The World In The Life Of A Guy – Part 7: Fear and Freedom

IMG_0099.JPGThere is something I take for granted, this ability to move through the world without having to worry too much about how the world will react.  Using only a little bit of common sense, I can manage to not have to worry about much.  Strangers walking down the street, glancing eyes about what I may be wearing, an offhand comment, these things don’t skim my radar.  But for women, this is something they have to deal with every day.

I think the easiest distinction that can be made is with travel.  I was lucky enough to be able to backpack through Europe, going from hostel to hostel, train to train, and airport to airport.  All without having to really think about the possibilities of strangers doing anything to me.  I took the standard safety precautions of locking up my stuff, but in coming back in the middle of the night to my bunk in a shared hostel room, the thought never crossed my mind that something could happen to me.
Maybe I am lucky that things didn’t but in talking about my trip with several of my friends and touting how great and inexpensive hostels are all my female friends had the same consensus ” that simply would be too risky for them,” especially having gone alone like I had.

Now whether or not that is true is one thing, but it’s this general feeling of being paranoid about the world that is the problem.  It’s both taught to girls at a young age and substantiated by how people act as they get older.  In walking in unfamiliar places there is always some dangers, but I never have to be overly suspicious of peoples intentions, and I am more concerned with theft then I am harassment.

I’ve seen it happen too, the unwanted attention or a misread signal leads to women being harassed by men.  It’s crazy in some way how non-stop it really can be, and I don’t envy women for having to be on guard for danger so much.  It’s this crazy situation where the threats are so much greater because it’s not just your things or your life, its other atrocious acts like assault and rape that comes to their mind.  This is something people have to look out for in their day to day life, not even just when they are traveling or abroad.  That’s why groups are so important, and something like walking to your car in the middle of the night can be more of an endeavor than simply walking down the street.

But in the spirit of trying to explain a male perspective on things, I am going to steer the topic back.  Fear is something for a guy that is thought as something to be conquered.  We throw ourselves headfirst into situations where courage becomes the only currency.  I have an appreciation for the fact that I don’t feel in danger all the time, or that I am in a state where I feel like a target is regularly painted on my back.  I think in some ways, that’s why (not to get all white knight-y) we are called to defend. To lessen the fear of others by putting ourselves between the fear and the fearing.  Since we do not have to worry the world constantly, we can spend time helping others feels safe too.

Safety is something that comes from being able to walk down the street and not have to worry about the world trying to harm you, and I believe we all should try and work together to make the world a safe place for as many people as possible.

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Linkin Park:​ Reanimated

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Originally there was going to be a different post here today but in light of the more recent events, I decided to postpone it to write about the recent tragedy of the death of Chester Bennington and the loss Linkin Park’s bandmate and singer.

You see, I’m sure like most of the people of my generation, Linkin Park’s music proliferated their childhood. Whether or not you were a fan, their notably different types of music stemming from many different genres made them unique and memorable. They continued to push the envelope and play the music that they wanted to play, even when there was a backlash from their fans.

My memory though stretches back to a Christmas where I received my first ever album for Christmas. It was a band that I really knew nothing about but would soon become intimately aware. My sistered received their first album ‘Hybrid Theory’ and I received their remix album ‘Reanimation’.  In putting it in the first time, it was my first taste of a   musical theme from an artist.  Up until then, most of the music I was aware of was either one of my parents or things I had heard off the radio.  Uploading it to my computer, I just remember playing the album over and over, discovering my taste for that type of music.

The music stuck with me, they were my favorite band for many years, taking me through the hardships of my youth, playing songs on loop until they felt part of my very soul. It was a type of music that I felt understood me. The different vibe it gave with rock, electronic, pop, and rap all squished together made me experience all sorts and different types of sound I didn’t know I liked hearing. I followed their albums and resonated with their songs. Watching for release dates and even downloading their app.

As I changed, so did they.  Their sound continued to evolve into a push into different avenues and for a while, I continued to follow. Eventually, our paths diverged, not out of dissatisfaction or distaste but the venturing into other avenues of music that they introduced me to. I no longer knew when their albums would drop, and I hadn’t listened to all of their songs anymore, and yeah that might make me not a very great fan anymore but I never saw their constantly changing sound as a bad thing. It is an exploration and evolution. Though it might not be what I want to listen to on repeat any more, it’s something I still respect.

With the death of Chester, is the death of part of their sound. I don’t know what the future holds for the rest of the band and I hope and pray for the best for his family.  I do know many people out there have experienced something similar to me in regards to their music. And with the help of their music, it helped save many peoples lives.

Linkin Park will always be my first favorite band, a band most of their albums I know by heart. They will be the band I first felt like understood me, the first one that pumped me up to start to change my life, the first one that helped me through rejection from a girl, the first one to make me feel less alone in the universe.  Their songs live in my memory and in my soul, etched there by many moments I spend listening to their sound.

I want to  Thank You Linkin Park, and Thank You, Chester, you changed my life for the better, I just wish I could have done for you the same. For now, with your death, it feels like that burning inside just got Reanimated.

Moving Through

I feel in this place
A sense of calm
As if I had been lost in the forest
Trying to find a way to get through
And bustling and blustering
And freaking out
But now I see the path
and I am moving to it
As if I am okay with where I am going
And how I am getting there
I just have to get to the path
And I’ll be home free

Lessons On Adulthood

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I think I finally understand what it means to be an adult.  It’s that feeling of not knowing what you are doing, but having to do it anyways. The strange thing is, is that regardless of the training you get, and how much you might prepare for it when you are emersed in the situation it always feels a bit different than what we are told. It’s a matter of then embracing that feeling and doing our best to resolve this situation.  I think that’s the difficulty sometimes, there is no guidance to follow, and when people tell you that they can’t be decided for you that’s because it’s true, how are you suppose to be able to tell someone to live if there are so many different paths to take.  I think that the lessons are how to cope with this abundant change and lack of guidance are the ones we need for the future.

There also comes a time when it feels like the curtain is being pulled back like the whole show is demystified right before your eyes. The magic seems less like magic and more like years of hard work. This isn’t a negative thing because it means that with a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of time, anything is possible. It has a way of trying to destroy the idea of magic in the world, which magic is that can make life a lot more worthwhile and enjoyable.  The other part of that is that at the time when you pull back the curtain you find this everything is built makeshift and in all sorts of different directions. No one really understands why it was made the way it was, but we keep doing it because it always been done that way.

Point being there is some sort of arbitrariness to being an adult. The question as to why something is the way it is a lot of the time comes down to what time and resources you had at the time.  This revelation is something that confuses me a bit because, on one hand, it lends itself to the incredible nature of human ingenuity to come up with ideas and workarounds for our most complex problems. On the contrary, though.. it gives some insight as to what most of our institutions may actually be, a set of good intentions and effort stacked on what we may think we know at the time.  At times decisions are driven by a purely utilitarian nature, something is done that way because it was easiest, or it was done because it conveys a sense of style or familiarity like when decisions are made because someone thought that way is best. As with our minds, we travel and create roads and inpaths to make things more robust, more secure but making our decisions less fluid in the process. We live upon the shoulders of giants, but we are also cursed to live by their decisions.

Being an adult takes a lot of work, a lot of effort to do it successfully.  Even through all its really absurd nature, it’s a challenge that either drives us to grow or defeats us.  As I grow up, I can see that I am learning and growing along the way.  Hopefully, the world doesn’t feel so arbitrary by the end of it all and that one day I can help the next generation grow and learn just like I am.

The End of Madness And The Return Of The Soul

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Here is the second part of the story, the story about the boy with the mask.

Once the summer ended, and his new arrangement secured he entered a strange place, a high school he never planned on.  He had gone from the familiar and  “safe” place for himself to place that acted in a notorious but mythical way.  It was a place that a symbol of all that could go wrong, all that had but this was also his chance to start himself anew. There was a problem, he was lost to who he was at the outset.  All that flooded to him was to act and to copy.  The mask knew that well, how to change his face and make it look like anything he wanted.  So he did, he copied his way through, empty as he could be but appearances are everything so he maintained those as much as he could. He was learning and growing in his own way, without his knowledge things were changing.

For a while, the void grew larger, and he felt emptier than before. The emptiness had started to tear apart his being.  He lost understanding, and motion became all he knew.  Going through the day correctly so no one would ask questions became his objective. Before long he had forgotten how it felt to feel that anguish that drove towards his current lifestyle. He started to forget sadness, happiness, anger, and that pain. It was just a void and him now, and he couldn’t care either way.

The boy eventually grew tired of tired of the emptiness. He looked around and wondered why everyone was so different. The boy wanted to know what it felt like to be like everyone else instead of just a passive observer.  He wanted to know what made people smile, laugh, and cry again. He wanted to feel real again, and not some sort of husk.
Through the motivation this new entrenched desire he made his play. He would take the time to change, take the time to fix this hole in his soul.  The only way he figured that he could remove the emptiness was to fill it with something. So inch by inch and day by day the boy rediscovered the emotions he had forgotten, to learn what it was to be the human he wanted to be.  He had to learn all these lessons all over again like a child, but he grew to understand them.  Happiness, sadness, love, and a sense adventure, with each one he had learned he grew stronger than before.  It may have taken the boy a lot of time, but eventually, he started to act on the feeling in his heart rather than the ideas in his head.

As the void began to fill, within his heart and soul and he started to feel human again. The boy filled his emptiness with the new life he had set for himself.  He filled it with memory, filled it with friends, love, and learning.  The boy became fascinated by what people do and learned to enjoy life. The wounds began to heal, and the scars began to form, but he learned to live with the scars and wear them proudly. He had survived and learned to thrive, escaped the hell of the void and made it out on top. He understood how easy it is to throw your emotions away because they hurt, but sometimes it’s just simpler to face them.  So the boy lived on, heart and soul hoping that through his tragedy, he would create something better and help others avoid the fate he had faced.

The reason I tell this story is that I realized it has been ten years since the start of those darker days and my first real struggle with depression.  I had it for about 2 years in total, before the cloud began to lift and I felt normal again, even then I felt its effects for many years. Now, I know that I can look forward to the future because of the boy with the mask and having learned how to retake control of my life.  Though it may have been hard, I know at the end of the day I am a stronger person because of it (not that anyone should experience that). I hope that this gives people hope in their own struggles out there, and to let them know that though darkness may fall, the dawn will eventually come.

Hot Summer Afternoon

It was the small crease in her dress that drew my eye. It crumpled slightly in the middle as she leaned her head on her arm. A small sunflower flower pattern covered the dress made a radiate yellow hue that shined brightly whenever the sun would hit it.

Underneath peaked a pure white tank top that stuck to her skin outlining its shape. Her hair was pulled back into a bun and her face glistened from the beads of sweat that have started to form on that hot summers day.  She might have been in the shade but you can tell she was warm by the way she was breathing.

Her eyes were illuminated by the screen she held, like a portable dopamine dump, they seemed transfixed on the screen as her whole face had a serious but relaxed look to it.  Her hands flicked, poked, and prodded the screen but her face never changed and her eyes never moved.

A moment seemed like an eternity on that hot summer afternoon.

The Ballad Of Delusion And Madness

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Today I want to tell you part of a story.

Imagine the scene, eighth-grade year, the last year of what be the school that this barely even teenage kid had devoted seven long years to.  This kid was by no means a stellar student or popular. He had to deal with all the crap that comes with not being particularly liked, but at this point, he was more than happy to have others to share that dark spotlight with. Truth be told, he was more concerned with keeping his head down and out of the way than with trying to stand out. Let me tell you, that’s hard for a kid who’s a bit too zealous with asking questions and answering them especially if that boy has a tinge of awkwardness that follows him around like a cloud.  Either way, the year was almost over, high school was on the horizon, but a great debate about the future seems to lurk around every corner. He seems okay but underneath it all,  he’s being crushed by the weight of a decision that ultimately isn’t even his.
You see, his parents are divorced and separated by miles and miles of road which was perfect for the moment. Great until it becomes time for something to spark a change. To ignite a wildfire through their lives. Their sin, love for their children and pride. It would send earthquakes and aftershocks in the future, but neither of them knew that at the time. All they knew is that there was a wind blowing and change coming and they wanted was the favorable wind.
With types of fights, the large hand of justice looms overhead and intervenes for the sake of “the children.”  Setting up arbitration and evaluation to determine what is right and what is good, the decision is quick, but the process is not.  A member of that hand comes to observe and report what should be and what is.  Writing notes and recommendations about where this future should go, and what direction it will take. I wonder what they saw though, especially for this boy. Did they capture all the loneliness he felt? Did the capture his alienation?  Did that hand understand what it mean to be him and how that all he wanted to do was escape into a different world that might be able to understand him a bit better? He even wondered if they were looking.
Adding on top of this multitude of problems is youth.  You see, the poor kid started developing a crush.  A crush on a girl who didn’t go to his school but was the first one who he felt gave him the time of day.  Someone who seemed excited to talk to him or wanted to hang out. This was all new to him, he needed guidance so unlike what he is used to, he sought help, unlike he’s used to, people wanted to help him. For once in his life he felt like this might work out. A seeming oasis from his tribulation, he felt like with his peers helping him he didn’t have to be alone.
But that’s just the setup for the final act, the set up that would ultimately fall like dominos one by one.
So here we are, the beginning of May and the final piece that comes to play is set up.  Courage and love. The boy finally works it up, after much thought and deliberation he hatched a plan with his peers to finally chase after what he wanted.  To ask a question of the girl he didn’t know the answer to.  He decided it would be at the annual school festival, he knew she would be there. At the annual school festival, so would everybody else.
So there we are, a morning of the day that he is nervous. Adrenalin takes hold as he makes his way alone to the school.  Fun, games, and people all around. Laughter, and noise filling the air along with the smell of baked goods and grilled meat.  He was there that he knew there was no backing out now, he felt the power of the world behind him, and he couldn’t let them down.  So by the time the afternoon came, he found the girl wanted to question.  By the late afternoon, he was ready for what he thought the answer would be.  But hardly ever are expectation and reality something that goes hand in hand.    It was then he found out she had a boyfriend, it was then he knew thing weren’t going to work out.  It was then things began to crumble. It was then he needed help.
Where did he go for it? He went to his peers.  Some offered a small condolence, but the boy searched for the people that helped him. He searched for the ones who spent all this time helping him along the way.  But what he found was nothing, not a care or a word.   What the boy didn’t know is that the kid of the moment became old news.  He was no longer interesting, so there was no need to care.
This is when he began to fracture, this is when he began to see the breaks within.  He put on a tough face but after it all, he walked home through the night, tears flowing from his eyes wish it would all just go away.
The domino had fallen, sending rest of them falling down the line. The cogs began turning, and the world changed slowly.  Soon enough the decisions by the looming hand of justice were being made. For high school, it chose for him. For his schedule, it chose for him. Where he would be living, it chose for him.  This looming hand was determining the course of his life.  What again was it that he wanted, after it all, he didn’t even know anymore.
His parents bumbled and blustered, even though the spent all that time beating and bruising each in the court room never really got what the wanted.  Each decision wore away a bit of the boy, who at this point was already broken.  He felt like a rock in the desert slowly being eroded away, day after day with no end.  Soon, all that was left was void, a void where he threw all his emotions and feelings. He felt empty, and this made him content.

After it all they made him go see a therapist, in hopes of reducing the damage they had caused him.  But it was too late, the kid had built himself a mask, a mask to show the world what they wanted to see, a mask that would save him the trouble of having to worry about being exposed because if everything seemed alright, then nobody asked questions. If he could mimic human life, then he can live in this void forever. The therapist thought the boy was fine, the boy thought the therapist needed someone to talk to so they talked about him. Soon enough the boy was out to clean bill of health but just as empty as ever.
As the dust settled the kid wore that mask, and for a long time, all he felt was nothing.

That’s not where the story ends for the boy, there more to come. How those events will shape the boy. Events that helped set him down that spiral downward.
Again, this isn’t the end of the story, just a part. So if you could wait until next week to hear the end and what happens to the boy with the mask, I’ll be there to finish it.