I’ll walk into the store from time to time and he’s usually there to greet me with a warm salutation. It makes me feel welcome and a part of an alternative fraternity removed from the well-known campus to the west. I proceed to the bins near the counter and flip fast and sometimes faster depending on my mood. I’ve been told that I have quick fingertips, “You must be a pro?” said a customer. Smiling, I had to agree, especially with so much practice, but of course, I am still learning. Not to be fast, but to take it all in, listen, absorb, and experience. That is the meaning of life. Well, one of them anyway. There are many illusions.
After some decompression and a slowing of the breath, I occasionally instigate dialogue, to check in with what’s been going on... Pressing matters. Pressing size. Pushing noodles. Well, not so much the latter. The food talk is usually one-sided to some degree. I listen and appreciate, but like music, we all have our specific preferences. From time to time our interests intersect. Once in a blue moon, I’ll even see an insect interject. Thankfully, not into my eye because that would hurt (us both).
If my diminishing recollections serve me correct, there are three steps to the second level of the store where there are many more bins to wade through, shelves too! There is also a secret staircase near the back, leading down to a semi-sordid chamber where god knows what happens. Probably legendary stuffs. The stuff of legends no doubt. But back to the main dish. For those with only a few bob in their pockets or satchels, there are many humble yet rewarding options. For the wealthier members of this sect, there are even more. Boots as well! If packing heat, the world is your oyster, as the saying goes, and I only say that due to our geographical situation to the crisp, cold, and unrepentant ocean.
But when I think about taking one of life’s many golden opportunities, as you would say, picking said oyster off of a coastal beach, one has to be extremely careful. Tread lightly friends. Today, environmental damage both seen and unseen is unfolding at an alarming rate. Slicks, spills, fires, irritants and pollutants of every imaginable kind permeate Mother Earth (and by extension, us mere mortals, the humans of this land). Those oysters of yore may now be contaminated far beyond the dangerous waves of red tide that one contends with living in such locales as we do here on the coast. But you out there may be reading from a landlocked, yet just as unstable position of earthly safety and reality. We must all be aware, and most importantly care, which takes me back to the man who’s often at the store with a warm greeting.
He works there and elsewhere at a rapid pace and in his work he utilizes many different mediums: rotating black discs, spools of tape encased in hard shells, even badges and other sharp things. There are also sticky circles, edifying printed materials, and stylish garments to boot. I’ve also seen (and used) his customized drinking vessels to stay hydrated during these dehydrating days and nights. That is to say that this man has enriched my life. And I know that I am not alone. Does he know how we feel?
We all face, have faced, or will face challenges in this life, whether in the present, past or future. There is no escape, only alleviation and comfort. Even those “wealthier members of society” noted above contend with these same trials and tribulations. None shall escape the wild bunch, especially after consuming three plates of food from an all-you-can-eat brunch. So if you have a hunch, the best thing that one can do is to grab of bunch of grapes, climb up into a perch, and ask the mountain, tree or bee to feed you. Maybe a Kingfisher? Ok, one for me, one for you. Don’t forget to chew and we’ll be fine. Breathe too! In other words, take your time, nourish your soul, and stay lifted. We all do this in different ways, to keep the demons at bay, even in a seemingly positive place such as this, the one with three steps to the second level and a secret staircase to the back. Did I mention that the floor was made of wood?
Music, it has been said, has the power to heal, to purify, to provide stimulation, and more. It has been playing this whole time from a selection of speakers positioned in all corners of the room. Sometimes you’ll notice it, other times you won’t. It can blend right into the images on the wall, colourful images, some dated, as are the redundant technologies there being peddled to sate materialistic desires, to provide escape. It is also a library of sorts, but one can never be fooled into thinking that there are not prices attached, financial and otherwise. Not quite a public gallery, it is more of a monetized museum, a pseudo-macabre place with a sadistic leathered beast hungrily waiting in the dungeon below. I’ve seen it firsthand dear peoples, I know, but I have thankfully lived to tell the tale, a tale that may not go anywhere or reveal any kernels of truth to you, but rest assured still rests firmly inside my head, harming no one but me (until it is read).
Sure, I’m being ambiguous to some degree (you never know exactly who may be reading), but it’s easier on the old constitution to let others let it all hang out, as does that man when the feeling strikes, yes, that man that I keep returning and referring to, that man who greets me warmly almost every time I enter the store on the most main street of the city which I like to call a town near the ocean with mountains clearly in view and people wearing the latest fashions though not the latest fashions in far more fashion-forward and fashionable cities and towns. That man speaks from deep within and without an ounce of self-awareness. Thought: Would he say that?
Anyways, that man shares stories of his rural upbringing, his current state of being, his vivacious imagination, but even if vacant of meat or dairy talk, always seem to draw the listener in, in this case, me. His words and songs (yes he does that too) and efforts help to build links and bridges, an undervalued skill in this secretly disconnected era of “social” networking. In fact, he has even roped me into this extensive tangled web, of my own volition I should add, but one that has intertwined and intermingled me nonetheless.
Looking back, my initial introduction to that man was followed by an innocent inquiry about a female friend of his. This resulted in an evening of synthetic starwatching, but what really drew me in towards that man was the twinkle in his eyes. I know that you’ve seen it too! Talk of mushy edibles intrinsically linked to my grandparents’ generation was equally intriguing to my sense of curiosity about someone far too young to understand. Or so I thought? Shame. Must remember, I am learning, still learning, always learning, never to underestimate anyone or anything amongst many other things. That is judgement and such judgement is vehemently wrong. It is also limiting. I ask aloud, “Do you want to limit your options in life?”
If there was any doubt, we are still living in medieval times. Land plots based on oppressive systems of old where people stole and committed acts of genocide still exist across this country. Nothing has changed but the clothes, and perhaps a fancier lean. And the never ending stream of omnipresent electronics and general consumerism encompassing electronica and other ensuing trends, none of which are edible in a world where people are starving. That man is beyond such constructs and construction. He is international in approach, inclusive in feel, though admittedly digestible by few in relation to the numbers that I’ve seen brandished across ballots and through industry numbers deemed by those few in charge who appear by the majority to determine the factors that distinguish “greatness.” We know that is a lie. Share the Land, I say! All will be explained about those three words in due time (and it might not be what you think).
I’ve crossed the line from fan into a new reality.
Where I still root for the team, but they also appear to root for me.
I can see it all here while I slowly sip my tea, but something inside feels quite imaginary.
While understanding that I am far from alone.
And the person, group or company with the most followers or likes usually sits on a throne.
Anyone with a computer, tablet or cell phone knows this jones.
Are we throwing digital shapes?
Did the sci-fi movies of yore have social networking at the fore?
In a connected world how could life ever be a bore?
But I’ve heard folks whisper about it at the store.
I wonder where these songs and words will travel? Beyond the four walls of this store I imagine. Thanks to science, they can slip across the universe (“Jai Guru Deva”) on rotating black discs, hard shelled encased spools of tape, and even through the electronic ether. I’ve learnt in my journey that recordings can arrive in places unknown at the time of their conception. You may have to answer to those creations down the line, bringing back good feelings, bad feelings, or feelings somewhere in between, so be ready! And that is not to say that it will happen, but just that it can occur. Anything is possible. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
Even when I’m not at the store, that man crosses my thoughts from time to time. That man who greets me warmly and kind. I think of the twinkle in his eyes, his smile, his passion, and his dedication to his craft. There is practise they say through repetition, and practice makes perfect they also say, so that man must be a machine of sorts. But I know that there is also a heart beating inside. Others have told me this. I can even see it. I have heard it too! Not everyone is cold and crisp like the ocean in this digital age. There are some, few I admit, who strive to be the best they can be, not to just get over. I think of words that I’ve rehearsed and repeated on long days of motion across vast spaces and places. Mantras for the mind. Food for the soul. Nourishment. We are being fed even when our stomachs are empty. There is always a soundtrack.
I’ve recently heard that there is no such thing as silence. Try to record some and you’ll see. But that man, that man who runs through this pseudo-cryptic narrative, unabashedly puts his heart and soul onto a variety of commodities for our consideration as consumers. These products sit next to others too many to count so that his voice, words, and feelings might be digested in the moment or preserved for further and future consumption by quizzical generations interested in a type of energy, spark, or thought up for grabs and the looming potential for honest interaction, an exchange, transmission or the sharing of a vibe or vibration. This is not unique nor trying to be, but the content most certainly is. That content distinguishes itself from the other products sitting next to each other in bins and on shelves at stores like the one described here, the one with three steps to the second level, a secret staircase near the back, and a dungeon below with a sadistic leathered beast waiting for its next victim…
Take My Life… Please!
Kevin “Sipreano” Howes
Voluntary In Nature
*This "Gospel" was written for the liner notes booklet of Tim the Mute's Take My Life... Please! album (LP/cassette/digital), released in early November on Kingfisher Bluez.