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.

20160321_191037.jpg

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.

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…

20160222_131959.jpg

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.

-/+

Yin/Yang, plus/minus, dark/light, or just an excuse to write two-hundred instead of one?

Call it what you will, but after writing the first of these, I thought this week may warrant a second effort, just so y’all didn’t think my writing was far too dark much too often.

Playing along with Tara’s 100 Word Challenge again, here is this week’s submission in response to the word prompt “Idea.”

20160205_173002.jpg

*1

The rum slugged forth from the bottle, much like suffering a urinary tract infection.
Growling in a similarly stunted sloppy fashion to no one, he cursed while watching some nectar splash helplessly past the glass’s rim, onto the perpetually crumb-filled countertop.

The idea of inspecting the bottle’s pour for possible logjams never occurred, as he relished a certain unforeseen satisfaction in failing even this simple task of drinking himself to death.

From the floor, his cat sat licking in solidarity errant drops that reached their snout. Much like their master’s, the measure was enough to numb, never enough to kill.

*2

His eyes poured over her while watching another “indie” film that would linger long after the TV dimmed, the subsequential lovemaking exhausted.

They’d avoided speaking of the idea of “love,” as both previously had been ravaged by the self-serving narcissists each entrusted theirs with. Ignoring tomorrows unguaranteed, they instead relished Todays spent together.

Gazing upon her now, he filled with joy previously unknown. A joy he wanted not just tonight, nor tomorrow, but lifetimes to come.

Her cat nestled atop them as the movie plugged along, almost hinting that here is where he too should stay. Here he’d find life anew. 100-word-challenge.jpg

Bart’s Amazing Disappearing Cloak*

12122682_10204080667091395_7291700527567614106_n

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.

(The) Wonderful Life

When we were first starting our journey another lifetime ago, we often compered ourselves to the Baileys, George and Mary. We were the ones who “stayed behind” to support the two aging families. We were the ones who had children to carry on in the same. We were the Baileys true and true, because though we had but 2 dollars to our name (yes, called papa dollar and momma dollar respectively), we were the ones that had each other and the dream…

jimmy_stewart_in_its_a_wonderful_life

It’s a Wonderful Life ends too soon you see, that’s it’s problem.

It ends just after George has his breakdown and subsequent salvation, but well before Mary has her very own mental destruction of a sort. A breakdown that couldn’t be fixed by any mere bell-ring wing hopeful; as Mary would never listen to opinions – heavenly though they may be – differing from her’s anyway. A breakdown that would eventually cause her to run off, indulging in “adventure” – replete with a newly purchased boot knife – all while pushing George from the house, from her life and from the life of his children. A breakdown that would eventually drive her to want to even kill George, if not in the flesh, then at least and more importantly in the spirit.

And George in fact, did die.

More completely than he ever realized was possible.

Not in the flesh, but at least and more importantly in the spirit.

He died very painfully, and for a very long time.

Just long enough in fact, to take root.

You see, in his death, an odd thing occurred. George became aware of something. In his death, George began to finally understand what that cross-hugging Israelite Lover of Life (the very One who took His own in celebration and protection of it) had so long ago said about not being able to truly live, until you had first tasted – and indeed drank of – the rusty cup of death. Not through his own wisdom alone surely, George was somehow able to recognize the fact that his death wasn’t so much a defeat as it was a victory – or at the very least an opportunity to achieve the victory that a long time ago he had willingly given up in order to obtain what he thought would be, if you’ll pardon the pun, the “wonderful life.”

The angels sent this time weren’t Mark Twainian flaming rum punch enthusiasts either. They were actual breathing, living, thinking, loving and bells-be-damned speaking people. OK, and possibly flaming rum punch enthusiasts as well. People who dispelled George’s self-hatred and loathing through speaking their truth of him to him. A truth he hadn’t heard for a very long time (15 + years to be exact), and a truth that through their persuasion he was finally willing to believe to be so.

A truth strong enough as to bring him back to life.

And with this belief, plus the tears that had watered and nourished him as he taken root, George was able to begin to grow again. Not even “again,” really, but rather, to grow anew.

Yes, that’s it – George began to grow anew.

It’s a Wonderful Life ends too soon you see, that’s it’s problem. Ending where it does, we don’t get to see the full story. I suppose that’s the case in almost every tale though. There will always be endings that are really just beginnings to even deeper, more meaningful tales. There will always be a moment in the story where we feel that “happy” is at a maximum, so we cut it there, afraid to carry on much further. And in so doing, we all – as C.S. Lewis once taught me while I was still a young Zuzu’s petal pocket-cramming naive father – sacrifice True Joy for mere happiness.

In the case of the Baileys and the tale we’ll never know, I pray that this George at least is never again satisfied enough with the latter, as to forego the purposed pursuit of the former. I pray that this George at least – and that all of you – are able to truly live, and enjoy moving forward towards, Wonderful Lives.

t

Lose This Skin.

Admittedly, Eustace was a prig.

But of all of the Narnia characters, he is my favorite. And not simply because he’s allowed me the opportunity to finally use the word “prig” in a post either.

No, of all the characters, Eustace is my favorite because he was transformed. And unlike Edmund, he did so without even the promise of a greater good to come in the process. There was no talk of a future crown or a greater glory for Eustace, but he saw the need, and transformed anyway.

He did so shortly after his old ways had turned him rather abruptly into a dragon.

Assuming you haven’t read the tale (and if not, you really should), Eustace found some dragon’s loot, and in stealing a piece, he in turn became a fire breather himself when he placed it upon his wrist. His new dragon arm was much thicker than the previous boyish version, and as a result the bewitched gold could not be removed. He was stuck. Forevermore to be cursed – and alone – with his new dragon persona. As so often happens in the Narnia tales, Aslan came along and – after a bit of earnest and deserved begging from Eustace – saved him by stripping all the dragon flesh from the boy. But only after first commanding the boy to do so himself several times instead (a task that the boy tries and ultimately fails at, in each and every instance).

eustace

Of all seven of the books in the Narnian Chronicles, this is the singular scene that spoke to me the most. So much so in fact, that several years ago I found myself beginning to pray that I too might have the good pleasure of having my scales removed. You see, I knew that who I was, wasn’t who I was. And I knew that there was something greater within – something more true, more inline with the creation that He envisioned when first He crafted me. Of course, much like the book, I imagined that there would be a moment of pain, a tear of the flesh causing a tear to the eye, and then I would be provided with great big (((Jesus hugs))) before bounding merrily upon my new and improved way.

None of that happened though.

What did happen was this. First I buried my father. And then my brother’s marriage. And then I heard that I would have to do the same with my marriage as well. And then the children, The Little Things, who were in our protection had to be removed from my care as a result. And then I lost daily contact with my own children, as they stayed with their mother while I moved out. And then (and this is no small matter to people who care) my cat died. And then, in early December, I found myself restructured rather abruptly (the 3rd, at 11:02 AM, to be precise) into the world of unemployment. And finally, that resulted in me losing my car, my family health insurance coverage and my financial security. Never mind any falsetto self-worth I had foolishly built up along the way based upon these superficial achievements.  And that is where I am now.

And it dawns on me… All the scales have been removed.

All the dragon flesh has been stripped from me. I am raw, in tears, naked and pink. I received what I prayed for, I just never realized the immensity of what it was that I wished. I am sore, and scared, and at times feeling (though I know it’s not true) terribly alone. And although there have oft been times when I simply felt the urge to go to Sleep, I am filled with the promise of a wholly new being emerging. One who will be loved by those who love without condition or expectation. Finally, and for the first time in 44 years, a “me” that is one of my own making instead of others begs to come forth. A “me” that will hopefully come closer to fulfilling the beauty of the creation that He envisioned when first He crafted me.

Who Am I?

I’ve no idea.

But just between you, me and all these discarded, hard shorn and useless scales, I simply can not wait to finally find out.

•••

This post was created in response to my Life as it stands, and to the prompt provided us by the beautiful people over at The Blogging Lounge.

Chances…

This post will most likely suck. I apologize in advance.

I’m sitting here in my favorite skirt, struggling. Not with the skirt of course, but with the subject matter for this week’s Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday.

You see, today we are to sing The Song Spiritual, but the last two years have left me feeling anything but. I have seen the death of family, the death of friends, the death of beliefs, the death of dreams, the death of love and the death of a life I had struggled to build for seventeen years.

And then again, there’s that damned skirt. Sitting right in front of me, wrapped securely round me. That one stupid piece of fabric that reminds me too, of a life new. Of new beginnings and discoveries. Of the chance to finally be the person that I was always supposed to be – the person I’ve always been too fear-filled to be.

What does all this have to do with spirituality? Nothing I suppose. And everything. It’s a topic I could literally spend hours on, as it’s the only one that I think matters at the end. All love, desire and need grows from it. And no matter the God or not that you attribute it to, it resides in all of us. It IS us, as we are it.

“So then what songs make the queue, t?” Again, I’m struggling. They all should. Music is the language of the angels – it’s how we speak to the Spirit. Whether we scream or coo, raise our fist or gently caress, music is how we converse with the Divine. As such, and just for today, I will dig very deep and I will try to show you my spirit in song. The spirit of who I thought I was, who I wanted to be…

The spirit of whom I struggle with being right now…

And the spirit of whom I hope I might someday still be.

•••

mixtape-jenkehl1-300x300

Again, I apologize for the high probability of this post sucking, and as I see that I’ve left you all in a slump of sorts, all mopey-eyed and possibly-despondent, I will provide you with this for your bonus track. It’s the me that sometimes exists, after I’ve walked my Pride & Joys back to their mother’s for the night, and I’m left to my own dancing devices, alone again with only that damned piece of fabric wrapped round my waist, and my personal conversation to be had with the Divine…