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A Book of Beginnings: Motion


A Book of Beginnings-Beach Play

“Why do you think people don’t start?”

“Lots of reasons,” I say.

I am watching you fiddle with the glass salt shaker. You are rocking it from one edge of its square bottom to the other. Rock-a-bye, baby, I think. But I am wanting to answer your question, so I push my amusement aside.

“People don’t start because they’re afraid they won’t finish. They don’t start because they don’t trust what they know. And they don’t start because they’re afraid they won’t finish.

“You said that already.”

“Said what?”

You rock the salt shaker again. It is making the tiniest glass noise. “You’re repeating yourself. I think maybe you need more protein this morning. I should make you an egg.”

“I would love an egg. Or a whole omelette. Cheddar cheese, please. But really, I meant to repeat myself.”

“You meant to repeat yourself? You are such a poet.”

“You knew that coming in. Morning-fresh book of poetry, return again.

“And you are such a wonky poet. Always quoting Neruda, like you have him buttoned into your blouse.”

“I could quote someone else if you like. Do you prefer Anybody want a peanut? I hear the poet who wrote that is quite the rhymer. It could go with your rock-a-bye salt shaker.”

You give me your sideways look. The one that makes me laugh.

“Anyway. I meant to repeat myself. It’s like this: did you see the neighbor kids yesterday? They were outside just walking in circles. Not playing anything. No games. Just walking in circles. I was puzzled, but then I realized they were waiting for their mom.”

“So the neighbor kids made you repeat yourself? Or was it the neighbor kids’ mom? You could blame it on her. That’d be convenient.”

“I’m not blaming it on her, but I am blaming it on the constant motion of society.”

“You lost me. That sounds deep.”

“I am blaming it on how we educate our children. How we were educated. Always being moved from one thing to another. In the classroom. In life. Never time to really play and get lost. No incentive to start, because we know we’ll be stopped before we’re ready. I think it teaches us to give up. We learn not to care. We learn not to begin.”

“I know how to get lost.”

“Ha! Driving West when you should be driving East doesn’t count. Or maybe it does. Maybe you’ve got a deep psychological need to get lost.”

“I think you need more protein. I’m going to make you that omelette.”

“You can make me the omelette, but first…” I hand you the pepper shaker. “Make me some goal posts.”


“Put the salt and pepper shakers in front of you like a set of goal posts.”

You place the pair of shakers across from each other and across from me. I pick up a blueberry from our endless white bowl of blueberries and put it on the table.

Before you can say cheddar omelette, I flick the blueberry through your goal posts. “Score!” I laugh. And you impress me a great catch, as the berry flies towards your belly.

Now the game is on. We’re playing.

Photo by cortto. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Story by L.L. Barkat, author of The Novelist: A Novella.


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17 Comments so far

  1. Okay, okay, I’ll quit running in circles.

  2. And you train our muscles, L.L., the ones we use for restraint and to fight off instant gratification, because this makes us wait, and savor. It compels us to slow down. I could sit with this piece from cover to cover if only you would bind it in its complete form. But no. That is not the way of this storyteller you. I LOVE IT. So in my waiting I study what draws me in. Lines like this…”But I am wanting to answer your question so I push my amusement aside.” But thankfully you picked it back up a few lines down. That this makes me smile is my favorite part.

    • L. L. Barkat says:

      well, I suppose I’d have to write it all first to give it to you cover-to-cover :) But I’m waiting too. (Not how I usually write books, so this is an interesting experience for me :) )

      smiling is worth being a favorite :)

  3. Donna says:

    Elizabeth, that’s so on the money…. Instant gratification is a hard habit to break.

    I am noticing thay many of our schools seem to predominantly educate to block thinking, and what are thoughts if not beginnings? Yet, no time for a child to have his own thoughts about things…. and how natural it would be to SHARE those thoughts…. but no my heavens no time for that either… that may lead to a response and uh oh more thoughts and more beginnings…. and so to stay “on track” toward the goal posts if you will the obvious and devastating option chosen is often to forbid any and all running in circles….

    So dangerous that circular thinking is basically forbidden (or worse evn it goes underground and resurfaces later as the ‘fraudulent self’, nurtured by a life time of pretending to understand. “No incentive to start, because we know we’ll be
    stopped before we’re ready. I think it teaches us to give up.
    We learn not to care. We learn not to begin.”.

    LL you said a mouthful. Pass the blueberries. ;)

    • L. L. Barkat says:

      Donna, yes and yes. Wow, thoughts *are* beginnings, of course. So the squelching of thinking is the squelching, ultimately of birth, newness, shift, possibility.

      Would like to hear more on that thing about the fraudulent self. And the lifetime of pretending to understand.

      Blueberries for you! :)

      • Donna says:

        Well, I have to admit… I thought you might ask me that. It’s complicated. I’ll get back to you. :) Your words always take me deep into what W. the Pooh calls his thoughtful spot. Maybe I will blog it. Am thinking that I want to write about children, and learning, and saving their lives. Yes… how dramatic! But I get to be so dramatic when I write… what fun! ;)

        Thank you for the BBs :D

        • Donna says:

          But at first glimpse it may have something to do with the roll of tape my mom gave my third grade teacher. “Just put it on your desk where you can see it” she told my frustrated teacher (I was a talker, go figure). “She’ll be quiet”. I’m not sure WHAT it has to do with that, but there it is anyway. ;)

          • L. L. Barkat says:

            okay, and I would like to know how teachers got away with that incredible nonsense.

            Because I had to walk around school all day once (except for lunch time) with tape in a big X across my mouth. I was humiliated. Yeah, I was a talker too, but that particular day someone had taken something that was dear to me and I was trying to get her to give it back. Busted. And duly taped shut.

            Talk precedes reading and writing. To shut a child up is to stultify their first stage of literacy. Don’t get me started. :)

          • Donna says:

            Me? Get you started? Too late. And I have no idea how but wonder all the time. Yes…. Yes…. Stifling literacy….and more… Children go underground. beginnings are so crucial. Fortunately every moment is a new one. :) I hope you got your treasure back.

          • L. L. Barkat says:

            I did get my treasure back. And I still talk, because I’m stubborn that way ;-)

            Tweetspeak? Is partly about this: helping people get their treasures back… or finding treasures they never even knew were theirs :)

          • Donna says:

            Yay!! I’m glad, for the treasure and the stubbornness!!!

            I was going to ask you what that was the beginning of… because everything seeds or nurtures something, blooms OR brambles, (that said, however, even the brambles have a purpose.). You answered my question. :) And Tweetspeak sure does that!!! :D

  4. More Noise

    Salt is the constant
    circling our table

    but we need pepper
    in our shaker of poetry

    and protein in our laugh.
    Not old games. We place

    the blueberries in motion
    before you are ready

    to push amusement aside.
    Your one goal, you said, is

    the glass bowl on the table.
    I was puzzled, then not.

    You look sideways, get
    an egg, score the cheddar,

    and fiddle to finish what
    you knew to start. Always

    and for lots of reasons,
    you hand me an omelette

    of blame. You are repeating
    yourself, not coming in

    morning-fresh, and I’m afraid
    that the tiniest quote of Neruda

    will just be more noise.

  5. L. L. Barkat says:

    i love “pepper in the shaker of our poetry.” What a great little line!

    Could be part of its own poem :)

  6. I see you smiling there, and prodding and poking and creatively convincing so many of us to go on and do it. This is just so clever.

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