Storm before the Calm

By Jon Hillenbrand In Poetry

Chained to Paris, hearts around the world spin on the axis of promises made by fairy tales of Sleeping Beauties and Prince Charmings riding up on shimmering white stallions.  Promises create a firmament holding up the tears-soaked stars like a glass hydroelectric dam.  And then the comment, or the look the other way, or the cheat or the lie shatter the too-thin myth of security in an explosion.  The betrayal drowns hearts in deep wet pillows at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon.  Hearts shrapnel off to the four corners of the Earth becoming lodged in random strangers.  We stagger out of the ashes in a survivors guilt authoring blogs and self-help books to monetize sorrow.  Some  bandage the pain with dollar store love over and over.

There’s an internet rumor making the rounds that the world will end some time tonight.  While making jokes, I can’t help but think of all of the things I’ve yet to do before life on Earth ends.  That’s an exercise that isn’t too much fun so I started to think about the TONS of things that I didn’t want to do, that I didn’t HAVE to do.  Here’s the short list:


  • I never died in a hospital
  • I never had to be a POW
  • I never got jacked by pirates while solo sailing around the world
  • I never broke a bone (other than my tail bone which wasn’t fun for a year)
  • I never ran out of money/job opportunities/ideas and had to resort to telemarketing
  • I never dropped my keys down a sewer grate forcing me to call the city to bring five big guys in orange vests to fish them out
  • I never fainted at a graduation ceremony in front of hundreds of people


  • Fell in love and all that that entails
  • Felt the love and admiration of my niece
  • Bought a new car, on my own, with no help from anyone
  • Went skydiving again after that first time which was mostly peer pressure
  • Helped a few people along the way
  • Made a horror movie with my sister
  • Went on a fun Michigan road trip with my other sister
  • Put up Christmas lights with my dad
  • Went on mini Eco Challenges with my mom
  • Comforted my sister as our horse Dusty died
  • I sang
  • Surprised my dog Missy in the middle of the day when she was alone and howling
  • Juuuust missed that bridge upright and certain death when I was 20 in my dad’s car driving too fast the night I lost my virginity
  • Felt something while at the end of my rope which allowed me to run faster and farther than I thought possible at the time
  • Laid in the center of a big field of grass on a warm night and looked up at the stars for hours

Where is it that we were together? Who were you that I lived with? The brother. The friend. Darkness, light. Strife and love. Are they the workings of one mind? The features of the same face? Oh, my soul. Let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made. All things shining.

There’s a tendency for experience to cloud up the past, like the most recent times matter more than those times we passed by so long ago.  I often think back on the ups and downs of my life and play with those times.  I think about my bold steerage corrections; dropping friends, changing career paths, taking revenge, letting things go.  How would things have turned out different had I stayed on the path?

The crazy brave continue to deny the end of the world, though daring God to do it is probably ill-advised.  I’ve compartmentalized my mind and left the back of it full of thoughts that only come when facing certain doom.  These thoughts meander down and around each other like cut diamonds falling to a level plane, churning as I stir and add new topography for them to accommodate.  There will be a stillness in me later today, the surface of the morning lake.  Ready for…come what may.  And if the bright light comes and my life is inverted, I’ll hold on to the life preserver of Love and smile.

1 Comment
  1. Self Help Books December 5, 2011

    Very interesting site and articles. Really thankful for sharing.Will surely recommend this site to some friends! Regards,


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