Posted in Life

The War Inside My Head

I am choleric melancholic. I know this. I accept this. And, I have come to terms with the constant war this creates in my head. If you aren’t familiar with the four temperaments theory, Google it.

But, essentially, it is ancient Greek theory stating that there are four basic personality types: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic. Everyone has a primary and secondary type, making twelve combinations. In a nutshell, cholerics are driven, ambitious, people with an unfortunate penchant for coldness, and melancholics are artistic types with a tendency toward moodiness.  I am both, and I think this may be the deadliest combination.

The two sides of me have wars inside my head.

The choleric in me says , “Go out and achieve. Conquer the world. You don’t exist unless you achieve.”

Then the melancholic side of me says, “I just want to write. I just want to create. I can live on coffee and dreams. Money doesn’t matter. Success is all relative.”

And then the choleric counters back with, “Really? You haven’t bought new clothes in like…two years. Get a damn job, Shakespeare.”

The melancholic tearfully rebutts, “But, I would hate it and it would make me depressed. I don’t need new clothes. All I need in life is a mattress and this little room with my computer.”

“Uh-huh. Why don’t you take a writing break…and…..go to the mall for the day. Then tell me if that’s all you need.”

“Okay, Ms. Choleric, you’re on. I’ll just sit in Barnes and Noble and read Oscar Wilde. Then maybe I’ll write some more.”

“But, you are hungry aren’t you?”

“Well, yeah,” the melancholic admits, looking down at her table of books. “But, I’ll be fine with this bagel. I don’t really need that much food anyway….Oh, but….I really do want to buy those books, oh and that Nook, and that journal and a bag of that coffee and oohh…I do like that girl’s shoes…Awww crap. I need a job.”

“Now you’re talking,” says the choleric.

“Well, maybe I’ll just go work at Macy’s over the holidays. I did it one year, and it was quick, easy money and I lived on it for another three months afterward.”

The choleric sighs. “You went to college for THAT?!”

The melancholic hangs her head. “You know that one always wins.”

“Well,” shrugs the choleric, “It’s an easy card. What else can I say?”

“You’re the one that sent me there in the first place.”

“Please,” the choleric rolls her eyes. “You studied journalism. Newspapers were dying then, and they’re full-on dead now. If I had had my way, you would have been a business major.”

“Whatever,” says the melancholic. “If I had had my way, I would have been a creative writing major. You convinced me to at least do something where I could have a full-time job.”

“Really? Are we going to argue about this again? Well, the least you could have done, is been like your classmate what’s-his-name who went on to work for that magazine. Now, that’s a career.”

“I know,” the melancholic begins to sob. “I’m a failure.”

“Yeah, you are. And you’re killing me here. But, with hard work, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get back out there.”

“But I’m not a failure,” the melancholic brightens. “It’s just because I was a gypsy for four years.”

“Oh, yeah, that,” the choleric sighs again. “Well, you were a gypsy teacher, so if you embellish that on your resume, it could be considered an accomplishment. Good job.”

“At least we agree on something.”

“Mmmm…” the choleric reluctantly concedes. “Don’t push it.”

And so goes my life…

Posted in Writing

Poem: The Return of The Troubador

The Troubadour’s Return

“Hear ye, Hear ye,” proclaimed he
Upon arrival at the city square
Then they paid a shiny mint or two
And with battered fiddle
He played a dance or dirge
Until dawn if they wished

And when his throat, parched and dry
Could speak no more.
And when his back grew stiff and tight
From warming at a stranger’s hearth,
And when his blistered feet,
Swollen, red and tired,
No longer carried him from shining sea,
The troubadour journeyed home

And what he found after all the years away
Were no joyous voices left to greet him
No warm fire to call his own
No waiting wife or curly-headed passels
And no respite for his aching back

So he found a country cottage,
And tried a quiet life.
By day he pruned the hedges
And milked the dairy cow
Once a week he went to market,
And twice a month to rummy
And every evening,
Cooked a modest meal,
Then read of love and lore
And put himself to bed.

In those lonely nights
His mind began to wonder
Should he be content to live in house and home and never roam the earth again?
Should he never stand upon the craggy peaks of purple mountains or gaze upon a mirrored lake?
Should he never long for foaming shores of distant lands or bathe among the steaming desert geysers?
Should he sell his battered fiddle for an evening’s meal, and trade his skilled and calloused fingers, for the weathered hands of earthen toil?
And should he never again hear them clap and cheer and say:

“Play. Play us a song again.
So that the boys and girls can dance
And the men can take their lasses.”

A single tear flowed down his cheek
And in the evening light
He swore he saw his battered fiddle glow

But the hedges needed trimming
And the cow needed milking
And he had no song to play.

And the neighbors had thus met
To tell him he should take a wife
“It’s quite odd,” said they.
“What say you, to a life not lived?
Tell, now, what do you have to show?
Only this fiddle,
That’s quite old and in need of mending.
Why it’s even missing strings!”

He listened well
And took a bonny lass out for a drive
They talked of house and home
And shared a rhubarb pie

But the spirit of the troubadour
He could never quell
So, one morning,
He woke early
Pruned the hedges, and sold the cow
Then he fixed his fiddle, and bid his girl adieu

Then he set down the dusty road
Where he found a song
And made the people dance
Then troubadour warmed by a stranger’s fire
And the curly headed passels listened
As he told tales of far and wide

And you can still find him there
From time to time.
Wherever people gather
Now old and gray
And a bit bent in the back,
They pay him a mint or two
And he plays a dance or dirge
Until dawn if they wish

And in the cold nights atop a stranger’s hearth,
He snuggles into dusty bedclothes
And just before he drifts to dreamy sleep
He smiles and mumbles deep,
“Now what say you to a life well-lived?”