The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
Ambient Thought – Special Edition: “Hide and Seek, Grown-Up Style…”
When you decide to become a writer, you first develop a writing style with those authors that you read a lot. Only by writing more and more do you finally develop your own style. But you still keep some of the seeds in your writing that was planted there by those other writers that you love so much.
I have found out that when I write fiction, it feels like Stephen King because he’s my favorite fiction writer and even my favorite writer of all time. But when I write my blog (this very one, dear reader), I feel like it’s more like Robert Fulghum. I’m pretty sure I have stated that before. It’s honest and simple with heart and love.
Well, I hope I write that way.
He doesn’t write about depression like I do but I believe his writing and my blog writing is cut from the same cloth.
The more I write my blog, it’s becoming more my own and less of Mr. Fulghum and his influence on me. And that’s a good thing. It’s a great thing. Even though the seeds that were planted there in my mind from reading his books are still at the center of it.
I hope, if he reads this, that’s not an insult.
Okay. That brings us to this post.
About a year ago, I had an idea. I wanted to share my favorite book of all time with people. The book is All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. Even though Mr. King is my favorite writer, Kindergarten is my favorite book. It speaks to me on a level that not only influenced me but gives me great hope. I have to read it at least once every year.
I went down to a local used book store hoping to find a few copies to give away. What I found was many, many copies and they only cost $0.05 each. I got ‘the look’ from my wife as I bought over thirty copies to bring home and give away.
There they sat on a shelf for over a year. I did give one or two copies away to a couple of very close friends but that was it. I tried to put things in front of these stacks of books in the hope that my wife would forget that they were there.
It didn’t work.
Then, at the beginning of 2017, my wife mentioned she would like to go on a cruise. This sweet lady was dead set against on ever getting onto a ship due to Titanic-syndrome. Too many viewings of the movie and thinking that every ship that sets sail would run into an iceberg no matter where the ship was, the arctic or on the equator. Or they would catch fire (thanks Carnival). But something changed. Sometime in January or February, she mentioned to me that she would like to go on a cruise and I was shocked. That would be me like me saying I’d like to have a centipede or a millipede for a pet and sleep with it.
We talked it over and decided we should do it.
Planning was made, destinations were decided on, and tickets were bought. An Eastern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean. The places would be a flight to Fort Lauderdale and we would sail to Nassau, Bahamas, St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and to St. Kitts in the West Indies.
One day as I was planning what to pack (lots of t-shirts, underwear, and shorts), I happen to see the Kindergarten books. The three big stacks of books.
And I had an idea.
I could take some of these on our trip and put them in different places. A few months before this, I had some ‘business’ cards made up to promote this blog and the website. I had my name put on them with ‘writer’ placed under my name. What if I placed a card in each book? I smiled.
This was a good idea.
This was a mission.
I didn’t want to take too many so I settled on six books, each with my card inside of them. I packed them into my luggage and they went with us.
The first place I decided to leave one was in Nassau.
I had a couple in the backpack I was carrying. After our sightseeing excursion and dealing with pouring rain, we found ourselves in the main place my wife wanted to see, The Hard Rock Cafe of Nassau. As we ate, I thought this would be a good place to start. So, I unzipped my backpack and grabbed a book and put it into one of the large pockets in my cargo shorts. I excused myself and searched out the bathroom. Down some stairs and around a corner, I found myself in a hallway covered in pictures of all sizes. I spot a good place on my way to the men’s room. After that business was complete, I washed and dried my hands and grabbed the book out of my pockets. Nobody was in the hall to see me complete the first part of my mission. On a large picture, I balanced the book on the corner of it on the top and walked away. I was tempted to see if it was still there when we left but I didn’t want to look obvious. But I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take a picture of it.
I didn’t make that mistake again.
The second book was left behind the door of a souvenir shop in St. Thomas.
We were waiting for a boat to take us to Tortola for a dolphin adventure and were standing outside of this very busy tourist trap in the shade. I have one book in my backpack and I wanted to get rid of it. I thought about taking it inside the shop and putting it on a shelf but figured they would try to charge whoever picks it up.
No. I had to place it outside. I look around and finally look right next to where I was standing. The front doors had been pushed open and held against the wall so tourist could just walk in.
There was my spot. I waited until our boat was getting into place. I reached into my bag and placed the book behind the door. Other than my wife, nobody saw. I took a quick picture with my phone and we were gone. The book ready to be found.
After we came back, we walked right by those doors. It was still there. Maybe when the doors needed to be closed that night, a store worker found it and took it home.
Or they threw it away.
The third and fourth books found a home in St. Kitts.
With these two books in my trusty backpack, we find ourselves off the ship to see what this foreign land was like. We walked around, hitting the local tourist shops and getting propositioned by local drivers and tour guides to take us to the beach or drive us to some tourist spot or another. We sat down on a bench and took it all in. The local smells of food and the language. I decided that this bench would be a good spot to leave one. I pull out a book and put it behind me, nearly seating on it. I had to make sure when I got up, nobody was looking at me. They might try and tell me that I left it behind. Normally that’s a good thing. But not for this mission.
I look around and see the coast is clear. Due to the barkers wanting to give rides, not many people are making eye contact. I say, ‘Let’s go’, and leave the book.
No one stopped us as we headed quickly out of the area.
And after walking down a road, we found ourselves by the National Museum. Not sure where the museum was in the National Museum. All we saw was a hall that took us out of the tourist area into the town itself.
But in that hallway was a way to leave another book. And it was absolutely perfect. There was a small library with books for people to take if they wanted them. And they could add their own if they decided to.
So…I decided to.
I was pretty sure that one would get read.
The fifth book was the easiest of them all. On the ship that we were on, the second-largest cruise ship in the world, there is a library. We made our way to the elevator and headed to deck eleven, one deck above the one our room was on. There we found a nice little library. It was nice and quiet. I found a nice shelf to put the book and just sat in one of the chairs. I wondered how far this book would travel and who might read it by the pool or in their room or maybe some faraway beach. It made me smile.
Not sure if that book would be read anytime soon, but it’ll have a nice home until then.
And I may have placed a few more cards in other books.
OK. I did.
The sixth and the last book I had didn’t make it out of Florida. Our ship made it to the port and after going through customs, we found a taxi for us and our luggage and headed to the airport to wait for our plane back to Nashville. I decided that I needed to leave the last book there. Before they called us to board the plane, I left the book in the window. That was the one I was worried about the most. As we left it behind, I kept expecting someone to ask me if it was mine. Nobody did. That might be both a good thing and a bad thing. I took one last look at it as we showed our boarding pass and headed down the tunnel to the plane.
So there you have it.
What does any of this have to do with depression?
For me, it was passing something along to other people that helped me fight it. This book makes me feel good and helped inspire the way I write about it. I want people to feel about it the same way I do about this very special book.
And if they don’t, maybe they can pass it along to somebody that might like it.
As for the ‘business’ cards, well, I’m hoping that they might find some help in the things I write. It’s not that I’m asking for money. I just want to share.
Maybe there’s somebody on the ship or somebody checking out the books in the hallway of the National Museum in St. Kitts or somebody sitting down on a bench or somebody waiting on a plane…and they see this book. And they decide to read it. Maybe they only use the card as a bookmark.
At least it will be useful.
I’ve decided that I’ll be doing this here at home. I’ll pack up a few in a bag or my cargo shorts pockets after inserting a card inside and place them around.
Maybe you’ll find one.
Read it and enjoy. I hope you get what I got out of it.
And pass the card along if you don’t want it.
It makes one hell of a great book-marker.
-Loyd Elmore Jr
May 30th, 2018
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.