Collection: storysongs
ST8 - The Rat
A young man knew he was hard-headed, and thought that was an asset. He also knew that he was critical of others, and thought that was a skill. There was something more important that you and I would know if we were to meet him. Refusing to love himself, he was incapable of loving another.

Always the pragmatist, he decided to find the perfect partner, instead finding first one too fastidious, then one too sloppy, then one too remote, then one too lazy. If you knew him you would know that these were all reflections of those parts of himself he couldn't accept. He was so much within himself, and at the same time so much outside himself that he became exhausted.

One night, as he was tossing in his bed, a sprite appeared and said:

float in the current
paddling up's a fool's game
try paddling down

Presto, he was in a small boat on a big river, and right away forgot the advice. Being impulsive and controlling, he couldn't simply float, he had to paddle to make the most of his time and reach the shore in the location he felt was most advantageous, and was sure that pointing up just a little would get him to that place the quickest. The river forced him past the place he wanted to go. He became exhausted and, with the boat filling with water because of the chop, drifted in despair. As the boat was sinking, he gloomily bailed water with his hat, and made his way to shore by doing so.

Broke and nearly broken, he settled in a backwater section of a small town, thinking he'd work his way up to mayor. His neighbors were salt of the earth, but he didn't realize his good fortune. A friend introduced him to someone who was suitable, and he repeatedly put his foot in his mouth, saying inappropriate things while not realizing what he was doing, and pushing away. Many neighbors would gather in the common area behind the houses, and even though it was a rough environment:

the alley was alive
with laughter, leaping rats
and fond memories

Before he had given himself enough time to achieve anything of substance, he threw away what he had done and returned to the road. Frustrated that people didn't take him seriously enough, he didn't take others seriously. At one point, however, in a rare moment of reflection he said to himself:

I was aware
of my own hypocrisy
it wasn't pretty

He travelled widely and eventually, having stumbled and fallen enough times to have gained a small amount of personal insight, he found his way back to the small town he had left. He went to the house where he had lived. When he went in, he saw that

the sun shone on
a book on the mantle
everyone had left

That book had one word in it: wait. He sat down and, though deeply disappointed, felt a stirring of the willingness to start over, and reflected on his many follies and foibles. Rather than continuing to self-criticize, he thought of the sprite for the first time since the beginning of his troubles. The sprite then appeared as a rat, walking to the middle of the room and sitting down. The rat said:

your opinion is light
a summer breeze
blows it away

This time he thanked the sprite and waited for his friends to return. He was never to see the sprite again, but he remembered the words, and they served him well.

all copyright, etc.
Release notes
A haibun is a combo of story and haiku. I took five haiku - unrelated at first - and wove them into a haibun. This is the first one I've done.

@fuzzy graciously lent me three of his pieces - 'Victorian Elephant Burial', 'It's a Pain', and 'Not Gonna Lie This Ones Mostly Bass Guitar Feedback', which were mushed (technical term) together in the background. The timing worked out! His pieces end at appropriate story points and leave the last one standing.

The saz came into my hands on a family trip to Turkey a decade ago. I love to bring it out when I can. I'm not a good player but it's atmospheric I hope, and the shortness of the haiku bits perhaps give cover.

Of course, there are autobiographical components, but don't look too deep. You hardly know me.
I’m listening to this on an overnight plane. I feel like a little kid listening to a radio play in the way back of the station wagon on an overnight car trip. The moon is full. I love how you tuck all these tips for enlightenment inside this story.

Great Storytelling, thanks

This is such a great collaboration, really used the music well to accentuate the storytelling. I love it!

This tells a story well with the musical pieces providing a backdrop that flows into the next.

I really like this. The storytelling, the message within it, and the musical elements all combine so elegantly. Very engaging and unique.

As Fuzzy says, his music is nowhere near as harsh behind the comforting tones of your voice. Fabulous storytelling/writing, and I love the saz.

Fabulous! Very interesting mix of writing genres: a short story presented as a series of haibun, with wise words to reflect upon.

I fell into the soundscape, buckled up, and let the narrative ebb and flow around me. This is a beautiful piece of art. Kudos to both of you. I need to learn more about haibun ... And I fear that may lead me to try writing one.