(IT IS IMPORTANT THAT you know an elevator the size of Mt. Everest has lost control)
and There is only one way to brush your teeth— with passion. When your teeth brushing lacks passion, it is often a signifier for a larger issue that is being avoided. Cars have an engine light to identify an issue under the hood. Whether you ignore the engine light or not is up to you. For every action there is a signal that is a response or lack thereof. As I finished washing my teeth this morning, rinsing, then spitting into the sink, there was a lack of passion so evident in me that I wanted to brush my teeth again.
Instead I sat on my couch and stared blankly at the wall. My gaze caught hold of a tack that could have been an ocean. There, as waves ebbed through the room, and back to the tack, answers arrived like merchant ships. At first the ships appeared distant on the horizon like dust, slowly taking form until finally arriving larger than life.
The first ship arrived with an answer written on the sails. I didn’t wash my teeth with passion because there hasn’t been sun for four days.
My plants are withering. It is June, there is no sun, and my potted cilantro is shading beige. The rosemary is stiff. Reasonable. But there must be something more? It’s healthy to recognize the different life stages of the plants around you, but I am not a plant, and I am not shading.
In fact I am well watered and despite my notion, sun deficiency requires prolonged concealment. And the lavender seems to be doing just fine.
The next ship was a small rowboat and on the boat was a hideous troll that only wanted to dance. The troll was covered in hair and caterpillars. It was so proud. The troll did not even see me while it spun in circles, hands high in the air, with an arrogant happiness, like laughing at oneself in the mirror for an extended period of time. I approached the troll, but as I got close, and without even looking at me, the troll scurried away, back to the rowboat. With unsteady vigor the troll paddled into the ocean, and once again began to dance, now aboard the small craft, so the boat shook, and the troll was gleaming and grunting, spinning a deciduous spell, until the boat capsized, and the troll drowned.
Another ship arrived, her name Fortuna carved across the bow. Is it you I lack? the feeling of undeserved fortune in the form of luck or even certainty? The peg legged captain of Fortuna hobbled down the gangway in his rosy red britches and sea tattered boots. I pressed through to greet him, the fabled captain; a man who has given his life to the possibilities of sea and storm, a man who tackled caution each day, a man who did not brush his teeth without passion.
Before I could introduce myself he grinned and asked, you, you must be Demetrius? Yes, I said. Good, he continued. I want to tell you of the first time I brushed my teeth. Good, I said. It wasn’t so long ago, he smiled, exposing his sharp fangs. It was not long ago, and it was because of you that I washed them in the first place. So the story went on.
Just before we left port in Bristol, I was sitting on a rock, and I was a little drunk, feeling very proud, full of esteem, when you arrived on a boat, a schooner, Desperado. You came at the right time, because in those recent days I noticed I was treating my mates like absolute shit. I cursed them, for one reason or another; they bothered me and were a stain that I wanted to drown in bleach. Anyways, I knew deep down that besides this drunken feeling I was run with despair, and you arrived on the ship, and out of fear I decided that I should run, but no sooner do I turn around that you are behind me with a toothbrush. I growl, and you say that I should brush my teeth. Why I ask? Then, in simple elegance, you say because with clean teeth the mind finds ease as the cheeking tongue presses for answers. I spit at the riddle and you hand me a wooden toothbrush. Here, Demetrius, this is the brush you delivered to me, and now it is back to you.
Still staring at my wall, the tack now a tack again, and in my hand a wooden toothbrush. No ship nor ocean lie ahead of me, and the room was unchanged, save the sound of feeding gulls pulled from memory.
It was passion.
(and everyone lands safely)
Antony Ohman never considered running for president. Instead, he writes, takes photographs, sells books, and follows Boston sports with an unsettling passion.
"California Flora" by Laura Donworth