I’m still wild: a short story
November 15, 2012 in Street Art
“Don’t feed me full of bologna, son. You’ve never been where I’ve been; you’ve never done what I’ve done. I’ve seen the stars on evenings you can’t even imagine. I’ve traveled to lands you can’t even fathom. Why try to best me, when you see that you can’t?” Thus spoke the old man who had held the entire world in his hands at one time. “You have never been arrested by the evening winds. You have never seen a shooting star fall on the top of a mountain. Nobody knows where they go.”
“Wow,” said the young man. “You sure are wise.”
“Son, only a fool ever admits to being wise. So, I can’t agree. But I can say that the more you listen and the less you talk, the quicker you will find your way to the moon.”
“The moon? I never said I wanted to go to the moon. There’s no oxygen up there.” The young man said.
“That’s just a metaphor. You’ll figure it out one day.”
“What’s a metaphor?” asked the young man.
The night was cool, and there was a strong breeze blowing. “You feel that?” said the old man. “That’s like God’s breath. If you know how to commune with the winds they will revive your spirit.”
The young man turned and looked at the stars. He was thinking to himself that maybe this old man was crazy. He walked with a cane and had a white beard. He smelled like pepper. Just then, the man started dancing. “Come on my boy. Can’t you see that all of life is a rhythm? If you don’t know how to dance then how can you know how to live?”
The young man took his shoes off, and let his bare feet feel the sand. He was startled when the old man suddenly started howling at the moon! “Grandpa, are you okay?”
“Can’t you see, son.” He smiled, “I’m still wild. After all these years, that’s the test. After all the games that life makes you play, after all of the so-called knowledge men shove down your throat – I’m still wild. That is better than being okay. That’s the best you can hope for.”
The young man and his Grandpa danced by the ocean, which was beating time on the shore. These were the walks by the ocean with his Grandpa that would remain in his memory throughout his life. These moments in the evening air, underneath the starry sky, were what would remain with him so many years after his Grandpa had passed away.
But Monday always comes. Many years later Jack found himself in an office. His world had become reduced to a cubicle. He found himself in the office, in front of a computer, typing things that made his heart and mind go numb. But necessities are necessities. This was something that he fully understood every morning that he made the commute to the office. He wondered, in spare moments, whether everyone he saw on a daily basis was content with their lives. But most of all, he wondered about himself. He wondered whether he was content with his own life. His mind often drifted back to the wisdom of his Grandpa, who always said strange things which he only half understood. “I’m still wild.” The idea kept coming up in his mind when he would sit in the break room, drinking coffee, and looking at the gray wallpaper which he assumed only his boss could have picked out. There was a blue baseboard on the walls. Only a mummy could have coordinated such colors.
“Hi Jack,” said his co-worker Lisa, as she came into the break room, “Why the long face?”
“Oh, I’m just thinking about the moon,” he said.
“The moon?” she laughed. “What’s in that coffee mug, Jack?”
“You really want to know?” he asked, with a smile.
She looked hesitant, “Sure.”
“These coffee beans come from the earth. They are outside most of their short lives. They don’t do offices until the very end. So, the earth is in this mug. The outside,” He said.
“Ha-ha. I guess that’s right.” She pulled out her cell phone and began poking at it.
She was a strange girl. She often wore a pink business suit, as if to liven up the place with a bit of extra-femininity. Women often lose their flare in the business world, which is an awfully masculine world. They tend to be forced into dull grays, browns, and dark blues. But deep down, I always wonder if they would rather do something totally wild.
“What if I came into work decked out like an Indian chief, with full headdress and everything?” he thought. “I bet it would make Grandpa proud, while I am being fired.”
The words came back into his head, “I’m still wild.”
He punched the clock. It was five-thirty six.
As he was driving home in his Toyota corolla, he fell again into contemplation.
“‘Whether the sun comes up, the rain comes down, or the wind blows by – it all happens underneath the open sky.’ This was something my Grandpa often said,” he thought. “My fishing license is expired. Why do I need it? If I want to go fishing, why do I need a man’s permission? Does some man own nature? Has God given somebody all the fish in the lake in some sort of secret deal?”
Thus his thoughts ran. There are so many responsibilities now. There are ever so many hoops through which I have to jump. There are so many trivial things that must occupy my mind continuously. Why? Because I require a paycheck, as all men do. I require things to live. I have to achieve, to make my mark in the world. I don’t want to be a bum – nobody. But how can I live? I wish I could have known to ask my Grandpa how he did it.
Then it occurred to him. His Grandpa had stayed wild. He had taken him, as a young boy, to the beach that night a few months before he died. “He had danced with me underneath the moon and even howled at it like a madman. How many years ago has it been now?” he thought to himself, “It doesn’t matter what you have achieved when you are facing such vast beauty and staring out into the open sky. There is no achievement that can match it. All men are naked and small before such a vast panorama of lights.”
He knew what he had to do. His time away from the office must be better spent from now on. He must go back to the beach; he must go back to the woods and build a fire. He must also howl at the moon. He must discover what his Grandpa was trying to teach him, ever so many years ago. This weekend, fishing license or not, he was going to be outside.