A Metaphor-Laden Examination of the Situation at Hand

Since coming back from break, I have felt like a kid on roller skates holding on to an unravelling rope behind a train with a deadline to keep. I don't know what drowning feels like, but I can't imagine that the gasping, helpless breaths full of water feel a whole lot different. There is an onslaught of things coming up in my near future. Awesome opportunities. Papers, books, due dates, discussion questions, orchestra rehearsals, youth and college bands, tech weeks, opening night.

This train is hurtling forward, its incredible inertia dragging me along like the cans attached to the bumper of a recently nuptiated couple. (Yes, I make up words. Get off it.)

And all I can think about is this: not only is this train not the only one; not only are these tracks underneath the heating wheels of my rocketing roller skates not the only tracks; not only would other routes take me to the same train station, but there is no law that says I have to go to that station. Nobody even told me that I had to wear these skates or hold onto this fraying rope or expect to arrive somewhere at a certain time, I just assumed that this is what I have to do because everybody else seems to be doing the same.

I apologize. I feel slightly metaphorical this morning.

What I am trying to say is that I, like everybody that I know, am a fly caught inside this elaborate, encompassing, intricate, ever-expanding web when there is a whole field of grass around me and an entire sky of flight above me. I am the ball in a well-lubricated roulette wheel that is locked forever in its spinning, with people expecting me to land on their number and getting mad at me when I don't when there is a vast casino just over the wall.

I am completely missing the point, and perhaps you are too. Instead of kicking furiously and trying to get your groggy arms to coordinate and propel you to the surface, hold your breath for a moment. Feel the weightlessness of underwater. Stop grasping desperately at the rope connecting you to the thing you were told is your destination. Fly high enough to avoid the spider webs glistening with morning dew. Defy gravity.

This does not mean that I am dropping out of school and driving from city to city with my guitar telling people that I will play for them if they give me dinner. It doesn't mean that I will give in to the sometimes overwhelming and often stifling frustration of a city (state?country?world?) full of guitarists calling themselves musicians. I will not pretend to have it all figured out.

It does mean that I will find joy in the search. It does mean that I will lean more heavily on my Father's support and the promise of a plan.

It does mean that I will quit my furious struggle to surface and instead breathe deep the air that greets my lungs as my body floats naturally up. Instead of my white-knuckled grasp on the worn rope behind that hurtling train I will relax and trust the harness around my waist, and if the rope breaks I will feel the grass underneath my wheels and smile as I coast to a stop in the middle of an untouched meadow, chuckling as I watch the next train come.

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.

>Meanwhile, in Tornado Alley

>A moment stolen away from the world of critical analysis and rhetoric and close readings of texts and parsing out of complex ideas to breathe.

A feeble attempt to clear my mind turns out to yield only this incessant buzzing sensation behind my eyes, a byproduct of my overclocked brain and indulgent amounts of caffeine which keeps the shakes at bay. "I can't, I have stuff due tomorrow," a boy next to me says into his phone. I chuckle, he must be a freshman. Pretty soon that tomorrow turns to today and eventually he'll be sitting where I am saying "I can't, I have stuff due yesterday."

There is no trace of order here, in the tornado of Hamilton Barber's mind. No time for it.

It doesn't help that these big questions keep popping up here and there, through the tumultuous tossings of the sea underneath what's left of a rickety boat fashioned out of the remaining strands of my sanity. They don't have many words, as is characteristic of most important things, in fact, sometimes they come in the form of images. A man with a pipe holding a leather-bound book tinted slightly orange from the setting sun, his socked feet propped up on the railing in front of him, a slight breeze tousling his wafty hair, clumpy from having his weathered hands running through it while penciling in an answer on a crossword puzzle, looking down a valley to a building through a window to a frazzled college student scraping time out of the bottom of the filthy bucket he was handed. The question comes in the juxtaposition. The "how can these two exist at the same time, in the same world, with the same standards of living, with the same loves and the same texts and the same city?"

Interestingly enough, I think that the answer is also found in the same image. Well, perhaps answer is too strong a word. I'll say comfort instead. I can know that in a place where the frazzled college student claws his way to the end of another paper and digs his way to the end of another book and squeezes his way from appointment to appointment to obligation to obligation there is also a man on a hill with a book and a breeze and a palpable calm in his chest. I can know that in the midst of this tempest of things to do, somewhere the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in sight. Whatever problem you're facing isn't nearly as big as you think it is. It is not the whole world.

"In the chaos and confusion I know You're sovereign still," sing the lyrics to a fantastic song. I have things to do, yes. I have requirements, yes. I have deadlines, yes. But in the big picture? I'm still just a speck of a human on a speck of a planet in a speck of a galaxy in a speck of a solar system in a still expanding universe in the palm of an infinite God. Who am I to even think that my problems are the end of the world, no matter how catastrophic they seem at the time? If the things by which I am bounded (time) are controlled and even laughed at by my Father, what could I possibly gain from one second of worry? And just how small is my faith?

I swear, this blog is therapy.

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.

>If At First You Don't Succeed?

>I tried sleeping, but I couldn't.

I laid down at 10:30 and shut my eyes as tightly as I could after watching about 30 minutes of a Ken Burns documentary (one of my new little pleasures), I did the readjust the pillows thing, pulled the blanket snug against my neck, turned to the other side to see if my left cheek was my ticket to the sleep train, got up and checked every deadbolt in the house, closed what doors were open to closets, bathrooms, bedrooms and whatnot, put a dish in the dishwasher, and returned to my bed, thinking maybe this would have settled whatever restlessness was nipping at my skull... but it didn't.
I did some successful staring at the ceiling and tried music and tweeted something about being tired of all of my friends getting married and then attempted to figure out what in the world was on my mind. I then realized that I didn't know what was on my mind.
I tried talking to God about it and although I know He was listening, I felt like the words were bouncing off of the walls and getting back to me with a singsong mockery that caused me to again shift my position in bed from the discomfort. I rotated 180 and put my head in the corner, surrounded by walls, and tried to wedge myself into a comfortable little nook to increase snugness and I tried hugging a pillow and I tried drinking a glass of water and I tried pacing and I tried lighting a candle, but it was burnt down enough that I only succeeded in burning the end of my finger.
So now I'm sitting on my back porch with the slightly chilly Hixson summer air wicking at my skin in my boxers in a little white chair that has a crack in the back of it that doesn't let me recline. I've tried for at least a week to write another blog with some sort of substance, but I can't seem to get past the first couple of sentences. I have under the "edit posts" tab a collection of drafts that started with such promise but ran out of steam far too soon to be considered worthy of public consumption.
I secretly wished I could retreat back to high school with somebody to text me until I fell asleep. I secretly felt the urge to fall asleep with an N64 controller in my hand and the Ocarina of Time still up and running when I woke up, only to find Link walking in circles because of the position I left my thumb in for the past 6 hours. I wanted a heavy downpour to begin and pound upon my window with only the rhythm God could dream up to lull me into a secure cocoon of dry and warm comfort.
I would have even taken some last minute inspiration to scribble into a bedside notebook only to feel the texture of the page underneath the end of my pen which was slowly and calculatedly leaking ink into shapes that represented whatever ideas were swimming beneath my complicated subconscious.
I tried writing some more of this screenplay, but I couldn't.
I tried writing a song but I couldn't.
I tried reading but I couldn't.
I tried sleeping... but I couldn't.

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.

>For Times Such as This

>

I believe that everybody has had one of those weeks.

I am referring to the weeks where you are constantly in the throes of a struggle against gravity and defeat and generally being bested by whatever situation you find yourself in. You fight against your eyes as they tempt you to close and shut your body down, but you know deep down that this is not possible. People are counting on you, expecting things of you,  looking to you to provide the hope for them to be able to make it through their version of what Alexander appropriately titled his "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day," and you can feel the weight physically on your back. You'll find the aches come only when it is most inopportune and you'll feel the pangs of exhaustion creep over your synapses exactly when the last thing in the world you need is to be lethargic. This is a fact of life, a facet of Murphy's law that proves over and over again to be irreversibly true, but nonetheless no easier to bear.

You will find yourself frustrated by the most elementary of problems, like no more sweet tea in the pitcher, leaving you to make more, or that you accidentally bought cheddar cheese instead of American. This frustration with petty things will lead you to question your sanity and, if indeed this portion is true, make you suddenly viscerally aware of your more jaded, cynical alter ego that pens your most vivid creations and causes connections with your audience beyond the capability of your mild-mannered normal self. You then realize that you are better off as this alter ego because you are more capable of doing better than the person you were born as.

There was this story of a monk that urged his followers to carry with them everywhere they went two equal sized rocks. He asked them to smooth them out and make the edges pleasing to the touch and the surface spotless and blameless. On the surface of one rock, he made his followers chisel the following sentence: "I am but a speck of a person in a speck of a planet in a speck of a solar system in an infinitely expanding Universe." This rock, it would appear, applies to situations such as the ones described in the previous paragraphs. Our problems, in an existential sort of way,  do not matter in the slightest little bit, and make no trace of noise in the vast expanse between the stars. 

This monk recognized this, however, and though he knew that in a cosmic sense it was fundamentally true, he made his followers inscribe the other rock with a simple, opposite message that is possibly the most fitting piece of advice that is sound, encouraging, and quite frankly, tear-inducing. When you find yourself in that battle to keep your head above the water, with the weight of the entire world riding on your back and forcing you to the dirt below you, take out the other rock that this monk made his followers carry probably for situations exactly like those. It reads: "Everything, big or small, grand or petty, beautiful and breathtaking, was created with me in mind."

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.

>How Does One Classify This?

>It blows my mind how drained I get during the school year. I have lost that spark of creativity, although I can feel it peeking out from around the corner, waiting for the smoke to clear from the decimation of my brain by papers, exams, drama, and stagnancy. I don't believe that it has completely gone away, but rather that it simply can't stand all the nonsense it has to put up with throughout all of the formulaic essays and encroaching deadlines that are (unfortunately) synonymous with life. I can feel my knowledge growing and my wisdom expanding and my general thirst for enlightenment becoming more and more unquenchable each day but I have noticed a simultaneous decline in outlets for it. I funnel all of the erudite energy into four papers due within a week of each other and I find it completely sapped. I understand why Thoreau had to disappear into a cabin that he "built with is own hands" to create his musings at Walden, why Kant found excuse to shut himself in his room for weeks at a time as an excuse for his physical deformities, why Poe resorted to maddening fits of drug-induced hysteria to draft some semblance of a cohesive story or poem or whatever he was writing.

On the upside, I had a series of conversations over the past week over vats of coffee and abundant shivering in the recently onset cold of Chattanooga that gave me hope for the reinstatement of the drive I had not three months ago for this album in production. I also am in talks with the roommate for creating in the first week or so of Christmas break the perfect work environment for writing the most epic masterpiece of our century, filled with sticky notes and devoid of personal hygiene, regular sleep patterns, and inhibitions of creativity. Perhaps I'll journal through that experience and share it, but for the most part I feel kinda bad about leaving you guys in the dark as of late, but I shall validate it in my mind with the assurance that you are all as busy as I am.

And I am open to suggestions about new formats for this thing, instead of a clump of words. Should I express these things in iambic pentameter to allow for ease of reading and comprehension? Haiku? Sonnet? Should I record audio versions and speak them over a background of soothing harpsichord melodies? Should I take up photography?

Should I become the leader of the Free World?

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.