Nothing.

Enjoying a few too many cocktails recently, I was describing the following post, which had only up until that point been scribbled somewhere inside my head. To my tipsy surprise, the friend with whom I was speaking told me that I definitely needed to publish these thoughts. Understanding they may very well have been equally as tipsy as I, still, now I have.

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Please don’t ever think that you have nothing. The only nothing you have, is the nothing you refuse to let go of, ignoring all the everythings around you in your ragged pursuit of it.

Let’s put it this way: imagine you’re a child at a party. Not just any party, but your birthday party. Your party, spent slouched in a chair sobbing, holding a deflated crippled balloon flaccidly in your lap. You tried to breathe new life into it, but every desperate effort was damned as the molecules of heaving air escaped through the unseen, unforeseen gash towards the opposite end. Weepily raising your head towards the sky you bellow at No One, lamenting the fact that this balloon – this very special singularly unique balloon – is no longer thriving, no longer yours to adore.

Your caterwauling never reaches its wail-volume potential however, being muffled instead by the tens of hundreds of bright balloons surrounding you – at this very moment bouncing off against your head, neck, back, and flanks. All of them full, vibrantly alive, and desiring of your attention. Bouncing joyfully in the hopes that in catching your tear-filled eye, they might persuade your entrenched frown right side ‘round.

These balloons not only absorb your mournful yelps, they also have the power to sooth your pain, muffling the hurt similar to the way they do the dirge. At the risk of taking the analogy too far, these balloons – these hundreds of balloons that are afloat especially for you on your special day – have the power to lift you up straight up out of your misery, up even out of yourself.

More often than not, this scenario I feel finds us choosing to ignore the hundreds of joyful choices around us, focusing instead our energies in attempting to resurrect the death that lies before us, this torn past unreturnable. If you’re like me in this, I’d remind you again to please not be that way. I have learned through my own wasted exertions that the nothing that once was will never again be. For even if it does come back ‘round, it will be something different than what is was before, something familiar yet new.

Truly, the nothing you think you’re trying to hold on to is already gone. It mightn’t have been your fault, but that isn’t the point. Let it go. Let it go so that you can grab on to the everythings that are right now at your door, beckoning to you, begging to lift you up as they too soar.

So please, don’t ever believe that you have nothing. For any nothing you do have, is simply the nothing that you alone choose to keep.

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The last unread letter I’ll ever write you

I’ve struggled with this one. Both in committing the words to paper, and in pondering whether to even publish them at all. I only decided on the latter recently because I will this Sunday be one year past signing papers that free-fall gave me back to myself, at a very heavy cost.

This note serves both as a capstone to my final stage of grief as well as a promise to those of you going down a similar road, that it does end. And you can in fact not only survive, but grow from the experience.

As always, I hope you enjoy…

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To date I’ve learned to let go of:

Your allegiance towards your tribe over me,
And my understanding of what family truly is.

Your manipulation of my life towards meeting your individual goals,
And my complicity in this to ensure your happiness.

Your disregard over my own goals while doing so,
And my disregard of same.

Your infidelity,
And my courting temptation also to fill the hole you left.

Your persistent denial of,
And my surrogate guilt over, your perfidy.

Your continued attempts manipulating me and the circumstances, well after you’d no more use for either,
And my sense of injustice over witnessing it.

Your deception in purging me from your family and our friends once you’d wrung me dry,
And my understanding of what allegiance truly is.

Your eventual success in doing just that, even with my very own children.
All in the same fashion, one at time, over the course of time. Taking your time. Much like a form of water torture wherein the victim loves the water more than oneself.

Your every effort in having me erase my own life,
And my willingness to do so.

Your total and complete denial over all of the above,
And your narcissistic lack of regard for me throughout.

You early on joked that we’d never divorce, as you would kill me first instead. I now realize just how serious your intent was on the latter part of this jest.

I didn’t die though.

I’m still here.

And since I am, the last thing I need to let go of, the very last item I will lose through this useless and hate-filled rape of my proffered love and trust, is my anger towards you.

As such, and whilst I’ll most likely need to remind myself manifold times over the next few months (years, decades, whatever), you are forgiven.

You are forgiven.

Find peace. Get well. Treat your next love like they matter. Treat your next love better.

Or don’t. Ultimately it’s your choice alone, for it is no longer any concern of mine.

I’m still here.

And here, me I’ve freed.

An Errant & Somewhat Ashen Thought

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Sitting at the red light one frigid early Ash Wednesday evening, my preoccupied between-jobs mind followed my drifted gaze.

I observed them as they exited the nearby church, in twos and threes, mothers and children both, freshly ashen-faced. (And just where are the fathers anyway? Do we ALL get tossed aside unneeded after our seed and wallets have been harvested?) While they trudged through the cold air determinedly to get back into their colder still cars, I noticed something.

Of these husbandless tribes, some of the children seemed typically miserable, exact-mirroring the look of the maternal unit they were trying diligently to distance themselves from, lagging behind. And then there were others who were atypically fully engaged with their mothers, animatedly eye-to-eye communicating while staying close, better to prove their “whatever their point is anyways,” as clearly and lovingly as possible.

It’s probably no surprise that I found myself jealous of this latter group, what with me being a recently reluctant member of the tossed aside dad club too. But I also noted envy towards the former group as well; similar to the way I imagine a legless man must feel about someone with a limp. “’Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all,’ is a statement clearly concocted by one who has never actually had to test the theory,” I clucked to myself in defiance to that particular cult of thought.

The light greened, and I drove off to career pt. 2 of 4, forgetting soon thereafter about the experience till just now. Life does move on after all, whether you be limbed, amputated, or merely limping along.

Bart’s Amazing Disappearing Cloak*

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Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside.

Bartimaeus was blind.

Raised in the Christian tradition, I had heard this story more often than even Mark must have told it. But it wasn’t until I was well past 40 something or another that I finally heard the words as they were originally said.

Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside.

Bartimaeus was BLIND.

As such, he had hopes few whatsoever in finding the damned thing again, should his take on this particular Jewish carpenter-turned public speaker prove to be wrong.

According to the new testament at any rate, we know that his gamble paid off. And maybe that’s where the story gets watered down for us. Winning always does look so easy in retrospect, doesn’t it?

Now my point here isn’t to address the dogmatic diatribes of who’s god-head is true, or who’s god-head is false, or even the idea that the whole lot of them might just be a case of communal wishful thinking. No, my point here is that Bartimaeus was blind. And he threw that blessed cloak away anyway.

Again, being raised in the Christian tradition, I am fairly certain that there are already camps forming for either side over a potential upcoming schism, as to whether he did so because he felt he no longer needed it, or because he felt that in a few short minutes he would be able to find it himself. Not the point here, kids. Why he did it doesn’t matter, that he did it, does.

You see, what he had was faith. True blue, potentially pie in the sky faith. In something, or in someone, or in his own good self doesn’t matter either. What matters is that he had it. Enough so that he could throw away the one thing that was guaranteed to protect him otherwise. The only thing that had proven itself to him up until that point.

And assuming that Mark wasn’t blowing total theological smoke, it carried him through to the end, this faith, making him presumably a happier guy who could now find his own cloak without any assistance, thankyouverymuch.

I don’t know why I heard it this way today, but I did.

The verse doesn’t expand on any back stories in regards to his possibly also having had a spouse who deceitfully broke all their promises to him, nor if he had had children who had also seemingly summarily dismissed him from their lives. It doesn’t even go into whether or not he was more than broken as a result of all these things.

In short, there was scant anything about him at all, sans a desperate plea for help and the fact that he and I both have cloaks – mine being woven much more with fear than fabric – that provided me with any sort of kinship with the man.

And still…

Still, I feel that as if this cat Bart could have faith – faith enough to literally toss aside the only protection a blind person of his day might have had against the elements – then I might also find this sort of power in me as well. I might also find the faith needed in some Thing, some One, hell, maybe even in some Me, someday as to be able to throw aside my personal cloak; carefully hand-woven over these past 40 something or another years. Maybe.

Bartimaeus was blind.

Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside any way.

Pray this cat someday has vision similar to do the same.

* Based on Mark 10:46 – 52.

My War

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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?

Love,

t

47 in 46: Alone Again (Naturally)

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…

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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…

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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?

I suppose.

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.

No?

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.

Why?

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’?

They won’t!

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.

It is.

They won’t.

They will.

They wouldn’t.

They WILL.

I can’t…

You can.

Please don’t make me…

Do IT.

I fucking hate you.

I know, retard.

You see, kid, I am you.

Wha?

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 won’t.

You will.

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.

Jump.

No, sorry. Not today.

Jump!

Nah, I think I will go call my mom instead…

JUMP!!!

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…

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47 in 46: Lola

The year was 1970, and what I still consider to be one of the most brilliantly written “shock rock” songs of all time – not to mention a shoo-in to the possible future soundtrack for the life of a certain youngish hero not yet realized – was released unto an unassuming public. 

My tale today is based upon this, a little ditty penned by members of the better Beatles, The Kinks.

I hope you enjoy…
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Mommy always looks pretty.

And sometimes, sometimes we have special dinners. Dress up dinners. Mommy makes something that tastes really good, but maybe is not so good-looking, cuz she turns down all the lights and makes us eat with candles on.

Daddy likes nights like this cuz he gets to get dressed up in his brown sports coat with big wide lapels, and his tie that’s even wider and looks like yucky mustard, and all his clothes look like they’re made of heavy plastic. Something-ester is what he calls it. He sez it’s the fabric of the future. It hurts me whenever I wear it. I don’t like it.

I hope he’s wrong about the future.

Mommy gets dressed up real pretty on these nights, these special dinner nights. She makes a big scene of it too. After setting the table and getting us boys all seated (daddy seats himself), mommy runs to the back of the house to get out of her kitchen clothes and to get on her pretty stuff. She even has pretty shoes and shiny things that clip on her ears. Just for the dinner, I swear!

Coming down the hall really slow, daddy whoop-oohs and ahhhs as mommy gets to the table. I’m hungry mommy, hurry up!  I think he maybe even pulls the chair out for her. Maybe, I can’t remember. I do know that daddy won’t let us eat until we all tell mommy how pretty she is. I’m hungry, but mommy is pretty anyways. Daddy gets too pushy sometimes like that.

Mommy was walking in the hall, and I could see her pretty shoes poke out from her dress, every time she put one forward. Her dress is really pretty, it’s so long it touches the floor, and it’s all white, except for the brown and black shapes that someone drew all over it, and mommy musta got it on sale, cuz there’s no sleeves on it, but it does have a tight collar around the neck. She calls it a mock turtle’s neck, but I don’t understand what that means. There is no turtle’s neck anywhere on her dress, I looked. Mommy’s dress is sorta tight, and I think it’s that something-ester thing again, but hers is soft and silky, very silky. I like it when I have mommy’s dress in my fingers. It feels good. Daddy sez the dress hugs her. I don’t know how a dress can do that without hurting after a while.

I touch mommy’s dress when she’s not looking sometimes. I go into her bedroom and just touch her things. They’re all soft. Not like daddies and mine. Not hard plastic. Mommy’s stuff is nice. And it fits her too. Us boys look like robots in boxes when we wear our ester-something stuff, but mommy always looks like, like, well, like water moving, like she floats.

Mommy always looks pretty.

I want to too. I want to look pretty. Daddy sez that boys can’t be pretty. Boys are just hanb-sum, he sez. I don’t wanna be hanb-sum, I wanna be pretty. I wanna wear the ester that doesn’t hurt. I wanna have people ooh and ahhh me too.

Daddy gets too pushy like that, so I sometimes sneak into mommy’s room when no one knows, so I can look pretty too. No one knows, so it think it’s OK, and I fold everything up real good and put it back when I’m done. But folding lady underwear is really hard, and I think I broke her stocking once, cuz my toenail made a big line in it. I even close the door so that no one can see.

I don’t think Jesus can look through doors.

At least I hope not, cuz daddy and mommy sez that that sort of thing is a sin. That boys are supposed to be boys, and girls are supposed to be girls, and we’re all supposed to make babies, but only after we get married forever and ever, and God don’t like anyone who gets that screwed up. People go to h-e-double-l for screwing things up, that’s what mommy and daddy’s church sez. That’s what school sez too. And school is run by nuns. Nuns are married to Jesus. They got rings to prove it and everything, so they must know what they’re talking about.

I don’t think Jesus marries very nice women.

Maybe that’s why He’s so upset and sending screw ups to h-e-double-l all the time. I don’t know. But I hope He can’t peek through the door, because I don’t want to be a screw up and go to h-e-double-l. I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want Him to hate me.  I didn’t do anything wrong, I swear Jesus. But I do wanna wear the good feeling something-ester. I wanna feel like water moving, and I don’t wanna look just hanb-sum, and I wanna feel special, and whoop-ooh’d and ahh’d, and look pretty…

Just like mommy always does.