Groupthink

And again and again, and the only part of life that almost everyone agrees upon is that it feels nice to have someone else pay attention to your genitals. 

This life is full of reasons and bargains and sneaky, back-room deals, the rich stay rich and the poor are here to be used. This political stance is good, that one is evil. Or, wait… Was it this one? What is evil? 

Relationships are not easy. Between two people, a thousand, 330 million, 7 billion. It’s difficult for us to be good to each other, because we all focus on what is good for us, first. As though we are animals. As though all of our philosophy and science and psychology don’t actually mean anything. As though we truly don’t care for anything past full bellies and orgasms. 

What a strange concept, the idea that we must participate in our own subjugation. Vote for your masters, vote against the masters you don’t like, but understand that you must have a master, and that is not up for a vote. You can abstain from the vote if you like, but remaining silent only makes you easier to exploit. 

Freedom isn’t free… Because freedom isn’t real. It doesn’t exist. There’s no frontier left. There’s no place to get away from those bastards… er… I mean masters. There is nothing to believe in, beyond a full belly and an orgasm. 

So…

Why does it feel like selling my soul?

Undertow

I never was a strong swimmer. 

Once upon a summer day, at a creek running cold in the hills of Oregon, my mother tried to teach me to swim. 

I was eight or ten years old, and terrified. She spoke reassuringly and calmly, telling me, just relax and push the water away, just go with the natural impulse of your body, feel the water and know that you are able to live in it, don’t be afraid, don’t fight against it. 

A few years before I had been in a canoe with my friend Kerri when she fell out. She didn’t swim. She sank. 

I watched. 

I froze. 

She was a few feet away and I couldn’t do anything. I watched silently, a part of my mind screaming but my throat closing with fear, she was dying and I was watching. 

Someone saw, the men came and saved her, and I say, not saying a word. Nobody ever said anything about it to me. Nobody tried to talk to me about that day, and to this day I have never stopped seeing the fearful look on her face as I watched her sinking. 

My mother’s words hit my mind and I tried to relax, tried to feel natural in the water. I was able to manage a few clumsy breast-strokes, enough to satisfy my mother, enough to get her to let me stop. 

I’ve never felt comfortable in the water. The stones in my heart pull me to the bottom, the weight of my soul drags me down and I freeze, cold and silent. Others tell me it’s fun, swimming and dancing in the water, and I, 

I watch. 

I have dreams where I’m swimming, faster and more strongly than a dolphin, flying under water as though it were my home, as though it was natural. 

In waking nightmares I feel my feet dangling in the water and I know, 

I just know, 

Something down there wants to grab me. Something is waiting to welcome me to silent oblivion, to the end of struggles, something wants me to sink. 

But I kick against it, I push it away. 

I may not ever feel natural in this life, or normal, or comfortable. I may never relax, always waiting for the next drowning in the darkness. I may not ever feel safe, or truly welcome in my life. 

I have never been a strong swimmer. 

I may not ever find my place, but…

I will not give in to the pull, the gravity calling me down to the darkness. 

I will reach out my arms, and sweep the water behind me, and kick hard against the weights behind me. 

I will make it to shore. 

The Meaning of Life

Here it is.

There is none.

Everyone wants the answer.

I’m not different… I want the show to finish on a high note. I want all the problems resolved and questions solved, mysteries revealed to be meaningful lessons. I want my beautiful masterpiece, my purpose defined.

I want… I want. 

It’s not coming. Click-bait and hope lead us to read mindless garbage as we waste our time on pointless exercises of discussion and on, and on, and on we go, until we stop like broken clocks. 

There is no meaning. 

There is no answer.

What a sad bunch of idiots we are, what arrogant monkeys. We believe in things for the simple reason that we want to matter, we want our suffered trials and tribulations to lead us to the promised land, where we finally find out why, why, 

Why do we live? 

Just because. 

Because we do, and we are. 

That’s it. That’s all. 

Life and death and philosophy and religion and art and music and all of these things are simply distraction. 

There is no point. 

Love… Love. The inspiration for everything, the motive for so much energy directed at nothing… It’s not tangible. Show me love and I’ll show you hurt. Show me love and I’ll show you hatred, and wounds deeper than the Grand Canyon, show me love and I’ll show you misunderstanding. 

There’s no point.

It is what it is. 

We are what we are, and that’s mostly…

Nothing. 

There’s no answer. 

There’s no point. 

Still Breathing

…And God said, 

Not this time. 

It would be a fucking miracle, if I could turn every sad moment into something beautiful. It would make me a worker of miracles, a Messiah, foretold in ancient prophecy. The reality is, I’m just a collection of cells, mostly empty space held together with chemical reaction and energy. I’m just a ‘one’ in a world full of solitary and altogether unremarkable souls. 

(Speaking of souls, I’m not even sure such a thing exists. My consciousness could be just a trick I play on myself. But I digress…)

If I could remake my life, I would do so many things better. I’ve been thinking that for a long time, but now I am starting to wonder, 

Would I?

I could have gone to college when I was eleven years old. I was a child prodigy, too smart for the school system, too smart to be taught anything, too smart for anyone to realize that I was just a prepubescent boy, full of fear and emotion, full of hidden secrets and trauma disguised by sarcasm and smiles. If I had gone to college then, maybe I wouldn’t have fell in with the stoners and wasters, the outcasts that treated me like I was one of them, the only group that accepted me. Maybe. 

I could have married my true love when I was twenty-three. She would have said yes, if I asked her. If I had, maybe we would have lived close to our hometown beaches all of this time, maybe our kids would be older, maybe I would have had a better support system when my loved ones started dying, maybe I would have been motivated by love, earlier, to improve myself, to grow, to become whatever I am now. Maybe. 

I could have studied and received several degrees, if I had tried harder. I could have built a better career for myself, at a younger age. I could be much more successful, financially, than I am. If I had made better choices. If I had cared more. If I had tried better ways. Maybe. 

Or…

I could have successfully committed suicide, any of the seven times I tried. I could have overdosed and died. I could have hit my brakes a second later and been wrecked by a steel lightpost when I was twenty-one. I could have fallen asleep with lit cigarettes and burned up. I could have ignored my hallucinations and kept doing drugs until my heart exploded. I could have ignored my intuition and gone to those places where I would likely have been killed. I could have done so much worse. 

I could be alone, I could be dead, I could be completely fucked by my own ignorance. I could be in prison. I could be a serial killer. I could be everything awful that I have avoided. 

Maybe, just maybe, 

I am what and where I am supposed to be

 And I’ll never know, any other road, 

Because I chose this one. 

Maybe I still have the ability, the time, the opportunity to work some miracles in my life. Maybe I can still be something more, something better, something beautiful. 

Maybe. 

With Every Beat Of My Heart

I’m a walking, talking, breathing case of PTSD and that’s the truth. 

A survivor, a warrior… Sure. 

I’ve seen a lot, I’ve been through a lot, and that’s my story, my cross to bear. 

I do pretty well with it, I smile and I laugh and I love and I am loved. I can handle my problems, I can shine through my darkest days with energy and power. 

I fall.

I get up. 

I hurt.

I heal. 

What choice do I have? I can live or I can die, and I’ve chosen life. I choose life, every day. I choose to push through the brambles and emerge, bleeding but wiser, scarred but growing, I keep going. I will not stop, because I’m meant for more than where I’ve been, more than what happened to me. 

I’ve wept at gravesites and I’ve spoken at funerals about the moments of loss and grief, I’ve held a brand-new life in my hands and promised my lifelong devotion. I’ve been low and high, I’ve been bad and good, and I have suffered through trauma. I have experienced joy the likes of which most people only dream. I have lived this life regardless of obstacles, of disadvantages, I have lived and I will live and that is my choice. 

I am avoiding my point, because I am afraid of my feelings, this time. 

This time… I need the universe to throw me a bone, give me a break, let me have this one. Let me take this one home and keep it, let me win, this once. 

I won’t say what it is, but the stars and moon know my wish. 

I need this one. 

Please, whatever gods or cosmic powers there are, whatever design or designers exist, understand that I need this one. 

Please, hear me, hear me begging, with every heartbeat, hear me pleading for this one…

I need this one. 

Algebra and Frustration

I always thought I was good at math. 

I’m not. 

I was good at basic math, in elementary school, and past that I’m not great at remembering formulas, rules or shortcuts. As a college student I have been exemplary, in every subject and at every point in my academic career. 

Except for algebra. 

I have to see it worked out five or six times before I can do it myself, and I still don’t understand it when I can do it. 

I’m not unique in this shortcoming, many people struggle with math. Many smart and talented people are completely unable to learn the language of mathematics, 

(And I promise there’s a point here, I’m just taking the long way to get there)

I’m not good at not being good at things. 

I’m a poor loser and an arrogant student. I have trouble asking for help and I feel intense shame when I get low marks or (gasp) fail a class. I have a competitive side and that part of me is a real prick. 

I want to be a better man, a better writer, a better friend and husband and father and nowhere in that desire does quadratic equation help me, I can’t apply Pythagorean theorem to measure the sides of this triangle, where my love and my hate form the straights and my madness is the long, slanted hypotenuse and it’s all I can do to understand those terms myself, much less apply them in real time. 

I don’t like math, I don’t like the way it feels so slippery in my mind. It’s like trying to understand other people’s emotions or make them, make you, understand mine. 

But I try. 

I don’t understand, but I’m trying. I hope that I can pass this course, I hope that I can figure this out, before I graduate, or flunk out. 

Follow the Thread

 

It isn’t difficult to understand.

Life is not easy. There will be pain, and lots of it, in rivers and oceans, more than can be measured.

There will be joy, in tiny pieces, not near enough to hold onto and spread around.

What matters is what is done with what’s given, not how you think but how you’re living. What matters is how you play the cards, what you do when times are hard, if you get up from the fall or if you surrender to it all, what really matters is if you stay and for how long, what will you do if you feel so wrong, and when life is right do you reach for the light or hide in the dark, searching for the memory of a spark.

Life is what it is, and that sentence is incomplete, while we fight and compete our lives are bought and sold for mountains of gold that won’t ever be free, I’m talking about you and me, we are commodities trading our time for the necessities of living, we take what they’re giving and never question the reasons, through all of our seasons we ignore what’s in plain sight…

The smile of your lover is the perfect cover on the book, if you will just look.

The laughter of your loved ones, your daughters and sons playing wild and free, the happiness of right now, if you can just find out how to see what’s there, the cupboards aren’t bare, we just need to share what we have, give what we can, and when we find a place,

Stand.