The academic year winds down, and all the responsibilities and tasks that come with it come crashing in like a tsunami. At the same time, gigs are picking up and I’m readying myself to serve as an AP reader in early June. In the midst of this, I tweaked my neck and it’s taken multiple trips to the chiropractor to get back my full range of motion. After that first trip, I came home and just sat in one of our folding camp chairs by the creek to watch my sons and their friends as they played in the frigid waters. It was a moment of forced (and much needed) rest for me, and led to the poem below.
Between nodding off in the soothing sounds of nature, I managed to scribble some thoughts on the back of the AP English Literature released free-response questions. Over the course of the next week, I kept returning to these fragments, turning them over in my head, reorganizing them and refining them even as I nodded off in bed each night. Eventually, the streams of thought all came together under the concept of “streamed life.” For me, it’s the collision of two worlds: one natural and one modern, one you can find on a map marked in blue, and the other, the constant stream that connects us through ones and zeroes via technology.
I have grown disenchanted by the wonders of this modern age. Clearly, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, and J. R. R. Tolkien speak my language. We don’t need a handicapper general to dumb us down and force us all into a state of mediocrity. We’re doing it ourselves. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. imagined a world where the government forces us into stupidity in “Harrison Bergeron;” Aldous Huxley saw how we could amuse ourselves to death through the wonders of modern progress (see Neil Postman’s book); George Orwell offered us Newspeak and the various ministries, such as the ministry of truth, to properly order our lives; and E. M. Forster clearly foresaw these modern times back in 1909 in “The Machine Stops.” What’s lacking in all these dystopian visions of the future? Time to think – time in nature. This poem calls us back to those two things, reminding us what it truly means to stream life.
Vincent H. Anastasi - 2022 Into the chaos, into the present’s throbbing pulse, into the unforgiving tyranny of the urgent drops the barely conscious still of a late afternoon in May - unwonted rest: the folding camp chair sanctuary seated beside the stream, beside the shared earthen plot where past pets find final rest and flower seeds, like faith itself, await awakening in the flower bed until roots, then stems, stretch out pushing back their soil blanket. Let me doze here, barefoot, back towards the house, the unfinished landscaping, and van riddled with rust. Grounded, I’m surrounded by sound: water laughing through tumbled dams blending with the rhapsodic exclamations of children playing in the creek. Birds and breeze drown the cacophony of modern life - the mesmerizing music of more! Follow the stone steps, the work of last summer, down into the waters still slowly receding after recent rains, and find yourself getting lost. Allow the current to bring you this living present: moments not memes, gifts not gifs, the twitter of birds, uncaged by characters, heard by unblocked ears while the tick-tock of time itself, like these steady waters, stoically forges forward. Come untethered and learn what it means to stream life!