Septemus 54

A Time for Di7cipline


I’m going to have to rethink my whole approach to being. I can’t just let everything fly out of me anymore. I’ve got to develop my intention.

I’ve noticed that the universe has a knack for pointing out the next lesson, and sometimes, its finger isn’t subtle.

I was jogging after Lucas left, just to clear my head.


It feels good at night, when it’s silent out to settle into the rhythm of my feet on the pavement. I was just finding my cadence when I heard Panda’s voice, loud and clear:

“Sept? I’m sorry I bit your not-friend. He made you sad and angry. He hurt you, so I hurt him. Is he ok? It was only a bite, honest. I didn’t eat him.”

So that’s what happened to Lucas. My sister bit him? No wonder I flashed on Panda when Lucas was rubbing his arm.

This is so not right, on so many levels.

Panda picked up my feelings, even though I wasn’t sending to her. I’ve been like some rogue broadcasting tower that hasn’t figured out frequencies yet, spilling all my emotional junk to the pagotogo.

This is not OK. They’ve got their own stuff to deal with. Plus, this is my, like, my personal stuff.  I really, really don’t want to share my private angsty teenage garbage with all my siblings. They’re just kids; I’m a hot mess. This is so not right.

Yobaska. I am so embarrassed.

I’m glad Pops was there to talk after I finished my run and got out of the shower. I told him the kids were picking up everything I felt–I left out the part about Panda exacting my revenge on Stupid Nose.

“I’m just going to have to shut myself down,” I told Pops, “like a switched-off robot.”


“I don’t think that’s the answer, son,” he said. “You’ve got a gift. It’s not right to turn off your natural form of communication.”

“But it’s like a data dump,” I said. “That’s not communication. That’s spillage.”


He listened. I explained.

I have to get this under control. I’ve decided to stop for a while. I will keep on communicating telepathically with him, and with my baby brother inside of him, because we live together in the same physical space, and I can’t shut off my feelings at home. But until I figure out how to get control over this, I’m not going to be broadcasting to the pagotogo. Not even songs.

“Not even if they need you?” Pops asked.

Oh. Why does it have to be so difficult to do the best thing always?

“OK,” I replied. “If they need me, yes. I will practice sending to them directly, just the song, with just that specific information. The rest of the stuff, I shut off.”


So now that I’ve decided the best thing to do, I’ve got to figure out how to do it. I’m going to work some meditation time into my day. And yoga. And I think I’ll read those Buddha books Pops got out for me. And also the Bhagavad Gita. And maybe Walden. And Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I think I will visualize a cone of crystalline light around me–energy passes in through the top and down into the earth below my feet, but nothing escapes out the side.

Later on, once I’ve got this under control, I can experiment with lifting the cone when I’ve got a specific message to send out to a specific person. Or maybe I bore a hole through it, so the message comes out in a laser point. But that’s going to come much, much later. I’m entering preschool, and lasers are college.

But that still leaves Panda and the consequences of a bite on the arm. Biting someone is not OK, even if she is awesome for wanting to stick up for me.

I decided that I would write her an actual, physical letter and mail it to her. It’s a chance for me to practice discipline: communicating the old-fashioned, labor-intensive way, when just sending it out there would be so much easier.


Dear Panda,

I got your message, and I’ve got lots to say:

Firstly, you are one bad-ass sister! You are most awesome. Thank you for sticking up for me.

Secondly, thanks for telling me the truth about it. That’s just one more way you’re awesome.


Thirdly, it’s really not OK to bite somebody. I mean, if you need to protect your life or someone else’s, maybe you can bite–for protection. But not for revenge. For one thing, revenge is hardly ever needed. For another, there’s almost always another way to make things right. Or at least acceptable.

Fourthly, Lucas really didn’t do anything wrong. He just chose somebody else over me. He’s free to do that. And besides, I never told him how I felt in actual spoken words. Pops says spoken or written words are important here. We can’t always rely on transmitted feelings without them.

That’s why I’m writing you instead of communicating the other way.

I’ve decided I won’t be sending thought-messages for a while. Not until I figure out how to do this better. But I will keep listening. I’ll always listen. And if you need me, for anything, or if you even just want to say, “Hi,” I will always hear you. You’re my little sister!

And thanks for asking after Lucas. He is OK. His arm is just a little stiff is all. I don’t think I’ll be seeing him much anymore. But that’s OK, too. Or it will be. Eventually. When I grow a new heart. Just kidding. Not really, but it will all be OK for sure.

You know why? My pops is going to have a baby, and I’m going to be one busy bagoto! I will mail you a picture once the little guy is born. Oh–good news! The baby’s extra-terrestrial, too!

Stay cool, my paPandagoto!

Your brother (and your biggest fan),



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Author’s note: Many thanks to Thymeless for sending Panda’s message! Follow Pandora’s Box to keep up with Panda and Harmony’s thoughts and lives.

Forgotten Art: Jasper – Seth 1


Greetings and salutations, Seth Morrigan.

I heard your words when I read your profile on the Pen Pal Project.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
… full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. (Shakespeare, Macbeth V.v)

It’s not that the tale signifies nothing. It’s that the tale signifies Nothing.


This walking shadow points its finger, where? Towards Nothing.

Don’t mistake the finger that points to the moon for the Moon.


When I was a child, I had a rat for a friend and companion–I refuse to use the word “pet,” for if anything, I was the rat’s pet.

We developed a way of communicating, not through words but through thought-images and feeling.


I would be playing in my room, and an image would come into my mind. A full water bottle. A corner of my flannel shirt. My new round super ball.

I would look towards my rat, and I would find him studying me with his soft brown eyes. So I would fill the water bottler, cut off the corner of my shirt and place it in his cage, give him my super ball.

And the feeling of happiness would infuse me.


When I wanted to take Johnson (that was the rat’s name) out of the cage and play with him in the cardboard box city I built for him, I would imagine the cage door opening, holding him in my hands, and setting him down amongst the cardboard skyscrapers. He would look at me with his brown eyes, and then scamper onto my hands when I opened the cage door.

One day, he told me in this fashion that he no longer wanted to live in a cage. We opened the door, set up his water bottle on the outside of it, placed his flannel shirt blanket beneath the Empire State Building, and he moved into New Cardboard City. We were very happy.


You ask, “Do you know what it’s like when no one hears you? When you can’t say anything that anyone else would understand even if they were listening?”

I was a college professor of American literature. Yes. I know what it’s like when no one hears me. I know what it’s like to speak for 52 minutes on the significance of a thawing ice flow and the revelations of creation that Thoreau found there and how this relates to our own burning questions of how to proceed in a millennium when the thawing of an ice flow threatens our own survival, and to look out to see that of the classroom of twenty-five students, the two who were listening have no idea what I was talking about.


I stopped talking.

I asked my students to move their desks out of the rows and into circles. I wrote a question on the board. And I walked among the circles, and I listened.


That was when my students said they began to learn.

When my wife was alive, she loved to talk. She talked about her cares. For the first twenty years of our life together, I thought it was my job, as her husband, to remove her cares. And so I did, one by one. Each one that I removed was replaced by another, more difficult and more problematic to resolve. And then one day, when we were young only in heart, I realized that she loved her cares. I was not doing her a favor by removing them: I was making life more difficult for her. I let her have her cares. We became happy. She would fret over her easel. I would ponder behind my texts. In the evening, after supper, we would stroll through meadows or sit in a golden corner by the lamp-side, and we would talk. But our words signified nothing.


It was only in the last months of her life, when, together, we faced the approaching visage of Nothing that we came to find that wordless form of perfect communication that I had when I was ten with my friend, the rat, Johnson.


I don’t know that I understand, Seth. Understanding is a long process–sometimes arduous. Sometimes easy. Sometimes, it happens as quickly as a silver shadow!


But I don’t think that understanding is everything. Mystery–mystery is Everything. Curiosity is Everything. But Understanding? Understanding is Nothing.

And I am all for gazing into the face of Nothing with another.


With wishes of silver shade and moonlight,

Jasper McCumber

Jasper’s Next Letter >>