A Monkey Story

There is this monkey who had been placed in a cage and given a ball and stick and a job peeling bananas and told that this is living. He isn't told about the cage because he doesn't need to know. Stay busy. Peel the bananas. Hit the ball with the stick for entertainment. Sleep after all of the bananas get peeled and the ball deflates because of endless shellackings with the stick. What a life.

The monkey looks outside the bars of his cage and glimpses a different monkey flitting through the trees surrounding him gathering the bananas that he peels. Another monkey digs in the dirt to find the exotic bugs that the monkey tasked with packaging has dropped off in his cage daily. He, too, works in solitude, and our original monkey begins to wonder if he knows he is caged and enslaved behind heavy metal bars.

He wonders what it would be like to gather bananas rather than peel them. He wonders what it would be like to dig for bugs. He wonders if these other monkeys are so different from him and, for that matter, what it is that separates him from them.

He has a dream that night after decorticating bananas and walloping the ball with the stick about walking up to the latch, laying his hand on the grating metal, and feeling the hinges squeak open after years of neglect. Feeling so silly for not ever having even tried it, upon waking up he walked over to the gate and pushed, feeling it give. The door swung wide, and without a single repercussion.

As he swung from the trees the next day, he saw his cage down below with its new occupant, happily batting the ball with the stick after enthusiastically peeling his mound of bananas that would be replenished in the morning.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>Insert a Title Here That I Like Better Than The Original One

>I've been journaling a lot more than I usually do as of late, which means that I'm writing less and less on this thing... And I can't say that I'm too happy with that decision. So, I guess I'll just copy and paste from the pages of the notebook (for better or for worse... it will be word for word. stroke for stroke.) onto here if that is ok with you :) Thank you for your continued readership!

At 35,000 feet above sea level, the things on earth way down below your feet, looking up towards the underbelly of your plane, facing the problems accompanying the frantic way of American life, seem quite fleeting and unimportant. The world keeps turning despite tragedy. People get older in spite of wayward promises of forever. The individual disappears into a cloud of dots and shiny metal car roofs peppering the interstate that suddenly doesn't seem so straight or vast anymore. People down there are ending relationships or being robbed at gunpoint or holding the one person in the entire world that means more to them than themselves and they are all concerned with how their individual situations will play out.

And all I can think about is my ears won't stop popping.

I have been thinking a whole lot about why we do the things we do in relation to this truth: that it is important to literally no other human being on the planet in the way that it is important to us (whatever "it" might be). It forces the individual back into that aforementioned cloud, that distant view where nothing a human could do would change the landscape visible from halfway between terra firma and outer space and reduces each person to nothing but a number without personality or passions or family or loves or any of the things that separate us from ants crawling on a dusty sidewalk, desperately constructing a mound which will only be squashed by an ill-wishing toddler.
Suddenly, nobody playing the guitar in their room where nobody but the faces in the walls can hear them, nobody writing in their journal which nobody will read in a lawn chair in their back yard, nobody making clouds appear in their mind as lollipops or alligators, makes any sense at all. They are not doing things which make the world a better place or helping somebody in need or loving their neighbor as themselves; indeed they are a cosmic negative, in the scientific, quantitative way of seeing things.
However, I am reminded of a dream my very dear friend recounted to me which may change everything you once thought about the individual.

He started out by prefacing his story with the disclaimer about taking the dream as a word from God or just a dream being completely up to me.

He said in his dream he was visiting a worship service at a church that was very run-of-the-mill. It was so vivid , he said, that he did not yet know he was dreaming. Songs. People. A select few swaying, hands raised. All of the sudden, his gaze was cast to the plants at the front of the stage and his mind was unnerved suddenly, as the plants and planters were hovering just inches off of the ground. Nobody was really making that big a deal about it, in fact nobody seemed to even notice all that much, but he told me that it literally unsettled him to his core.
He started looking around, trying to figure out a source for this anomaly. He noticed, after nervously glancing about, a man with his eyes closed, and he got this feeling that this guy was responsible. He just knew it in his gut. He let it go and before he knew it, the service was over and he was walking out, and he felt a tap on the shoulder. He turned to see the man he noticed earlier, standing close behind him. He spoke: "I noticed that you saw me during the service. I know it doesn't make any sense and I don't really know how to explain it, but I do know that I can make those plants hover. I can't do it anywhere else or to anything else, and I can't really do other things. I can't play an instrument or sing or speak in front of people or build things from scratch or write poetry, but I have been given the gift of making those plants levitate. It makes no sense to me either, but when I'm doing what God has gifted me to do, I feel that it makes Him happy, so I do it, even if nobody's noticing. Because it's not for anybody else."

The story almost brought me to tears as chills traced patterns up my back, neck and arms. I knew the dream had to be shared, because it is just so relevant to everything we struggle with as humans. It not only explains a little of how God sees us, but it also tells us something about ourselves, that we are created to bring our Creator joy.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>Drunks, Lovers, Sinners, and Saints

>

A lady stepped in while I was working at the desk at the church today and mentioned that there was a man sprawled out on the concrete next to the door, and asked if I knew anything about that. I told her I didn't, but I would check it out. So, I sauntered around the corner, opened the door to the outside world, out of the air conditioning and into the beginnings of a sticky Chattanooga summer. I couldn't see the top half of his body, as it was blocked by a section of the wall, but his legs were rather contorted and glistened from the humid air around them. I stepped around the wall and first noticed that he was fairly well-dressed: Yellow polo shirt tucked into his nice khaki shorts with a brown belt to match the brown boat shoes on his feet, with sunglasses shielding what I could tell were closed eyes.

The lifeguard inside of me snapped to attention as I squatted down to tap him on his shoulder. Step one: survey the scene. Step two: check for signs of life (read here: consciousness). His eyelids fluttered to life and as he smacked his lips, and I could tell by the foam around the edges of where they met that this man was parched. "Sir, my name is Hamilton, is there something that I can do for you?" I said. His lips moved, his vocal chords shuttered, but it was not words that escaped from his mouth. "I'm going to help you up," I said. "Are you ok with that?" He nodded his approval, but recoiled immediately with the slight change in altitude, burying his face in his hands. I sat down next to him.

He didn't even have to talk, because I could smell the alcohol radiating from his pores in the hot sun. I asked him to scoot back against the building with my help and wait there while I went inside to get some water for him. I returned in about thirty seconds with a cold bottle of water, only to find him dozing again. I asked him if he wanted me to help him inside so that he could sit in a chair in the air conditioning. He then explained to me through words rear-ending each other how he was here for a function being put on inside of the church, but he had "messed up big time." The people in charge of the dinner kicked him out for being drunk and left him outside the front door because they were going to miss their dinner inside the air conditioning. 

I kept talking with him, and he kept on asking me something kinda puzzling. "What are you trying to get at?" The first time I didn't really know what to say, so I repeated the statement I had said before, something about asking if he wanted to come inside. But by about the fourth time he asked it, I simply said "I'm just trying to talk to you, man." He turned away for a second and his voice got shakier, rather than slurrier. "You're the first person going in and out of this g--d--- building who's said anything to me." He didn't say thank you, he didn't start crying, he didn't even look at me, but I knew he didn't need to to get his point across. It made me a little bit sick, knowing that it wasn't a traditional, shirt-and-tie affair we're talking about, it was a recovery program. They weren't people going into and out of a strip club, they were entering a church building. 

Two people stepped out of the room right about then and lit cigarettes as soon as they tasted the hot air. "Come on, Mike, let's go. We're taking you home," they said. I helped him get on his feet and find his balance. They walked side by side in front of him as they strode with resolution towards the sea of cars in front of them. Some people coming to work out walked right by them and tossed their glances backwards as they passed. I went back inside, whatever relief coming from being out of the heat evaporating as soon as I saw the big room full of successfully "transformed" people talking jovially amongst themselves and tossing their leftover barbecue, potatoes and broccoli into trash cans at the doors.  

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>New Things

>Living with perhaps the two most creative individuals I know, engrossing myself in thought-provoking film, learning the art of tasteful music, and the onset of fall have all influenced this work that I have coming. It's funny how being around the inspired inspires you as well, and I have been inspired indeed. I'm going to take this fall break when I'm not catching up on sleep I don't get during the week and see if I can't crank out something kinda different for me. Of course, Salem is still a work in progress, with 6 of the 13 tracks now finished... but this new thing is going to take me on a break from that momentarily. I need the sidetrack so that I can make the absolute most of my sudden spark.

Much like working out, if you only work out one muscle group day after day after grueling day, that group will be strong up to a certain point, and then the work will begin to deteriorate it. You need to strengthen different groups to give each one time to recover, which is better for the body as a whole. Well this is kind of what I'm doing. I've been so focused on solely music for so long that I've been hitting more blocks than I usually do... and this is, I think, the solution. I'll be taking a break from writing music to focus on writing words, and cranking out this story that's swimming in my head after saturating my brain with Plato and Dante and Dostoevsky and Shakespeare and Virgil and men who have been, themselves, inspired, as well as inspiring to countless others for centuries.

So look for something new and different and probably different than you've ever read before. I can't tell you right now if it's going to be long or short or good or bad or any of that, but I will let you know when it is done and you can decide it for yourself.

Thanks for keeping up with this little blog thing, for those of you that do... it really means a lot to me :) I have been using this Google Analytics thing and it is really mind-blowing to me to see the different regions that my readers are from, really from here to Florida to that one hit I got from Alaska. Ha all that makes me think is that the random little life update entries like this are too boring to deserve an audience, but it will mean something to a few of you.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.