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Image by Harli Marten

By Tim Clark

When I read the monthly theme “LIVE,” I was torn. Was it Live (lIv) verb, to be alive? “Live my life and never stop to worry about a thing, opened up and shouted out and never tried to sing.” Or Live, laɪv, adjective. “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night.” 

Live, as a verb made more sense, it offers more branches of thought, opportunities to follow old pathways, long dormant. I have lived a long time, and sometimes I like to walk back to times and places that are gone. The places are still there, but they are different now. Filled with different people, I’m the stranger. Nothing quite so embarrassing as when a memory goes wrong.
Live, the adjective, is a little fuzzier, my kind of prompt. I like a little chaos. Maybe I was born missing the required genetic pieces for neatness, or maybe I’m just lazy. I like imperfection, asymmetry, two sides of one problem struggling to outperform each other. Over the years I’ve come to love the unpredictability of random, ridiculous reality in all its flawed beauty. One of the real problems with live television is the lack of control, the inadvertent happenings that curse the orderly flow of a well thought out scripted program. Life is live, though, it happens all the time. It spills out of the constraints that we’ve established to maintain control.

I’ve never been a planner. I’ve never seen much use. Laying out little steps that are supposed to guide you through a workday, an evening dinner date, a work week, a weekend. Almost without fail it would fall apart, right in front of me. I would have to sweep up the pieces and perform a sad little postmortem. I never discovered anything. I developed a capacity for acceptance. Aim low and settle for less, sooner or later it will almost work out. Sort of. 

It’s no wonder that in my youth I was always looking for something. Something to round off the corners and dim the lights. I wasn’t fussy. Chemical, or organic, it didn’t matter to me. 

Once, some friends of mine went hunting. They came over to my apartment, breathless and excited. It was early and they woke me up. Hunters seem to love sunrise.

“Look what we found! Growing on the river bottom, just waiting for us.” 

They had three large trash bags full of pot plants. Wet, soggy and smelling a little moldy. 

“What are you going to do with it?” I asked, I had never seen a pot plant in person before, they were kind of pretty. 

“We’re going to hang it up and let it dry. Then we’re going to sell it, cheap. Make a little cash.” 

I had a haunted closet in my apartment. It was a plain door in the living room, and it led to a bleak and dark space almost as big as the living room. I couldn’t figure out what it was for. It always seemed to smell of mildew, and decay. Light didn’t work right in there. It would drip down the wall, and puddle on the floor. And the door wouldn’t stay open. It swung closed by itself. You didn’t want to get stuck in there. 

“Can we hang it in your closet?’ They pointed at the door. “We’ll cut you in.”

“Sure, I guess. If you want to.”

One of them held the door open and the other two hung the plants from the rod that ran down the left side of the room.

It hung in there for a month. It made the whole apartment smell like a forgotten overgrown garden. I burned incense all day. 
Every week they came over and looked at it. Squeezing the little buds, testing the leaves. One day it was dry enough. We broke some off, crumbled it and rolled it in a licorice flavored Zig Zag paper.

It was awful, like smoking hay covered in spiderwebs. 

I had a haunted room filled with dry crumbling noxious weeds. 

Jimmy was in the kitchen getting a glass of wine, when he saw I had a brownie mix. It came with its own pan, all you had to do was add water, mix two pouches together, 45 minutes later you had brownies. 

“Maybe we could bake some it in brownies,” he said, he beamed with his idea. 

“Sure, let’s give it a shot.” Since we had no idea how much to add we put in a lot. Two cups.

They tasted like baked, chocolate covered, grass clippings, which is what they were.

We were ready to give up. We decided to take one bag a week out, in the dead of night, or early morning, night was pretty lively in that building, and throw it in the community trash dumpster. We sat down to have a few beers and listen to some music. 
An hour later, we were starving and stoned out of our minds. We wiped out the brownies, drank all the milk, and started on the potato chips and donuts I had for breakfast. 

We stocked up on brownie mix. We bought plenty of snack foods and sugary drinks. And had several outstanding months, courtesy of Mother Nature and my crazy friends. And store-bought brownie mix.

Looking back at the life that lay in ruins behind me I’m struck by the realization some of the happiest memories, some of the best times, were the times that just happened. Those times when what you expected crashed into what you got and left you with something marvelous and memorable. Things you couldn’t plan and would never expect, random accidents of good fortune, maybe a small gift from an absentee god. 

Tim Clark lives in Columbus, OH. He is an employee, a husband, a father and a blogger. You can see his blog here, Life Explained.  He loves classic rock, and talks about it too often. He loves to write and read, and he doesn’t mind coffee and a little bourbon, either.


  1. Anonymous

    Love this piece, and very very true – some of my best memories are things that weren’t planned and just happened – when you’re not expecting a good time and one occurs it stands out more than planned events.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, life happens, good or bad.


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