Be Still

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Sometimes when I am walking well it feels like I am still. Instead of moving through the world, the world moves about me.

I walk through the cold fall morning—the sky sprinkles on me. Leaves that displayed themselves proud on their branches on Sunday are now, on Monday, piled up on the sidewalk. The grey sky is visible and the Confederate soldier who stands guard over the square is less hidden.

I walk still and the world moves about me.

A young black man rides a lime green bike toward the coffee shop. He wears a black balloon vest so baggy he could fit four of his skinny frame into it. He wears a black hat sideways. He reminds me of the 90s?

The first time I saw him, he swaggered into the coffee shop, a cigarette between his lips. I wondered how long it would take for Vicky to kick him out. There was no smoke coming from the cigarette, though. Just a little mist. And I realized he smoked one of those fake cigarettes full of nicotine “vapor” you can buy on late night infomercials. He took a puff and the tip lit up LED red.

As he leans his bike against a newspaper box I wonder. What is his life like? What are his dreams and where did he learn to swagger? Where did he buy that balloon vest—did he fawn over it when he first saw it?

And of course, would he make a good character in a novel?

These are the thoughts you can afford when you're still. If you walk too quickly you scare them. They fly away like frightened doves.

Be still today. A writer cannot afford to scare away inspiration.


Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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38 Comments

  1. Charles King

    thank you for reminding me to be still.

    Reply
  2. Charles King

    thank you for reminding me to be still.

    Reply
  3. careyrowland

    He be jammin in the hood not far from where Dr. King set us honkies free from our former dissin judgemental bs Waddup yall check it out did you see that statue move? Nah man, but he did raise his chin a bit

    Reply
  4. Carey Rowland

    He be jammin in the hood not far from where Dr. King set us honkies free from our former dissin judgemental bs Waddup yall check it out did you see that statue move? Nah man, but he did raise his chin a bit

    Reply
  5. Susan May

    Joe, beautifully written. You need a short story of it and then enter it in a competition.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Ha! Thanks Susan. I’m not sure how to write a short story around this, but it’s not a bad idea to try.

      Reply
      • Susan May

        I am finding the best stories are the ones where you have nothing except a question. As long as I have a good first line, I then just go. It seems to free your mind when you have no preconceived ideas.

        Joe. we are in sync with our thoughts. I actually wrote a blog about this over the weekend, entitled, ”Whose Story Is This Anyway?” Have a look you might be inspired. http://susanmaywriter.blogspot.com/

        You see if I looked at your guy, through the eyes of a speculative writer, I would see something dark. He may not be a killer but maybe he has seen something in the nineties that he cannot move passed. He was part of something horrible. The fake cigarette is a brilliant detail. He doesn’t want to give up smoking but he must. But he’s stubborn and in using the fake cigarette he’s defiant.

        Oh no, look what you’ve done, you’ve got my mind going….

        Now if you were a different type of writer you would see something totally different-broken marriage, an ex-policeman, an estranged brother; the list is endless. Really, really great article, Joe.

        Reply
        • Joe Bunting

          Good post Susan. I think you’re right. You have to let go into your story. Thanks for encouraging me, though. I appreciate how you’re pushing me to try something I wouldn’t have thought of.

          Reply
  6. Susan May

    Joe, beautifully written. You need a short story of it and then enter it in a competition.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Ha! Thanks Susan. I’m not sure how to write a short story around this, but it’s not a bad idea to try.

      Reply
      • Susan May

        I am finding the best stories are the ones where you have nothing except a question. As long as I have a good first line, I then just go. It seems to free your mind when you have no preconceived ideas.

        Joe. we are in sync with our thoughts. I actually wrote a blog about this over the weekend, entitled, ”Whose Story Is This Anyway?” Have a look you might be inspired. http://susanmaywriter.blogspot.com/

        You see if I looked at your guy, through the eyes of a speculative writer, I would see something dark. He may not be a killer but maybe he has seen something in the nineties that he cannot move passed. He was part of something horrible. The fake cigarette is a brilliant detail. He doesn’t want to give up smoking but he must. But he’s stubborn and in using the fake cigarette he’s defiant.

        Oh no, look what you’ve done, you’ve got my mind going….

        Now if you were a different type of writer you would see something totally different-broken marriage, an ex-policeman, an estranged brother; the list is endless. Really, really great article, Joe.

        Reply
        • Joe Bunting

          Good post Susan. I think you’re right. You have to let go into your story. Thanks for encouraging me, though. I appreciate how you’re pushing me to try something I wouldn’t have thought of.

          Reply
  7. Katie Axelson

    I have begun to notice that even though I am unemployed, I am moving too fast to enjoy the life and people around me. It’s bad as a writer and it’s rude to the cashier to fail to truly see him/ her. Thank you for the beautifully-written reminder to be still.
    Katie

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      That’s interesting. Even though we have all the time in the world, we still don’t know how to use it.

      Reply
  8. Katie Axelson

    I have begun to notice that even though I am unemployed, I am moving too fast to enjoy the life and people around me. It’s bad as a writer and it’s rude to the cashier to fail to truly see him/ her. Thank you for the beautifully-written reminder to be still.
    Katie

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      That’s interesting. Even though we have all the time in the world, we still don’t know how to use it.

      Reply
  9. Jeff Goins

    one of your best yet, joe

    Reply
  10. Jeff Goins

    one of your best yet, joe

    Reply
  11. Kevin Mackesy

    “These are the thoughts you can afford when you’re still. If you walk too quickly you scare them.” Best line…

    Reply
  12. Kevin Mackesy

    “These are the thoughts you can afford when you’re still. If you walk too quickly you scare them.” Best line…

    Reply
  13. Adriana Willey

    “Sometimes when I am walking well it feels like I am still. Instead of moving through the world, the world moves about me. I walk still and the world moves about me. These are the thoughts you can afford when you’re still.”

    favorite part. loved how you traced it through to the end, giving us something to come back to. i see a man in a business suit with a briefcase frozen midstride as the leaves and the people go by. like a scene from the matrix 🙂

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I’m glad I remind you of the Matrix, Adriana 🙂

      Reply
  14. Adriana Willey

    “Sometimes when I am walking well it feels like I am still. Instead of moving through the world, the world moves about me. I walk still and the world moves about me. These are the thoughts you can afford when you’re still.”

    favorite part. loved how you traced it through to the end, giving us something to come back to. i see a man in a business suit with a briefcase frozen midstride as the leaves and the people go by. like a scene from the matrix 🙂

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I’m glad I remind you of the Matrix, Adriana 🙂

      Reply
  15. Jay

    Sometimes I want to scream at the top of my lungs. Tell the world how
    angry I am. Tell all of them how much they hurt me. Burst their ear
    drums with my pain.

    Then I remember how loud silence is. And I hold my breath a bit longer.

    Reply
  16. Sandra D

    Tiny white flowers dot the grass. Particles of pollen swirl in the air, dancing.

    If I look too hard, they fade and are gone.

    I accept being a child and so they are there, we play for a while. Till mothers call children in for the night.

    Things all change, time changes. Day turns to darker blues.

    I breathe. A voice from the darkness says, “Tell me your purpose?”

    “I want to stay, but I fear.” I say. Then a black wolf, hair furled, jumps out from behind a bush/ “Go back and live.” It says and and snarls and snaps its jaw as it walks this way.

    Wetness dots my forehead. I pull out a sword, it shakes unevenly at the wolf. The wolf is getting closer. The sword shaking more now.

    Then a woman in a drss of white comes out of the grass and stands. The wolf slinks back to its nether home. She bows and departs.

    I smell a sweet honey in the air from the dewey grass.

    Seasons change.

    The color of amber chestnuts tint the trees, the trees are soft and round, and gently tossing their leaves on the grass. Giving up themselves for their dead mother.

    And I fall too, falling on top of the mothers grave, caressing her ground under me. From her life my is born, and to her it goes. The stars above and the warm breath of the air lead a new way.

    Old lost songs return. Bear, wearing a blue feather and a marroon silk vest, embroidered with round fruits, walks to me handing me a relic from some lost time. “What will you do with the power that stirs within?” Bear asks.

    And I stare down at the thing in my hand, not knowing what to do or to say, it unravels.

    Reply
  17. Sunny

    Hello everyone,

    I have not written anything creative since 1998! However, lately I have felt an urge to put pen to paper. Below are some images that just keep creeping into my head so I decided to give them some life. As it happens, what I scribbled the other day is apropos of the “Be Still” prompt. I’d love any feedback the community has for me. I am not shy or easily offended to please feel free to be totally honest. And thanks!!

    “The recent rain had had a tempering effect on the invasive heat which tended to reduce even the smallest creatures to a crawl that time of year. Most in town complained that the addition of rain only worsened the situation, adding a layer of thick miasmic humidity to an already untenable atmosphere. She disagreed. To her, it was as though the painter she watched at the ocean once had taken their palette and perfectly blended two opposing colors to create the perfect hue. The air felt warm and still and she liked the way it enveloped her, inviting her to sit and visit with it a while. The perfume given off by jasmine growing somewhere nearby became suspended in the humidity, forcing her to take notice. She slowed her walk and became very still. Here, in this thick cloud of water and scent, and for reasons she did not fully understand, she exhaled. It was the first time she had done so in over half her life.”

    Reply
  18. Kiki Stamatiou

    Prompt #8: Trip To The Grocery Store
    By Kiki Stamatiou a. k. a. Joanna Maharis

    I was at my local grocery store today with my aunt and brother. They were in line waiting to pay for their groceries. In front of them was a woman who was talking on her cell phone, instead of paying attention to what was going on in the front of her. Upon
    approaching the counter, she took her groceries out of the cart with on hand, while hanging on to her cell phone with the other.

    After the groceries were placed on top of the conveyer, the cashier rang them up, and told her how much her bill came to.

    She handed over some cash to pay for the groceries, and walked away while she was still talking on the cell phone. She was so involved with her phone conversation, she forgot her groceries.

    “Ma’am,” the cashier yelled, “Ma’am, your groceries.”

    However, she never heard him.

    My brother ran after the lady to tell her about her groceries she forgot.

    Upon returning to the cashier, she collected her groceries, and walked away.

    She never even thanked my brother for offering to help her with her groceries.

    I was waiting outside of the grocery store in my aunt’s car with my grandmother, listening to music I stored on my cell phone.

    When my aunt and my brother returned to the car, they told us all about the incident.

    I couldn’t get over how stupid the woman was.

    My brother, my aunt and the cashier in the grocery store were shocked, and surprised by the woman’s behavior. They couldn’t get over how stupid the woman was.

    I wondered how someone could find it more important to talk on the telephone, and find their phone conversation to be more important to them than paying attention to what they were supposed to be doing. Evidently, the phone conversation must have been more important to the woman than her groceries.

    “Oh, well, she might have been talking to her kids,” my brother said while getting into my aunt’s car, “but, then, again, she still could have told whoever was on the other end she’d call them back. It was rude of her to talk on the phone, holding up the line in the process. She was stupid.”

    “There are lots of stupid people in this world. Sometimes, they are stupid at the expense of others who have to suffer in the process, such as everyone who was standing behind her in line waiting to pay for their own groceries,” I said while trying to
    figure out my checkbook. I was busy recording my receipts from the previous out of running errands.

    As I was struggling to get my checkbook to match the balance the bank had on their own records of my bank account, I told my brother to please hold off on discussing the woman further, because I was getting frustrated, while figuring out my checkbook.

    I called the automated phone teller for my credit union to see what the balance of my checking account was, according to their records. I still couldn’t get it to come out right.

    “Wait until we get home, so you can look up your statement online. That’s what I always do whenever I can get my checkbook figures to come out right,” my aunt said, while concentrating on her driving.

    I gave up on trying to figure out my checkbook in the car, and waited to do so until we got home.

    © Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. my marriage | every common bush - [...] when I am walking well it feels like I am still. Instead of moving through the world, the world…
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