Original Short Fiction: "Time on Their Hands"

Updated on November 1, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Short literary fiction is one of my areas of writing interests, so I dabble in composing short stories and flash fiction from time to time.

Time Dripping from a Hand

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Opening Lines

Every reader knows that there are times to stop, or at least where worrying might be a first thought. In almost every season, you find out that there are times to relax, but autumn is definitely not one of them.

The defense of absolutely nothing, against the obsessions that turn out to be snuffed, for the non-reason that as a social activity, sniffing is liable to all the sort of inherency in any ranging midst: group think is self-pleasing, and backing over your adversary just to get ahead of the pack is gotta be the worse thing in the bunch, even for bananas baked into bread, especially the stale literary kinds of trash.

Laundry List Experts

Books about the science of history were never written for laundry list experts; therefore, they never can be about both historians and scientists, but about things they make up out of whole cloth to shine away in the buckets where they leave them. Don't get me started on mops.

A butt-ugly spiller will never let you see all the nuts and bolts that men and women who dream the dreams of, say, the big bang theory, but they are glad to show the world their big egos that float like saber balloons about and believe the blank asking of the horizon.

Most time is spent like dollars, not necessarily silver dollars, but any dollars you might be able to trade for stuff from soup to nails. Your food will be getting cold but the nails come that way, and you will remain glad as will you hammer also. When you go to build that apparatus and you take out your bucket of nails, don't think about time. Sure, you have time, but while you are pounding nails, time is not on your hands.

The Uninvented Theory

One of the most unusual hinter types becomes the overbearing shill and will be both nervous and over zealous—which is a theory no one has yet invented. No one cares that puff balls blow up in everyone's face—know what I'm sayin'?

You have to know what I'm talking about, because you are not stupid. Not like the excitable techies who fence stolen products. They post their posts every other month, swallowing whatever useful tool might have led them to tabloid computers. You can easily recognize that kind of nonsense.

Don't even think back in the seventies or eighties when websites not even in the picture were yet to be sublimated by minds of common steel. They stunk up the scenery and offer no reason for stopping. They had no common sense let alone design feature. But they nevertheless offered a place to stop, a place to sort of think. But about what? Other than the moss that grows on old trees in the midst of older lakes.

Even on the verge of burgeoning they did not even stop to think of photoshopping until colors came in flashing letters. They settled on crappy pictures the quality of tree bark.

The last time they sat around applauding the ventures was probably last month when time to share visions still opened onto the veranda and caught glimpses of the same rays of suns that Aristotle must have scooped up. Marble and felt still make civilized politicians cringe if they feel threatened.

As the whole shebang has evolved and dissolved monstrously over the last couple of moments, computer wizards have lost so much functionality that they have scarped out a massive whole from the common board. And we are all richer for every last crumb of midnight oil that specks the seaboard from whimsy down to fluffed.

A Simple Take

My own take is simple: let fire burn but let water run too. Don't crave the same thing you spit out a month ago. Get your letters in order, but don't make other people hunt and peck over your leavings. Unless you really are stupid—and I don't think you are—leave a few wishes for the apples and pears. And above all, don't wind up too tight about all the hot-air spewed on the common. That's all I can think of to offer as advice. My story is a little flaked and chipped in the wrong places—but I never promised roses in my garden, and I never would promise apples in my trees.

Every story should end on time, but sometimes it just doesn't even though it could. The teller may feel like weeping and so has to put off until the weeping is over. The teller may feel like singing a little ditty, but sings so off-key you get a little anxious. The teller may feel like having more of your company and thus can't part with the pen or keyboard. You have to allow all kinds of things, like old-fashioned phones, horse & buggy methods of cooking, so hope the word "pen" didn't trigger a snow-flake hissy.

The End in Sight

But sooner or later you see the end in sight and you are glad beyond lightning. You lay down your heckles, you stand up and stretch, and you wonder how you can ever get those moments back. If you had seen what a waste of time reading this far in this piece would have cost you, you would have decided to go for a walk instead of staying with it this far. But then you are like every other schmuck who begins a story: you keep wondering what will happen next. You know that is the only thing that the drives a story, and when you quit wondering that, you quit reading.

Unfortunately, some writers seem to do that very same thing: they keep on writing and writing and writing, wondering and wondering and wondering what they will write next. You're better off not reading those writers; you're better off going for a walk. But then you might just be gouged in the ribs to write your own stuff. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Time Still Stands

Still the issue of time on the hands gives rise to many slants, which too bad more people don't address. I would like to hear all the slants, well, maybe not all but some at least. If time could be wrapped up and sold, what would that look like? We all gotta wonder about that.

And still it is not so fortunate as you might think, even though you are not stupid, and you might remain surprised about the clunk and overload the crappy quality brings into the whole scene. Wrapping time into little bundles has become the latest trend—a happy event for all those with so much of it on their hands.

Linda Sue Grimes at the SRF Windmill Chapel

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Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The following original poem captures the tranquility of my favorite meditation place in Los Angeles, California, the Windmill Chapel at Self-Realization Fellowship's Lake Shrine.

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

Born Linda Sue Richardson on January 7, 1946, to Bert and Helen Richardson in Richmond, Indiana, Linda Sue grew up about eight miles south of Richmond in a rustic setting near the Ohio border.

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, Linda Sue Grimes completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

Currently, at Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) posts her poetry commentaries. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes. on Delishably. She posts her politically focused pieces at Soapboxie, and her commentaries focusing on music at Spinditty. Pieces on the writing process appear at Hobbylark.

Spirituality

Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries. Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

My Spiritual Journey: Why I Am a Self-Realization Yogi

"By ignoble whips of pain, man is driven at last into the Infinite Presence, whose beauty alone should lure him." –a wandering sadhu, quoted in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Introduction: Salvation Is a Personal Responsibility

I am a Self-Realization Yogi because the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, who in 1920 founded Self-Realization Fellowship, make sense to me. Paramahansa Yogananda teaches that we are immortal souls, already connected to the Divine Reality, but we have to "realize" that divine connection. Knowing the Great Spirit (God) is not dependent upon merely claiming to believe in a divine personage, or even merely following the precepts of a religion such as the Ten Commandments.

Knowing the Creator is dependent upon "realizing" that the soul is united with that Creator. To achieve that realization we have to develop our physical, mental, and spiritual bodies through exercise, scientific techniques, and meditation. There are many good theorists who can help us understand why proper behavior is important for our lives and society, but Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings offer definite, scientific techniques that we practice in order to realize our oneness with the Divine Power or God. It makes sense to me that my salvation should be primarily my own responsibility.

No Religious Tradition

I did not grow up with a religious tradition. My mother was a Baptist, who claimed that at one time she felt she was saved, but then she backslid. I learned some hymns from my mother. But she never connected behavior with religion. My father was forced to attend church when he was young, and he complained that his church clothes were uncomfortable as was sitting on the hard pews.

My father disbelieved in the miracles of Jesus, and he poked fun at people who claimed to have seen Jesus "in the bean rows." My mother would not have doubted that a person might see Jesus, because she saw her father after he had died. My mother characterized my father as agnostic, and she lived like an agnostic, but deep down I think she was a believer after the Baptist faith.

Here’s a little story that demonstrates how ignorant about religion I was as a child: When I was in first or second grade, I had a friend named Caroline. At recess one day at the swings, Caroline wanted to confide something to me, and she wanted me to keep it secret. She said I probably wouldn't believe it, but she still wanted to tell me. I encouraged her to tell me; it seemed exciting to be getting some kind of secret information. So she whispered in my ear, "I am a Quaker."

I had no idea what that was. I thought she was saying she was magic like a fairy or an elf or something. So I said, "Well, do something to prove it." It was Caroline's turn to be confused then. She just looked very solemn. So I asked her to do something else to prove it. I can't remember the rest of this, but the point is that I was so ignorant about religion.

The Void in My Life and My First Trauma

Looking back on my life as a child, teenager, young adult, and adult up to the age of 32, I realize that the lack of a religious tradition left a great void in my life. Although my father was on the fence regarding religion, he would listen to Billy Graham preach on TV. I hated it whenever Billy Graham was preaching on TV. His message scared me. Something like the way I felt when my father's mother would come and visit us, and when my father would let out a "Goddam" or other such swear word, she would say he was going to hell for talking that way. I was afraid for my father. And Billy Graham made me afraid for myself and all of us because we did not attend church.

I never believed that things like swearing and masturbation could send a soul to hell. But then back then I had no concept of "soul" or "hell." I believed it was wrong to kill, steal, and to lie. But I'm not sure how these proscripts were taught to me. I guess by example. It seems that I had no real need for God and spirituality until I was around thirty years old.

My life went fairly smoothly except for two major traumas before age thirty. The first trauma was experiencing a broken heart at age eighteen and then undergoing a failed marriage, after which I thought I would never find a mate to love me. But I did meet a wonderful soulmate when I was 27.

Heretofore I had thought finding the proper marriage partner would solve all my problems, but I learned that my difficulties were very personal and at the level where we are all totally alone, despite any outward relationships.

The Second Trauma

A second trauma that added to my confusion was being fired twice from the same job at ages 22 and 27. At age 27 things started to make no sense. And it started to bother me intensely that things made no sense. I had always been a good student in grade school and high school, and I was fairly good in college, graduating from Miami University with a 3.0 average. That grade point average bothered me, because I thought I was better than that.

But then not being able to keep my teaching job and not being able to find another one after I had lost it very much confused me. It seemed that I had lost touch with the world. School had been my world, and my teachers and professors had expected great things from me. But there I was at age 27 and couldn't get connected to school again.

Feminism and Zen

I began reading feminist literature starting with Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, continuing with Ms. Magazine, and many others. The result of taking in the feminist creed led me to believe that I had someone to blame for my failure—men; men had caused the world to be arranged so that women cannot succeed outside the home. I began writing again, an endeavor I have sporadically engaged in most of my life from about age sixteen. I decided to apply for a graduate assistantship in English at Ball State University, feeling that I was ready to get out in the man’s world and show it what a woman could do. I felt confident that I could succeed now that I knew what the problem was. But that didn’t work out either. I finished the year without a master’s degree in English, and then there I was, confused again, and still searching for something that made sense.

I had heard about the Eastern philosophy known as "Zen" at Ball State, and I started reading a lot about that philosophy. Zen helped me realize that men were not the problem, attitude was. I kept on writing, accumulating many poems, some of which I still admire. And I kept reading Zen, especially Alan Watts, but after a while the same ideas just kept reappearing with no real resolution, that is, even though the Zen philosophy did help me understand the world better, it was not really enough. I got the sense that only I could control my life, but just how to control it was still pretty much a mystery.

Autobiography of a Yogi

Then in late 1977 on one of our book shopping trips, I spied a book, Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, and I recommended it to my husband, because he liked biographies. I purchased poetry books, and we purchased the autobiography for him. He did not get around to reading it right away, but I did, and I was totally amazed at what I read. It all made sense to me; it was such a scholarly book, clear and compelling. There was not one claim made in the entire 500 plus pages that made me scratch me hand and say "what?" or even feel an uncertainty that this writer knew exactly whereof he spoke.

Paramahansa Yogananda was speaking directly to me, at my level, where I was in my life, and he was connecting with my mind in a way that no writer had ever done. For example, the book offers copious notes, references, and scientific evidence that academics will recognize as thorough research. This period of time was before I had written a PhD dissertation, but all of my years of schooling had taught me that making claims and backing them up with explanation, analysis, evidence, and authoritative sources were necessary for competent, persuasive, and legitimate exposition.

Paramahansa Yogananda's autobiography contained all that could appeal to an academic and much more because of the topic he was addressing. As the great spiritual leader recounted his own journey to self-realization, he was able to elucidate the meanings of ancient texts whose ideas have remained misunderstood for many decades and even centuries.

The book contained a postcard that invited the reader to send for lessons that teach the techniques for becoming self-realized. I sent for them, studied them, and I have been practicing them since 1978. They do, indeed, hold the answer to every human problem.

I know it is difficult for most educated people to believe that all human problems can be solved, but that’s because they get stuck in the thought that they cannot. If you believe that you can never really know something, then you can’t, because if you believe that you can never really know something, you won’t try to know it.

Yogananda gives a map with directions to reaching God, and realizing that one’s soul is united with God brings about the end of all sorrow and the beginning of all joy. Just knowing the precepts intellectually does not cause this realization, but it goes a long way toward eliminating much suffering. The faith that we can overcome all suffering is a great comfort, even if we are not there yet. I realize that God is knowable, but most important is that I know I am the only one who can connect my soul to God—and that is the spiritual journey I am on.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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