The Constant



The Constant

At the assumed midpoint of my life, I became aware of a singular influencing force occupying my mind. I’ve named this my “Constant”. Well sure, a multitude of inherited traits and vivid memories have impact on every person’s life. However, having just one dominant mental partner with sway, be it a past happening, a person, or any other thing, is surely less common. In the classic movie Citizen Kane, the Constant for the mogul William Randolph Hearst character was revealed to be his entrenched childhood memory - a little red wagon. For that matter, we’ve all known someone who remains obsessed and deeply influenced throughout their lifetime by the memory of a departed parent.


But this narrative is just about me and the continuing effect of my Constant. It’s a sensitive and very private subject, which I request you take seriously and consider sympathetically. Simply stated, this phantasm is an always-there mind presence effecting all my beliefs, motivations, and actions… in a positive way. As the subject of this disclosure, I’ll take the playful liberty of temporarily withholding the exact nature of my Constant. It is something well known and likely to be guessed anyway before this narrative ends. As for the impact on my life:


I have been motivated to always live near my Constant. During periods of residence elsewhere, it remains always in mind and missed. I have paid visits whenever possible in anticipation of or following key events in my life. This Phantom appears hauntingly beautiful, though this can be in the form of tranquility or turmoil. It can have a glossy surface or appear angry, with darkness at the depths. We can communicate without words. Walk or run beside it and hear the sporadically changing sounds and scents released. My private Muse provides no expressed counsel but conveys the reality that my life is finite in contrast to its constancy. I have submerged myself at times and been thrilled by its embrace and frightened by the inherent dangers. The Constant has always been there for me:


As a teenage boy like many others, I fretted about becoming bigger and muscular enough to make the sports teams and be attractive to girls. I couldn’t talk about this with anyone, other than my Muse. Time will solve these problems, it silently messaged me.

My high school girlfriend became pregnant. I agonized about hurting her and my future. Our parents were distraught. A procedure was arranged, illegal at the time. The Constant declared: You deserve to feel terrible, but your two young lives will continue. This painful memory will fade.

Starting college, I discovered myself to be more diligent and smarter than many…but not all.  I was fortunate but not charmed. The wisdom imparted to me from my Familiar: Make maximum use of your abilities and opportunities. Leave the missteps behind.


I later served proudly in the Navy special forces, but macho pride was tempered by times of feeling afraid. I was directed to be bold but not stupid… and survive.


Law school followed, but would I make it through? My quiet Mentor urged that I meet the challenge by working harder than anyone else. Push past my limits.


My career as an attorney and entrepreneur had its ups and downs but was generally successful. The Constant’s advice was heard throughout and was always sound. At times, I ignored it to my detriment, deferring to the siren call of my ego.


Was the Constant a kind of mystical force – a quiet angel whispering to me? Well, maybe. Could it be no more than a fantasized apparition expressing my own conscience and common sense? I think not. It felt like something independent of me though functioning from within.


Your patience shouldn’t be further tested. An answer was promised. The presence I termed the “Constant” was, as you may have already discerned, no less than…the OCEAN! (Forgive the caps as a gross measure of emphasis). Yes, the whole unfathomable body of water was my lodestone; my mentor; my muse. I needed no other – ever.


I had recently ended a long-term relationship with a girlfriend. I hadn’t been ready for a full commitment. Losing her left me discomfited but not forlorn. I was alone but not lonely. Then along came Shawna.


Enjoying a morning coffee at my favorite haunt, I did a double take upon noticing a strikingly pretty blonde at the next table. She was engrossed in reading what I observed to be “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”, a favorite of mine from college days. “Excuse me”, I intruded, “didn’t know anyone still read Thomas Hardy.” She turned and after seeming to size me up, smiled enigmatically and said: “It's for my dissertation. I’m writing an adaptation of this novel.”


Her bright blue eyes shone not so much of curiosity or flirtation, as pure intelligence. Probably fifteen years or so my junior. She seemed open to a conversation, which then flowed comfortably. She was witty, fun, and to my relief, unattached. One of those rare finds in life that seemed too good to be true. I tried to not overreact but my senses were on major alert.


To condense my experience: A phone connection led to a date; then later a weekend together; which evolved into a serious relationship. She was a dream partner… fun, erotic, intellectually stimulating. I confided everything to her – good and bad. She was not judgmental. She seemed to me a Goddess sent to enhance my life.


Shawna has caused me to become the best I can be. All problems and victories I faced were shared. Her advice, whether expressed, gestured, or just intuited, became essential. I wanted her with me all the time. My life became so much richer with her within. Seeing her, hearing her, holding her, were incomparable experiences. She had become everything to me. I loved her.

Shawna had replaced and become my Constant…my Ocean.



John Baldwin


John Baldwin is an attorney and entrepreneur – now retired. His professional writing had necessarily been fact-based and sterile. Presently, it is satisfying for him to write imaginative fiction. He has been gratified to have had a number of his stories published and selected as story competition winners.

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