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Archive for December, 2015

I came along at a bad time. Those old songs sing about being born under a bad sign. I didn’t used to think that way, like everything had been preset for me, just based on when I came along – but I’ve learned timing is everything.

I used to think I was the reason my parent’s split up. They were happy with my brother. I never did anything that bad I didn’t think, I couldn’t even spell my name back then, but again, the sign… it had set things in motion already. I rent this small room now. I work. I’m happy. People leave me alone. That’s all I ever wanted. When I’m alone I don’t get pecked.

I remember childhood, which is also a curse. I had friends. Not as many as some, and it took a stroke of luck and a little bit of effort, but the friends I had were good. The rest of it is a blur. But it comes to me in my dreams. Christmas was a good time. Some of them were magical. My birthdays were fun. But I grew up with a bully. My older brother set the pace. We played, and we fought sometimes. We would share toys and play video games, and we would start to get excited, or impatient, and we’d argue. I would yell and he would yell back. I would get mad and he would match it. But he wasn’t the bully. After an hour, or later that day my brother and I would go back to normal. We would return to equilibrium and find something else to play. My bully showed up one day and took over. When I fought with him he didn’t reset, he calmed down, but he remembered each time, and built off of it. I’ve forgotten nearly every time my brother and I fought, but I remember every time he and I did. He was a hundred times bigger than me it felt, so I wouldn’t call it a fight, but each time it felt like I had been in one. Even though I rarely had a mark to show for it I feel like I know what it’s like to be beat up. Not at school or somewhere else, but at home. People who have never fallen off a cliff still can know the feeling of falling to your death. I’m very familiar with the feeling of almost hitting the ground. It’s not the impact that kills you. That would be a release from the torment of falling. It’s that queasiness, over and over, that’s the real torture.

He would bother me. He would pick on me and tell on me to my mom. Sometimes I would be minding my own business in my room and he would come bother me. He was so big. And he could be so loud. There’s so many times where there was nothing I could do. Because sometimes I was already doing nothing. I know my mom knew, because she was there. But she didn’t do anything. Well, she showed up and kept things from going, what do people say… from going too far. As if the end point is the moment where things become bad, or dangerous, or hurtful. As if up until the final moment things are okay, they’re actually fine. “I stopped him”. Yeah, you stopped him from exploding onto me, but you didn’t stop the fuse from burning down so close it burned me. You didn’t stop the fuse from blowing sparks in my face whenever it got hot. You didn’t keep the fuse from getting shorter every time.

But I couldn’t stop you either.

I couldn’t stop you from growing short with me either. I couldn’t stop you from slowly putting him first, before me and my brother. I had to remind myself, it wasn’t me. It was my sign. It looms over me like a raven, rapping at the door to its tenant who slowly creeps into madness and can eventually do nothing but let it in. As a kid I couldn’t escape this raven.

There were times when I couldn’t sleep at night because of him. Sometimes because he would watch TV or make noise while I was trying to go to sleep, while I was supposed to be asleep. I couldn’t disturb him but he could disturb us. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep because my mind was so reeling over something that had happened that day, or the day before, or the week before. Or earlier. Most people complain about how hard it is for them to remember. That’s not my problem. I wish we could trade, and they could conjure up images of summer time, weekends, and holidays. Happy memories they think were the best times of their lives. I’d give anything to be able to forget them. There were times when I couldn’t have friends over because of him. Most of the time I didn’t want to have friends over. A lot of the time I didn’t want to be there myself. He would play tricks on me and get me in trouble. He said one time I was going to be a handful when I grew up. Not like when people say this new promotion or project at work is going to be a handful, but more like he knew I was going to be some sort of problem that they’re not going to know how to deal with, kind of handful. They told me it was okay because words are just words. But we all know that isn’t true. They told me words can’t hurt me, but what if your words are telling me you’re going to hurt me…

They said I had troubles. I didn’t have troubles. I was placed into troubles. Trouble was given to me like free samples in the food court. I stayed quiet, which meant I could hear what people said from a mile away. Walls are thin. Skin is even thinner. All things relative, having been born to another family, at another time, I would have been their prize and joy. A family who isn’t into sports but likes literature, a family who sits and plays with thoughts and ideas, one who likes to explore not just accept. I think about alternatives. I create stories in my mind and step from the path because sometimes the grass is much softer. It’s hard for me to fit into a box, and it took me a long time to figure out that I had to walk into that room, that room of boxes, and even though I could choose any one I wanted, I did have to choose one of them. There’s no box for me. The big wide box doesn’t fit me any better than the small square one. Whatever my walls are I will want to explore them. I want to see what’s on the other side, what they’re made of, how they’re made, and wonder if I can make them myself. If I can then I’ll make a better one. I’ll make it out of something else. I’ll make it in a shape I like, because the only box that fits me will be the one I make myself. I’ll leave a series of new boxes for the next kids to choose from. Some people need to do that. Some people fit perfectly into boxes, others make new ones.  The more popular the box, the better. I don’t need my box to be popular, I just need it to hold me.

My raven couldn’t understand my problem with boxes. I thought he just didn’t like kids, until I watched him bring another boy to our house. And just like the way he had shown up one day and taken over so did this kid. But we liked him. I let him have my bed sometimes. It seemed like the thing to do. Everyone liked him. So we went along with it all. We made our own jokes and laughed and played too. But he spent a lot of time with the new boy. They laughed and he invited him to come do all sorts of things with him. I didn’t understand why this other boy could bring out such a nice side of him. Why he didn’t always act angry towards him, or why when he messed up he didn’t yell at him, or get in his face, or push him around. They said he was family. Which was okay, because we liked him.

So then I thought, well maybe my raven and I, maybe we’re not family. And it made sense. He isn’t there when we do family things. My mom would take us places and he didn’t come. We’d spend the night or go away for our birthdays and he didn’t come. We’d see my grandparents, we’d go shopping, we’d go to plays or visit my greater family, or have yard sales, and he wouldn’t come. The best memories he wasn’t there for. I think that was fine, because no one was being mean to me then. It was easy to stay away from him when there was a lot of people. I could escape to my grandparent’s house. They loved to have everyone together to eat and spend time. Which usually was a good chance to get away. My raven didn’t spend time. When he wasn’t flying all he did was eat, and peck. He would show up to eat, soon before, and leave soon after. He had to get back to flying. He would come home and peck later, and it made me wonder, did he not come to the best memories or were the best memories because he wasn’t there?

My mom asked for this raven, I never did. It first flew into my house and perched, and now the whole house lives under its wing. My family, kids, old men, friends of the family, nobody was out of reach from his pecking. The shadows he made can be so dark. I had to wait for years to be able to find a light. I can’t take back the first part of my life, I can’t get over some of the things that happened, but finally I’ve been able to move on. It’s easy to sit on the words on the pages that are already written, and it’s harder to step onto that slippery clean page and write some new footing, but I’ve learned to do that. I’ve found my happiness. The final page was to break away. I had to escape it all, even my mom. That last time my raven had me in the corner, screeching and pecking at me was her last time she cast her vote for him and made me the lame duck. Since then it’s been easier. When you cut out a cancer you end up taking some good cells with it too. But it’s worth it if I’m going to live. I could say anything I wanted but there was always excuses. I didn’t get excuses, but then again, I wasn’t in charge. I wish I could have grown up to be so much bigger and taller than I did, but it isn’t in my genes. There’s that sign again. If I wasn’t so small I could have made the rules. I could have acted however I wanted and no one could have controlled me. I could have said “Hey kid, you better have some respect” and then I could have acted disrespectfully. I could have set rules for everyone else that didn’t apply to me. If I was big I would have had the physical power as well as the political power, and no one would be able to control me. I could vote against everyone else’s interests. I could horde funds in the treasury, and let the roads fall to disrepair while I buy new cars. I wouldn’t have to contribute. I wouldn’t have to act the way I’ve been taught if I was bigger. People would make excuses for me. I’ll never have that life because, well, I’m me. I was taught if I live right then I’ll go to heaven. Some other people say if I live right I’ll be reborn and come back to Earth as something better. Some people say we don’t know what happens. I wish I did know, because I hope next time around I can be born differently, at a better time.

I know it’s all not my fault. It’s because timing is everything.

 

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It rests upon my shoulder and holds tightly to my skin. 

Sets deep into my being quietly to let it in. 

It casts away the shadows growing stronger from the light. 

Abundance of enjoyment, taking darkness from my sight. 

It flies through sun and glory and offers it to be my own. 

It’s weight beyond existence light as feathers to the bone. 

It sings along to stanzas unknown to take a breath. 

It plays me like an instrument with reeds that know me best. 

It’s welcome on my arm with songs that illuminate my soul. 

Its feet are warm and radiant that turn me from the cold. 

My blue jay soars through summer breeze and nests along the stream. 

Its eggs in morning slumber rest at night to feed my dreams. 

It’s light as half a drop of rain with veins as strong as rock. 

Its pupils show me past events hung sweetly on the clock. 

Its back as soft as cotton holding colors blue as ice

and stands upon my body while it’s resting from its flight. 

My blue jay holds a miracle that’s bound to glow and spread

with loving mercy drenched in color strung across our thread. 

It feeds and breathes and grows its grip and sinks its kiss persistent.

It leads from its abundant heart displaying life’s incentive.

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2015 wrap-up

During the last seconds of December I was messaging my girlfriend.

I started this year at the strike of midnight with some good friends,

texting to Canada.

In February she was magically here

again.

We met in June.

She left in August.

She returned in February.

We got engaged in March.

Married in April.

Nothing has ever been so right.

This year has been the year of getting back to what’s real

and ironically nothing has been more like living in an epic dream.

I wanted to disconnect from all the giftwrap and think more about the meaning of things.

To focus on happiness in its different forms.

To think about what happiness is

and try to live in ways that best cultivate it.

This required some physical changes to my actions and surroundings.

It required more changes to my thoughts

which changed my actions and surroundings.

I tried to criticize and micromanage my daily habits

both physical and mental,

routine actions,

external stimuli,

television,

and my choices of what to watch,

print media,

and my choices of what to read,

social media,

and my choices of what to see.

There were also all sorts of other living interactions I wanted to qualify

in an attempt to break down fundamentally what introduces positive, joyful spirits into my world.

This showed me the things I do out of habit,

or even the things I do that I supposedly like,

because some actually cause me grief instead of contributing to happiness.

Which investments in my time

or energy

give me greater peace, and lead to happiness.

On what things do I spend my time

and energy

that actually take away from my happiness.

I wanted to think about the people in my life who have done so much.

I have so many people that contribute

by lending a shoulder

by being there with jokes

by giving me an outlet

by helping me lift

by giving me ideas

by showing me new things.

How do you compose a more positive future?

You make today a more positive now.

I started with Facebook.

My Facebook was going to be a happier, more positive place.

I would scroll down and see people’s pet’s birthdays,

children’s first days of school,

teacher’s summer vacations,

new cars,

marriages,

beach trips,

concerts,

and everything else true to life.

No opinionated memes.

No politics.

No rants.

Even causes I cared for I would set to rest.

This was not the place anymore.

I can support an organization by going to their website and reading their updates.

Their fight doesn’t have to be in my face each day.

I tried to create an experience of pleasantness.

Free of ignorance.

Free from images and posts about exclusion.

I don’t want to see fear.

I don’t want to see Obama.

I don’t want to see how Christian some people want to appear.

I want to skip over the hyper-awareness of forgettable moments in news.

Most of that isn’t news,

just negativity.

Hatefulness.

Things that aren’t going to change.

Things that should but aren’t.

Things that are but shouldn’t.

In doing this I found that most news is positive

because most of life is positive.

Out of a hundred negative posts

many of them I found can be rooted in just a few events.

But a hundred positive posts can come from a hundred different uplifting stories.

And that’s life.

People telling their stories

are different than all the people sharing, distorting, and adding bias while telling the stories of someone else.

I don’t need that.

I didn’t want to live the next 30 years letting someone else point my telescope.

Some might say I’m less informed,

but less informed about what exactly

is the question.

I cleaned Facebook of pages.

Companies.

Artists.

Musicians.

Causes.

I’m down to 100 or so.

I un-liked about 500.

My friends list was slaughtered.

I changed it from a collection of people who I met a few times,

took a class with,

had a drink with,

went to a cookout with,

friends of friends,

people I used to know,

people I used to work with,

and people who I never see anymore.

Out of all these perfectly fine and good people,

so many of them lived and stayed in chapter 16,

chapter 25,

or chapter 30.

I’m on chapter 36.

Anyone who has a connection is welcome to stay walking these pages with me.

I didn’t do a disservice to anyone who might miss me.

I didn’t hurt any feelings.

Just cleaned out the cobwebs.

I would call my friends more,

text my people more,

and see my family more.

I wouldn’t limit how much time I spend on Facebook

but the more I got back to what’s real

the less interest I had in anything related to it.

Even as it became a refreshing,

more positive experience,

it was becoming increasingly thin.

Increasingly superficial.

Increasingly unnecessary.

My friends and family know what’s going on with me.

Anyone who cares can know.

But not everyone cares,

so everyone doesn’t need to know.

My personal glories

don’t need to be public.

My thoughts are more meant for conversations,

not Facebook posts.

Robert Pirsig said “You’re not a fan about something you know.”

If I’m rooted in my good feelings,

I don’t have to be a fanatic about them.

You don’t run around shouting the sky is blue,

and I don’t need to publicize an image of how I want people to think of me.

I would feel happier.

I already did.

I felt healthier.

More able to sort out the garbage made by someone else’s points of view.

More able to sort of the things I put in my body,

which includes my mind.

Poison can come into the body and change your health.

It can enter through the mouth, ears or eyes

and change everything.

So all these portals would be clean,

not convoluted.

I slowed down.

I gave my microwave to my friend because theirs broke.

I liked to cook

but the microwave kept me from it.

It wasn’t healthy.

It reduced the quality of the food I ate.

It reduced the nutrition in the food I cooked in it.

I increased the value of what I made for myself.

Isn’t that its own reward?

I came home and took a deep breath everyday.

I went to work and enjoyed the now.

I woke up thinking about all the things I would do before I went back to bed.

I sold things.

I threw things away.

I gave things away.

Now what I have has more meaning.

Now that I have less

I also buy less.

I see wastes of money all around me.

I see things I don’t need to spend my time worried about.

I see things I don’t need to spend my time wanting.

I see people’s lives who I don’t care to envy.

I don’t know anyone I would rather be than me.

I still have bills.

I’m still building.

I’m still working on being better,

doing things better,

and living better.

Hopefully I’ll always be working on these things.

I’m still fixing situations from the past.

I’m still slowly ameliorating errors in my ways.

Hopefully I won’t always be doing that.

But for now, I have moments where I feel each month that goes by

I am in a better place,

a happier place,

and more advanced place,

than I had been.

Life never gets fixed I don’t think.

I don’t think it ever gets tied up with a bow, stamped and labeled perfect.

But each consecutive time I check-in with myself

and see that things are better,

and each time in a row that I feel like I’m in a happier way of life,

I feel accomplished.

I feel more productive steering towards the sun than I do by painting the boat.

I wanted to cut out some of the distractions and handle what I think is the real business.

What’s important.

What’s real.

In Howard’s End Forster says “It isn’t size that counts so much as the way things are arranged”

and more than ever I like how I have things arranged.

I share more because I have more to share.

I used to spend more money on people,

now I spend better time with them.

I see a lot of people less,

but I see them better.

I know a lot less people,

but per capita I know a lot better people.

I do less things,

but I do more meaningful things.

I have more patience for the time it takes to sail this craft

and less patience for the things that weigh down the sails.

Everyday is maintenance,

because it’s not easy.

I’ve been on a diet from the junk food of society.

The desires that cause suffering.

The superficialities.

The advertising of happiness that might just degrade it at the same time.

If I’m truly happy right now

why has it become that I need to be telling somebody?

I text someone a funny story

or photo

instead of putting it in a bottle and floating it out into the sea of Facebook.

Life is simple.

It is only ourselves who make it complicated.

I like simple people.

I’m attracted to positivity,

because it feeds the soul.

A drop of it falls into the water and spreads to the edges.

Likewise I’m more sensitive than ever to negativity,

to what brings you down,

what brings me down,

what brings another person down.

I’d rather build.

It’s hard to shed a little light on all the different things I’ve done,

all the little ways I’ve readjusted in this pursuit of happiness,

because it’s everything.

This year has undoubtedly been one of the happiest of my life.

It had down’s that make the up’s feel even higher.

I’m thankful for those.

It had quiet moments, still moments that make the rest seem like a rollercoaster.

It had loneliness that makes my companionship that much more enjoyable.

It had fears.

Real fears, not the ones you see on TV.

Not exaggerated claims that exist to serve someone else’s purpose.

Not fears you have to convince me to be afraid of.

It was also saturated with happiness

like water pouring out of a sponge,

that doesn’t fill every space

but does make it appear as if the entire things is soaked.

And for this I’m grateful,

because it isn’t a passive process.

It’s something a person conceives,

builds,

and maintains.

So personally

you become proud of it.

It’s easy to make a mess.

It’s harder to clean it up.

And even though some stains might be there if you look closely,

you’re happy for the reminders of the progress you’ve made.

I’ve found that some people aren’t comfortable with speaking positively.

It is such a shift in gears from the comfort of complaining

that it feels unnatural to some people, I think.

I like to share gratitude.

And if those around you can’t understand it

then change your environment.

Some people don’t like to see happiness.

Some don’t like to acknowledge your happiness,

or can’t relate to embracing happiness.

So leave them as they are.

You can’t save everybody.

You can’t save anybody who isn’t ready.

You can’t make people be ready.

Just live your life.

You don’t live in the triumphs of other people, enjoying their spoils,

so you don’t have to live in their unhappiness, sustaining their negativity.

This year I have more

and I also have less,

but because the right things are in the right places

happiness is achieved.

Not fairy tale happiness,

that’s an imaginative novelty.

Real happiness is balance.

The glass is half full of good things

and the space above it is full of appreciation for what’s not.

The people, places and things in my circle are welcome.

Everything else has a small distance.

They still exist,

and require addressing sometimes,

but they’re away from my target.

They’re removed from the center of my life,

and the emotions that drive me are guarded from them.

They’re knowledge, not life.

They don’t help anything,

so they don’t belong.

What sounds like naivety

is actually more like clarity.

I feels like things are more real than they’ve ever been,

made of wood, not plastic.

Full of actions, not words.

Surrounded in love, not hate.

I have no time for hate.

I cut out a lot of hateful things

that appeared normal on the surface.

I embrace a lot of positive things,

that appear benign on the outside.

Those are for me to sort for myself.

Find your own equation.

Do your own math.

It’s not universal.

It’s personal.

Finding your right formula helps the world

because you started with yourself.

I didn’t want to be another virus

spreading conflict or sickness invisibly to those around me.

Inspiring silent thoughts that will lead to widowed actions later.

A lot of people reap discontent in their life.

I see how they even seek out the things that bother their happiness,

or disrupt their peace.

If I wanted to be happier than I was, I had to try to look more clearly

and live more cleanly.

None of this is meant to put another person down.

Like when people share pictures of their weight loss

isn’t to boast but to inspire.

To help.

None of this has anything to do with becoming perfect,

it’s silly how one feels they might have to say that,

but the path to happiness is important to every person.

If we’re not individually seeking a happier life,

how will we collectively have a brighter future.

This year life changed in ways that I hope will never be undone.

Not perfect,

but happier.

I plan to make next year another round,

not trying for more,

but more of the same.

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MPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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The Divine Comedy

Comedy. Laughing… is something incredible to the human experience. Kids grow up wanting to be comedians and study their idols, learning about the art and the science of making people laugh. The wondrous part about the experience of the audience is that the moment of laughter is perceived as something inexplicable, unpredicted and almost magical in its conception. The direct relationship between the person acting and the person laughing is ostensibly that of a donor and recipient, much in the way a child believes their Christmas present was actually from Santa Claus. The audience member doesn’t see it coming and believes they were less a result of study, learning and practice than a blessed recipient of a random, unprecedented moment of hilarity. The comedian laces sentences and surprises in traditional patterns disguised to look like completely original conceptions. They’ll provide this gift over and over, venue after venue, sewing the same magic over audiences. Something that appears entirely original under the guise of an impromptu interaction with the audience but actually an art of mastery and commitment. Truly amazing and as close to magical as anything else we know.

Audience watching a show in a small theatre

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