood. I’ve been trying to think of the right way to word this question. I doubt it’s perfect, but it needs to be asked. I’m curious as to what everyone believes:
Can you have a moral premise without any evidence?
Some raconteurs have no regard for the truth. In all honesty, as a kid I didn’t care. I was surrounded by some of the greatest storytellers of my time. I couldn’t be bothered to figure out how some of these impossible stories could be real. I believed with all my heart, because I was a stupid kid who still believed in Santa. (FYI I believed in ghosts for longer than I believed in Santa, but I also assumed the ghosts would grant a wish or needed my help or whatever.) These are men who have learned to lie in a way that ‘everyone believes that you believe what you say’. You believe them, no matter the evidence to the contrary, because they, not their narrative, hold up well against the barrage of truth that assaults them on all sides.
They’re not not-sympathetic characters. Their truth is a depressing harangue of emotion and pain that most couldn’t understand. What’s worse, they keep it to themselves. They keep it! They hide all that pain and suffering, but even more, they hide the truth! They move with such intent when they tell their stories, as if revealing a deeper, more significant wisdom, while simultaneously hiding it from the world. It’s in their emphatic gestures, their movements, as if their bodies shift depending on the tone of their narratives, not to mention their eyes… it’s in all these things that those of us who were forced to listen HAD to believe.
We believed it all the more, because we lived it. They borrowed from our lives and, in this way, we added to the false narrative. Storytelling is a necessary skill. It made us feel good in a time where people were laughing at us, because our river was full of poison and visitors had no reason to… visit. The pain of being alive could’ve shown itself in crime and self abuse. For us, it showed itself in acceptance of nonsensical bullshit and downright lies.
Near-possible realities were a simple narrative that captured our attention, which begs the question: why do they need our attention? Evil raconteurs are like evil yogis. You can assume they don’t exist, as if there is no darkness when there is also light, but this is another simple narrative that’s easy to digest. The simple narrative is used to ensnare. You don’t need to talk about angels to be a good raconteur. You have to make people believe. This is that much more significant. You MAKE people believe. You take them on a journey, where they start out as a skeptic and then, through a few twists and turns… holy shit… you just made someone believe in angels.
(Also, if you don’t make them believe, you at least allow them to suspend reality for a time, which is kinda the same, although I admit there are differences.)
Making people believe and sharing with them a deeply personal truth is about as different as water and oil.
For what it’s worth, they thought they were kings, but that never stopped them from fighting to become that oh-so desirable, and unquestioned ruler of the universe. They lied and stole and fought, but the stories to me became all the more touching. These people, the Raconteurs, were at war with themselves, as well as the truth and as well as a circumstance of poverty and extreme depravity, which was plentiful, in our ever-collapsing society. They fought for freedom: the freedom to be as insane and harmful to oneself as you can get. They fought to make the world a weird place.