Have I ever told you the story of the man who said "Achoo!" No? Well then listen close, for it's not a story to be taken lightly.
It begins with a poet who, like us, lived in Southern Ontario. He was a professional in his field, a master of wordcraft, an expert chef in language who could serve you a platter of metaphors so evocative you could mistake it for real fresh fruit. But this man had no reputation, no name, no fame, no glory in the arena gated by publishers and the like. What he lacked was a perfect masterpiece which would define him and spread his name from here to the Outback!
If he was so skilled though, why hadn't he written one yet? Well Toronto is quite the big city. His mind was constantly blaring with the noise of responsibility, social obligation, friends, acquaintances, birthdays, chores, traffic, and more. It was not a place of creativity or revelation, it was a place of distraction. This simply would not do, so he went to Africa. There, he told himself, there he would write The Sound of Silence.
Upon arrival he found the most remote of villages in the most bland
patch of desert the continent could provide. He sat down in an abandoned
house with nothing but the clothes on his back and a single suitcase. He
opened it and pulled out its only contents: a single pen, and one
thousand pieces of blank unlined paper.
He placed the stack on the floor before him and took the pen in his right hand and raised it to the top left hand corner of the stack. He held the tip a full inch above and began to move it from left to right. He drew horizontal lines across the page as if he were writing, but his pen never made contact with the page. He did this for the first page, then the first ten, then the first twenty, and then the first fifty. A trivial task, but before too long he felt his mind begin to swell with ideas. Without the constant waves of distractions he could now feel sparks of inspiration light aflame in every corner of his brain. Mighty characters, epic adventures, tragic twists, and fallen heroes flashed before his eyes. He struggled to keep the pen lifted ever so slightly above the page, for his body began to fight his self-control trying to vent just one idea from his head. He grabbed his dedication as if it were a rope and held on for dear life not daring to look down at the sight of failure and sweet relief from this prison of ideas. The sparks turned to flame, and that flame into a forest fire as his faculties were razed by the ever piling stack of distractions he could not write! With each new idea his sight of the goal grew weaker and weaker until he could see no more. But then, my friends, just before he gave into temptation he saw before him the entire stack of one thousand pages neatly displaced a single foot to the left of their original position. His left hand held the final page as he finished flipping it over. His work was completed, and it was perfect. He put the pen down, grabbed the stack, and revelled in the bliss of triumph.
Then, at an oddly opportune time, a distraction came buzzing in. The poet did not notice, for he was too consumed in his own accomplishment. This distraction, a tiny fly, pierced the silence and began to go about its typical insectoid business, whatever that may be. I can not comment on its intentions, motivations, or what forces may have guided it for I am but a simple storyteller. For whatever reason it may have had, it flew to our friend, the poet, and landed just below his right nostril. It was pure instinct from that point on for the agitation upon his skin forced a snivel! The fly was pulled against its will up his nose bending each and every single hair along the way, and as mere mortal man subject to his urges just as much as anyone else alive, he let out the loudest of sneezes into the desert. When he opened his eyes and shook his head he saw in his hands his masterpiece. One thousand pages of pure potential and innocence untouched by the ramblings and restrictions of an artist, covered in a splay of mucus, stained irrevocably.
He stared at them for a long time, his face holding a blankness the pages now lacked. He closed his eyes, silently lowered his head, and went home.