It’s hard for some people to understand that I work all day, every day, into the night, and around the clock, and even harder for them to grasp that no effort is involved, no, none at all, despite the truth that the work sometimes leaves me in a place far beyond exhaustion — a grave state, it might be called, a kind of sweet cemetery silence, where sound is amplified not by the ear, but that wise-rhythmic part of us some term the soul. And all of this for no money, the striving for which, I have long understood, is poverty in disguise. But the disguise is unconvincing, like a forty-nine-cent Halloween mask that smells like plastic inside, and makes your face sweat even on a crisp autumn night. And if it’s Friday, you can hear the announcer way across town at the high school football game, and there is one house you come to where the porch light is off, and you remember from last year that an old person lived there, and you wonder now if she’s dead, and a hush comes over you, something strange, oh, dear lord, didn’t your mother once say she used to be her teacher in first grade? And all of this comes pouring out of you, you a child, you an adult, you a counter of coins and assessor of people’s worth — that hand on your shoulder with only spirit attached — and now all the porch lights are off — and on, and off, and on, and the starlight becomes unbearably bright, just as someone you may never meet and never truly know scores a touchdown, thereby earning a late-night kiss from the girl of his dreams. Yes, it is like this for me, all day, every day, into the night, and so when someone foolishly and tragically tells his little toy soldier of a child that I don’t work, that I don’t earn money so it can be thoughtlessly repeated and not in the least understood, I pity him — I pity them all, and I love them too. For how could I have come to this realization if I had not also lived and moved about in that same kind of blind shadow? The spirit-hand came for me just a little sooner, that’s all. And when I shrugged it away, it came again, and again, and again, in the form of death, and love, death and love lost, love found, love not love and yet always love, in the juice of ripe grapes on the back of my tongue, in watching loved ones take their last breath, in being left in a strange land by the side of the road, not knowing the language — yes, there has been that too — and why do I tell you, who already know? I tell you because I am compelled to remind you that you never truly know a thing when it is still a secret you keep. Knowing is telling, and knowing also that it is alright to tell, that others need to hear that it is alright, that it goes to the heart of being free in this world, and that the extra point is not merely worth one or two, but an infinite number of untraveled worlds. The kiss — is that not what it is? — almost, not quite, endlessly more — the unfathomed depth of the meaning of yes?