June 27, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

I’ve tried my hand at a lot of different kinds of writing, generally with only passing success. From journalism to essays to short stories to poetry to songwriting to novels, I’ve completed some works of which I’ve been proud and a number which I’m just glad to be done with. Throughout this long career of putting letters into words into sentences and onto paper, I’ve never made a ton of money off writing, and that’s been fine. Just as scratching dry skin between your toes is an end in itself, almost everything I’ve written has been a response to something in me that just didn’t seem right. I write to have written, to be done with that itch for now. Whatever money has flowed has been icing on the cake.

Until now, I’ve never truly connected writing and cash. Until now. Today, June 27, 2020, is the day I write for money and for money alone.

(Don’t worry, Dear Reader, you aren’t going to be the source of this influx of cash. After all, we’ve traveled this Ocean of During and prepare to land on the Shores of After. You and I have become too close for me to want anything more than your hand to hold. That hasn’t changed and it won’t.)

In conversations this past week, four different people have told me the wonders of meditation, how meditating has become a central part of their lives. Interstingly, each of them said they were introduced to the practice while in drug or alcohol rehab through something called “guided meditation.” Because I’ve never been through a thoroughly modern rehab—at least not anything like what these folks describe—I had to do a little research, consisting of downloading a couple free app trials for my phone. Apparently, guided meditation consists of a calming story told over a bed of insipid music. Every one of the stories sounds pretty much the same, so I figure there’s a place in the market for something a little, er, different. I expect I’ll make a killing off this.

(Music Bed: 12-18 seconds intro, then underneath for the entire meditation. I’d like to use one of the softer Swedish Death Metal bands for this. Say Death Breath or Satanic Slaughter or Visceral Bleeding. If none of those are available, we can just go with a band saw going through sheet metal.)

The Meditation Proper:

Sit back in your chair without slouching. Place one hand on each knee and close your eyes. Take three deep cleansing breaths. You’re walking in a beautiful forest and come to a clearing. Look up at the sky, with a few puffy clouds. Feel the heat of the sun. Now, lie down in sand as soft and fine as talcum. Feel your body relax. From the smell, you know the sand has become talcum powder. Sense the talcum cloud settling down onto your face, the fine powder as comfortingly coarse as grit when it lands on your eyes. Feel your nose filling, the infinitesimally small grains of talc like so much plaster of Paris. The moisture in your nose turns that plaster to stone. You breathe through your mouth alone.

As you relax even deeper, you feel a welcoming army of ants, beautiful and fiery red, crawling up the inside of your arms. Each of their tiny feet massages the loose flesh, relaxing you further. When they reach your armpits, their gentle teeth remove tension and flesh. Stress drains away with each bite.

Your focus shifts and you see a calming undulating motion to your side. A snake slithers onto your stomach, coiling itself and relaxing you even further with the rhythmic sounds of its rattle. You’ve never felt so calm as the talc pulls you deeper and deeper, covering first your ankles, then your belly. The snake seems not to notice the sinking, continuing its relaxing rattle, while the ants carry on in your armpits.

Finally, the powder completely covers your face. You keep sinking deeper, relaxing you so much you can’t move.

You can’t breathe.

You can’t scream.

Even if you could, no one can hear you.

This ends your guided meditation.

Feedback is always welcome, of course, particularly if you’re an agent in the guided meditation game.

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith