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Five Words at the Bottom of a Page

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

Seeing it for the first time is like watching a very old memory spark back to life, or a childhood dream brought to the big screen! Either way, it's daunting as hell, unsettling and invigorating, and just downright beyond belief.

I received the seven comps from my art director early morning. I had just finished my meditation by the pond. Everything seemed fine in my universe, the breeze not too warm or too cool, and if the world would just stand still in that moment I would want for nothing the rest of the day.

My phone buzzed with a Dropbox link. I took a deep breath and perused the seven possible artistic endeavors that might become the book cover of my life story. As I took in each image the emotions battled within me, eventually found their way from my gut to my chest and out through my mouth, as I heard my voice mutter into the morning air.

"What the hell is this?!?"

Where was my dream, my vision, my vague but permanent sense of imaginary perfection that for years I had been afraid to see too clearly, lest the actual fantasy become a burden too heavy to carry? Wasn't this supposed to be my Mona Lisa combined with some obscure Renoir, creating a piece of artwork so compelling, so otherworldly that readers and non-readers alike would be forced, even compelled beyond their own understanding to not only acquire my book, but also obsessively insist that everyone they knew buy it too?

The sound of the water in the pond slowly brought me back to my senses, the warm breeze cooled my newfound sweat running down my back. I put the phone down, took a few deep breaths and realized - no, I remembered: this is a book cover. It is a cover. For a book. Because a book needs a cover, and my book, like all other books, needed a cover. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I gave myself a few minutes to chuckle at my own process, and looked again at the text and images. The artifacts that I had so lovingly handed to the artist to create this coat of armor for my faded memories. The four special words that were so deep and personal and meaningful to me that they were the only possible choice for the title.

The sounds of the water and the pond filled me, calmed me, mixed with the warm breeze and the fluttering of the birds, the scampering of the chipmunks and the rustling of the leaves.

In the next second my serenity was replaced with a shock of emotion akin to flight or flight. My breathing quickened, the cold sweat returned and I gasped aloud when I saw it. Not at the top of the page, where these wondrous words had become the title of my book. Not the three beautiful, heart stopping images, so perfectly rendered, so simply placed as if in a glass case never to be disturbed. Slowly my eyes drifted down, and I saw in a font slightly tinted, like a sparkle in a child's eye, the words that so unexpectedly both stopped my heart and let my soul soar above the clouds.

A Memoir By

Kevin Barhydt

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