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A Day Without Ideas

By Sergio Troncoso

Drawings by Jorge Enciso

I imagine that one morning I will wake up and have no ideas. One morning I will wake up and only see my wife slowly getting out of bed, just a few seconds before me. I will only see a tired woman rushing to make my son's lunch. Maybe I will also see her take a shower before she answers the calls of my other son, the baby. The little one sometimes sings in his crib, and one morning, maybe, I will only hear the sounds that woke me up. I will not hear him. I will not laugh at his attempt at melody. I will not see the brave woman who gets up to take care of him. I will not see anything at all but a tired world, a materialistic world, a quiet world, a non-world. My eyes will function, but I will not see much.

On this morning without ideas, I will take the four-year-old to school. Maybe I won't even talk to him, although he loves to tell stories as much as I do. In fact, I know he is a much better storyteller than I am. But on this particular morning, I will not hear his stories about Captain Morgan, the fearsome pirate. Once on the uptown subway to school, you see, we saw a poster for Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum. Every day we began telling Captain Morgan stories. One adventure would lead to another. After finding the treasure of the Lost Island, the poor captain would be blown off course by a storm. Then, every once in a while, Belzebub the evil octupus would run off with Morgan's treasure. I never mentioned the spiced rum to my son. But on this morning without ideas it will be as if I swigged the spiced rum, instead of just admiring the picture of the pirate. I will be catatonic almost, and I will not listen to my child and his great stories. Lumpaa, the friendly chocolate-munching monster? I will not know about him either.

On this day without ideas, I will probably not even call my wife just to hear her voice, even though I know she is busy at work. What would be the point of it? I know she took her Tamoxifen. I know she feels okay. Her hair has grown back, and is downy soft after the chemotherapy. Often when I call, there is really nothing important to say. We talk for a while. We talk about nice things. We tell each other we miss the other one. But it's rarely more than that. On this day I imagine, this day without ideas, I may not call at all unless I have something really important to say. I may even consider this call a waste of time.

So on this day, when it finally ends, after the children have taken their baths and they are falling asleep in their colorful room full of dinosaurs and lions and trains and puzzles and books, dozens and dozens of books, too many books, I will not sneak back in to hear them breathing. On this day, they are simply breathing. That is one of the things children do best. They breathe. Especially at night while they sleep. So on this day, as it turns into a dark night, my children will breathe, and I will not be sitting in the darkness hearing this wonderful sound like some nocturnal Buddha. It will simply be breathing, and I will not find it boring or exciting at all. It will simply be there, and I will not care. I will simply be there. On this day without ideas.


"A Day Without Ideas" originally appeared in T-Zero Xpandizine. Copyright 1999 by Sergio Troncoso.

Other essays: Latinos Find an America on the Border of Acceptance and Fresh Challah.