Depression and Iron: A Love Story

February 28, 2010
Many years ago I picked up a barbell for the first time after watching my brothers do the same. It only weighed between 10 and 20 lbs, but this one instance would lead to many more for years to come and carry me through hardships I could have never anticipated.In my previous writings I have briefly mentioned how I used weightlifting to deal with personal problems and issues that I was facing. This writing will be completely about that, giving this subject the attention it deserves.

I was around the age of thirteen when I began utilizing weights. At this time in my life, I was just wanting to get stronger, any other effect of weightlifting was no acknowledgment of mine. I was by no means devoted, in fact there were many lapses where I didn’t lift weights or even workout at all. This inconsistancy continued for some three years.

By the time I was in high school, I found myself at odds with who I was, what I was doing in life. There were a wide array of issues I was facing, things I was going through and all these things I was going through inside myself were reflected onto my external self.

Everything from insecurity, loneliness, being judged and misunderstood, having no idea about my identity as an individual and battling memories that seemed to be coming from my past to haunt me in the present all forced me down a dark road smothered in depression and anger. Anger that I bottled up inside along with everything else and I became more introverted than I had ever been in my life. I found myself covered in a fog of silence that I would carry with me for years and that I still carry with me now.

All of this stuff was sealed up inside of me and the only way I vented was through words, something I learned way back in grade school, something that became heavily important to me in high school. But words are not enough, there must also be action. The mind needs to vent, but so does the body.

I was never involved in sports during high school, I had absolutely no interest in competition. And when high school was coming to a close and with seemingly no where else to turn, I started picking up that barbell again. This time around it was different though, it became more than just something to do. It had meaning, it had purpose, it had more than some physical reaction, it now also carried a psychological one.

Suddently I found myself enthralled in weightlifting. This wasn’t about bodybuilding, it wasn’t really about looks at all, though I did put on an impressive amount of muscle mass in a very short period, as do many beginners. Sure I loved the way I looked, but even more I loved the way it felt. By this time, it was already about four years after the first time I was suicidal.

Somewhere around 2005 and 2006 I found myself once again in a dark place with suicidal thoughts and even ended up in a psyche ward. After getting out, words and “iron” were the tools I put at my disposal. Anyone who knows what it’s like to battle depression knows how hard it is to stay active, to pull yourself up out of bed and fight your way through the day and all those emotions.

I got myself into a routine of working out almost every night of the week. I didn’t know anything about weightlifting and honestly I didn’t care about form or giving my body ample time to recover. I didn’t care about diet and what foods I should have been eating. All I cared about was how it made me feel. I found myself in an addiction and at that time, an unhealthy one.

I would stay up late, sometimes around midnight and I would weightlift and do a small amout of calisthenics for three and at times four hours, not ending until the early morning hours. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, but I didn’t care about sleep, I only cared about feeling pain. The chemical reaction from weightlifting or any exercise where your muscles are contracted to the point where lactic acid builds up was what I wanted. The pain was my fix and I fell in love with it. It made me feel alive, it was my release, like people who cut themselves.

This behaviour continued for about a year, during which time I developed a hernia. At this point I came to understand what it meant to go through withdraw. I found myself without my release, without a way to vent my frustrations and my anger because I had surgery to repair the hernia and I couldn’t work out for several weeks. This was hard to deal with, but I had no choice. I had to find a way to deal with my frustrations and anger in a way that didn’t involve causing myself pain. I had to learn how to forget and how to let go without hurting myself in the process.

During this ordeal of recovery I fell in love with meditation. Something immensely different than what I had found release in before, but something that equally changed me internally and in some ways externally.

Once I was well enough to return to lifting weights, I knew that I had to take a new approach. I had to do this the right way. During these years of my life, I was also on medications most of the time, trying to find one that would actually help me without serious side-effects. These drugs can change the way you feel and even the way you think. I wasn’t the best person with staying consistant, many times I would just stop taking them, which is dangerous to do because of how potent these drugs are.

One day in 2006 I branded my arm for numerous reasons. Obviously, I was still in a dark place and was still seeking release, but I branded a cross on my right forearm to remind myself where I came from, how far I had come, to remember all the things that I had been through up to that point. A constant reminder of my pain, not that I needed one. I wanted the future me to have something to look at and be reminded that my pain was more than just something in my head, it had physical consequences.

Six months later I had an artist tattoo another cross around the brand. This tattoo was in memory of someone killed in a car accident, but it was also at the time a symbol of how I found freedom through faith. Ironically, a faith that I would later walk away from.

2006 to 2008 was spent in cycles with weightlifting. At times I would be motivated and then lose motivation. Sometimes I would care about gaining muscle mass or to just be stronger and then other times I would care more about just being healthy. I no longer needed the pain of weightlifting to feel alive, so in many ways I no longer needed weightlifting in my life. There were many instances where I would only do calisthenics and do cardio like running. Running for me was often a way to get rid of the negativity I felt, making weights something I no longer needed. Eventually I started developing shin splints and I haven’t really gotten back into a running routine since.

Sometime in 2008 I fell back in love with iron. I began to like the physical results of my hard work and determination. I set myself up with a routine so that I could stay consistant. I sought knowledge so that I could do it the right way and avoid injury. I devoted my time and energy to it, setting aside time on certain nights and refusing to do anything else unless I worked out. I knew that my mind was in a better place and I wanted to make sure that my body was too. For me, being healthy involves the mind, body and soul. Each part needs to be taken care of appropriately.

In many ways I am back to being addicted to the iron again, but this time around I think it is a healthy addiction. It’s important for me to find an outlet for the daily frustrations of life, a positive way to get rid of life’s negativity. Depression isn’t curable, it’s only treatable. It bothers me daily and I need a way to fight back daily. Lifting weights helps me to keep going, it has taught me things about myself and it continues to teach me. I haven’t needed to be on medication since sometime in 2008. I challenge myself each night I weightlift, I challenge my limits and my willingness to achieve a goal.

It’s never easy and there have been a couple times where I didn’t feel like picking up the iron. I had to think about how I feel when I don’t do it, when I feel like crap about myself and then think about how I feel after a good workout which makes me feel good about myself cause I accomplished something. At that point there is no question that I have to push myself and do it no matter how tired I feel.

People who don’t weightlift, who aren’t into bodybuilding or strength training don’t comprehend just how complicated and deep all of this stuff is. It’s not all about physical results, we endure psychological change as well, even if we don’t intend to. In my opinion, it would do everyone some good to do a little strength training. A small amount added to any workout is beneficial when done the right way.

I have fallen in love with iron because it helps me deal with my depression. Without this outlet I would still be wandering blindly through the darkness. Psychologically this is a life and death issue in my opinion, doing nothing can lead me to a bad sate of mind. There are many things that have helped me along the way, from friends to writing, but weightlifting is definitely something that needs to be counted on that list. Exercise is such an important factor in battling depression.

Whatever your fight, I hope you find a way to battle it and I hope you never give up.

The Audacity of Individuality

March 21, 2010
Ever feel pressure to conform to the standards of a social group in which you are forced to be a member?

Well, I have and in multiple social groups. This writing is only about one of them, this is my middle finger to the gay world.

Two years ago I made the choice to embrace feelings I had towards other guys. The world has come to call these homosexual feelings. Little did I know that when I opened up about these feelings, I was putting labels all over myself that identified me as all kinds of shit.

Suddenly everything about me had to change, I was no longer a straight guy and therefore I had to put that stuff behind me, so I felt in order to be accepted by the gay world. I felt pressure to alter the way I dress, alter the way I presented myself, change my interests and the things I considered enjoyable, change the people I talked to, accept and embrace new ways of doing things, accept and embrace all the things that the world has come to recognize as homosexual, because since I admitted to having male-to-male feelings, I was now a homosexual and needed to act the part.

At first, I willingly accepted some of these new principles, assumed that it came with the territory. Like any other reasonable human being, I wanted to be accepted and welcomed into a social group in which I had expected to be a member of from there on out. I picked up new things, habits and traits, views and opinions. In essence, a new identity.

I have always been a stubborn person, hot-headed and head-strong on how I felt about things. Rub me the wrong way and you will know about it. It didn’t take me very long to realize that at least half of me was not willing to mold to the ideals of the gay world and so began a self-initiated conflict, partly with myself and partly with the gay world.

Who knew that embracing your feelings could lead to embodying the ideals of people you do not agree with. I was raised a certain way and this way does not fit neatly into the gay world. Saying that I am capable of finding other men attractive, saying that I have the desire to be in a partnership with another dude, had consequences that I was not capable of foreseeing.

The assumptions and the labels thrown at me by the outside world (people outside the LGBT) can be devastating, irritating, enraging, disgusting and ignorant. Sometimes the assumptions and labels thrown upon you by the LGBT can be just as pathetic in my opinion. Living in the median, between the gay world and the non-gay world, I get shit from both sides. I’m neither gay enough and nor am I straight enough to live in/be accepted by either world.

And many times, what can piss me off just as much, is when someone patronizes me about the whole thing or even suggests that they understand how I feel, and then turn-around and partake in the opposite of what they say. As if pretending to be something you’re not is somehow gonna make me like you. This has happened in the gay world far too often, as if I say these things about myself for flair or for intrigue, something I wear to draw in attention. This conflict is real, never pretend to understand that to gain my favor. In short, don’t tell me you are one thing and then act otherwise.

How the gay world sees itself and how the straight world views the gay world can often times be an immensely different picture. If anything, I have learned that in my time on the fence. It would seem in my eyes that if both sides would just listen to each other’s views and opinions, they would quickly learn that misunderstanding and lack of knowledge is the massive divide that prevents a bridge of tolerance. No one needs to give-up their values and opinions, no one needs to be best friends or embrace each other, platonic love is a fake love, I only ask for tolerance, nowhere in that word’s definition does it call for anything more than the peaceful acceptance of the others existence.

I observe like few others. It’s how I learn things. So let’s talk about the darkness that I have found in the gay world, a world full of materialism, judgement, drugs, sex, back-biting, self-indulgence, shallowness, secrecy, lies, pedophilia, attention lust and the emotional and psychological issues that abound.

It is absolutely no wonder to me, how so many straight people, especially those in certain Christian groups view homosexuality in a negative light. There’s plenty of negativity in the gay world to go around. It can be a pretty sick and vile world, a disgusting way of life, a chosen deprivation. Because the gay world is so open about itself, acceptant of it’s sexual nature, it attracts the roaches of this world, it offers them a safe haven full of the things they hunger for. Like roaches to a dumpster, the gay world lures in the sickest, creepiest, most disgusting people I have ever laid witness to. And the worst thing of all is that no one in the gay world says anything, no one keeps these people at bay or in check, they just go seemingly unnoticed, permitted to exist. Tolerance and equality are one thing, but there is no excuse for the activities of these people/animals.

It is this part, the dark part of the gay world that degrades all of us. It is this view, this assumption that the gay world is full of only these types people. That we all practice these activities, that we all engage and embrace the dark things I have mentioned above. The gay world knows it isn’t true, I know it isn’t true, but if no one talks about it, if no one fights against it, then nothing will ever change. The gay world is so convoluted in it’s principle of being all-acceptant that it’s killing itself from the inside out.

The morals and ethics of the gay world are in question. I stand here and say, they should be in question. There is absolutely no confusion in my mind as to why the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is so quickly thrown at the gay world. There is a lack of integrity, a lack of self-control, a lack of dignity, a lack of self-respect, a lack of a lot of things.

If it were up to me, the gay world would be a lot more like the straight world. Which, yeah I know isn’t all that great itself with its porn addiction, drugs, pig-headed sexist views, etc; but I think it’s a little better than the gay world. I could be stabbed with a drag’s stiletto for saying this, but I think the gay world needs a little more Conservatism.

It is for these ideals and opinions that I feel shunned by the gay world. I can’t blame them and I’m honestly not complaining because in many ways I’d rather not be associated with it. It doesn’t entirely represent me or my thoughts, actions and words. I’m tired of pretending to be someone that I’m not, tired of feeling like I have to change myself to attain the favor of other people. I’m different and that’s just me, I am an individual with my own beliefs and opinions and there’s no reason to give that up and become spineless.

It would seem that in this day and age, so much of our individuality is lost.


 

 

This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

A Little Something on Self-Acceptance

December 8, 2009

I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that I love who I am and what I am as a person, as a human being and as a man. And while I say that I accept me for me, I also realize that I don’t entirely know who I am. However, having the will to accept myself, also means that I accept who I am today and that I am open to and capable of accepting who I will be tomorrow. I am on a life long journey of self discovery, meaning I constantly discover new things about myself. With these new discoveries comes a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I am more than a face and more than a name.

I may discover things about myself that I didn’t anticipate or expect to find, but that doesn’t mean I hate myself or can’t accept who I am. My turmoil stems from not yet knowing what I am, not yet knowing to which gender my heart is available to. Without that knowledge I am condemned to the fear of breaking the hearts of those who are willing to love me, man and woman alike.

There was a time in my youth where I absolutely hated who I was. Sections of my life’s timeline where I was not willing to accept myself and fought against the nature of my own being to please the people around me and to please my own vision of what type of man I was supposed to be and wanted to be.

Those sections of my life were filled with nights where I would cry until I fell asleep because I never felt like I was good enough for other people. By their images and standards, I felt as though I fell short. That I was never good enough for them. And so I came to believe that I was also not good enough for myself. So I created a mask and a persona to suit the needs of other people.

That mindset existed within me until the time I graduated from high school, when finally I felt accepted for who I was and not for who other people wanted me to be. It was a collective moment of clarity, a release from the chains that myself and other people bound me with. And I haven’t looked back. Not until recently.

Being open about your feelings, also makes you vulnerable. You have to take off your armor for people to see who you are. It’s a risk and often times it has been a painful risk for me. In accepting who I am, I am determined to live as me and not hide myself in the fear of what other people think. And it’s when their thoughts oppose my life and my choices that pain follows because it tests my own will to accept myself.

When people you loved and cared for can no longer accept you, you cannot help but wonder whether you have made the right decisions. In that, however, I am flawed; for I focus far too often on what I have lost and not enough on what, or rather who, remains at my side.

In this knowledge I was rekindled with the notion that I have made the right decisions. That indeed, one must come to know and love oneself, long before anyone else can ever truly love them. Otherwise you surround yourself with false love that is destined to abandon you as you grow, change and eventually find your real self and the true path you were always meant to travel.

So while I have come to accept the man that stares back at me in the mirror, I know that my journey is far from over. Many things still linger that I have not yet been able to face. I still don’t know where my life is headed, the direction that I am meant to walk. I don’t know what I am supposed to do with my life or how to find the motivation to figure that out. There are many things that I would like to do, but I have always felt as though I will never have enough time and the fear of making the wrong choice often makes me lose focus.

And finally, the thing that causes me the most conflict. The claiming of my heart. Some may find reason to say that this is where I still have acceptance issues. I don’t agree with that. For me, this is not about acceptance as much as it is about understanding myself. I am willing to accept myself no matter what gender I am capable of loving.

Trouble is I still have no clue which gender I want to be with. I like them both for different reasons and so there’s pros and cons to each of them. It’s hard enough trying to find the right girl or guy, but when you don’t even know if the person is a guy or a girl, you just feel as though the cards are stacked against you.


 

 

This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

A Portal to My Mind

October 12, 2009

meditation full screen wallpaper

A Portal To My Mind

I ask, “What is the meaning of life?”

We live among so much meaninglessness, material things of a false value. Possessions of emptiness.

We are but beings wandering paved roads, trying to justify ourselves and our journey in life. We laugh and we cry, we love and we lose. We know greed and envy, we feel compassion and regret.

Still, we wander on in search of something more. When we think we have found what we seek, we soon yearn for more.

On a paved circle, almost all of us walk, endlessly with hope for something more. We dream of it and yearn for it so desperately.

We seek answers from men and gods. We shed blood for truth and still we are without answers.

I stand upon dirt and stone, things without life and I ponder their origins. I look up to the sky and contemplate the birth of the stars.

My mind runs wild with theories, but I have no proof.

I ask, “What is the meaning of life?”

Closing my eyes, I open my mind to all that I have learned, all that I have seen, heard and touched. My consciousness expands and in one moment I feel everything that I have ever felt in my lifetime.

Every kiss on my lips, every drop of blood that has flowed from my hands, every laugh, every heartache and tear, every gentle embrace and every harsh word, every cut and every bruise, every dawn and every dusk, every rainfall and the scent of every flower, every dream realized and every hope forsaken, every memorable moment flashes through my mind.

In this moment I am one with every human being. We all feel these things, endure the pain and the joy of life. We suffer hardships and enjoy pleasures. We experience many different things in our lives all around the world because our environments are not all the same, but within us we all feel and respond to those things in the same ways. We remember them all.

I open my eyes again and despite the river of emotion that has flowed forth from me, I am still without an answer, I still ask myself, “What is the meaning of life?”

In time we all grow old, age it comes upon us all like the cold of winter. We grow weak and feeble, our bodies begin to fail us. Our minds slip and eventually we forget who we were. The universe takes us back and the energy that was our life is redistributed into the circle of life. Where there is a beginning, there is an ending and where there is an ending there is a new beginning.

Such a cycle must exist with a purpose. Some type of order within this chaos.

The wind begins to blow and gently presses against my body on this cold night. There is some kind of comfort in the chill of this moment, the air awakening the skin on my face. The silence of darkness is a place that I have come to call home.

There is so much distraction in the human world that we forget to just be. To take in all that surrounds us. We worry so much about money, about school, our jobs, the clothes we wear or the objects we own. We worry about the stock market, we worry about the world economy, about the hate among men of many nations. These are such trivial things in the scheme of a greater universe. We are all so blinded by what we think is important, by the mediocre existence of the global human being.

And again I ask, “What is the meaning of life?”

As in life and on this night, I feel alone in the contemplation of greater things. We fear what has been and fear what may come, still nothing ever seems to change. The tracks within our minds keep taking us in the same direction. We keep searching out into the world for better things, for answers and peace. Some kind of harmony we hear in the distance, it calls to us like a light in the darkness summons the moth.

Like mirages in the desert, we think that just beyond the horizon there is hope and satisfaction, some kind of safety from the horror that is our lives.

Always away from us, always out of reach and in the distance exists the answer to our problems or so we think. We say all the “what if’s” and all the “if only’s”. We wish and we dream for so much more, that by some miracle what we think we lack will come into our lives.

Some believe that the answers they seek lay far beyond the sky and into the heavens. That life has no meaning other than to test the soul of a man. To be judged by their deeds and gain access to heaven or hell, the true realms of existence. I, however, beg to differ.

And so I continue to ask, “What is the meaning of life?”

Life is undoubtedly a journey. A journey to find oneself, not to prove oneself, but to find oneself. There is nothing wrong with seeking answers, to find reasons in our suffering and our joys, but I feel as though the only reason for these things is that we are alive. That is why we endure these things, we are alive. It’s just a part of existence.

And the only direction we need to wander is inward. Everything that we seek is inside of us. It just takes moments where we can jump off the tracks of life and stand still, take in what is around us and just be without a cause.

That is my meaning of life – no meaning. I simply live to live. I am here to endure life. To feel pain, to feel joy, to love and to regret. I don’t know what will happen when I die, but I don’t need to know in order to live. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I go to bed at night just the same without that knowledge. Sure I have dreams for a better world like everyone else and I do what I can to better the lives of those around me, but I am not the master of this universe, I am only the master of myself.


 

 

This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

The LGBT Community vs. The Rest of Society

July 18, 2009

The LGBT community is kind of a paradox to me. I think it’s great that people of similar struggles can come together to support eachother, but I see this ax as double edged. I think that in its efforts to offer support to its members it also causes a rift between the LGBT community and the rest of society. In ways, it separates LGBTs from the general populace. Isn’t the goal to assimilate lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders into society; to accept them as a part of society?

Who’s idea was it to use rainbows and pink triangles as emblems of gay pride anyways? Why has it become a media spectacle? It has become a fad, a movement within popular culture. In my opinion it is alienating itself from its original purpose. And now society, outside of the LGBT, has this notion that all “queers” are like they see on television and in movies. People are getting the wrong image of what gays, lesbians and bisexuals are really like. We have become characterized and stereotyped. And because of this, people who are not comfortable with what they see through the media, are now forced to conclude that they are not okay with and are against the entire LGBT community.

I believe that both nature and nurture, that dna and environment, shape people. As the media portrays the LGBT community in one color, from one point of view or through one facet, the world comes to the conclusion that the LGBT is exactly that. Young lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders are fooled into believing that they must be this one certain way, that they must grow and become what they see because they are not shown anything else and know no other facet of what it means to be who and what they are. Biologically, they are made gay, straight or someone inbetween, but environmentally they are shaped into what that truly means. I believe what they have been molded into is wrong.

Heterosexuals are people who are attracted physically and emotionally to the opposite gender. Homosexuals are people physically and emotionally attracted to the same gender. Bisexuals are people stuck somewhere/anywhere inbetween those two. There could be physical attraction to one gender and an emotional attraction to the other gender and there could also be both attractions to both genders. Because homosexuals and bisexuals have been thrown underground for so long and heterosexuality has been the key force in depicting what it means to be in a relationship, the other two know no other way to act than what has been molded by heterosexuals as normal.

By all that I mean a relationship is still socially understood as a partnership between a man and a women. Each of which is represented by gender roles. The man is the provider, protector, is physically strong, blah, blah blah and the female is nurturing, compassionate, vulnerable, blah, blah, blah. To me, all that crap is not biological. Look into the rest of the animal kingdom and those gender roles are not the norm. In birds of prey, it is usually the female that is stronger, bigger, the physical leader and provider in the relationship. In ants, spiders, elephants, some rodents, the female is the dominant one. Our society has decided that the male is the dominant one. Well, it did at one time, things are changing now days, but you get my point.

So in homosexuality and bisexuality you have this paradox. When there’s two males or two females, who directs the relationship? Who fills which role? I think because of society, this paradox has been approached with the butch and bit** theory. That one man or woman is feminine and the other man or woman is masculine. And thus was born the dyke and the queer, the butch girl and the bit** boy.

In my opinion, flamboyant gay guys and masculine women are not biological. I think they are created by society. They become those things as they grow up and attempt to find their “role” in society and in their relationships.

I, however, ask why? Why does it have to be this way? Why does one partner have to rule the other? Can it not be a true partnership? And why does society think that masculine gay guys or bisexuals have to be with feminine gay guys? Is not the theory behind homosexuality that men are attracted to men and women to women? Sounds like gender roles throw a wrench into that theory if you ask me.

So to wrap this topic up, I ask you this: How much of heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and the whole LGBT community is really biological and how much of it is actually sociological/psychological?

The Inheritance of Peace: Here and Now

November 2008

Years have gone by much faster than I can control or wish they would.  The sun rises and sets and I feel as though I am falling away, drifting in a current I can’t swim against.  Every morning I awaken knowing that thousands of people will die as I complete my routine of mediocre every-day life.  As the sun rises above the horizen and bleeds into the sky of dawn, I ponder the horrors that it bears witness to.  When shaving is the most physically painful activity of my day, I think about the savage murders taking place all around the world and the pain those people must be feeling.  I stare into the mirror and I question the right I have to live here and now, for the most part, free of these things, alone I cry for people I have never met.

Through the eyes that I bear and from beyond the bars to the prison that is my mind, I bear the guilt of knowing the freedom I have.  The waking hours of my life, spent in disregard of how lucky I am and the shame of knowing I have the power within me to create one more stone on the road of human destiny that leads to the door of a greater understanding of human compassion.  One pulse, one chance to change the life of every child waiting to inherit a world far darker than the nightmares that petrify them.  Far darker because this world is reality, a life far more fragile, here and now, than one conceived in any dream.

In every moment of silence throughout my day, the things that people endure passes through my mind.  Like photos in an album, slides in a projector, a vision of the legacy that we will leave behind us.  Alone I am brought to the knowledge of what exists here and now.

When the rush of my life is at full force, when someone cuts me off in traffic on my way to work, when someone doesn’t take the split second required to hold the door open for the person behind them, I come to realize what has happened here and now.  We walk in silence aside people we have never met, we glance into their faces as we pass and we never say a word, ignoring them as if they were inanimate objects, obstructions to our day’s agenda.  Have you ever pondered where they have been and what they have seen in their lifetime?  Have you ever smiled at them in the hope that you could make their day better with something so trivial?

I am asked over and over why I live my life in such distress?  People tell me that I need to let things go, to live for the joys and blissful moments of life, stop being so down and depressed, forget the troubles of my past and overlook the things that go wrong.  To these people I would like to ask, “Why should I dance in the streets while the city burns all around me?”

Forgetting and ignoring what exists all around us is the easy way to carry on in the belief that perhaps human life is not so bad.  Could you imagine someone covering their eyes while someone else is murdered, simply so they don’t have to deal with the pain and stress of that tragedy?  Believe it or not, most people do this everyday…

Attempting to be aware of what happens in this world is my way of remembering that I’m not here for myself.  Too many people live like a herd of wild animals.  When a predator comes upon them they all freak out and run in the same direction as the person in front of them.  And behind them someone else falls and in that instance everyone else knows or believes that person will perish and to turn back would be suicide.  It is this mentality that has led us to where we are here and now.  Leaving them behind to fend for themselves.  What happens the next time when it is you who falls behind, how is that scenario any different?

A world lacking in awareness is a world that will fail at every endeavor.

So many times I wish that I had the power to change the entire world in one move.  I know that this is not possible, not on my own.  This is an effort that requires at the very least the vast majority of the human race.  Many say that I am nieve to believe that world peace is ever possible, loving-kindness is a song only sung in fairy tales.  With these words I am heart-broken because it is with these words that I know they have given up without trying, too affraid to try because they know it will call upon them to make some type of sacrifice.  I say that the greatest failure in life is not what we don’t achieve, but rather what we do not attempt.

I feel as though I sit alone on this island of awareness in an archipelago, stranded by an ocean of chaos and death from everyone else, an ocean that needs to be overcome here and now for life to truly flourish.  A bridge must be built to every island, but it cannot be done by my hands alone. Each of us have been given a gift, a method to begin building a network of passage to every island. With this pen I spill out on paper the very cause of my existance, the very cause of everyone’s existance.  In bottles I stuff these letters of my soul and send them out into this hazardous ocean in the hopes that they will reach all whom bear my sorrow.

To make things less poetic, each island is the heart of one human.  Separated we are by the hate, anger, violence, lust and all the negative things of this world, represented by an ocean of chaos and death.  The bridges we must build are those to eachother as people, a link to every heart.  A connection made to create something, an ideal, that we have lost to time.  Something called the unified heart of mankind.  And with this we can start creating global peace here and now.

At Peace With Goodbye

June 2007

Remembering you is never enough to smother the flame above my heart, memories of what has been will never be suffice to subside my desire to touch you one last time. Photographs of you do your presence no justice, this paper form of you only makes my eyes feel dry, no taste of you for my tongue to be satisfied. The flashing reels of your past are nothing like your stride in living form, those movies of what you were fail to make you real again. The warmth of your hand cannot and will not, ever be duplicated. Even in my dreams your voice is shaken, your skin a little colder and your eyes glossed with an eerie hologram of a window once giving me insight into who you really were. Destiny brought us together and fate took us apart. We were two halves of the same whole, we were like yin and yang; different and yet the same.

One last time, I’ve begged to hold you so many times since you left. In the violence of madness you passed away from me, never giving me the chance to tell you how I really felt, forever now I must endure the repetition of what I wanted to say. The glass tore you away from me, from the cuts your blood spilled, but so did your soul, taking back that which was given eighteen years ago. Tossed and tumbled, shaken to the core of what it means to be awake and aware. Like a nightmare everything was wrong, nothing was as it should have been. Cracking, crushing, breaking, bending, and smashing all overpowering like water in your ears, nothing beyond your skin ever became reality until it all stopped. Suddenly it was over, dust settled, glass broke nevermore, the vehicle slid into stillness, the beating of an ever slowing heart overcame everything else until it also ceased.

Coming to terms of a life without you has been like a story I’m reading, a place and a time that I don’t exist in, this isn’t real, this is just a bad dream. Never again, while I breathe, will my hand hold your own. No more whispers, no more secrets, no more smiles, no more tears from you; just mine vanishing in the sunlight while the curtain is called upon this stage called life, letting go is the hardest thing to do.

Here I am without cause, without hope, holding nothing but my own guilt, my own selfish thoughts. You weren’t supposed to be taken away from me, how do I move on, this isn’t fair! The smell of your hair, the scent of your perfume, they linger in my head, and sometimes I swear you are there, somehow always in the corner of my eye, never within my vision no matter how fast I turn my head. So vacant, so empty is my soul, so alone and so afraid to travel beyond what I know, what I feel, what I remember.

Every step that I take, I listen for your’s, following in some kind of cadence, replaying in my head over and over, like some kind of celestial orchestra; treading so light on our feet, this is what I want, this is heaven, this is all I need to exist; rain, sun, wind, nothing broke the perfect peace of you at my side so long ago this was nirvana. Now the thoughts plague my life like a virus, nothing heals, nothing can fill the holes I bear. Don’t tell me that hobbies will pass my time, no new joy will blend away the loss, laughter will not soothe my hurt! Each scar, every birthmark, I marked down on my map of your very being, trotting the globe of your divine nature, this is borderline obsession, to hell with the earth – you’re my world, I want to live here like this forever. That was my dream. Now time has passed and so have you, age has come unto me like a northern wind giving me chilled recollections of a warmer yesterday, where the sun in my eyes didn’t bother me while next to you. Giving up my senses was nothing, your presence I could feel on a whole different level, somewhere within me, somewhere close to my pounding heart.

But this is it, hate, pain and misery must pass along with you. I must learn to live again, death took you, not me. I was meant to go on, reunite with you when I’m done here, learn other lessons less painful. Wait for me beyond the stars above, on the other-side where peace and love abound, far from my comprehension, somewhere outside of time and space. I know you’re not here though I feel you, and that’s enough for me to find strength in, that’s enough for me to live off. I know it’s not fair and I don’t like it, but I have to live again, my heart beats on at a different pace, but the sun continues to rise and fall, my eyes open and close and open again, for a lifetime in this cycle, somewhere in between I have to come to terms with the truth. Death is a wretched thing, but it’s a fact of life, no man can defy the grip of mortality nor no woman. We all have a time limit, we all have a given number, we have to do a lot more than sit around and wait for it to be called. I don’t want to sit and wait, let it be a surprise, why ruin the fun of life. We live beyond physical forms, something within lives on, somewhere out of sight, death will come, but life moves on.

Letting go does not mean forgetting, it simply means living life again with the lost in our hearts rather than haunting us in our heads. It is time for me to say farewell, I need to be at peace with your absence, I need to be at peace with goodbye.


 

 

This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

Knowing the Road Ahead

May 2007

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Knowing the Road Ahead

By the time I wake up, the sun has already begun to rise and cast its morning rays through my southeastern window. The sun is warm as it passes through the glass and onto my face. Everything is blurry as I blink and use my knuckles to wipe the sleep from my eyes. Staring out the window I can see the leaves and branches in the trees swaying past the sunlight almost making the sun flicker in my eyes. As if the birds were distant, the walls of my room make their songs muffled and I can barely hear them, even as I lay silently in the dawn.

Rising from my resting place, my mind spends a moment trying to remember what happened last night. Like an old rusty train, it takes a while to pick up speed and undertake the difficult replay of memories from a night that seems to have been a dream, so far away. Not because of its splendor, or because it was all that great, but just because I lose my thoughts of yesterday. They seem so fleeting anyways, might as well not spend too much time pondering them.

Throwing back the covers I attempt to rise up from my resting place, but as I look back at it I am drawn to return to it. It seems so inviting, so promising of peace. Its warmth begs me to return, to just lay down a little longer, spend a little more time in its presence. Its so persuasive that I, just for a moment, relapse back into a state of grogginess and once more lay my face into my pillow’s soft touch as it reminds me that the world of dreams is so much better a place than reality.

At least there I can walk under an eternal sun, never more hot than I want it to be, a place where it never rains more than it needs to, a place where wishes come true only if you mean them, where friends never die and enemies never live. A place where my hands never lose their grip, where I can marry Cleopatra, climb Mt. Everest without true effort and fly without wings anywhere I want. My bed promises all these things to me, if I just give it the only thing it wants… my freedom. It begs me to spend my life in its company, never leaving, never waking from my slumber.

Then as I’m about to grant it that very promise, I realize that a life of perfection, would be the worst life to live. The neurons in my brain fire a signal to my arms, back and legs. Slowly, but surely, I rise up once more, beginning the battle of daily life, not because I have to, but because I choose to. The muscles in my body strain, and I awaken fully to the day that awaits my presence. I know that it will require effort and I know that there will be more choices to be made, but none as vital as deciding to live…

In life, I have come to expect nothing, because every time I do, it always changes and I am proven wrong. But to give up on trying to understand life, would give me nothing more to look forward to. This is me, this is what I have chosen to seek out. Understanding life is an endless road, but perhaps that is what calls me unto it, maybe that’s what makes me get up and carry on. I try everyday to contemplate something new, to investigate its existence, its truth. No stone should be left unturned, live with no regrets; that whole cliche has a lot of truth to it. I know, not in my mind, but in my heart that to make a decision not to undertake something that calls you forth, merely because you fear it, will only leave you wishing that you had in the end. Perhaps that is what I fear the most, to move on in life having not done something and regretting it always gives me this empty feeling. But knowing that the only moment you have to undertake that task or trial has passed away, those are the regrets that hurt me the most, the ones I fear enduring.

So many times in life I have made the decision to not do something and after it is all said and done, I am left in the dark full of regret and I know that I have made a mistake. A man’s greatest fear is the hardest thing he will ever have to overcome; my greatest fear is having to make a major decision and then making the wrong one. It’s what has held me back so much in life. It’s a wall that, at times, I don’t think that I can climb. For as much as I speak of doing the right thing, finding courage and faith, for all the writing I do about living life the right way and having an open mind, it is so difficult to actually live those things. I’m reminded of the Frog vs. Toad scenario. The frog is quick and courageous, he doesn’t waste his life thinking to long about anything, he is all about action. The frog leaps before he thinks. The toad on the other hand is slow and curious, he doesn’t do anything without contemplating the positives and negatives, he’s a thinker. The toad thinks before he leaps. I’m definitely a toad, but in life I find it necessary to be a frog also.

This chapter, Knowing the Road Ahead, is all about how to look ahead to where you’re going and what to expect. A lot of life is spent on looking back at our pasts and sometimes even reliving them, if only for a moment. What we don’t always do is learn from them. As we re-examine our pasts we are able to see patterns. These patterns allow us the unique ability to change the course of our futures, maybe not entirely, but enough to steer them clear of regret. By studying what has been and applying those facts to our life, by comparing what has been to what is, we can discover the path our lives will take. In this way we can restructure our tactics and adjust our methods appropriately, so that we can live our lives without regret to the best of our abilities.

Breaking life down into a day to day comparison, we can see how similar each day is. This is especially easy if you live your life in a routine! Everyday we are offered moments or we find ourselves in situations where we can change our lives. Some of these things can lead us to a better life and some of them will lead us to chaos. In my life I find that more often than not, the situations that I fear, the ones that I try to avoid, end up being rather nice, once I find the courage to undertake them. With this pattern in mind, I have forged myself a tool, one that can give me two outcomes. A) I can learn something from life that will enhance my sense of being and ultimately reforge my life’s purpose, or B) create for me a chance to learn the pains of life that, in the end, make you stronger if you take them in stride or if you don’t find courage, will lead you down a very dark road. Whether or not you are willing to take this chance is 100% up to you. As I see it, to make a mistake and learn from it is better than never having made the mistake and thus never having been able to learn from it. For me, learning from life (the good and the bad) is what living is all about.

The most difficult part of grasping those moments in life is finding the courage to actually embrace them, if not at times – seek them out. I know as well as anyone that the road of life is the hardest one to partake on, but if there’s nothing else that I could say to encourage you to actively pursue the journey of life, then let it be this, “It is in the trials and fortunes of the human experience that we come to discover the truth of life, in every tear and every smile we are enlightened a little more on the human condition and as we open our minds to the heart of mankind we are endowed with the most great peace that no facade of darkness shall ever breach; but first in order to do this, we must rise up.”


 

 

This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud:

The Subjugation of a Christian Nation

December 26, 2009

I would like to believe that I know a thing or two about the bad aftertaste that Christianity can leave behind. And I would also like to believe that I know a thing or two about the good that Christianity does for this nation.

I have never called myself a hippie and the one time someone uttered that word in my direction, I was unnerved. But I don’t have anything against the ethos of a hippie, in fact I find their free-thinking to be most beneficial to society. I personally, however, prefer a union of freedom and structure, of peace and of discipline.

It is this same union of opposing forces that I seek to lay witness to within the American nation. A bridge to conquer the great divide that is Conservatives and Liberals and the growing conflict between those who have faith in an external power and those who have faith in themselves. More directly, I mean the conflict between Christians and atheists.

The thing that got me to write this essay is the debate about Christians being unable to pray during school hours, on public school grounds. And I have often heard Christians making the comment that Muslims on the other hand are allotted time to pray and so of course they argue that this isn’t fair. Well, if it’s true then yes of course it isn’t fair at all.

I have not witnessed this unfair treatment, but if it’s true then I am dumbfounded.

While it is no secret that I have strong feelings against the Holy Roman Catholic Church as an organization built upon lies, greed and many other activities that I wouldn’t feel guilty about comparing to the likes of criminal organizations, I do find the revocation of a Christian’s right to practice their religion to be a clear act against religious freedom.

I have also heard about how they are removing certain religious symbols and items from public places and government grounds because these places are supposed to be inviting to everyone of every religion or non-religion. Honestly, I can’t argue with that one. It would make sense that if not everyone is being represented fairly then no one should be represented.

Or perhaps instead of taking things down, they should be putting more things up. Like the Star of David or the Moon and Star, the Dharma Wheel, the Yogic or Ohm symbol. After all, America was built upon the notion that diversified people could come together and work towards common goals.

Speaking of America being built, Christians often lay claim to the settlement of America and you know what? Can’t really argue with them because most of the people who came here during the Colonial years (1600-1700) were people fleeing persecution in Europe. Ironically, they were fleeing religious persecution. They were people who didn’t agree with the religious beliefs of the Anglican Church of England which were being forced on them and came to the Colonies in order to find their own practices.

There were Puritans, Quakers, Protestants, Lutherans, Catholics and Presbyterians all looking for a better life in the Colonies. However, it didn’t take long before religious beliefs came into conflict with politics and in 1777 the idea of a separation of church and state was put into the First Amendment which was completed in 1789.

So while it’s obviously clear that the Colonies were settled by diverse groups of people, many of whom practiced various forms of Christianity, it is also clear that America was not solely founded for the protection or expansion of the Christian faith, rather for the protection and expansion of religious freedom.

And that brings me back to the treatment of Christians in modern America. Yes, I think that public school children not being allowed to pray before they eat is unfair. No, I don’t think that removing the cross from government offices is unjust, but I do think that it would be better if we put it back up along with other religious symbols in celebration of America’s religious diversity.

What about the atheist or the agnostic? If there is supposed to be a separation between church and state, then why is the term God found all throughout our government documents, currency and courtrooms, especially after the religious revival of the Cold War era, when to not be religious was equivalent to being a communist. How are atheists represented in America? I think they probably ask themselves that same question.

Have you ever thought about what it must be like to be born into a nation that professes God everywhere you go, when you are not a believer or are someone who isn’t sure? It must be pretty overwhelming and intimidating to have that thrown in your face on a daily basis.

Being religiously diverse (including atheists) without persecution is one of those unique things about America, I don’t want that to become something of the past, as I feel it is becoming. Every believer and non-believer should be treated equally.

The Starry Night

November 23, 2009

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The Starry Night

Surely it can be said that to study the stars is to study the very cells of a god.

The more I have to come to lose myself in the deeper contemplation of the microcosm and the macrocosm, I also find myself in the greatest scope of time and space. Dust and gas, these simple things that bleed out into the Great Unfathomable, are in all things… in all beings and in this horror of the loss of individualism I am comforted in the notion that the possibility of my conscious existence is near immeasurable. How grand then it is that I walk the face of the Earth?

I have come to see the Universe as not just some fascinating cycle of chaos and order, but of something far more complex and far more profound. For the Universe itself is my god.

So humble I am in the depths of my own inner expansion and understanding of the nature of the Universe that I feel as though I stand on the verge of both insanity and enlightenment.

The Great Void that encompasses all that is “above” me and that which rotates beneath my feet, harbors so much that a single man will never know the entirety of his own existence.

The birth of a star millions of years in the making, is driven by forces we cannot understand completely. So awe-inspiring is the death of such a star. To know that as we turn our faces to the night sky and see these many twinkling lights and to know that any one of them may no longer exist and yet still glow in the black sky is mind-blowing. So far away are some of these stars that it takes millions of years for their last emanating light to reach us in the vast unimaginable and seemingly limitless domain.

What man could study astronomy and disbelieve that there is a greatness at play before us that we are not capable of naming?

Call not this power God, nor call it Allah, Yahweh, Brahma or any name. For to name this Source of Life, this Sustenance of Life, is to most assuredly saturate its wonder. This Energy, this Force of Order and Chaos, of life and death is beyond the language of mankind. Our minds cannot even grasp its identity for it has no identity.

Give it not shape or gender for these are meaningless things. Petty attempts by humans to command, to control, to claim that which cannot be owned.

My very lifetime is smaller than a nano-second in the timeline of the Universe, but how lucky I am to have that much.

We humans are so young, so seemingly minute and replaceable. One could almost become depressed at the reality of our subtle lifetimes. Like a single grain of sand, compared to all the beaches of this Earth, we could so easily be forgotten and lost in the greater scope of the Universe.

This is the most humbling thought of all. That we are all meaningless.

This is why we have gods of every color, shape, gender and character. We yearn to be seen, to be loved and acknowledged by the great forces ceasing and expanding before us, to know that we have a place and a purpose. Fear grips us and so we dream, we imagine and we pretend so that we may know comfort.

I, however, believe that to do this is to lose the power and wonder of the Universe. We must embrace this fear and accept our own mortality, less we take for granted the gift of our lives.

To lay in wait for something better is to waste the beauty before us now. If only all humans could perceive the world in this way. To be grateful for the chance to breathe, a moment in the sun, the opportunity to let the waves of the ocean lap at your feet. These are things that I cherish, the ways that I know I have already been blessed. Experience is everything.

I believe that all the world will one day come to realize this. That we will focus on the rare gift of life we hold and less on the material things we so ignorantly covet. I hope that this realization is made before the Universe forces us to see it. Only time will tell.

And as for me personally, I will continue on in my journey of self-discovery. For to question my own existence is to challenge the nature of the Universe and the beauty, the splendor, the horror and the humility of human life.

Astronomy and spirituality go hand-in-hand as far as I am concerned. Many people wait a lifetime in the hopes of getting to see the face of their god. I on the other hand look up into the black night and see the Universe overhead and know that I am bearing witness to the face of the source of all life.


 

 

This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud: