Untitled 9/2003

There was a hard rain as I left
A sudden deluge really, thick sheets
I thought to myself, “This can’t be good.”
Still I drove on.

The two lane road leading out, reduced to one for construction
Delayed 15 minutes, “Oh this is nice, it never seems to end I tell ya.”
Still, I drove on.

I went through many pockets of rain, all the way there
Some a mere mist, others still the thick sheets
But of course, I drove on.

As I reached my exit, the rain stopped
The sun shone through with its glorious radiance
As if to let me know I made it through the storm
Salvation was here, finally right before me.

It was then that I realized this perfect metaphor for my life,
Had been laid out before me this night.
I’ve driven for so long and through so many storms
And maybe, just maybe, I had finally reached the end of their grasp.

For where the sun shone through, you too waited.

Though it’s too soon to know if the storms have all been weathered
You’ve given me hope for brighter days ahead.

Untitled – 2003

My sexuality is the malady
Of which I’m oft to write
I don’t mean to say that I hate being gay
But come on, where the hell is Mr. Right?

If I were straight it wouldn’t always be great
I know they too don’t have easy
It’d be easier to not “want more” and just be a whore
But I refuse to be so sleazy

I’ll fight the good fight and wait for that special night
When I lay in the arms of love
If you’ve reached that day, be you straight or gay
Remember to thank your lucky stars above.

Our Villian Enters the Room

Today, I watched The Joker. Within the first few minutes he was assaulted and as I often do when seeing scenes such as this, a deluge of empathetic pain flooded my mind. Survivors of trauma share a kinship through pain.

Perhaps knowing the character’s story through the various narratives in existence gave me pause to consider the journey from damaged person to egregious monster. Are we born with the evil that nourishes our monster until it is thrust upon the world, or is our monster fed by the evil which the world has thrust upon us?

Either way, may there be a caped crusader somewhere within the recesses of my mind should the need arise.

Speech 2 – Clay Speech

For the life of me, I couldn’t think of a decent title.

Who among us has not seen the movie, Ghost?  I still often forget that I am now of the age where my references can fall into the generational chasm so please just bear with me for a moment.  For those of you who have, the movie has several great moments and I’ll bet at least a couple of you immediately summoned the same moment about which I am going to speak.

It was intimate, smooth, and shapely.  It was exhilarating yet enchanting, artistic yet technical.  Two people, hands intertwined, passionately making something amazing.  Yes, it’s THAT scene.  The one where they show us how to make a clay vase.

OK.  For those of you who have never seen the movie I am going to ask that you snap back and rejoin us.  *wait for 3 seconds*

Great.  Now I am going to mute all your lines.  We’re going to practice a brief visualization exercise, and I’d like for all of you to please close your eyes for 10 seconds, and remain silent.

Sitting before you is a lump of wet clay, lying upon a potter’s wheel.  To the right, is a pail of water.  Next to the pail is the wheel’s pedal.  You begin grasping palmfuls of water and let it cascade through your fingers, drenching the clay.  The clay becomes shiny and slick.  With your foot, you exert the slightest amount of pressure on the pedal.  It works in the same fashion as a car’s accelerator so you needn’t press hard.  The mound of dewy clay lying before you begins to spend.  You plunge both hands back into the water, then begin to work the clay. 

The finality of the object you wish to create has yet to form, thus much like the clay itself, your mind is malleable.  One hand is your shaping tool while the other both helps to guide and support the clay.  Your hands, your foot, your mind, and the clay share a symbiotic bond; each integral to the metamorphosis of the raw material which was set before you.  Summoning your experience, skill, and intuition you continue working the clay, plunging your hands back into the water periodically to keep them from hindering the genesis of your creation. Spend a few seconds now, and shape the clay  into its final form.

*pause for 10 seconds*

When you open your eyes, please share what you created by giving a brief description in the chat window.

*60 seconds of sharing*

In my last speech, I spoke of the importance of empathy in helping us reach an understanding of each other, even in moments where our viewpoints may differ drastically.  You all began the visualization with the same materials, yet formed your own creations.  While some may have formed the same object, I am willing to bet that none are in the exact same style. 

Our psyches are the clay.  Beginning our lives raw, unformed, and easily shaped.  The centrifugal force of spinning and evaporation of water seek to dry this clay, robbing it of its ability to maintain its malleability.  These are the pressures and forces we work either with or against on a daily basis.  We wet our hands so that we may continue to work the clay or control the speed of the wheel with our foot, but in order to continue creating we cannot altogether stop these forces.  Stopping leaves the clay, our psyche, hardened and protective against these forces, but also unable to improve upon that which we’ve already crafted. 

Are We Headed Where We’ve Already Been?

Often, we look to our past while walking in the present on our way to our future.  The biggest challenge is making sure you don’t smack into a wall because you aren’t paying attention.  Please welcome our speaker as he shares his thoughts by posing a question, “Are we going where we’ve already been?”

With so much going on this July 4th, I thought upon a past Facebook post of mine, made shortly after the passing of Senator John McCain late August of 2018.  The following is an excerpt of that post.

Empathy. I think on this word often, especially of late in the passing of Senator McCain. By now we’ve all seen the video of him taking the microphone away from his own supporter, still dripping vitriol, and wiping it away with the very own fiber of his being by defending Obama’s strength of character; all while not chastising the person.

So many of us seem to be so attached to our beliefs that, when challenged, we go into attack mode. It’s as if someone is daring to strip away our very identity. Internally, we vehemently shout, “You will not erase this part of me and replace it with yourself!”  It seems, changing our minds, or at least opening them to the possibility of changing, scares the living hell out of us.

As I sat alone in my apartment on July 4th, the quietness on this of all evenings was rather eerie.  For me, quietness often serves as a catalyst for introspection so I began browsing my catalogue of thoughts.  After some time, I began thinking about rights, responsibilities, and people protesting against wearing masks because they feel it  suffocates their freedom.  In juxtaposition with George Floyd losing his life to suffocation by a public servant, my blood began to boil.  These “facial freedom” protesters infuriate me and my knee-jerk reaction is to write them all off as entitled morons.  They refuse to consider the well-fare of others because it creates an inconvenience for them.  With these comments, my position on the matter should be quite clear. 

Fortunately, when experiencing  such strong emotions in an event such as this,  I always challenge myself to stop and lend an empathetic ear to the opposing viewpoint.  How does this event present itself within the confines of their reality?  I may never have the same experience as them, but through empathy, can I at least gain insight into their emotional experience?

With all our advances and discoveries, all the ways in which we have furthered our species, we still fear the darkness outside our own caves and sometimes refuse to see the banality of that which has instilled such fear in us, even though it sits before us, illuminated by our fire.

It makes me think about history. When do the people and events in our daily lives transform from the happenings of today into the history of tomorrow?  Is it just a day, a week ? Perhaps immeasurable? Is it even possible to avoid going where we’ve already been?

To that question, I answer in dissent. 

In my intro, looking back was mentioned.  For a moment, let’s take a very far look back in our history and fix our gaze upon Pompeii.  The erasure of Pompeiian culture by Vesuvius was unstoppable, and today we are just as powerless.  Pliny, a Roman poet, was a prolific writer.  Through preservation of many letters he wrote, we have an insight into the event.  Pliny states, “…the sighting of a column of smoke..triggered a response more of curiosity than of alarm.”  Pliny’s uncle, Pliny the Elder, was aroused from his bath when he saw the first smoke columns.  He confessed to Pliny that he too observed the was struck with curiosity rather than concern.  Pliny the Elder’s admission is note-worthy because he was senior military officer and considered one of the most well-informed of his time.  In fact, his 37 volume work of science, Natural History, has survived from antiquity and is the longest science-based work written in Latin.

We have vastly increased our ability to gather empirical scientific data and transform that data into information.  Information that we can use to not only aid us during a natural disaster, but also to assist us in predictive analysis.  In contrast, we are scientifically superior to our distant cousins.  In comparison though, those first tools available to collect and interpret empirical data, human senses coupled with logical reasoning, are still in use today.  Paramount to our survival as we face life in modern times are these same tools.  Should we choose not to use them, life within the shadow of our own Vesuvius may one day be eliminated.

The next time you find yourself in opposition with someone, give yourself the opportunity to gain perspective.  You may never know their anger, their pain, or their anguish, but use your own anger, your own pain, and your own anguish to help understand why they feel the way they do.  Secure yourself in knowing that empathy and understanding don’t have to equal acceptance, but all three are essential in solving the human equation. 

Finally, to leave you all with a bit of levity just remember this. It doesn’t matter how you hang the roll of toilet paper because either way we all have to use it.

Ya Gotta Start Somewhere…

“He doesn’t want supporters, he wants sycophants.” I thought that as I sat down at my desk this morning, the news playing in the background. I don’t want this first post to come from a place of divisiveness, so I’ll save political rantings for another time. Speaking of time, as I gaze backwards about 42 seconds, the words “first edition” replay in my mind. This is because even further back in time, say 5 minutes ago, I had no idea I would be starting this blog.

At this very moment, in consideration of why I’m writing, I think it’s because I really just felt a need to have someone to talk to. You might think a sufferer of anxiety disorder would consider social distancing a time for joyous rapture, but we do have our times when we actually want human interaction. Yesterday was one of those times for me. I can’t quite tune-in to the specific moment when I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness yesterday, but when I did, the weight of the listlessness in the air forced me into baited breaths while I waited for the moment to pass.

When the longest relationship in your life is the one you’ve had with your anxiety, you learn how to cope with its mood swings. The most powerful coping mechanism one has in their arsenal is one we learn early in life, hone throughout childhood, and master during our teen years. Selective Hearing. That’s how I made it through yesterday, hearing but not listening to it. “Sorry anxiety, what’d you say?” I was busy chasing a rogue clump of cat hair wafting its way to the kitchen and didn’t hear you.

I’m tremendously frightful when expressing myself to someone where my inner-most thoughts and feelings are concerned. Direct eye contact makes me about as uncomfortable as a… Thoughts race through my mind at warp speed, while my ability to keep them in check has the alacrity of a 3-toed sloth. These thoughts, when tethered and ready for transmission, seem to generally form cohesive sentences but sometimes I find myself wondering, “Wait, what the hell did I just say?” Perhaps worst of all, controlling the urge for unbridled fidgeting.

Now, about that blog. Because of the struggles with trying to have these types of discussions with someone, I thought perhaps having them with no one in a forum that can be seen by practically anyone might work. That’s why this blog isn’t a cry for help, it’s a place for sharing those things I feel I cannot fully express any other way.

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