Tag: Musing

Life’s Great Conundrum

Life’s Great Conundrum

‘Time flies’!

Remember when the concept of dying didn’t quite register with you and your life? Somehow, we were able to relegate dying to people much older than we. Death was all around us, but we never allowed the possibility for ourselves…dying was simply alien to our ‘think and act’ thoughts.

Now, here in the ‘Twilight’ years, I often consider more seriously the metaphysical aspects of death and dying. The ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’ ends at death, or, much of the world believes that is the case. Most of the time I end up muttering dumbly to myself, ‘I don’t know what I believe’! Many people accept on ‘Faith’ that when death comes for them their essence, their spirit, will go to a place where souls will live eternally, without worries. That’s a lovely thought and I want to believe that is the case.

The only evidence of ‘life after death’ comes from people who will claim they experienced a vivid vision of themselves as their spirit hovered above their death-bed, saw a bright light far-off in the black void, beckoning them to come into the light. Then, suddenly, the vision voids and they find that they are still of flesh and bone and heart-beat.

There are also accounts from some who have had Déjà vu moments, generally when some extraordinary event has taken place. For some seconds these people feel as though they have lived those moments before.

Here’s my take on death and dying.

My take is, you really were not expecting me to give some amazing new updates! One thing I’m not! I’m not an Atheist, for being an Atheist, one has to be first and foremost an arrogant ass if not an intellectual bore! Agnostic at times, I’ll grant, but no darned atheist.

I was born in Appalachia with the preacher pleading with the big congregation to come and denounce their sinful ways…this, during the heart-wrenching hymns, “JUST AS I AM” and “LET’S ALL GATHER AT THE RIVER.” Now, I was a little boy, maybe eight-years-old, and my little heart was telling me I was a terrible sinner and needed to get up and walk down that long aisle to the front of the church and allow the preacher to bless me and see me cry.

Well, as mentioned, now in ‘Twilight’, that ‘easy God’ may be gone but there is still a vestige of faith that has stayed with me through all my sins of a lifetime. The way I figure it, I’m not giving up a ‘vestige’ of Faith that maybe has in store for me a really nice eternal home, or, another chance down here on this orbiting craft of earth. Hey, if I’m right about an ‘After-Event’ of some kind, then, I made the right choice. If I’m wrong, well, hell, I’m not going to know it. Now, am I?

So, maybe a little ‘doubting Thomas’ at times, I’m going to believe those meticulous nine-months of a precision birth came from a divine and intelligent source and NOT A BIG BANG. I’ll just let pass the aggravating conundrum of ‘First Cause’, and believe I’m going to see again all those people I loved – just, maybe in a new form…this form I’m carrying to death with me has been fun at times, but I’m happy to trade it in for a new model.

Right about now, old Mark Twain would have a really funny come-back for what I’ve been trying to write here…oh, I don’t know, maybe: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Hey, you reckon old ‘Mark’ could be in this body and mind of mine writing all this good stuff for me?

Well, Sam Clemons was a damned good writer, and, if he’s in my body and mind and writing my eighteen books, you sure ought to be buying them… Just saying…

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 5, 2019

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Lazy Moments in Time

Lazy Moments in Time

What folly this

That binds me,

Betrays me,

Leaves me here,

In this strange

Subtle land?

Glory must

Surely shed

Its light

On yonder

Brows,

Not mine!

Here,

Dreams live,

Greatness appears,

And, so soon

Expires…

What fool am I

To stand among

These great

Images of

Proud history?

Tis Folly here!

Must be folly

For I see not

My Image

Smiling back

At me!

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 31, 2019

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Custard-Filled Donuts & Sunsets

Custard-filled Doughnuts and Sunsets

Dreamers and Romantics have a keen sensitivity to life, some mysterious alchemy within their souls that mark their steps through time and dimension.

They see the sun pausing, creating a great palette of lucent magic as it makes its final descent into the morning on the other side of the world. Something stirs within the Dreamers and Romantics, and they must somehow celebrate this mystique that sight can only present. They cannot embrace this beauty they behold, cannot feel the orgasmic wonder that comes with the climactic end of two joined in making love.

There is an intense urge to capture this supreme moment of sunset, so the Dreamer and Romantic compose their lines of verse, their songs of longing and love. Words will come but they must be noble, virtuous, and worthy of this scene that has aroused   their souls.

It is so as well with the novelist, short story, and flash fiction writer. There is a need to express some inner desire, some exposition of a great notion or theory.

Are these Dreamers and Romantics special people among the masses?

Perhaps they are to those who like to read, who like the singular turning of a phrase, a poem, story – those who have other talents, those who design and build our great structures, our bridges, our roads, those who fly our planes, drive our buses and trains, those who sweep our streets, clean our houses.

I’m a Dreamer and Romantic! I love that sunset and a lovely woman with whom to share it. As Lord David Prosser might say, I want to hug that sunset! What I believe David is saying (if he were to say it),  The sunset is so beautiful that spoken words fail to express the exalted feeling…you want to hug it, make love to it, more than just say, it’s beautiful!

That is why we have Dreamers and Romantics writing, painting, composing music – and, at times, being real pains in the arses. Some can be rascals, malcontents, arrogant, pompous, perhaps thinking they are a special breed…well, actually, they are! Otherwise, no dancing, no reading, no sculpting, no painting – well, you get the idea.

Can you believe it? All of this came from eating a custard-filled doughnut this morning – I saw the sunset in my ‘pictures’ file.

Billy Ray Chitwood – March, 2016 & January 10, 2019

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The World – According to Me!

The World – According to Me!

I came into this world as a ‘blue baby’. Now, I never took the time to figure out just what being a ‘blue baby’ was all about, never asked a doctor or my mom… I do remember my sister saying to me when we were adults that, “you know, Billy Ray, you were born a ‘blue baby’!” It seemed we were always arguing about this and that, so she was tagging me with that little piece of news out of spite.

. I asked her, “What’s a ‘blue baby’, Bobby Jean?”

She took a sip from her 24-ounce plastic glass of Pepsi, and said: “Hell, I don’t know, but you lived. So, guess it wasn’t lethal!”

“Well, you sound disappointed, Bobby Jean,” I responded.

“Well, I was the one that got all the beatings from our itinerant daddy, Billy Ray.”

“Well, I know, but you were the one doing the bad things, Bobby Jean. I suffered through those beatings, too, sitting there in a state of emotional paralysis.”

But, back to the ‘blue baby’ label. I finally googled ‘blue baby’, and here’s the information provided: a ‘blue baby’ is a baby  with a blue complexion from lack of oxygen in the blood due to a congenital defect of the heart or major blood vessels. That’s it, all I got from google. All I was ever told by my Mom was that it was my grandmother who took me from old Doc Brown, dangled me in the air by my feet and gave my backside a pretty good whack. That got me to crying, more importantly for me, it got me to breathing. There was a gathering of kinfolk and neighbors in that old clapboard house at the time, and my grandmother became a celebrity of sorts up and down those muddy lanes. Guess it’s pretty obvious that old Wooldridge sawmill camp didn’t have a lot to excite folks…except, maybe, some copperheads from all the sawdust.

Well, the rest is history, as they say – that is, up to a ‘passage’ point.

Most of my young life was spent in emotional confusion. Now, I didn’t know to call it ‘emotional confusion’ at the time, but it surely was that malady as I look back on it. Now, I’m not going to turn this into a sad story. Suffice it, I grew up after a lot of spent-emotion and a lot of moving about in East Tennessee, joined the Navy, met a ‘Wave’, married her, and spent ten years in another kind of emotional spell, had three beautiful kids, got a college degree, and taught school for short while.

Skipping over a lot of dumb mistakes and ‘searching’, I met Julie Anne, likely the best thing that ever happened to me. She got me to writing, and now, some eighteen books and 400+ blog posts later, I’m sitting here in ‘Twilight’ with still some ‘oats to sow’, my little euphemism for writing.

What have I learned about life in my sojourn here on this orbiting craft of conundrums? We’ve had plenty of philosophers writing, telling us about metaphysics, the branch that covers just about everything, being, time, space, knowing, a whole gunny-sack of abstract knowledge that my ‘Chitwood model’ is not equipped to appreciably handle with any great insight.

I’ve learned that most of the platitudes for living don’t really mean ‘squat’. Take, for an example, ‘one learns from her/his mistakes’. Well, ‘whopee’, I didn’t! I just kept on making those ‘goofers’. Of course, there are a couple of ways to look at that. Number one, maybe there’s just too much junk piled-up inside that keeps one from learning the good ABCs of living. Maybe, if one could just find what it is they’re good at and keep on doing it with someone who is compatible and loves her/him, then, maybe he/she could learn those ABCs. Number two, maybe the inconsistency and the wanderlust are too ingrained, too attached to one’s being that makes settling down and becoming something ‘permanent’ just near-impossible. Maybe Ralph Waldo Emerson was right in his essay on Self-Reliance: “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Then, what do I know?

In my humble opinion, I have one salutary talent – writing! Writing is not only a ‘love’ for me. It is a necessity. Particularly now, here in Twilight , the latter is most compelling. Perhaps, my writing creations blind me to reality. Maybe I’m not as good at writing as I think. No, not viable. I am as good as I think. What is difficult is convincing readers and publishers of that fact.

In this life I’ve known the gamut of emotions – ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat’. I’ve lost, and I’ve won. I’ve walked with the ‘kings’ and with the ‘common man’. I’ve played the games that keep me living and alive. I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone through covert planning. I’ve loved and won. I’ve loved and lost.

For a kid born in a clapboard house on a rainy night in Tennessee, a ‘blue baby’ (if that scores points!), fed emotional soup that was never fully digested, all the above, I’ve had a reasonably good life and times. Perhaps, I’ve had more than I deserved. Perhaps, I’ve had less.

Either way, the journey is still on. I’m going to motor right on to my next blog post and book, enjoying the life my characters give me to live – the loves, the disappointments, the victories, the defeats, the high-life and the low-life. They are there in all that I write, the foibles and the strength.

Welcome to my world.

Won’t you come on in?

I’ll do some writing.

You do some reading.

We have a deal?

Good.

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 3, 2019

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The Fool I Came To Be

The Fool I Came To Be

It wasn’t all that difficult becoming the fool I am today. Well, it wasn’t and it was. It was possible that I become a bigger fool than I am today. All the ingredients were there. In fact, there were many times along the way when anyone looking for the fool in me would have easily found him.

Dwelling on all those wasteful habits and motions that portrayed my life during the critical years would be time wasted and to no one’s benefit, very likely just another ‘pine and whine session’ unworthy of the print. The stories have been written about the young man and/or young woman who was abused in one way or another in childhood.

There are the ‘positive’ stories of the young man and young woman who escaped their childhood’s abusive environment and went on to succeed in her/his chosen field of work and in the development of their own children.

My story belongs somewhere, maybe in the ‘positive’ column, but not without some serious editing. It is true that my childhood witnessed too much abuse and trauma in the family disconnect, too much detritus in the emotional play-by-play that I could never fully fill-out my adult world with the talents that were left to me. Oh, there were successes here and there, but never the ‘big hit’ that scored storybook success.

It seems I was too busy as a young man trying to find some nebulous ‘white buffalo’, my silly euphemism for ‘home, picket fence, family’. That search for the WB found me in gin mills wooing, or, trying to woo the women, and, if keeping a ‘batting average’, it was likely in the above average range. Blessed with decent looks and, with a few libations that gave me courage, I scored often. In fact, I found it relatively easy to fall in love and marry…several times! Thank the good Lord, that search is over. Julie Anne and I have been together for thirty-five wonderful years. Love is there, and life is steady…

That more or less covers the ‘bad-boy’ imagery. In work, I cheated my employers by not giving them all I had to give. Otherwise, I would no doubt have ended up a president of a large company. As it was, with my cheating, I made it as far as a National Sales Manager. Again, that ‘gift of gab’ led to a modicum of success – even managed some acting in film and commercials along the way. So, yes, there were small victories here and there.

I’ve written about most of this in my memoirs, but, during this holiday season, I felt the urge to regurgitate for the few fans that I have gained through my writing efforts (and, for me). In those efforts I’ve managed some eighteen books – and, counting…most of the novels are in the genres of mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, strong women, many inspired by true criminal cases (some now ‘cold cases’ unsolved).

This is my ‘Holiday Card’ to all who might be passing by the site where this shows up. https://brchitwood.com

There, I feel a bit better about myself this holiday season.

If I didn’t add cheer to your good seasonal fun, at least, have a libation and, with me, let’s celebrate a great new 2019.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, ONE AND ALL!

Billy Ray Chitwood – December 31, 2018

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The World Without Me In It -Silly Fun-

The World Without Me In It

-Silly Fun-

Another grain of sand added to posterity!

That’s the sum total of an existence, be you an emperor, a bird, an animal, a common man or woman.

The world, at least, that little patch where I’m known, revered or loathed, will have a moment to sanctify me, make accusations of me, or, just silently remember that I wrote twenty books that went nowhere, that is, didn’t sell, didn’t appeal, didn’t use up much paper in POD presses. The odds are, amid the lack of tears and clamor, maybe someone will write a short eulogy of sorts – likely, my wife, a son, a daughter, a grandson, a granddaughter. Hey, even one of the latter will try to make some ‘hay’ with the books I’ve written…stranger things have happened.

But, generally, grains of sand are okay for the coastline beaches, and I don’t want to be ran and walked over all the days of summer or any season. So, I opt for a ‘star’, way up there in the firmament among all those other fixtures for gazing and making wishes. Why not? Movie Stars have ‘Stars’, presumably bronze or copper, on the cement walkways of Hollywood. Hey, I did some acting, could have been one of those stars…coulda, shoulda, woulda!

Okay, I know I’m fooling around here, spending all this time – really precious here in Twilight – considering what action I’ll get when the ‘Grim One’ takes me away. It could be that I’ll reincarnate really fast and come back among you peeps with a head so full of knowledge and magic that I can make anything happen. Now, in this ‘gig’ I’ve been a boozer, a womanizer, a fourth-rate poet and writer, and neer-do-well who wanted to do well and didn’t quite make it. In my next life, it just might happen that I make it. (Well, actually, I kinda liked that ‘womanizer’ part.)

One thing, though, if the ‘Powers That Be’ decide to send me back as a pet, then I hope the ‘Powers’ make me a dog, like a poodle. Women particularly like poodles, cuddle with them, hold them to their bosoms…yeah, that could be nice duty. Maybe I could be the world’s first ‘talking dog’! Now, if the ‘Powers’ make me an inanimate thingy, I won’t like that too much, unless, of course, they make me an ‘invisible man’. Then I got lotsa fun possibilities. Hmm, wonder if ‘invisible men’ are considered inanimate. Hell, you can’t see’em, so they must be inanimate! Unless they touch you, well, then…I’m thinking…just forget this paragraph!

But, you know, I’m being rather flippant about this important stuff, and maybe I shouldn’t be mocking the ‘Powers’. I sure don’t want to get on the wrong side of them. Then, they can really do me damage. It’s my understanding that there are lots of comedians out of work, and it’s not nice for me to be comedic here – Hellava word, ‘comedic’…

So, I lost track of what this essay, this ‘thing’ I’m doing here, I lost track of the point or points I’m trying to make. But I can’t just throw words and paragraphs away. (Lots of folks said that about my books. ’throw’em away’, they said, ‘we ain’t gonna publish them’.) That’s very wasteful, throwing stuff away, so I’m going to let all of this stand, or, fall, as to whatever it might want to do…or, well, now, darn it, I’m confused…that’s a staple here in ‘Twilight’, if you get my drift – I’m not talking about a staple in a staple gun here!

There was a ‘point’ when these fingers began pecking a few moments ago, but damned if I can remember what the point was.

Oh, yeah, I suddenly remembered – what’s this world going to do without me in it?

Enjoy at your own risk!

Billy Ray Chitwood – December 31, 2018

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The Final Curtain1

The Final Curtain1

        I’ve always been a Frank Sinatra guy and “My Way” has accompanied me on many romantic adventures. “My Way” has been one of those ‘etchings’ to enjoy with someone special at the end of a candlelight and wine dinner, a song that can be parsed and qualified in so many ways…guess that’s my best reason for the blog title.
 
      It isn’t so much that those lines in the song, “The Final Curtain,” need to conjure up morbid thoughts and ‘let’s all be sentimental’ thoughts. In fact,”The Final Curtain” can conjure up joyful thoughts, those that lift the spirit and put an extra swagger in our strides.
 
          I’m pretty much a ‘romantic’ with some life dreams realized and some that still wish to be. Mostly, these days, my writing speaks to me in so many ways, telling me so many truths about myself. Through the characters pecked out on the laptop, in their actions, reactions, interactions, there are glimpses of me, mini-portraits never seen before. Some are scary. Some are strangely uplifting and gratifying. Some glimpses make me sad. Some make me happy. Some make me confident. Some make me doubt myself.
 
         There is this ‘thing’ that always keeps me rooted to some true genetic spot: we can be no more in life than what we are intended to be. So, what’s with all the gibberish about “The Final Curtain1” and the writing and the glimpses? Truth is, I’m aging with a great deal of reluctance, going through the ‘pages’ past, present, and future, still searching for the elusive and the unattainable, trying very hard to make up for some wasted moments in this passage.
        I’m here in the ‘wings’ and the curtain has not closed. I’m wanting to come out ‘center stage’ and ‘sing’ like ‘ole blue eyes’ my thoughts with wide-ranging themes, present the 17 books I’ve written and tell you a bit about them, perhaps share why I feel that in the fictional stories and memoirs I pen, there is that kid who was I somewhere on and between the lines. 
 
         One of my favorite poet/writers is an ex-priest named James Kavanaugh. Among all his work, he has written two beautiful books of poetry: “There Are Men Too Gentle To Walk Among Wolves” and “Will You Be My Friend?” There is so much of his verse with which I identify. His words speak to me with the most marvelous clarity. With my Appalachian bible-belt roots, there is little wonder. James Kavanaugh is gone now, this gentle man who ultimately quit the Priesthood, got in his little yellow volkswagon, drove to California and beyond, took his voice to the people in the streets, in the pubs, in those places where men and women congregate and among themselves seek reasons for their lives.
 
       Sinatra and Kavanaugh are my two favorite ‘etchings’ with some Kahlil Gibran thrown in, each of them fodder for the romantic and soulful parts of me. There is of course nothing wrong with our different tastes in music. There are those who like the brassy groups, the rappers, and the new gents and ladies of song — most of my soul dances favor the ballads. We can’t all like the same music. And, yes, of course, age, time, and place carry our predictable favorites.
 
         Now, ‘will you be my friend?’ Are you a ‘romantic’ – dreamer – pragmatist – young adult – baby boomer – timid – out-going… How do you approach the page on which you are about to spill your guts — or, your character’s guts? How much of you do you leave on the written pages of your books? You tell me, and I’ll tell you.
 
      I’m going off stage now but I’ll be lurking around the ‘curtain’ to see if someone shows up on stage. I’ll keep hoping you will read synopses of my books at the website address, pick one or two to read. You will find me on and between the lines of those books.
     There’s a lot of time before the final curtain.
 
Billy Ray Chitwood

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The Jest

©The Jest

 When skin sags with age,

And liver spots engage,

As joints scream in pain,

The skies fill with rain.

The mirrors now convey

Whiskers ugly gray,

 Peaked orbs set deep,

 Ever more to weep.

Puddles turn to streams,

The mind yet dreams

Fancy plots and schemes

On a myriad of themes!

What, then, is this clatter?

This Circling mass of matter?

But a simple and silly jest

Of a Planetary Guest?

 A poem by: BR Chitwood – August 23, 2018

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Hearts Melt in the Snow

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Hearts Melt in the Snow

Mellowed by age, this ‘sunset’ heart still embraces the feelings that steal into its pulsing organ, that magic which changes the moods of scrooges and lightens the load of life’s vicissitudes.

I’ve always felt this organic change come over me during this special period of the year. I sense a commanding comaraderie and warmth emanating from people who normally seem  inclined to show gruff and negative personalities.

Makes me wonder…

Even warring people pause for their faiths, put on hold the bloodshed and killing at this time of the year.

Is the birthday of a Deity, a Deity Who wore human skin, bled from wounds of the sword, so manifest that it reaches the Souls of all? Even, those who wear their hatred as badges of honor? Is there an arcane flow of Spirituality running through so much of humanity?

Even the political personae seem to sincerely change from the many oratorical duels to pleasant grins of conciliation.

Is it the Christmas carol that speaks to us of a “Silent Night?” That speaks to us of a sacred “Little Town of Bethlehem? Perhaps the words from “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful” reach us in its divine plea!

Of course, I dismiss those believers of ‘from Darkness we come and to Darkness we go’! Dismiss them only because they cannot be reached, convinced that their ‘scientific knowledge’ beats out the ancient Prophets of the Old Testament and John, Mark, Matthew, Luke, Revelations of the New Testament. Though there are days when generational factions compete for their audiences, I hold as firmly as I can onto my Faith.

There are those, too, who languish in their dark prisons, or, lurk the dark alleys of our cities in search of criminal pursuits, those devoid of ‘Sense and Sensibility’…and, in most cases, they cannot be reached.

For the overwhelming numbers of us who wish to believe in a ‘Higher Order’, I can hold my belief that this ‘dynamic’ I feel during this season of giving, of love, is really a harbinger of ‘good tidings’ and a reminder that Love will conquer all.

Billy Ray Chitwood – December 15, 2017

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My Free Verse to the Universe

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 My Free Verse to the Univers

By Billy Ray Chitwood

“The Cracked Mirror…” is a Fictional Memoir I wrote a few years ago…ninety per cent true! This book was written while living on The Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

This poem in ‘free verse’ is at the beginning of the book, serving as an ‘entrée’ to my life as I’ve known it.

 Mirror Images

I once looked at men like you,

old men, frail and haunted…

That was when youth declared

that I would live forever.

How hard it was to see then…

how easy it is to see now.

Life was moonlight and promises…

So soon came ecstasy and joy.

When did it get this late?

When did the tree sap harden?

Where is the gold I sought?

Where is the key I held?

Why is the day no longer long?

Why does morning come so late?

What is the mystery to solve?

What day the reckoning?

– Billy Ray Chitwood –

*** 

And, this ‘free verse’ piece is at the end of THE CRACKED MIRROR…just before the ‘Epilogue’ of the book.

Portrait in Time

Young man, do you not see me

as once I might have been?

Is it the wrinkle, the sagging skin

Time laid upon me that you see?

Once I stood, perhaps like you,

with noble thoughts and dreams

a new bright morning might bring.

Time wore me down with its ceaseless

ubiquitous ways and subtle promises.

Time taunted and tempted me

with its guile and deception,

with its beauty beads of love. 

Time gave me its reins to run wild

with the wind toward sunrise and sunset.

 Time now leaves me here along the sea,

 better to have had its moments of joy;

sad to have you see the frail

and broken parts of me…

Young man, can you not see me

as once I might have been?

Billy Ray Chitwood 

Between these two poems is a narrative I truly believe you will enjoy. At least, that is my hope. It’s got some important history, a senseless murder, a suicide, and a young kid growing into a man NOT without tough lessons from the neon glittering world of deception, false promises, love, naive bluster, and a lot of soul searching…still have some of that ‘straw’ behind my ears! BUT, my books are worth your reading – that, of course, is my humble opinion. 

If you have the time or inclination, please leave a comment below, just after the shameless words of ‘BUY MY BOOKS’, ‘LEAVE REVIEWS’, and ‘FOLLOW’ ME.

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 21, 2017

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