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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. January's Theme: "Self"
Volume 7 Issue 2 ISSN# 1708-3265

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Whoever said "No man is an island?"
by David Reber

Today I don't need a replacement
I tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart a goin Boom Boom Boom
"Hey," I said. "You can keep my things…
They've come to take me home…"
           -Peter Gabriel

For the longest time, whenever someone asked me what I wanted in life I always said some little niche, or corner, to call mine. Some cave I could slink off to whenever I needed a place to get away from the hottentots, an island in the storm so to speak. I wanted a place sooo totally mine I could rejuvenate my Self. Well, I built that place. Down in the basement, when the dust settled from new construction last year there was a little nook that was too small really for any particular use and too big (not to hear my wife tell it) for a closet. In that little area I paid homage to an absolute dive I once visited in Key West. I put in my little beach side bar and decorated it with accoutrements gathered over years. Heck, I even covered the electric panel with a blown up picture of the beach, then framed it with bamboo, and topped it with a pull-up shade. Then, finally and gloriously I sat at the bar, put some appropriate music in - Steeley Dan - pulled the shade up so I could look out across the palms and crystal waters and wonderfully I checked in to whatever my current hobby was. I was very proud to have finally achieved a space cut out of the world and created in my image. Then, however the ante was upped. I saw something I did not know was even possible.

A couple weekends ago we travelled south to stay with my wife's family. That trip is always a bit on the stressful side. Don't get me wrong, I've loved my in-laws since I met them, every visit they'd been nothing but great. The stress came with the fact that their house was a very small farm house. Normally that alone was not a big deal either, but every time I visited there were constantly any number of feral grandchildren running around and screaming. Always upon that sight, my normally calm, silent son suddenly turned feral too in a transformation that made Mr. Hyde weep. Sometimes it was all that could be done just to find a place with your back to the wall in defensive position against whomever or whatever would fly by. I was particularly nervous on this last trip. The trip itself was decided last minute and as such we could not find anyone to watch our two Huskies. They went along with us.

Our "little" girls were pretty much full grown by then; both weighed about fifty solid and bouncy pounds. In every way other than size however, they were overly exuberant puppies. I knew already there would be no way to calm them down without calming the feral cousins first. So the whole ride there I fretted. I worried for Grandma and Grandpa's stuff, their house, and particularly their sanity. So we arrived and immediately I did everything I could to keep the puppies and my own son as calm as possible constantly I glanced toward Grandpa and Grandma for clues as to rising irritation. That was when I saw the most amazing thing. Nothing touched Grandpa, no flying child's toy nor any big puppy thrilled to see him. Grandpa seemed literally an island of Self all by himself.

Over that whole weekend I watched that phenomena. At first I thought maybe Grandpa had everyone trained. After a time however that was discounted because the kids still went nuts in the room around him. Every wrestling bout fell short before it reached Grandpa in his chair; every object tossed to the bouncing dogs was retrieved before the chair or diverted somehow around it. Grandpa went right on happily reading his paper or watching a game and the chaos seemed never to have occurred for all his life was disrupted.

So then my next theory was that maybe Grandpa and the rest of the family observed some mutual self-denial. To me he seemed absolutely oblivious to the craziness, and the craziness seemed oblivious to him. Maybe, I thought, there was the power; each was ignoring the other hard enough it was as though they did not exist for the other. But then Grandpa blew that theory out of the water when he looked up and merely said, "Hey!" The kids, and even the dogs, in the room parted like the Red Sea did for Moses, and formed a corridor through which Grandpa could see his game again. The shenanigans went right on, but that corridor remained clear.

Righto, it was time for a new theory. Obviously the kids were aware of Grandpa. So then I was thinking it was merely a selective awareness on Grandpa's part, I assumed after decades of practice he could practically leave the situation just by sitting there and tuning out of it. I thought that was the most beautiful thing, I did not know that level of retreat was even possible. But then Grandpa surprised me again.

About the time I had it figured out again I noticed one of the puppies trotting into the kitchen. Grandpa, without looking up from his handheld solitaire game, reached out and very gently scratched my puppy's ears. She paused for a bit to enjoy it, but ultimately could not ignore there was cooking going on and food getting dropped. It was like that single tender moment never occurred, and certainly would be forever unremarked was I not looking right at my father-in-law at that very moment. So I watched more now. I soon found moments like that were happening a lot.

Well why not? I conceded, forming a new hypothesis. That place, and in particular, that corner, was absolutely grandpa's. It was only right he should be aware and in control from that spot. There, he was established. But then I was soon to learn it was not merely that place.

The sun started setting and without a word Grandpa got up and donned his winter gear. I guess it was time to feed the outdoor animals. As he walked his route, kids and animals sometimes moved out of his way, but the part that struck me odd was sometimes he stopped to let them by too. That was totally against my hypothesis right there. Still though, the part I could not figure was how Grandpa, even while stopping for it, did not acknowledge the surrounding wackiness, and even while leaving him blissfully alone, it did not acknowledge him.

So it went for the entire time we were there. In fact, the only time things ever invaded enough to irritate Grandpa was when he overheard us telling Grandma that girls started calling our son this school year. All Grandpa really did at that point was look up and say, "Girls? Jeeze!"

So I went to a lot of effort to create a space, and island for my Self, only to meet a man who was his own island. It just shows the human life will never really be complete. Upon the realization of one dream, another forms, when one door closes another opens. Heh, my special island exists, I just haven't learned how to take it with me… yet…

Hello, I'm David Reber. Currently I'm trying very hard to live a simple, uncomplicated life. I really enjoy tying flies or writing bad fiction in some quiet corner near where my beautiful wife is working on one of her hobbies. I also enjoy long walks with her when the weather is nice and we can take our two Siberian Husky puppies, Annie and Chloey with us - or when the huskies take us for a run would be the proper description. Then of course there is the time we spend trying to keep the refrigerator stocked ahead of "Big J", our active son and his tape worm.

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