A Sliver of Enlightenment

You were born in a dark room. You have lived your whole life in total darkness, then one day someone opens the door to your room, just a crack, and the smallest sliver of light from a candle in the next room falls upon the floor before you. You are stunned, then sink to your knees and give thanks, for you believe you have seen the sun.

This is where most truly stand as they proclaim their enlightenment. The light, at first, may come with a sting, as they are unaccustomed to it, but their eyes adjust and they find the light gentle, harmless. If they had truly glanced at the sun, they would not become so comfortable so quickly, and they would have to quickly turn away to avoid serious damage to their eyes. The sun is bright beyond what is tolerable for us; it hurts the eyes and often burns the skin. Its heat can kill.

The sliver of candlelight falling before you on the floor to your room is useful; it illuminates the darkness, allowing you to finally see the shape and structure of the room in which you live; in fact, it allows you this understanding of a room in the first place, as without this light, you could not have known there was a door to be opened, and that it was only a particular space you inhabited, instead of all of existence.

This light is also beautiful, certainly, gentle and safe. From these truths we know that it is good that someone opened the door a crack, and it was good that this sliver of light fell upon the floor before you; it opened your eyes and explained to you what you could not have understood before about the nature of yourself, the world, and your place in it. But it is not the sun.

The sun is beautiful and sustains life, but it isn’t gentle or safe. So go ahead, remain safely in your room praying to the sliver of candlelight at your feet. Believe that it is the sun, if what you really want is safety, comfort. The truth is, it isn’t the sun that gives comfort when it’s high noon at midsummer, however, it’s the shade. For comfort people will always flee the searing heat and blinding brightness of the sun. Very few willingly brave the discomfort and experience the heat. Usually, if you have experienced a taste of the true power of the sun, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.


The Liar

Silver-tongued duplicity,

Through languid eyes

Pretend to see.

False confessor,

Plastic friend–

Illusions fade,

Your game will end.



Dead and Dying Cockroaches

A fine white dust covers almost every surface of this slowly disintegrating sixties-era three bedroom house sitting in the backwoods of Georgia (Rockmart, to be precise). Everything we own is blanketed in diatomaceous earth. I’m waging a war against an invading force of cockroaches, and I believe I have the upper hand.

I’ve been packing everything from the kitchen into plastic 70 quart Steralite Ultra storage boxes, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing, and moving nearly every heavy object I can before filling this odd accordion like cylinder with diatomaceous earth. The contraption is more difficult to weild than it appears, as too much or too little of the dreaded substance and the procedure won’t work.

Now at the top on the side is a tube that projects out maybe three inches and is about a half inch wide (I thought it was the bottom at first, but squeezing it that way shot out a thick stream of powder like a snow machine gone mad; easy for the cockroaches to see and walk around). What you do is aim this tube like a gun barrel and press the top and bottom together, sending out delicate puffs of razor sharp particles (for anything with an exoskeleton, that is) that will first cut their shells all over, and then dehydrate them from the inside out. Beautiful.

It sounds simple, but it takes two hands to squeeze the thing, and your aching wrists will hate you for it half way through the first room. The dust that fills the air is choking and smells like chalk. There is no escaping it. By the end you’ll be powdered up like an old-time judge.

The treatment is working though, and after a few days of this I see fewer living roaches. Those I see are usually belly up, their little legs frantically scraping at the air like Gregor Samsa. They’re all dead or dying around me, and I feel a creeping, smug sense of macabre satisfaction. I wonder if that’s how leaders see the defeated, see us when they decide we must be eradicated. Like dead and dying cockroaches.

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