Things Robert Frost Failed to Mention of the Path Less Traveled

It’s an extremely lonely and isolative path.
There is no one to cheer you along the way.
The quiet is deafening; it has driven some people mad.

It is dangerous.
There is nothing that guarantees success or happiness.
Some on it have lost their way and still others have died.

It leads to four other paths that are even far less traveled.
You never know what’s around the next corner.
The outcome is always unclear or, at its best, grainy.

One of the four paths lead to a thousand foot cliff.
When the path begins to climb, you are at its mercy.
You never know if your next step will send you over the edge of the earth.

Another one leads to the bottom of a totally different cliff.
It jutts straight up in the air and appears to touch heaven.
By the time you reach it, it’s too late to turn back.

Another one leads to a vast and deserted wasteland.
The barren expanse of the Outback doesn’t hold a candle to it.
It’s a lifeless graveyard by day for as far as the eye can see.

Another one leads to the sea.
If you think sun and fun you should think again.
With jagged edges and deep drop-offs, Alcatraz is a kinder place.

As perilous as all this is, there is another side to things;
Once you like yourself, you earn your wings.
You can endure far more quiet than you ever thought;
A debt of gratitude is owed to those who ventured at any cost.
Some didn’t know if they would live or die;
They chose the first path and learned to fly.
They chose the second and scaled great heights;
They chose the third and learned the secrets of the night.
And they chose the fourth–the sailors, surfers, and seafarers;
All the difference was gained by those who dared to be darers.


© Gregory Masiello, 2017

Don’t be ‘That Guy’ as a Father (Flash Fiction)

(Photo Copyright of

The stench of disaster seeped into every crevice of the house. Vultures circled overhead, hoping to feast on life’s latest victim. 

“Guy,” Lisa shrilled

Guy ran down the stairs with the graceless clamor of a man running from bulls in Pamplona. “What’s wrong?” he panted when he arrived in the kitchen.

“All I wanted was a soothing cup of hot chocolate.”

Guy’s eyes bulged when he caught sight of the concoction of goo oozing out of the cup. “Oh no,” he blurted. “I was trying to help Chip be the cool kid in school.”

“What do you mean?”

“I rigged his science fair experiment so chocolate milk would flow out of his volcano.”

“Oh no,” Lisa’s jaw dropped.

“He must have brought the wrong container to school. There will be nothing but chocolate milk sitting at the bottom of his volcano.”

“It’s not the only thing around here that will be forever dormant,” Lisa said coldly. She flinched her eyebrows and calmly walked away. (164 Words)

Submitted as part of Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.

© Gregory Masiello, 2017

Monday’s Loaf: Narada Meets the Prodigal Son

(Photo: Dusk in Delaware)

Welcome to Monday’s Loaf of Bread. At the start of each week, I dish up a large dose of perspective and then spend the rest of the week serving things up in slices. I’ve added ‘Don’t be that guy’ to my weekly slices to go along with ‘She looked me and the eyes and said’ and ‘Alcohol and Philosophy Don’t Mix.’ If you get a chance to look at some of my flash fiction, ‘Perks of the Job’ has a surprise in store for you.

This week’s loaf is looking at two parables from two different religious traditions. The story of Narada from Hindu Scripture has a central role in my novel, The Return of Elijah. In contrast, The Prodigal Son is a parable Jesus tells in the New Testament. I see the two stories complementing and in complete accord with one another like Yin and Yang. The lessons from Narada’s story pick up where the lessons from the Prodigal Son leaves off.

In terms of the Hindu story, Narada walks with God one day and asks Him to reveal the meaning of life. In reply, God doesn’t say a word. It’s as if the Hindu sage’s request has fallen on deaf ears. A little while later, God asks Narada to get Him some water. The adventure soon ensues and the answer to Narada’s curiosity isn’t given in words but experience.

Narada loses himself in the search for water. He goes into town, knocks on the first door he comes to, and is thrown for a loop—in a good way—when a beautiful woman answers the door and steals his affection.

Come on, you gotta love the story. It’s our story, going through life with pie in the sky pondering and wondering until that one person, with some inexplicable chemistry, sets our heart fluttering. Typically it starts as puppy love but that one adolescent encounter charts our life on a course through romantic love and intimacy that lasts a lifetime. Even our tasks from God get’s lost in one form or other in the mayhem the follows.

Likewise, Narada gets swept off his feet and is drawn into the grand symphony of life. He falls in love and has a family with the woman. He is living the happily ever after dream until a storm rages one night and takes it all away from him. One by one, as he tries to escape the natural disaster, his wife and kids are taken from him. The storm leaves nothing but trauma and grief in its wake. Even Narada is swept away into a raging river and is knocked unconscious.

Eventually, Narada comes to his senses. He is on the river bank, ravaged and exhausted. Slowly the aftermath of all that was taken from him sinks in and he begins to confront the horror of the loss. There is a great sense of isolation until he hears a familiar voice. He turns around and there’s God. It’s then that Narada remembers the request for water God had asked of him. The sage fumbles fot words when God surprises him with an interesting question. “Now do you understand the meaning of life?”

The story sums up the grand escapade of life so beautifully and elegantly. We don’t find the meaning of life solely on an intellectual level. Our lives are to be lived and experienced fully in order to get the most out of what life has to offer. Moreover, it is in the face of catastrophic storms, figuratively and literally, where we discover the things that give our lives true meaning.

In contrast, the story of the Prodigal Son tells a different tale. The Prodigal Son is the heir to a very wealthy man. As a young man, he wants more to life than what his father’s estate has to offer. He asks his father to give him his fair share of his inheritance so he can live the kind of life he thinks will make it more meaningful. His father accedes to the young man’s request, dividing the estate and giving half to the young man.

Being young, impetuous, and stupid, the Prodigal Son sells off his share and squanders it all on ‘reckless living.’ The Bible doesn’t say exactly what he spent it on but we all can imagine the thrill, excitement, and highs that life has to offer too. Of course, it doesn’t end well. He loses everything due to his reckless ways and eventually lives with the swine.

Alone and isolated in the swine pen for a long time, the Prodigal Son eventually realizes that there is only one person who can help him regain his dignity: his father. Indeed, his father forgives him and welcomes him back to the estate where, much to the chagrin of his older brother, there is a great feast that welcomes him back.

One would be hard-pressed not to see God in the role of the Prodigal Son’s father. Moreover, just like in the story of Narada, God lets his children go into the world to make meaning of their lives any way they choose. We should take caution from the Prodigal Son that not everything that glitters is gold.

I’ve often wondered what life was like for the Prodigal Son after he returned home. Did he marry? Did he have kids? Did his brother put him down at every opportunity he could put him down? I’ve also perceived him to be a much more compassionate man, letting things roll off his shoulders more than getting embroiled with petty matters.

I realize these ramblings are all in the realm of conjecture. Still, Gestalt Theory teaches us that we will always try to piece together incomplete stories. This leads me to the precise reason for today’s loaf of bread.

The story of the Prodigal Son is incomplete because he returned home in the prime of his life and we still don’t know how it all eventually turned out for him. Likewise, the story of Narada is incomplete because we never hear about how he dealt with things in the realm of ‘reckless living.’ Only in putting the stories together do we get a full picture of both the grand escapade and the grand facade together in this grand epic we call life.

Choices that lead to true meaning or reckless ways are always in front of us.

I’m a trauma therapist by training and there is something in both of these stories that speaks to the lessons I learned from my clients. In terms of the Prodigal Son, people don’t seem to get caught up in petty matters once they endure significant hardship or trauma. That’s why I think he would have been a kinder man once he returned home. In terms of Narada, people find out what truly gives meaning to life when something threatens to take it all away from them. He clings to his wife and children during the fierce storm.
Personally, I’ve been on a journey of discovery since reading The Five Stages of the Soul by Harry Moody. I first heard of the story of Narada in the book. There is something inherently worthwhile in bringing two religious traditions in touch with one another without maligning or denigrating either in the process. I think the fact that two stories from two different traditions and foundations complement and complete one another is in itself significant and worthwhile.

Some people believe that Jesus journeyed to either India or Nepal as a young man before returning to Israel at the age of 30 to begin his ministry. It might explain why the Hindu and Buddhist traditions have so much in common with his teachings. It would also give us cause to find a way to get the most of what others traditions and perspectives have to offer. Who knows, maybe even Jesus heard of the story of Narada in his travels.

Most importantly, both these stories beckon us to look at our lives and answer one simple question; what things do we pursue to give meaning to our lives? 

© Gregory Masiello, 2017

Perks of the Job (Flash Fiction)

(Photo: Copyright A Mixed Bag, 2013)

Life as a cop had perks for my wildest imagination…

“I always wanted to do it in phone booth,” Charlene had whispered.

“I know just the place,” I replied.

Her legs strapped across my motorcycle, it was game-on until we arrived at the box.

“Are you crazy,” she screamed.

“It’s okay,” I asssured her. “We have an exhibition at the fair. The box on 7th Street is a demo.”

Her smile said it all. She rushed to the box and opened its doors.

I was surprised when the blue light on top flashed, but my leather jacket easily covered it. Besides, I knew there were no surveillance cameras in the demos.

Our romp dizzied me until we swung open the doors afterward. It was then I saw the sign for 8th Street overhead. My worst fears were confirmed when I realized the word ‘demo’ was nowhere on the box.

People on the force called me ‘Sweet Cheeks’ whenever our paths crossed in my next job at the coffee house.

(Submitted as part of Sunday Photo Fiction for August 13, 2017. The challenge is to write a piece of fiction under 200 words based on the photo prompt.)