tobias crabtree

defining lines; drawing and writing

Tag: universe

Skip the Fuss

Hunter is one of my dearest friends. I believe him when he tells me things. It’s easy, we both like morning coffee. We both look at the stars and wonder what the hell. We both smell bad. And we both understand that we would be completely lost without a solid dose of sober melancholy. A good part of my existence is spent wondering about the lines that separate us all. What makes some folks choose to be mean while others are kind. There are so many different sorts — and they all belong to the big Mama Earth. Somehow or another, I came into being. I grew up under my folks and next to my brothers and sisters. I launched out into the world and went through school and college and jobs and relationships and landed right here, right now. And the now keeps on happening. Hell, now is happening even when I’m groveling in the past or fretting over the future! But the trip is that this collection of elements that is called “tobias” is sitting here at all.

I think it’s pretty damn cool that, in all the eons of time, out of all the possible maybes, I happened where I happened and ran into the folks I know. Don’t you ever think that? Out of all of time, you are now. You don’t have to prove it, you can just breathe and be. That’ll be plenty. In fact, if that’s all I ever did — just breathe and be — I wouldn’t have a thing to be ashamed of. Of course, I’ll muck it up a bit. T’is my nature.

Hunter and I went for a motorcycle ride in the woods on the 4th of July. I don’t really get into that holiday, “bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night…” and all. I can find better things to dwell on than bombs in the air. So yeah, we went riding. Out to the woods. And we walked up a steep trail and sat on some big ol’ stumps while the skeeters celebrated our soft skin. We talked about memories and broken bones and the doctors that set ’em.  The sun set and Hunter pointed out the nightjars overhead, first one and then several. They were calling out in the evening air and Hunt asked if I had ever heard the other sound they made. I hadn’t. Then he began to describe it. As he went into detail, and as we watched the bird overhead, the nightjar stooped and tipped toward us. Just a few feet over our heads, the bird turned and the heavy growl that Hunter had been describing came off the birds wings. We both smiled huge. Hunter simply said, “like that!”

We walked, pleased that the universe tapped us on the shoulder once again and let us know of our origins. On the walk back, we continued to talk about the nightjar and it’s crepuscular relatives. I said I liked them all. That they reminded me of moths. I mentioned how much I loved the whiporwill and Hunter nodded. We reached to moto’s and built a tiny fire. Fireworks flared against the sky, weak in contrast to the heavens and the novas and the light from billions of light years away. Our conversation was that of men who are brothers in the world and who realize the fortune of friendship. There was nothing but the two of us, the dreams of our hearts, and the world we were sitting against.

Then, as if cued from some old and perfect poem,  a whiporwill called out from somewhere in the dark.

Just this life,

skip the fuss.

Take a breath,

turn to dust.

a list of admissions before dawn

this isn’t an attempt to sound like i’m disciplined; i’m not. i’m not the man my grand dad was and i ain’t the man my dad is and i’m not a harder worker than my kid brother (not even close). all these men have known the morning hours because work has beckoned them. my brother, joshua, builds stuff, like hospitals and medical buildings; my dad works for God, and God likes folks to be at it early; my gramps worked the oil-fields in the early 1900’s. i’m kinda like them all, besides bearing a striking resemblance to them in some ways, i like being up before the sun. sometimes way before the sun, like today. and today i made a list of things that happen before the sun comes around the corner of the world.

-an acorn fell and popped off like a gun shot on the roof of the shed.

-i flailed from a dream where i was with a pretty girl who was explaining that we had a baby together. the baby had little pointed ears and gold eyes and ebony skin and i was doubtful that it was my baby, i glanced at my reflection in a broken out car window (my dreams are often in a war torn setting) and i had pointed ears and gold eyes and ebony skin.

-i groped around in the dark, like every morning, for my headlamp that i last saw on my head when i was reading last night. i found, instead, my copper earring that has been missing for a few days. (and where was that thing, in my sleeping bag?)

-i crawled out into the cold to take a leak. puffs of breath.

-i found my pants in the dark.

-i turned on the shed light. my headlamp was on my pillow. i mumbled, “that figures…” to myself.

-i turned the light back off and stepped out under the freckled universe.

-orion was center-stage, chasing taurus…his never ending hunt. i thought of roger sparks and hunter dahlberg, both sons of that constellation. roger with his son, orion. hunter with the stars tattooed on his body in precise astronomic distribution just as they are on the hunter in the sky.

-the big ursa, that dancing circus bear always circling polaris.

-a screech owl, calling and calling and calling.

-an iron blue horizon, promising cold.

-frost coming on. the grass crackling under my sandals.

-the rooster, letting me know he’s a rooster.

-i make coffee in the camper, humming some 80’s song about the rains in africa.

-i browse the sun magazine while coffee’s brewing. a sad story about someone loving someone who wants to love everyone.

-i think of albert camus from out of nowhere…or maybe out of everywhere.

-i think about how i don’t have what i takes to be an existentialist. i do believe in right now, this moment, but i’m a romantic and love the mystery of maybe.

-i step out with my coffee and it seems darker. i scare a sheep that i thought was a bush and it scares me and i spill some coffee on my wool sweater that has a lot of coffee spills on it. “precious coffee,” i say out loud to myself, “what a waste.”

-i find the shed in the dark.

-i turn on the light and wrap a blanket around my nasty little hooves.

-i chuckle and say something about loving this shit.

-light is coming. orion has fled. my heart is clunking away. the future hangs like an exhibit down a long hallway in the museum, i can’t quite make it out, but it looks interesting. what’ya say we go stand in it and call it now?

between the devil and the deep blue sea

Imagethere is a cove in southern mexico, way south, where the mountains come right down to the sea. it’s a tiny cove, just big enough to allow a boat to anchor without being hit with direct ocean swell. on a map it shows as a little dip in the coastline, definitely not something you would think was worth a stop-over. i was sailing with two buddies. we were unsure of whether to anchor and get sleep or to sail through the night.

there are several facts that i should disclose here. i am not a sailor, although; i was on a sail boat for over six months. my buddies are not sailors either. we were sailing, we just weren’t sailors. all of us are capable in the common sense kind of way and all of us have had plenty of adventures together. we weren’t too worried. we were real happy to be doing something we didn’t know how to do. ok, so that’s the preamble. oh yeah, and we didn’t really know where we wanted to go…mostly, we wanted to go toward the sun.

so, back at the little cove…and the world and the stars and the sea and the wooden boat and the breath from our bodies and the beating hearts, all together. all in one place. we had sailed for 40 and a few hours without the modern sailing-conveniences of GPS’s and auto-pilot. we were tired. we dropped anchor and did everything we had read in Sailing for Dummies to make sure we didn’t end up on shore (a kind of rocky looking strip in the failing light) in the middle of the night.

i didn’t sleep well. i was worried about our anchor that had dropped too deep and seemed to be almost straight down. in the night, the waves stopped completely and i woke to silence…complete silence. it was like the universe was on pause. i stood up out of my sleeping bag and looked at the stars as they ran all the way down to the sea. beyond that amazement, the silky flat ocean was full of glowing plankton that were spaced out like the stars. it was as if the sky and the sea had come together and become the same thing. the truth is, they are…they are the same thing. i went to my bag and slept in the middle of the cosmos, for reals.

the morning was soft and wonderful. the cove was deep and blue. the anchor was stuck when we tried to pull it so i swam down to check. i went down, hand over hand, on the anchor chain and the clarity of the ocean was unbelievable. huge fish swam far below me and into the bluer farther farther. i worked at the anchor and several breath-holds later, we were loose and heading out.

i have always loved that saying, “between the devil and the deep blue sea”, and i know that it means to be stuck. i like to think of it different. i’m not worried about the devil and i love the deep blue sea. this is the truth i feel from living like i do; i am capable of any possible good and evil, the best version of myself is the one standing on the deck of that boat, in between the stars and the plankton. right there, exactly there…and hopefully someday, everywhere else too.