You gather your armor, beaten, somehow heavier from the years of use, and you fight the demons once more.
You fight the demons and you rage against their walls. Storming fortresses in the hopes of destroying the dungeons they mean to place you in, the tiny dark holes wherein you’ll die and be left for forgotten.
As you lash out and against, you hear a Voice continually humming in the back of your brain like a semi-automatic tattoo gun, inking onto your mind the suggestion that you should just give up, just stop already, just go to sleep.
Just go to sleep.
A distraction at first, it coyly swallows every last demon warring against you till it becomes the entirety of your war. In an effort to dismantle dark forgotten holes, it begs you to enter one of your very own construct, but only once. Once, and forever and ever amen more.
You can say no, but in so doing, understand that the demons will reappear. The goddamned demons will reappear, stronger and angrier than before.
Say no anyway.
Make no mistake, this will be a continual war. The demons need not food nor rest nor restocking. The Voice itself prattles on, dolloping constant bloody stain that’ll continue to blacken even a weary mind retired for the night. The war will rage, in starts and stops, maybe even for the remainder of your life.
Say no anyway.
The war will rage on, in starts and stops, maybe yes, even for the remainder of your life. I know it has so in mine at least. And the armor continues to become heavier every time I pick it up, but still I do.
And it’s not because I’m any sort of hero, but rather, a coward. A coward too frightened to enter into that dark forgetting hole of my own construct, but only once. A coward too afraid to admit defeat. Even after defeat upon defeat upon defeat.
A coward who’s survived.
And in the case of this war at least, being so is just enough to be a victor. Today, tomorrow, and every day after. Possibly even til the day when the demons are vanquished and the Voice silenced once and for all. Forever and ever amen.
It can happen after all, you know
I don’t know why I’m sharing this, except that maybe I have heard recently of far too many who were not cowards, far too many lost to us too soon and far too forever as a result.
And maybe I think, someone who needs these words – someone who is getting ready themselves to make the mistake this time of saying yes once and forever – someone like that might find this scribbled thought and see, and in seeing, See.
I hope so. I hope I can do at least that in my what I would call a life. I know it’s helped me to realize that others have succeeded where I sometimes fear I will fail; to know that I’m not the only one fighting, that I’m not alone. To know that I am loved by other cowards who also continue to survive.
You too, are not alone.
You too, are loved.
If by no one else, then at least by me.
Come, please, gather your beaten armor, and beside me fight another day, OK?
As this week past was National Suicide Prevention week, but next week’s post is the one dealing with that topic, out of respect to all those who suffer daily, those who have lost someone else to it, and ultimately those who have lost themselves, I will jump 1972 back one week in order to give you the following.
We will be back on track after we expunge 1971 next week, but in all honesty and as C.S. Lewis said, “perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them.” Just as long as you do.
Gilbert O’Sullivan’s 1972 hit, Alone Again (Naturally). I hope you enjoy…
The time was only early evening in as so much as 3 PMish would normally be considered so. In fact, the gloom required had hardly even begun to rally in this North Carolinian late summer sky as our scene unfolds. How unlikely these sort of things happen, and as often as they do, rarely according to script.
Our focal character however fits the mood perfectly. Emotionally dashed, wrecked and torn, he slouches idle and grey-faced over the railing that sits atop the bridge that promises him passage over the murky water. Again, the water is not really helping matters in setting the scene, in that it is not so much murky and mired as it is gentle and serene. And the bridge even, poses no giant monolithic distance between our yet-to be determined hero and the deep, but rather a firm safety net perched rigidly a mere few dozen-to thirty feet or so above the shimmering blue.
And so, with such disaster and gloom and darkish prelude abound(less), our tale of something akin to self-deceit, defeat and unwelcome jagged visitors begins…
Wathca doin, dumbass?
How’d you find me here?
It’s my job. And my pleasure.
So, watcha doin’?
Just thinking, maybe I should call mom, I guess. And looking. Wishing…
Of course you are. Ain’t we all? Ya know what’s the difference between the successes and the failures though, right? The successes don’t waste time thinkin’. No sir, the successes stop wishin’, and just jump already.
Huh? What are you talking about? I don’t want to be a success…
Of course you do, idiot. You all do. It’s how you’re all built, see? It’s just a different sort of success that you want in particular, cause you’re the type that’s always gotta be difficult, is why. For some, it’s about the money, or the broads, or the power, or hell, even the fancy cars and the groveling herds of “friends” kissing their ever-loving ass. But for you though, well for you princess, it’s just about the Freedom, now ain’t it?
Little baby wants to be “free” he does, gotta call mommy to make things better, to get penned back up. “Why’s everyone always pickin’ on me and making me feel weird,” he sez. Mommy will lie and say something nice while she’s locking you back in the cage, but don’t ya get it? Nobody makes you feel nothin’. You ARE weird. You deserve being picked on. It’s the natural order of things, s’all. Hell, I sorta wanna kidney punch you myself right about now. You’re wrong, broken, useless. Ya see, God just makes screw-ups sometimes because maybe He’s drunk, or maybe because He wants to show normal good folk just how messed up He coulda made them if He’d wanted to. You know, so that they’ll have to start prayin’ harder to Him or something like that. “Oh, thank you mighty God, for not making me a screw up like this joker over here!” And you kid? Well you just happened to be one of the lucky short-straws in that line of divine fuckery.
That can’t be true. It’s a lie.
Really? You got any evidence in them empty pockets of yours to refute me with prissy? On accounta, I got some 19 + years of examples proving to you that I’m right! You’re worthless, plain n’ simple.
That’s a lie!
You’re a worthless piece of shit. Ain’t never gonna be good enough for no one or nothing. And even your best efforts ain’t never gonna come close to making people think otherwise ‘bout you. You know it’s true, and that’s why you’re here, “wishing.”
THAT’S A LIE!!!
C’mon now pally, don’t get all pissy with me. We’re just having a nice conversation, see? No need to get your loser panties all bunched over the simple n’ singular truth of the matter.
That can’t be the truth.
Well, it is.
It is – err – I mean, it isn’t.
Well, I don’t think so.
There you go again, you with your thinking. Guess what happened to The Thinker, kid; frozen in time he is. A stupid nudie, balls all hangin’ out n’ gawked at forever. You think you hate life n’ people finger-wagging you down now? Just you try puttin’ up with that forever more. Now think about that!
The Thinker is just a statue. It never was anything more.
Listen you, it’s all allegorical, dumbass. The point is this: the point is that the successes don’t stop moving, the successes just jump.
But I’m afraid.
No shit. But if you think about, you should be more afraid of the alternative.
Because! Because, you know, like I said before: you ain’t never gonna be good enough, no matter what you do.
But things will change. I’ll get married, I’ll have kids, and I’ll grow a family of my own. My tribe. I know it’ll happen.
Sure, sure it will. And they’ll all leave you.
No they won’t.
You asking or tellin’?
Why wouldn’t they? Hasn’t everyone before? People can’t be duped by love their whole lives, ya know. Sooner or later they’ll all wake up, see the real “you,” the real useless weird loser “you,” realize that they never really ever gave not even a singular fuck about you in tha first, and run hightail-like away – BAM! Running scared hell-fast, dust a-trailin’ from your slack dumb ass.
That’s not true.
Please don’t make me…
I fucking hate you.
I know, retard.
You see, kid, I am you.
See anyone else on this bridge with you, idiot?
But I don’t…
Yeah, yeah, I know, you “don’t understand…”
I don’t. I mean, it never even dawned on me that I was here alone.
Again, naturally. Yeah, see how stupid you are?
Actually, that sort of thing must mean that I have a pretty intense imagination, right? And that’s gotta mean I’m worth at least something.
No, it doesn’t. Ya see…
No, I do. I do see!
Listen, I agree with you. It sucks right now, real bad. And you’re right, it might suck again in the future. Hell, fine, it probably will. But that’s a future I think I want to see, to be part of, to know. I mean, it’s can’t suck all the time.
It can, and you’ll still be alone, laughed at, and shunned.
I might not. OK, fine, maybe I will. But I’m alone now, and none the worse for it, relatively speaking. And hey, who knows? I might be happier staying that way, instead of maybe being stuck with someone who’s constantly bringing me down but without ever lifting me up; someone who’d eventually leave me anyway like you said.
I guess maybe the freedom I’m hoping for will result from a life well-lived, instead of a life cut short.
You’re wrong, princess…
Well I won’t know unless I try.
The successes jump.
Not all of them, I’m thinking. In fact, not any of them jump. No, the successes are the ones who decide not to.
No, sorry. Not today.
Nah, I think I will go call my mom instead…
Thanks for the conversation though. It helped bring a lot to light, though I can’t say I hope to “see” you again anytime soon.
Oh, you will. Trust me you miserable little SOB, you will…
Our hero, still slouched as is his normal posture resulting from the deplorably heavy weight of the sack of self-loathing he’s been lugging about for 19 + years, slowly wipes away tears of both fear and joy as he turns to leave. While walking off the bridge in hopeful trepidation – a bridge which itself has steadfastly remained cheerfully devoid of fog, or any other sort of physical nuance that would have alerted the average passer-by as to the severity of our tale – the jagged visitor that was never truly there in the first slowly fades from view, smug in the knowledge that his final words were correct in that he will in fact return one day. This time armed to the teeth and in a clime and place much more hospitable towards his intent…
Sunday was one of those rare days when I found myself actually awake well before I needed to be, with more than enough time to get ready for church without rushing about.
Of course, and as these things go, I squandered every damned last extra minute, and found myself still bolting through the door yelping, “wait for me Jesus!” when I realized that I was already supposed to be where I was just now heading off to.
In fact, I was in such a rush that it wasn’t until I was seated, moistened by both a late summer sweat and just a hint of former Roman Catholic guilt – and exactly at the point in the mass wherein we pray for the recently deceased – that I realized something:
Someone wasn’t here today.
Someone who had been here – to my knowledge at any rate – just yesterday.
Not “here” as in the church itself, but “here” as in at all; as the day prior I had gotten word that Someone dear to me and dearer to others still had finally come upon their great reward. It was a Someone that I loved.
Someone that I loved.
And how odd it is that only in their death was I finally able to appreciate that feeling for what it was. Understand it for what it is. Acknowledge it to be true.
Someone I love and now miss is not here today. No, not ever more.
And, as these epiphanies tend to cluster ‘round a recently illuminated mind, it then also occurred to me in very short order that this sort of thing happens every single day, a million times over. Every single day there are others – many, many others – who simply are no longer here today. Gone. Dust. Legacy. No longer are they a curse nor a blessing . No more are they anything, but what they gave unto us, and what we gave unto them in return.
And as such I wondered, why can’t we be better?
Why can’t we stop hating, judging and fearing?
Why can’t we forgive, and mend, and build anew?
Why can’t we be, and let be?
Why can’t we – well, as one of the greatest rock songs of all time once said – be friends?
Why can’t we let go of the trash in our heads, and use that freed space for great thoughts, and inner peace, and outer love, and for the possible and final realization of the full potential of what those wonderful grey bumpy things bouncing about inside of our heads promise to be when We grow up?
Whenever the fuck we decide to finally grow up…
On a microcosmic level example I suppose, and in an effort to shed even more ever-present R.C. guilt, why can’t I – even though the pain caused by their transgressions was deep, overwhelming, intentional and still being doled out in sporadic venomous rations – forgive my ex-hole enough as to finally stop calling them that? And why can’t I take that forgiveness and apply it to the incorrectly (and sometimes justified) assigned failings of my own good self as well?
For fucks sake, I watched both my dad die miserably years ago, and the ex-hole choosing to live in a similar fashion today. How many examples does it take for me – for any of us, really – to finally learn The Lesson?
Someone I love and will now miss is not here today. No, not ever more. And I never even got to say goodbye. I never did so because in my daily blindness, I never once thought that the time was nigh.
And yeah, I did use the word “nigh” just now so that you’d think that I was some sort of educated writer, but in honesty, I would give up the impression desired if I was granted just one more kiss on Rae’s cheek before she bolted off to her Yahweh.
Honestly, I would.
Stumbling back into my office from a quick run to her funeral service today, I was met by a private note amongst friends that two of the very best I have ever been blessed with were themselves blessed just hours before with the birth of their long-awaited twins; twins that I will forever more now call only Luke and Leia, by the way – regardless of their parents chagrin.
In reading the note, especially on the heels of the service I had just attended – one wherein a life was celebrated instead of a death being cursed – I had one last epiphany and saw that Tomorrow was once again here. Another chance to learn, grow, share, enjoy, and maybe – just maybe – build upon the efforts of those who lived yesterday to become just a little bit better tomorrow. For, just as someone isn’t here today, there are two more who have just arrived. “And the ripples of the good will continue to spread in wider circles than the ripples of the selfish, for they travel across much deeper waters.”
Sounds good, right?
Someone I love and will now miss is not here today. I would like to be of a mind, and live in a world, where that is a celebration instead of a curse. A world where goodbyes are heard only through all the hellos also being made. A world to come, if We make it so. A world to come, if we decide to be friends.
They sat on the porch, quietly. He invested deep within his book, and she, equally so in hers. Not a word was spoken, nor a head even raised as I walked briskly by. They were each totally engrossed within their own little worlds alone, but together.
The porch they sat on was not nearly big enough for the two of them, let alone their large-format print books, nor the cat that apparently shared their life. So to make space, he at least scampered down onto the lawn just before I arrived, stalking about almost as if to imply that he too was looking for a book in order ignore the rest of the world with.
The scene got me to thinking randomly (don’t they all?) and what I got to thinking randomly about was this:
Have you ever been engrossed with a book?
One written expertly, with characters so alive that you could almost pinch them, and a story line so well crafted that you could swear it was divined, instead of merely written?
And then all of a sudden, smack dab deep within the goodness and glory of that book, the whole thing turns rather sour, with the Author making you read through page after page of utterly distasteful activities and scenarios.
You read on, because you know that surely the Author didn’t suddenly lose all their skill, talent and story-writing ability. You’re certain that the Author simply MUST be forcing you through this section – most usually occurring shortly after the chapter that follows the halfway mark – in order to teach you something critical about the characters in this tale.
You’re certain of it but still, with each page passed, you keep glimpsing forward anxiously, wondering when the chapter will end, hoping that the next will bring you back to the delightful yarn that you had been enjoying so much so up until this point. You’d even read a short stanza or two from the pages to follow, and you know that it’s soon enough to be true, just after you can slog through this one black sheep of a bastardly and evil, yet wholly required chapter, first.
That in a nutshell, it suddenly occurs to me friends, is where I find my life right about now. But just for exactly right about now. Having worked my way through most of the chapter I wish I could have skipped altogether, I can see the number of pages remaining continue to dwindle. And while that does cause me extreme joy, it also gnaws on me, similar to the clawing cat that knows with desperation that it’s losing its litter-encrusted grip upon you. I keep finding myself having to fight the urge to try to read faster, or skip whole pages, for I know that I can do neither anyway. I must wait patiently and read through to the very last word.
The next chapter is already looming bright, begging to greet me with open arms and sunshine. But it can not start in earnest until this one first ends.