Oct 22 2011

#175 “Tie-Dye the Sky”

From Nancy in Kingstown, Rhode Island

Chattanooga is not necessarily a large city, but it’s still big enough that the lights from downtown are able to effectively block out most of the stars at night. It’s a sad thought, really, to know that right up above me is a whole array of brilliant lights twinkling away in a vast universe but that I can’t see them. At times I have traveled to a few places (Fort Defiance, AZ; The Grand Tetons in Wyoming; Segovia, Spain; backpacking trips in The Great Smoky Mountains) that are far enough removed from large urban environments so that I have been able to drink in the beauty of the nighttime sky undaunted, but this doesn’t happen often.

Every chance I get, I love to break away from the hustle and the bustle, from the nighttime sirens and streetlights, and stare up into that expansive blanket of glimmering diamonds, twinkling away into infinity. It makes one feel so small and yet so precious at the same time. Between these sacred glimpses, however, I must be content with my memories. But these wonderful recollections are often helped along with inspiring illustrations like Nancy’s here that help to anchor these thoughts of beauty into my mind. Thank you, Nancy, for painting the sky with a brush of imaginative color, for setting the sky on fire, for bringing it to life. It hangs above our heads every hour of everyday, but how often do we really appreciate it?


Aug 23 2011

#115 “I’m gonna to eat your toes while you’re sleeping!”

From a stranger in Nashville, Tennessee

in the back of everyone’s mind is a deap-seated association with something that unfailingly serves as an impetus for instant fear. Upon examination, the sparks that ignite our individually fearful fires are as varied as the people that make up our world. Everyone’s secret fear is different. For some the catalyst for terror may simply be darkness and the vulnerability it brings, for others it might be the thought or sight of blood and gore. Still others are scared by notions of demon sorcery and witchcraft. Some fear ghosts and spirits while others are terrified by thoughts of monsters and mutants or human fiends such as demented madmen and axe murderers.

For some of us, our greatest fears are more rooted in “reality.” We are afraid of snakes or spiders, things that creep on the ground or live under slimy stones or dry sandy caves. Still, for many of us, our greatest fear lies in the dread of losing a loved one or being alone. Regardless of what it is or where it comes from, we all live with fear.

Personally, I have always been frightened by the molestation or twisting of innocence. The thought of taking something pure and innocent and perverting it into something demonic or evil has always brought a chill to my bones and caused the hair of my neck and arms to stand at attention. Examples of what I’m talking about? Well… the clearest examples that I can think of include movies which feature demented or demonic children. Some of these might include The Shining, Pet Cemetery, Poltergeist, and The Omen. To a lesser degree, things such as clowns and examples such as the movie Child’s Play might fall into this category. As I said, there’s just something about that notion of perverted innocence that sets me on edge. I suppose it might have something to do with a deep-seated black and white worldview that I adopted as a child. Good things were good, and bad things were bad, and anything that blurred these lines or challenged this paradigm was frightening.

Anyway, I believe all this is closely related to why merely glancing at this picture causes my blood pressure to rise, my face to grow wan and pale, and my palms to sweat. The picture in and of itself is innocent enough. It is cartoonish and amusing, but there’s also a crazed look in those offset mismatched eyes. Why can’t I see the rest of the face? What is it that lies just below the frame? A mouth snarling with jagged rows of teeth, dripping blood and human entrails?

And then, to top it off, there’s that creepy and twisted message. Eat my toes? Why?! Why don’t you just devour me whole while I sleep? I can’t handle it! My mind is unwittingly drawn to the image of waking in the middle of the night to discover that something is wrong, something is…. missing. As I peer down towards the end of the bed, the first thing that I notice is a clump of bloody sheets. Then a horrible sight greets my eyes: there they are, the bloody stumps of my feet. All my toes have been removed. Then as my body descends into shock and I begin to lose consciousness, my eye fall upon the crowning pinnacle of terror: just barely poking its head above the surface of the mattress is the face of this demonically twisted yet comically wolf-like creature. The only sounds are the smacking of this jaws and the crunching of the bones of my toes between his teeth.

Someone, please…. make it go away.


Jul 13 2011

#74 “Acquainted with the Night”

From Jen

I am convinced that Mother Nature can offer no image that is more soul-stirring than that of the lonesome lobo, perched triumphantly upon a monolithic promontory while the silver moon anoints its fur with a shimmering glaze of light. There is so much emotion tied to this one image, so much longing and regret, so much desire and sadness, all of it intersecting at this one point. It’s enough to capture the deepest reaches of the human soul that have yet to be explored by introspection and dredge them up to the light of day that resides inside the conscious mind. Laying eyes upon this creature is like tangentially connecting to a universe in which we are merely strangers and yet we know that in some far away time and place, in some distant history that was never recorded, this was our home.

As much as we long to belong to this wild and wondrous scene, we must be content to exist in a world in which we have taken our own selves as prisoners. We may admire the wolf at a distance, but we are not of the same breed; yes, we are all made of the stuff of stars, but in some different formula. Only the wolf knows his own world, and disappointing as it might be, this must be accepted. We may touch this wild and strange world of wonder every so often, but we are not wolves, ourselves. We are not the fearless, wandering conquerers of the moonlight skies.

We are not “Acquainted with the Night” as they are….

“Acquainted with the Night”
By Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.