One Book Was All It Took
There was a time when all it took was alcohol and drugs to take the edge off, to numb away the sorrows of yesterday. A mind so misinformed by the classmates, peers, celebrities, idols, even acquaintances around that it began to subject itself to conformity to feel accepted. Please do not do that, learn from the mistakes of someone who has had to learn perseverance through tribulations the hard way. Not only just by happenstance, but a fortuitous occasion to come across esoteric knowledge, and learn the ability to bounce back from a life of misery and lost potential. How long can you keep meandering down the dark dreary road that leaves nothing other than puzzlement, contrite, inadequacy, failure, and a burden that will wear out the soles in your shoes before you make it back to reality.
Currently, I am a middle age man, thirty-seven years old, invariably dressed for success–with moxie. Frankly, I have seen it happen many a time–beautiful young brilliant kids, adults, the feeble-minded children that were misguided by their environment, they made a choice, a decision to adapt, acclimated to what encompassed them at the time. My name is Art, literally spelled the same as that class in all likelihood attended off your gourd back in high school. That is if you attended the class at all, art and PE are the two I frequently ditched. Come on, that is a fair assumption, everyone took it either because it was easy, the teacher was cute, or you were passionate enough to take it, thumbs up for you. That is good, really good, trust me–chase your passions. If you do not, you may never find true happiness. And if you were wondering, just because my name is Art does not mean in any way (shape or form I am proficient at the style of art) that requires you to paint a picture, draw a giraffe and its long neck, even splatter paint like a Jackson Pollock (come on is that really art).
But I have been known for a few drunk nights back in college, a long, long, time ago where … I am not sure if I should be telling you this, it plausibly will go viral. With as much dignity as one could have, those drunk nights back in college had resulted in the “merest” incident where I did apply some abstract art–not good art, oh no, the foulest kind. There was a bathroom near the dorm room, occasionally me and the boys would use to micturate and such after a one to many sips of hooch, man were we three sheets to the wind, well I was, especially this night in particular.
Old Baldy, in actuality he was not that old, two years past me. He got the nickname at the time, one: he was bald (a couple weekends back he was first one out at the big annual party we threw for having another year to throw an annual part, Baldy was first one to fall asleep–you know what that means. We shaved his head bald, well, I shaved it bald, he thought it was the guy down in room one that he had slept with his girlfriend recently. Karma's a bitch, man you should have seen the art depictions of rockets trailing the contours of his rugged face) and two: cause he said the same old S#+!. Did I forget to mention viewers discretion advised? Yeah, I probably should have, well, now you know pal. Trust me, I know, I am so magnanimous for informing you after you are neck deep in my “story”, good euphemism, right?
Back to where I was at, yes for your information I go on tangents at times (honestly to give myself more time to cerebrate whether this is a good idea), relax, wait why am I telling you this I am the one that should be embarrassed for what I'm about to disclose, hell that says something about my character doesn't it. I'm confiding in you, I have no idea who you are, what kind of person you are, potentially you could use this against me. Just wait there is a moral to this story.
Baldy came down to dorm seven, my humble (I have to be humble, that place was a dump, college is rough, living in squalor, your destitute. Your dorm is just the icing on the cake) abode–one night way back when, looked at me after we just finished the A-side of The Animals: 45, for you younger yahoos a vinyl, jeez, do I have to spell it out for you: R-E-C-O-R-D. The kind your dad delicately, with the utmost precision, placed the needle on. Plausibly even told you not to touch the antiquated music device in fear of your nocuous tendencies to scratch. Well, I know my pa did way before you were ever born, back when phonographs were in fashion, 'cept his vocabulary was a tad more colorful.
Nothing like the tranquility of a needle gracing the groves of a record, music baby, music to my sensitive ears. Baldy thought it a great idea to take a few liberal shots of hooch, don't judge me–I know you have too, you little delinquent. Tasted like battery acid, hit me like a twelve gauge, the next not as bad, third, fourth, fifth, you get the picture. Exhilarating effects, college, college is one of those rare times to enjoy yourself in ways we can not recommend to children, let alone divulge what happens to our parents, besides the stellar four-point GPA you managed to get by cheating off your neighbor in class. No, I know, you earned it...
Damn, I was running on full, had to drain the main vein. So the smart guy I was, knocking two birds out with one stone, I decided I would go number one and two. This is where the embarrassing part comes in, first, Baldy tells me before I start heading toward the privy down the hall, “Hurry up Art, the rest of the guys are coming over. We are going to kill the rest of this thirty-rack–no wounded soldiers left behind, you hear!”
Me, the taciturn guy I am just mumbled back “Mmkay”. Taking my time because I was 1. Partially in no big hurry, and 2. Inebriated, that was a night I faintly remembered till everyone I knew at the time filled me in for the next three years of college till I got my masters in creative writing and said, “So long, and may your horse never be an ass.” I hate saying goodbye so I just left a note.
Walking to the bathroom I saw a bombshell, or two, hell probably three, I was at a college renowned for aesthetics. Waved at the lady, almost tripping over my own feet, that was a sign I should not have went to the bathroom without assistance, trust clumsy me. The rest after that did not manifest back till the following day when my throbbing hangover subsided. Man, college days and hangovers, the struggle was cumbersome. Evidently, the boys said it was a real mess when they found me twenty minutes later.
Baldy got his poetic justice, karma, whatever you want to rub in my face– on me when he opened the door to the bathroom. “Hey, everyone take a look at Art The Artist, he made a Poocasso.”
Vividly I remember waking up on the floor, guess I slipped while dropping some fecal matter outside the porcelain pot and knocked myself out on a toilet paper dispenser, maybe it was the hooch, I don't know. A mystery to this day that still eludes me. As soon as I awoke, I tried to crawl out of the stall, which made it smear in an abstract pattern that the boys will never forget the rank smell of. Everyone came in to see the spectacle which was Art, a rather brilliant guy, instructing intro to bathroom creativity 101. The boys cackled like hyenas, glad this was the age before everyone and their mother carried a handheld phone with a built-in camera. For the next few years till I graduated I was known as “Art The Artist,” ironically enough I absolutely hate art, and Picasso now. Never going to live that one down...
Moral of the story is: if you are not an artist leave it for the aficionados.
A message has to be sent out through each and every one of the lives you touch–an everlasting love with whatever you are passionate about. Trust me I matured a lot in all these years hence my golden years in college. I fell in love with a cause when I first started to write; to sit at the typewriter and bleed it out as I wrote–I wrote drunk and edited sober.
That was not all life had in store for me, I had to do what writing did for me. Saved my life, reading too. Mainly reading, writing was the by-product of who I became. You ever achieve a goal, remember to give back. Each one, teach one.
Eventually I became a creative writing instructor for a college near the small town I grew up in, achieved a Pulitzer for a stream of consciousness novel with exquisite prose (which the critics claimed rivaled Jack Kerouac), and knocked the top off of my granddaddies coffin attaining a Nobel Prize for exemplary fictional literature for my portrayal of Oregon and the great northwest (like William Faulkner suggested “it was about damn time,” I know the feeling now after all the agonizing work)–no one ever thought I would have made it this far. But I believed, I believed in what I did, what I bled out as I wrote.
Hard to believe I had a kid in my class who reminded me of who I use to be. I changed his life, and this is the short story how.
You ever see a doppelganger in the flesh? Some have, some have not, fair to say. It was the first term, fall, back in 1996 I believe, lads name was Dante, man was he a bright kid. The problem was though: he could not lay off the partying, so much so that it started to affect his brain, his retentive nature turned for the worse. He forgot class, two days a week, most weeks, sad thing was there had only been two classes a scheduled a week. Dante got mixed in the wrong crowd, same with me, it is easy to do. You become a product of your environment most of the time.
A real story, one day my old man handed me a book in the middle of my days' sobriety, yes just during the day, it was a rarity too. My dad gave back, what I mean is he took a book, his favorite book, and gave it to me. I wish I could tell you the name of it, but I do not want you to conform and give that same book to someone else just because it worked for me. Be original–I implore. That single book changed my life, I started to look at everything different. This author at the time wrote a compelling novel with comedy in the text like I have never had the fortuitous occasion to stumble upon before. Eventually, after I binge read the next seven books, I decided I was going to write my own book, man was I going to bring something to the world the likes of which has never seen before. See, in life you resonate with who you want to become subconsciously, for me it was being a writer. I knew with conviction being a tale slinger, jack of all trades, and master of none was my calling.
What is yours?
Take the first step, take your passion to the next level, really get out there, immerse yourself. You want to master it, good, do it. I am thirty-seven and have been perfecting mine every single day.
At the time when I had Dante in my class I was not a master at my craft, no that had come later from giving. Ever hear that saying “give to receive and receive to give,” that will take you to the next level–trust me. After reading short stories one day, I read Dante's, he turned it in on time–for once. Subjectively one of the best short stories I have ever read. I could tell Dante cut a piece of his heart out and let it all out on the page. Talent comes around often, aptitude is innate if you allow it, wizardry, I do not know where that comes from, but I do know whatever magic Dante involved to write his short story, was formidable. Fetishistic me, taking the commodity of time to make a fantasy metaphor. If you could not ascertain, I write fantasy and damn good too. Do not mistake aplomb for cockiness.
I thought to myself, only if I could refine Dante's talent. Only if I could teach him the ways under my tutelage.
He was outside near the cafeteria smoking a cigarette, old Lucky Strikes if my memory serves me correct. This was a fortnight since I had the opportunity to read his paper, remember that: you want your Language Arts teachers to feel they were special for having the happenstance to read your paper. Behind my back I had a book, Dante did not pay much attention to me. I knew the kid had talent. One of the hardest choices I ever made was to give that kid the copy of the novel my old man gave me. You could see it in Dante's eyes that he had never been given anything from the heart before. I could tell he was a wallflower just like I had been, misguided by society. He had been neglected, his self-assurance was weak, no one ever believed in him the way I did. Inside the front cover of that novel I had the serendipity to bestow upon him, written in fading ink was, “I will become The New York Times bestseller, I will achieve a Pulitzer, attain a Nobel Prize, I can do whatever I put my mind to.”
Dante never missed a class after he received the novel my daddy gave to me, with eyes blue as the deep ocean and draining tears like the Hoover Dam releases its floodgate. He flipped the front cover open for the world to see, saw a facet of my vision written in semi-legible handwriting. There was a mental connection, I knew he knew it too, what I mean is that we did not have to say a single word to get the message across. Dante knew damn well after I read his essay that he was a writer, he knew it, soon the whole world would know. Why, because I believed in him. Never doubt the power of belief. I have never felt as much intense satisfaction till the words I heard creep out of his mouth that day. “Thank you.”
With the utmost sincerity, I can say this, we all have a past, but we all have a future. I never would have become the writer I am today, still, I hesitate to call myself a master of the art. Though, universally I am regarded. None of it would have transpired if my daddy never handed me his book. Then the words I phrased systematically inside with exquisite anal-retentive care–became my creed. Through the progression of it all, handing Dante that book, the one that changed my life, was my greatest accomplishment. Years hence, his stories are ubiquitous throughout the world, Dante is acclaimed as one of the brightest novelists of the age. He quit the drugs, partying, rifling through my desk, pilfering my Lucky Strikes out of my car. Most of all: he stopped being what all the naysayers told him he was. We don't always make the right choices, we are human–fallible. It is the right choices subjectively you make that create who you want to be. Now Dante spreads his message throughout the world, changing lives in a positive way. Be the voice that guides, disregard conforming, being cliché or hackneyed, and monotonous in the sense you repetitively keep making unbeneficial decisions for your future. Be your future self's benefactor–now.
I want to leave you with a message, the constitute of my vision. It is your turn to render the book. Not just any book–the book.
Sincerely, Art The Artist
Author Notes: Do good and spread thy message.
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