that ain’t a fire alarm, that ringing is in your head

by tobias crabtree

there’s no better reminder of something in the present reminding me of the deeds of my past than the ringing in my ears. when it’s super quiet, the crickets and frogs have sung it out and the night is utterly quiet, my ears ring. oh man, do they ring. it’s from popping off too many rounds from my M-40 with no hearing protection while i was hunkered down in some hide-site. just to keep from sounding too much like a guy at the bar getting ready to brag about some hard-core thing he’s done, i’ll admit that it’s also partly from my decisions when i was 13, to play some song by Journey, over and over,(probably “wheels in the sky” or “faithfully”) too loud in my headphones while i was laying in bed at night.

my ears ring and it’s amazingly loud, in my head. it’s something i’ve learned to live with and i seem fine with it now. live with something long enough and you forget what it was like before. memory; it’s a wrinkly old dinner napkin. as true as we’d like our memories to be, they betray us. they are faulty and really quite slippery. from what i understand, the memories upon which we dwell most incessantly are the most likely to be different from the way things actually were. terrible isn’t it? so, that lover that you lost, for whom you have pined for hours with all the “why’s” and “maybe if’s” thumping through your sleepless heart, is most likely a castle made of sand. and time, my friend, is the in-coming tide. the most accurate memories are those things we immediately put aside and then, maybe days later, maybe decades later, they are yanked from the dust by whatever life does to make that happen. there they are, shiny and new. almost like they were when now was then. it seems kind of unfair. let me get this straight, some of my favorite memories are going to change into some deformed version of the way it was, but i might remember perfectly the time i got a pair of socks in my christmas stocking? awesome.

i guess i should just try and let everything go, that way i’ll remember everything well. problem is, i’ve been known to dwell on things…for years. i’m certainly a lost cause in this department. one thing you can count on from me is, i will definitely forget where i put my wallet, and that might happen in the next few minutes. but i do so love old memories! i really do. i sometimes sit and close my eyes and the memories begin to whirl past like slides on a carousel. they flicker and shine with the energy from old sunsets and childhood fires. some are so fragile that they seem to wave like the glass in old buildings. i am not above deliberately going back. i have gone back to the hallways of my elementary school. i’ve gone looking for old playgrounds where the slide seemed a tower to the heavens. i’ve followed old creek beds and climbed old trees that hold the secrets of my youth. in these words, i risk losing you. where i find sentimentality, you might begin to think about balancing your bank account. such is the way of us humans; what is sacred to one is really quite mundane to another.

so i’ll bring back one more memory before i lose you for good. one more and i’m done for now. this one shines, literally, in my mind.

on a rocking sail boat, in a little cove that sheltered us from the bigger, blacker sea, we anchored. tim, shane and i did our best to secure both bow and stern. we were dog tired and the cove we were in was not a “listed” cove for good anchorage. i slept on the deck and the other two went below. at some point in the night i awoke to take a leak. i went to the edge and leaned my knees against the stanchions. my bleary eyes adjusted and i looked into the black of the bay, there, hanging in the same darkness as the heavens, were jellyfish and plankton all aglow. the water was perfectly calm and the stars shined off the surface while the life from below shined back up to the sky. i could scarcely tell where earth began and heaven ended. there are few moments in my life in which i have felt as if i am a part of the divine but, at that spot on that little, lonely boat, i was a part of the universe entire. and in my faltering way, i still am. maybe that memory too has shifted and changed, but it still means the same. it still serves as an anchor to keep me from being washed away by my daily dreads and the worries that seem to fill my pockets no matter how many times i empty them with mindful living. because we are here on this world, i gotta try and bring things like this to light. i don’t want to shout, but i will if i have to. we have to care more for the existence of life than the existence of just our race. it’s the duty of each person to fight for the health of the world in which we live. i won’t march toward oblivion, i won’t be in that line. there is a world to defend. if you find yourself shrugging your shoulders at this kind of thinking, you are right where the machine wants you to be. be human, be smart and find ways to change the world.