To be a writer, one must be an alcoholic. That is a truth I have seen now. I drank; I wrote. I stopped drinking; I stopped writing. Now, with whiskey near, it’s flame reaching my innards, I feel engulfed with the writing spirit. That is what alcohol is. It is the spirit within the writer. I see things. I imagine and create. Like a child with crayon, I may write with just the whiff of sweetness that brings chills to my body. I am sent forth on a journey within my mind. The destination is unknown. The purpose is unknown. But I am able to make sense of it, somehow. The whiskey nibbles its way down my gullet. And I can see my tale unraveling.
There they gathered, three kings with their guardsmen, huddled around fires, surrounded by shelter halves. Shields aside, all of the men mingled, merry and full of confidence. Ale is passed around. There is a slight wind blowing in the night, just enough to step closer to the flames – the warmth. Trees sigh their contentment from the woods. But from the grass in the fields, there is anger. Feet trample. Ale is spilled. Swords ram the ground. And in the distance, there is noise. Galloping horses. Shouting men.
The guardsmen and kings, awash in glory and elatement, hear nothing. Not until there is a pause in the laughter, after a king’s joke. Then they hear hooves throwing up dirt. They listen to metal clinking. But only for a moment. Guardsmen rush to their shields, unsheathe swords, make ready spears, set arrows. The galloping horses rush by, merely glancing at the gathered men.
And onward they go, furiously riding to another destination. From where the author rests, in the confines of the wooded area, guardsmen relax. Swords are re-sheathed, shields are set down, arrows put away. In the woods, we watch. Learning their reactions is key to success. Our riders enter the woods behind us, cautiously quiet. They have created this lesson, taught us the quickness of the guards, the calmness of the kings. With weapons put away, the celebrations conclude. The kings head to bed, guards are posted. The camp becomes silent, save for the cackling of burning wood.
We continue watching.
I continue drinking. Three sips in and I feel the energy, shifting positions multiple times. Each one comfortable for a time, then I must change. Couch, floor, chair. Sip. Smoothness. My mind is full, like a stomach after Thanksgiving. Where the thoughts go, no one knows. There is an untenable mix of sadness and joy. Pleasure and boredom. Days filled with nothing but video games: conquering Europe as Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the USSR. Days filled with beers and whiskey. Filled with a warm hearth, cat snuggles, and wonderment. What will follow these days of nothing? What is next? Simply teaching? Is there more? Travel? A change?
For the night, nothing changes. There might be guards relieving their comrades, but the kings sleep and the fire burns. In the woods, guards take turns, but our leader sleeps. He always sleeps. Yet, when there must be decisions, he is awake, keenly choosing what is right. When will we slaughter these men? That is the talk among our people here. When can we unleash our pent up anxiety and attack?
Our Lord approaches suddenly, peering through the darkness into the camp before us. He is silent, like the camp. He gazes for some time and leaves. Is that a clue? Will we soon be free to lay waste to these poor souls? They are doomed the moment we set eyes upon them. Morning is looming. I see dawn rising from the horizon’s heart. The camp awakens. Our people awaken. For a moment, we share more similarities than differences. We are connected by our commonalities. There is peace.
What binds us together here on earth? What do we share? A path. Not the same path, but the “fact” that we are on a path. It is not the same path. It is not a similar path, but we are on a path. Some lead to greatness; some lead to failure. There are short ones and long ones. They all are dead ends, with no chance to turn back. Interactions between one another are where paths intersect. Sometimes, paths become bound together. We spend so much time with someone else that we almost share the same path. But that is impossible. Our path is for ourselves. To each his/ her own.
The paths we travel are all on the same plot of land. All six billion of us are walking on a small plot of land. We say it is a small world when we meet someone who knows someone we know. Paths cross. If your path crosses with a mutual acquaintance of mine, we have a connection. How else would I be able to house sit for someone who would otherwise be a stranger? Yet, here I find myself, on another snow day, wondering where my life will lead. The snow falls. The fire burns. My drink runs out. I will have to get up soon. That will force me to finish this piece, as I find difficulty in finishing writing once I set it down. I will finish what I have started.
The author will finish what he has started. It would be easy to unleash a slew of arrows into the kings, as they leave their shelters, but easy is no path to enjoyment. There must be conflict. There must be surprise and some level of difficulty. Our leader brings the tribe forward. We move swiftly, crouching in the grass. The camp is ahead, fire still blazing, guards still watching. But they don’t see us. And we rush them. We slash throats, crack limbs, split skulls, stab hearts, and it is too quick. Over too soon. Despite our attempt to create difficulty, it is still easy. Easy to be stealthy. But we celebrate regardless. For it is a victory. We pile the bodies, break their camp. Break our camp. And we leave. Onward to our next encounter. We don’t pick the path. A path picks us.