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The Devil's Due

April 2, 2023

by Dr. David Fialk, Editor / Publisher

The Devil's Due

There have been no vows of silence
but things are pretty quiet around here.
Often my vocal cords remain unexercised until afternoon.
More than once,
clearing my throat,
having just imperfectly utter my first word of the day,
croaking a distorted, mid-day "Hello"
into the phone
or to someone I've met on my way to the store,
I've been asked
"Are you ok?".
Even the cat has learned not to meow.

My house could be a monastery.
I could be a monk.
The humming of the refrigerator could be a gutteral Tibetan chant.
Listening to it I can almost hear "Om mani padme hum"
being recited
over and over again.
There certainly is a lot of time for contemplation.

No one knocks on my door
and I'm not in the habit of going out.
I was a lot more social when I was in a relationship
but I've been flying solo for a year.
If something were to happen,
it would be days before anyone missed me,
unless my landlady upstairs
wondered why the cat was pestering her for food,
assuming that that little predator wasn't just eating me.

My work often demanding far less than unbroken attention
I do listen to a lot of educational videos.
I figure I've got the equivalent of three or four college degrees
from all I've picked up doing that;
ask me about the history of Europe or machine learning.
There is something very comforting about the sound of a human voice.
Lacking electronic reproductions
talking to yourself is not a bad option.
as was the case when I was up the mountain in Vermont,
it's time to start worrying
when it becomes a conversation
with you answering yourself back.

I do go out now and then
and prattle away with the best of them,
but I'm always happy to get home
pretty quick.
Then, perhaps I should be ashamed to admit it,
but I'm almost always more interested in my side of the dialogue.
I also like my cooking better.
Diversion literally means detour
a turning aside from serious concerns.
I'm so important,
but I do have a lot on my plate.

Why then, you might ask,
as unsocial and busy as I am,
am I taking the time to write you this?
It's a magic spell,
an incantation.
Putting it on the page sets me free.
Attending to it here
means that it doesn't bother me so much there.
It's a meditation,
a paying of homage,
a giving the devil his due.

You see,
when I'm not imagining myself as a sequestered monk,
I think of myself as an artist shut up in his studio.
It never occurs to me that I might just be a lonely old man
except sometimes on Sundays and late at night
just before going to bed.

Here, a little past 8:00 on Saturday night
with not a soul in sight
I figured I'd better pay attention to my dis-ease
before it started paying attention to me.


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