The Sunday Drive
By Frank Rocco Satullo, Your Tour Guide to Fun
Traveling isn’t just a geographic journey. It’s also a voyage for the mind. Over the years, I’ve pulled off the roads of Ohio, and nationwide, to jot a thought down in a moment of inspiration. Then, it was tossed in the glove box, and eventually a drawer. These are some of my mindful moments and photos from “The Thought Drawer.”
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF HAPPINESS
A child’s mind flows with the stream and doesn’t get hung up on the rocks. It’s free and imaginative as it cuts to the fun of it all. And that mind only needs itself as an audience. But as it grows older, rocks are discovered to be in its way. They were always there but it paid no mind and just flowed around them. Then the rocks grew bigger and denser. The water turned turbulent. The rocks piled into a dam until the flow stopped. There the mind churned, losing imagination, throwing itself painfully against the piling rocks. The rocks that were always there. Look away. The stream has cut a path that the mind forgot to see. Flow with it. And leave the wretched rocks be. For the mind is always free, if it simply let’s go and flows like that of the imaginative child.
* * *
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF DRAGONS
– The OhioTraveler
* * *
Hey Ohio, although there’s a long cold winter ahead, don’t ignore the beauty right in front of you. The sun is on the horizon. Peace. Love. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
* * *
Weeee. Here I go again.
Tumbling but floating although submerged.
Dirt clouds the water all around.
I don’t know where I’m going.
I was rested and secure.
Now I’m not so sure.
Alas, the unexpected turbulence is no more.
The murky water thins to allow in sun.
I see a watercolored sky
Of sea blue and cotton white.
The trees have leaves and squirrels dancing.
And the current soothes cool again
As it cascades softly over and around.
In my new place, I am found.
As I always am after the storm.
* * *
A baker (creator) made a loaf of bread and called it Truth. He left it on the window sill to feed the world. Birds took pieces of Truth back to their nests to raise their young on it. Bread crumbs dropped en route for other creatures to get a taste of Truth. Soon after, Truth was lost. Instead of working together to understand the whole Truth, everyone, no matter how small their piece, proclaimed it the one and only Truth. And they tried to impose it on others, even killing those who did not think alike. But there’s a secret to Truth. To know it, we have to accept every piece of it. That means without judgment or bias. And when we open ourselves to that understanding, only then are we reunited with its creator, but we’ll never know the recipe.
* * *
Murdering A Sunflower
A rock hurtled through space at the right time, in the right place, and with all of the right conditions.
A plant and animal emerged from the fertile soil over time.
Both grew to blanket the earth.
One day, the most powerful animal became so many that it hastily killed the other animals and plants for survival and desires.
Because of selfishness and ease, this animal lacked the foresight and empathy to spare anything beyond itself.
One day, one man, and one sunflower remained on the rock, hurtling through space.
The man grasped the neck of the sunflower and squeezed.
When he did this, his very own neck restricted its airflow.
The man dropped to his knees and stopped squeezing the sunflower.
But his hunger put his hands back around the neck of the sunflower.
And he killed the second last living thing.
So he could eat one last time and breathe one last breath.
He did so because it was immediate gratification and the easiest thing to do.
When he could have lived forever.
* * *
The Golden Rule
Science shows that it all came from one point of origin as if someone just snapped their fingers and said, “Let there be life.” And so there was. Yet most of what is around us is not even detected by us. We define it as dark matter and dark energy but it isn’t dark at all.
The universe and everything we know live by codes and are mathematically defined. It’s not random. How did this design come into existence? If matter and energy cannot be destroyed or created, and there is no end or beginning to time and space, everything is eternal.
Why does evolution need to prove or disprove anything? Perhaps life here was born from a seed that grew into different things much like the universe itself. Who planted the seed? At what point was man as we know him created? Perhaps it’s as DNA and the human genome point out – East Africa a long time ago. And like the Universe, like life on Earth, Man multiplied and spread.
Our original parents on the homo sapiens family tree may have been told the truth of our creation, what is expected of us and what will happen to us. So those who stayed in Africa and those who ventured from Africa had with them an oral story to be passed down.
Have you ever sat around a table and listened to members of the same family with the same experience describe it differently and debate what really happened? For goodness sake, they were all there. Yet they recall it differently. And with great passion.
Perhaps we are all imperfect children recalling the original story inaccurately. Yet there are many common threads in all the stories. Whether it is the followers of Jesus Christ, Allah, Buddha, Native American or African tribal lore and faiths, we are all touched by God – even those that don’t believe in God follow many common beliefs as well.
There is no mistaking that man feels good about himself when he performs kind gestures and helps others. It has a positive impact on the mind and body. It’s a fact.
But we struggle daily with the other side too – greed.
Why do we fight amongst ourselves differentiating and alienating each other based on the differences we observe? Physically, we are said to be virtually identical no matter our race or sex yet we have prejudices. And so it is spiritually too.
I may find salvation through MY lord Jesus Christ. This is because it is the story my member at the family table tells because that is how they remember seeing or hearing the truth. But a brother or sister at that table also may have a savior by a different name or perhaps no name at all.
Why can’t we all be right and wrong? If you are agnostic and practice a wholesome life, why can’t you be judged by our God for your conduct? Who am I to condemn you?
It is the non-loving side of what we are that is greedy and begins to judge and rule and create dividing lines between “us” and “them.” To win our battles we bear false witness, we lie, cheat, steal and even kill. We see it in politics, religion, race, sexual orientation, social class, education, status and in everything we seek to define ourselves.
If we can look beyond intolerance, we can embrace the universal belief system we share and apply it to all walks of life, not just to those who walk like “us” – “Do onto others as you would wish them to do onto you.” In my religion, it is known as “The Golden Rule.” And when practiced with every living thing you encounter, this simple rule can move mountains.
* * *
Sea formed me – I splashed – And became the sea
Human-kind struggles with self-absorption. We want to live forever. Then we want life after death. But no matter what awaits in the afterlife, we live on.
After all, matter and energy cannot be destroyed or created, and there is no end or beginning to time and space. We are eternal.
The universe is in perfect harmony. Good cannot exist without evil. Everything connects. That is our destiny. A drop in a pool of water sends ripples to its furthest shores, despite the obstacles.
We may just be drops in a sea but without drops, a sea does not exist. Subtle splashes ripple forever in calm waters. Thunderous splashes may go unnoticed in stormy waters.
We are mostly water; without it, we die. After we splash, what is the ripple-effect?
* * *
It was not supposed to go that way.
It is not as I had planned.
But it is the way it has gone.
And there is no changing it.
So accept it.
If you resist.
You find misery.
If you embrace.
You will soon smile again.
Flow with the current,
Not against it.
It is the way.
Trust in it.
* * *
I reach to the darkness with one hand and the light with the other.
But not on the horizon.
Sometimes I get a hint of living that pure moment of no yesterdays or tomorrows.
When I grasp to hang on, it slips away.
Sometimes the dark is less frightful than the light. Probably out of familiarity.
Forever in motion on a Merry-Go-Round with roller coaster turbulence, stuck, yet yearning to just be still…
…at the threshold of timelessness.
Living on the horizon is where there are no beginnings or ends, just life eternal.
And silence prevails.
* * *
The wind lifts me
When it isn’t against me
Day breaks me
Night leaves me alone
Green and unsure
In a burst of color
I break free
But I can’t tell
Am I flying
* * *
It was a sleeper car but my eyes were wide open, though my body remained comatose. The rhythmic click-click, click-click, click-click surrendered me to the all-around. I don’t know what exactly was flickering in the window like an old projector, flipping frames on a screen. It was part townscapes outlined by a hint of light. It was part reflection from within the cabin against the glass. And it was part things unseen. Time lost meaning. Mind lost sense. Space was one. Click-click, click-click, click-click. Now the collage of images morphed into one on the flickering window screen, with parts of my face fading in and out of focus atop the moonlit hillside. For a moment, I stared into my own eyes. Only it was like I was looking at me for the first time. Before I could know me, I looked right through my eyes at the glimmering reflection of dark water. Or was it the reflection of light off the train onto the window itself? I didn’t know which was real; perhaps none of it, or maybe all of it. What did it matter? I was content.
* * *
Happiness is joy without applause.
* * *
I shine where nobody can see me.
Even if they look directly at me,
I can’t be found. Not yet.
Yet my light is brilliant,
Amidst a sea of darkness.
But it isn’t the darkness that blinds.
Said a star behind the clouds.
* * *
It is morning. I made it.
I am outside, sitting, sipping,
as the warmth and glow rise on my face.
My eyes squint yet I stare at
the scene before me with perfect clarity.
Time has ceased. I am a part of the fabric.
I am the old man in his backyard
looking at the trees.
I am the young lady standing on the beach.
I am the mud-soaked soldier lying on the ground.
I am the baby, swaddled.
I am the unsure with a brush of assuredness.
I am the lost that found if just for the moment.
I am in a place of
nothing wrong, and nothing right.
It is the right place.
Why can’t I stay here?
* * *
THE LONG WALK HOME
This fictional short story set in spring is a different kind of trip.
My hand reached for the withered door. If the wood had consciousness, it would have thought it saw its reflection.
Darkness was blown out by the breeze that flowed through my nostrils and lit up my eyes. I smiled while the world outside came into focus. It was time for my long walk home.
I paused at the curb and waited for a car to pass.
“What was that again, Fred?” were the words gargled from my rusty pipes.
I was relieved that the gentleman across the street could hear me above the engine still reverberating in the car’s wake.
“Sure was – brutal one at that,” I smiled, waved and shifted my weight to the cane assisting me on my way.
At the corner, my head was pulled to the side by curiosity. A teenage boy was hanging out of a side window, desperately clutching the long grass to pull his body free. My eyes squinted in an effort to wrap my mind around this peculiar maneuver. An instant later, my head was pulled in the opposite direction to see a man enter the front door.
Shaking my head as the lad hopped away and into his pants, I shifted my weight to the cane. It assisted me another way so as to pretend I didn’t see a thing. But a belly laugh blew my mouth open.
Joyce was tending to her tulips. Once my memory pieced her together, I tried to flee but it was too late. That added 20 minutes but it could have easily been 60. The whole time she kept turning up the same dirt.
I dusted off and continued on my walk home.
A young man, grinning ear-to-ear, hammed it up for a pretty lass to snap his picture. He pulled a real estate sign out of the ground and pointed to the word “sold.” As if it were my reason for being, they recruited me to take a snapshot of the two of them in front of their home. I held up my shaky hands and snapped away hoping one of the shots wasn’t too blurry.
I tried to make my break – in slow motion – before they analyzed my work. But a tender touch halted me. The woman planted a gentle and kind kiss on my cheek that made me feel like all of the spring bloomed in an instant.
Ten steps down the road I managed to swing my cane in my hand. It was a daring maneuver. One that I didn’t repeat. The smell of flowers, or maybe it was her perfume, danced in my head.
Another fella on the opposite side of the road was walking one of those “don’t mess with me” dogs. Just then, my eardrums were pierced by so much yapping I could have sworn it was my late wife scolding me. The thought of her yammering away made me feel warm all over.
Several miniature dogs ran up to the invisible boundary separating the big dog from their onslaught. The big dog cowered and whimpered, wrapping his body around the man’s legs, nearly tripping him. It was shameful.
Then, with a touch of bravado, the big dog extended his leash and stopped just before the imaginary line where the other dogs clamored. With leg raised, the big dog brought silence back to that curb.
I smiled and tipped my hat to the man. He looked rather relieved.
Ah, the dandelion house came into view. I loved the dandelion house because it sang out its unabashed brilliant color for the world to see …and judge. I would never keep a lawn like that but I was glad they did.
A small group of little girls called out – “Lemonade!”
It sounded perfect to me so I trekked over to their makeshift stand. I noticed that the plastic tabletop where they mixed their concoction was filled with Kool-Aid packets and lots of colored powder that had spilled. There was no lemonade in sight. They were silent, bursting with anticipation as I raised my Dixie cup and threw back the refreshment in one big gulp as if I were downing a shot with my war buddies. I went bug-eyed. I gasped and asked if they had water. Of course, they didn’t. But they sure had a whole bunch of sugar and who knows what else to make their “lemonade” as sweet as could be – much like their precious souls.
“I think you just rotted my teeth out,” I said, setting up my joke.
Then I pulled my false teeth out of my mouth giving a gummy laugh.
Those poor little girls ran every which way, shrieking for the whole neighborhood to hear. I moved with a fleet of foot that I hadn’t known for decades.
A house and a half separated from the mayhem I caused, I slowed to catch my breath.
As I stood still, drool fell from my mouth onto my shirt. I’ve learned to accept my undesired lack of bodily control at times. Then my stomach lustfully cried out, “Where’s the barbeque?”
A moment later, I quickly ducked and almost shouted, “Incoming!”
Someone had lit off fireworks and the series of explosions that ricocheted through the trees scared the crap out of me. Hell, it was broad daylight and at least two months before Independence Day.
I pressed onward with my journey home, my heart still racing, my mind flashing back to…
As I walked with my cane again, the hammering of roofers drew my attention upward. When I neared – it took a while – this small group of 20-somethings sat down in a row across the peak of the rooftop for a water break. I thought it was strange that they looked straight out, nobody talking at all. They looked like birds on a wire.
My eyes followed their line of sight to a house across the street. People were on an opposite low hanging roof over a front porch. I squinted and realized that that roof was shingled with bikinis so small it left little to the imagination.
Right in front of me, a teenage boy rode his bicycle straight into a mailbox. He caught the attention of roofers and bikini girls alike.
“Son, are you okay,” I asked with genuine concern.
I could tell he was hurting badly but he shook it off as if it were nothing and acted all cool as he pushed his bike away, flipping it back on its rear wheel, holding the crumpled front end by the handlebars.
The roofers hammered away again as I turned the corner, heading for home.
At the end of my street, I remembered that it was trash day. Old lady Thompson had left hers on the curb already. Every week, her trash amounted to nothing more than a stuffed little plastic grocery bag. It made me wonder how that could be.
Although I am old as well, I have always referred to her as “old lady” because she was old the day we moved in all those years ago. But she was young at heart. Everyone loved her energy. There she was weeding her flowerbeds. That spunky thing popped up when she saw me coming and asked if I could start her lawnmower. Chivalry washed over me so I even offered to mow her grass. Even though there wasn’t much grass to mow, I couldn’t do it and we both knew it.
“No-no, I really enjoy cutting the grass,” she insisted. “I just don’t have the strength to start this mower anymore.”
So I played hero one more time.
Halfway down the street, a group of young boys and girls lined up on a lawn to race from one driveway to another. I watched them do this back and forth several times as I walked by them. Then, one of the boys stumbled and skid his knees across the concrete driveway. He stood up, paused and looked down. When he saw blood, he cried until some lady threw open a door and ran to his rescue before I could get there. She held his little sobbing face against her as she kneeled low to comfort him.
His sob muffled.
When she stood to take the boy inside, she smiled at me and said, “It’s good to see you. It’s been so long.”
Finally, I arrived at my driveway.
I paused for a car to pass.
“What was that again, Fred?”
Fred repeated himself.
“Sure was – brutal one at that,” I smiled, waved and sauntered up the hill to my porch to sit in my chair.
With the sun on my face, I closed my eyes and leaned my head back.
When I heard car doors shut and a bunch of footsteps pitter-patter up the drive, I rose to greet them.
As they poured up the hill, I rose even higher.
That’s when I saw me on that porch, head back and eyes closed.
I had a smile that radiated like the sun. Much as the smile I felt as I drifted through my porch roof, higher. Not just higher but all around and through and through. I seemed to be everywhere and touching everything. And everything was touching me.
That’s when I realized that this wasn’t about me. It never was.
The harmonious connectedness of everything, as one thing, was something that that old mind on that porch could never comprehend.
But now everything made perfect sense.
It was beauty words cannot describe and minds cannot comprehend.
I was home.
By Frank Rocco Satullo
* * *
New Facebook posts on most Sundays
by Frank Rocco Satullo
THE THOUGHT DRAWER