These are three of many stories, poems, and pieces of digital art I hope to share with the world in "The Mitchell Collection, Volume 1". I need more editing and formatting (I'm terrible at that), and I should have physical copies and NFT minting available. I am very excited to get this collection out into the world.
You will die like all men that came before you. You will die like all men before you because it is tradition and how it's always been done. You will die like all men did before you for a cause formed, defined, and organized outside you but for you and your family.
They shifted in their stance, eyeing the door, and then re-focused, remembering it was locked.
For what? He cleared his throat. Progress. Don’t ask stupid questions.
Their breath fell as their spine straightened. Shouldn’t it be my right to know why I am giving my life for the sake of others?
Us all, he answered. Everyone? Everyone, he repeated.
Another answer, they replied, knowing their worth. If they did not submit, others would not submit, and if others did not submit, he and everyone and everything above them would have nothing to get what they wanted. The bottom is the bottom because the bottom does not know or recognize where they are.
I will reply with a question of my own then, he said.
What does every seed require?
Sun and water, of course.
Are you sure of that?
I am sure of that.
Because I’ve seen it my entire life. A wave of memories came over them, but they ignored each one. To go back was a distraction; to go back was to ignore the present and their future; to go back was to go back to a time of ignorance and obedience - where power was just a word.
You are young, and yet you think you have seen everything.
You are old and think that just because you have seen everything, you believe you know how everything works. They felt proud of that.
And soil, young one, he said, for all to walk upon you thereafter.
And what if they walk into the future on that soil, but that soil is seeded with immoral rules, creeds, and ideals? They asked.
One more answer.
Then, he answered, you will see that life comes down to a series of choices on a path to power or servitude, but to get to either position, you must play the game. He leaned in. And you are at the start of that game.
So, they offered, what can one do but carry on, hope, and fight for a better tomorrow, embracing the infinite definitions of one’s sacrifice for a greater good rather than resisting it and never starting at all? Because there is a line we cross, every second, minute, hour, and day, to get where we need to go or not go.
He cocked their gun.
They thought for a moment.
And what happens when we refuse?
You hope someone remembers your name.
The boy upstairs is learning how to play the Happy Birthday Song on his electric piano as an old man screams about the Alexandrian library in a warble that is close to comical outside my frozen window. It’s evening, and Pietnez seems to question himself as his fingers dance with Chopin’s Lento con gran espressione. The boy upstairs plays with each finger at a pace that would annoy an amateur and bring a master to tears. The boy's fear resides in two places: getting it wrong and reveling in creating sound positively recognized by his culture and history for the first time. Focus, he’ll likely discover (the master hopes it takes him a lifetime), is one of the most important qualities of a torch bearer for tradition and art. And that is why I think Alexandria comes full circle: creative focus, not in any artistic sense or contributive or collaborative but simply explorative, also exists in the Ptolemaic, vis-à-vis the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos) and can only lead to progress that then leads to its destruction by the jealous and the powerful. And there is the boy, learning the Happy Birthday Song, exploring within the song, within the music, within the sound that retains his focus until it progresses - like all things - to a point of, well, what? Hermes reveals a video of Justin Bieber playing the drums for his family and friends, not for the goal of eventually singing Baby for a microphone that will only ever exploit and love itself but for the chaotic joy the sound made him initially feel, the existential absurdity of matching vibration in a world that was not meant for him, yet here he is, like the little boy upstairs and like the once vibrant library of Alexandria, creating it anyways. Then the boy upstairs finishes, and Pietnez fades away, leaving a silence to be filled tomorrow.
Gardenias and Cowboys
Under a sky of molten silver, Gardenias sat on the edge of his porch, an old guitar, far older than him, between his legs. He picked it up and played, the notes dancing with the warm twilight breeze. The sun had set, casting a wash of purple and orange hues over the sparse desert. In the distance, a lone figure on horseback approached, kicking up the lazy red dust. Jedediah, a lost cowboy obsessed with the horizon, reined in his horse by Gardenia's fence. He would later say Gardenia's song had pulled him in.
"You've got a steady hand," Jedediah said, tipping his sweat-stained hat.
Gardenias looked up. "Time is a teacher if you let it.”
Jedediah dismounted. “Looking for purpose,” Jedediah asked. “Seen any around here?”
Gardenias smiled, laying his guitar against his shack's dry, dusty wall.
"You're not the first cowboy to find himself lost in these parts,” Gardenias said, “and you won’t be the last as there won’t ever be a final gust of wind or siren song of the coyote.”
Jedediah sighed, comforted but still unfulfilled, leaving a paused mixture of anger, annoyance, and undirected blame in the air. But then Gardenias did a strange thing, he began to tell in detail every aspect of Jedediah’s journey: what he felt as the stars emerged like glistening diamonds above him on the trail; the love and loss in the back rooms of bars, hotels, and motels, and back home; the sin of money and the rebirth and quick death of whiskey. When the tale ended, Jedediah was silent.
"Harmonies have many paths, boy,” Gardenias said, “but they are still harmonies.”
Before Jedediah could reply, Gardenias said, the desert is waiting. Live your life with life, with those who have come before, not apart. Experience can be like water to a cactus in its last hour or that final shot of tequila, which finally puts the drunk of the town down. Life can be molded, transformed, and used however you want: an easel, a blank page, a piece of clay or playdough, or nothing at all. There are but three pieces given, but not necessarily always used.
Gardenias began to play his guitar as Jedediah rode off, following the song of the desert, seeking destiny among the cacti and tumbleweeds.