Nothing But An Alien Etch-A-Sketch

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels

“I remember a friend many years ago who had taped a sign to his refrigerator: There’s a dream dreaming us. If you try to think about what that means it makes your mind silly, but that silliness is good.”  ― Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life

I’ve often wondered if I’m just a character in someone else’s dream or novel. My thoughts are thought up by them as their head rests on a pillow, or their fingers type the words onto a page. Every emotion I feel is a figment of their imagination. Every choice I make, action I take, is being controlled, decided, by someone out there in the vast galaxy. Their subconscious or creative mind is deciding my fate as we speak.

Are we even speaking or is this just a part of their made-up world? Oh, we can get silly with this, can’t we!

Well, writer of my life, I don’t mean to be critical but maybe you should eat less spicy food before bed. I hear it can mess with the rhythms of the sleeping cycles. Oo, and dairy. Avoid dairy. Maybe then you’ll be able to create a more imaginative storyline? Just a suggestion.

Everybody is a critic! But honestly, blogger/struggling writer is kind of prosaic don’t you think? A romanticized caricature that lives a grand, lavish, adventure in the pages on which they write. This mysterious figure, hunched over their typewriter, smoking a cigar and nursing some beverage on the rocks. A smoke-filled room. The sound of keys being tapped and the clinking of ice against glass.

It’s been done, a lot. Not as often as a private investigator but still, it’s getting old. I understand the allure, though. It’s tempting to create a character that fits a certain mold. Especially one that’s so, what’s the word, enigmatic. They get lost in a creative process that only they understand. It looks mad! Maybe even a little exciting. It’s an unknown that’s so alluring and, dare I say, titillating. The wonders they create. The magic they conjure. Oh, the life of a writer must be so invigorating. 

Mm, now I’m even more convinced that I’m a character in someone else’s novel. They sure think highly of themselves. Titillating? Really? Stretching it a bit far don’t you think? Geez, man/woman/alien creature you’re a writer, not the master of a universe. Tone it down.

Unless you are a master in your universe then…Carry on, I guess.

Have you ever wondered who’s writing your story? Not in the biographical sense. Very few people live such grand lives that they will be written about in the decades to come. Then again, maybe you are a master of your universe, and they should write about your life long after you’ve lived it. Who am I to judge? I’m just a figment of some aliens’ imagination.

But is this the best they can come up with? A disease-riddled, struggling writer, who puts her rambling thoughts on the internet because, well, she has a bit of a narcissistic streak flowing through her veins. Hey, now! I object…Then again, I called you prosaic. That’s a rude thing to say to the life form in charge of writing my life. Still, I think you could try to be a bit more inventive? Stretch your imaginations a little further.

Watch me get hit by lightning on a clear day! Oh bother, I think my mind is going silly.

I suppose it’s hard not to go a little goofy when you start riding this gravy train. Who writers our stories? Is there a master manipulator somewhere in the universe? They put pen to paper, and our stories unfold with each stroke. Or, are we the writers of our own story, and we’re only limited by our imaginations? The more we can imagine, the more colourful our stories become. 

Do you think it’s true that, if we can dream it, we can achieve it? If this is all one big dream than sure, why not? Let’s have cotton candy shoes and twirl Twizzler canes as we dance down Chocolate Block Lane. Was that too cynical? Yeah, maybe I should ask simpler questions.

Such as: Are we at the mercy of someone else or are we masters of our fate? Fate! How could I forget about that little fella? Does that even come in to play? Is it real or is it something we blame when things don’t work out as we’d hoped? Fate, God, bad luck, or bad timing. They all take the fall when things fall apart and the praise when it all works out.

But where do we come into all things great and small? Do we have a say or are we pawns in an intergalactic game of Jenga? Is your brain silly yet? My brain is getting sillier by the nanosecond. I’m not sure if it’s a good silly, yet, but time will tell.

Oh time, there you are. Let’s go back in time! I grew up in a church, and one of the tenants of most religions is handing over control to a higher power. Correct me if I’m wrong. It’s been a minute since I dived into doctrine and dogma. What I do remember is being told to hand my life over to a being that can’t be seen or heard. Well, we’re told that the problem isn’t that God isn’t speaking, we’re just not listening. Maybe? Maybe not? I’ll leave that to the theological theorists. 

We hand over our lives, place them in God’s hands, and then? Trust that God will do what needs doing. Simple. Easy. Where do I sign over the deed?

Except, I have issues with control and trust. What you’re telling me to do is a pretty big ask! Trust someone, something, that I can’t see or hear. Hand over my life to this creature I think I can feel. It could be a placebo sensation. I think I can, so I do. So it’s real? Stop asking questions! Here you go. Take the wheel, leash, or remote control. Well, clearly I paid attention to the sermons.


The idea that there’s this power out there with complete control over my life, kinda freaks me out. Not completely. Maybe it should freak me out even more than it does but I’m very clumsy. I do things without thinking, and a lot of my life choices have been questionable at best. At worst?

Uh, well, I’m not dead yet, and I haven’t caused anyone else grievous bodily harm. So, I guess it’s not that bad. Or, the bar is set at a very awkward angle.

The thought that someone’s gently pushing my life in the right direction is comforting. The idea that there could be this all-knowing being stopping me from making a monumental mistake is, intriguing. Being asked to completely surrender my life to an invisible, out of this world, entity is terrifying. 

It kinda feels like I’m being asked to buy a timeshare in a country I’ve never heard of but, on the upside, twenty people have read the Wiki page. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel safe. Something seems a little off, but I’m a natural-born skeptic. It’s in my DNA. I’m not sure which strand controls the “Bitch please” response but it’s in there somewhere.

On the other hand, my life feels like it’s quickly becoming a stagnated pool of deep, dramatic, sighs. Maybe having someone take over for a while wouldn’t be the worst idea. I highly doubt they could do any worse. Did I just tempt fate? Did I anger the alien who’s already crafting my narrative? 

Imagine having a character you create, turn around, and criticize your creation of them. Oh, that’s mind bendy. 

If there is someone, or something, out there writing my life on a galactic etch-a-sketch then I have some questions for you. The main one being, “What the hell, dude?” You couldn’t come up with a better storyline? Did you get your writing prompt from a mail-order program that got held up in the post office for sixty years? What’s the big idea? Writing my life to be this…Whatever this is?

This isn’t the life I would write for myself, that’s for sure. 

Oh, well here’s an awkward counter-argument: What if no one is writing my life and I’m the only one responsible for how it’s turning out?

Uh…Well…Thing is…You know the alien etch-a-sketch doesn’t sound so bad after all.

I’m not a religious person anymore, but I am spiritual. Yeah, I know a lot of people don’t like that distinction. Maybe it feels like an accusation or a status symbol. I don’t know. It seems to tweak the itchy spot in people’s brains. Sorry, I wish I could help you scratch that itch, but I’m not a certified brain tickler. Best of luck. Maybe your etch-a-sketch guy can help you out.

For me, the idea of a God who looks out for me is comforting and reassuring. It’s nice to have someone to yell at when life goes off the rails. It’s also nice to have someone to help put it back on track and, eventually, get the engine running again. The thought that there’s a plan is a relief because, from where I’m sitting, it sure doesn’t feel like anyone knows what’s going on.

Or, I have no idea what’s going on, and that freaks me out more than handing over the wheel. I mean, I’d rather keep it attached to the drive shaft, but if it gets me moving in the right directions then, um, sure. No, that wasn’t overly enthusiastic but I try. I’m very trying.

Not to be too dramatic but, after everything I’ve been through and survived, I often wonder if there’s a reason for it. I shouldn’t still be alive. The science is clear. Plenty of doctors have asked, “How the hell are you still alive?” It’s an anomaly, wrapped up in an enigma, coated in a layer of mustard. No one has an answer.

But there has to be an answer. It can’t come down to simple dumb luck or a random twist of fate. I mean, it could but that just feels like a cosmic letdown. There’s a chance I’m being delusional, or grasping at straws. I concede that point, but even if it is a placebo or a delusion, I like the idea of my story being written in real-time by something greater than this mere mortal typing these words.

It feels more hopeful than leaving it to the whims of fate or leaving it up to my inadequate devices. If it’s solely on me then I’m well and truly hooped. I don’t think I could last all that long if I had to write my own story. I’m barely functioning enough to write this post. Life? That’s a long story to write so maybe we could split up the chapters. I write a few lines then hand it over. Wouldn’t that be easier?

I seem to have so many questions and so few answers.

Ah, but what if the answer has yet to be written or dreamed up? What if there’s an answer, and I just can’t hear it over the scribbling on the etch-a-sketch? Damn aliens and their noisy toys! What if none of these questions matter and I’m just transcribing someone else’s dream? 

Oh dear, my brain is a silly little beaver.


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