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.

The World In The Life of A Guy: Part 6 – The Nod

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There it is, a small gesture that goes on with only a moment. This is a part of being a guy that I really kind of enjoy. It’s this little thing we will do when two guys pass by each other. A slight nod to the other person. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the sidewalk, in a car, while running, sitting, or doing numerous other activities it comes quickly, and it’s gone. It’s just a gesture, but it says a thousand words.

I was never outwardly taught this, it didn’t come up for classes or lessons. It was just understood that this needed to happen.  To acknowledge each other’s existence, regardless if you know them or not.  A small sign of respect for a person you may never see again. It’s like saying, “You are here, and see you” It doesn’t really matter what I am doing, I can elicit a nod from another guy as long as we make eye contact.  Now, this doesn’t mean this is actually going to lead anywhere, it’s not any sort of invitation. No one expects people to act on the nod, the nod itself is a self-contained precept.  It just feels nice to be acknowledged, to be honest, and I’m happy to do it.  It’s the perfect way to end awkward looks.

A nod can happen between friends too. Pass one in the hallway but don’t really want to stop, just nod.  Find yourself in a situation where you see someone you know while with a different group of people, just nod.  It’s easy, and even though it seems like there is not much to it, there is a whole layer its complexity that just fills the gap in social relationships that would otherwise cause unneeded drama and harm.  Letting it go with a nod signifies that everything is okay, that there is nothing pressing, and its okay to just be on your way. Though things can change and a nod can turn into a conversation or a connection of some sort, it being there is a good place to start without having to worry about the stepping on people’s toes.

The last part of the nod is much less of a nod but fall under the same family of things. When I had my motorcycle and was learning to ride, there was a small norm I had to follow.  Every time you pass by another bike, you would throw up a peace sign or a wave depending on your preference. It was a nice sign of respect, and it just feels like your part of this wider community of people that are in some way connected through a shared experience and expression.

I don’t know where the nod came from, but as a practice, I find it an ultimately positive one.  I think the nod is something that helps create a society in which we feel as if we exist together. So if you have the opportunity, nod at someone, when you get one back you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Not Anymore

So I needed to watch a sexual assault awareness video to register for classes
It was called Not Anymore
A long interactive video that seemed to drag
This isn’t the first video I’ve had to watch of this type
It probably won’t be the last
Some of the antics are ridiculous
Some of the acting is crazy
But it makes me wonder
Will this help anyone
Will this stop an attack
I can’t help but to feel that most of the time
Assailants know what they are doing
They may not label it at the time
They may not refer to themselves as a rapist
Or a sexual predator
But there has to be something deep down that had already told them that it was wrong
That what they were doing is bad
But it keeps on happening

Maybe it’s an effect of people believing that they are the exception to the rule
Maybe it’s them being in denial
But I doubt most rapists think their rapists
So will this video help?

This video becomes clear toward the end
It’s not for them
It’s for us
The ones who know right from wrong
The ones who see it happening and decide to look away
The ones who don’t want to have that awkward conversation with a friend
It’s telling us to do something
To act
And potentially be the hero somebody needs
or
To stop this violent act from happening again

So perhaps the video shouldn’t be called Not Anymore
But Now More Than Ever

My Father’s Hands

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My hands are becoming like my father’s hands. I’ve been looking at them as I have aged and they have had these lines I always admired, the veins and creases have started to show up. There is a significant difference though, between us, his hands are worn and beaten from years of work.  They are darker and rougher than mine from all the years out in the sun.  I have watched his hands all my life, and sometimes wonder what it would take for my hands to become like his.

There was a lot to them, a complexity that they seemed to both be visible but invisible. A hidden modesty of hard work.  I remember, they were always big and in watching him type away at the keys of a keyboard that always felt a little too small for his ideas. There were like magic, making all that hard work and long hours look like a walk in the park.

Now I sit in the car, hands on the steering wheel and can catch a glimpse of you, of all those hours we spent in the car, hot or cold with your hands on the wheel driving us both place to place. I remember the summers with the windows wide open, hoping to flush out the heat of the season, driving along the highway listening to news or music.  Hours of time that we couldn’t avoid but neither of us complained about the company.
I remember your hand in the winter, which stayed warm from all those years of having to fight back the cold while I was bundled up and whined being able to see my breath.

Large hands made to hold many things, mainly the responsibility of raising two stubborn kids who couldn’t seem to get along.  They were both the peace maker and the hands of logic and reason. I remember them because they were always cast out in aid, hands made to help others before they helped themselves.

I look at my hands, and I see a bit of you, my hands don’t hold as much, are not as worn or beaten, but in some ways, I hope they will be because I’ve always wanted to have hands just like yours.

Mind Melt

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There it is again.
That nagging voice telling me that I am not doing enough, that I’m not good enough, that I will amount to nothing.  I am so tired of it constantly whispering into my ear these insecurities that I can’t seem to part with at the moment.  I know I’m not alone but I think it’s the consequence of feeling like time is running out, and in the life lottery I might not be a winner. I keep buying these tickets, tickets to hope or future, betting on both chance and my unique abilities to show out at the end of the day but I can’t tell the future, and my numbers don’t feel like they are coming up.  I see the world moving and look myself up and down in the mirror and see stagnation and hesitation. It’s aggravating, but all I can blame is myself.

I know I am lucky, I have the opportunity given to me by the sacrifices of others and myself but each story I come across make me feel like everything I do is merely a half measure.  The desire to pour myself solely into one flask to capture my wide away of interests is missing and all I am left with as many unfilled glasses that are unappealing. The idea of a jack of all trade just seems out of place in the world of specialists.

I want to rise up to the top, make a difference and yet these small voices in my mind seem determined to win this war not by combat but by attrition.  I am tired, each day I awake.  Half energy for a full day doesn’t make for a productive time as I try to navigate my surroundings and make the most of my life.  Maybe I need sleep, and I don’t have time. Maybe I need variety, but I don’t have money. Maybe I need… no, what I need is more discipline, more spirit, more determination.

I am worried I am not made up of the stuff that would make me one of the greats. I am afraid I am not cut out for making a difference. But I can not worry any longer I need to act and act and act.  To do rather than sit, to decide rather than hesitate.  I will find what I need, and if it’s not there, then I will create it. I will have trouble, I will fall, but I will get back up again. I can do it because you know what I am just human and that’s enough. I might not be made of any special stuff, but the stuff I got is good enough. Anyone can be great with enough practice. Excellence is what we do, as so our life prospects do not come from out ability but our actions and our habits.  I will make this world a better place. I will leave my mark. I will find and help everyone I can, and if that goal seems too big for one person then I will grow as strong as two and if that’s not enough then I will look to my neighbor and ask for his help because we live in a world of infinite possibilities and I don’t have enough time to listen to the little voice that keeps telling me that I am not good enough.

Boredom

I find myself falling asleep
I don’t want to
It’s not time yet
but I can barely keep my eyes open
Its because my minds not working
my body has slowed
My heart rate drops
and it expects me to sleep
I am fighting it
Putting my mind to the test
trying to push my way through it all
Trying to do my best
But I can’t avoid it at times
My life had its lulls
But I fight boredom with all of my

Each day is a struggle
But I will win
Because life is wonderful
and it’s a beautiful place within.

Duality: The Search For Meaning

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Meaning is derived from what we believe, from our own values and the values of the society at large.  It’s it is born within and manifests itself through our emotions, are a desire to both create and preserve.  There are some things that hold intrinsic value to them, old photographs, mementos, objects in our lives that matter to us.  Where it gets a bit confusing is when you must choose to give something value that would typically not hold any value at all.  Old toys can be given away and thrown out if there is no intrinsic connection or meaning to them anymore. It’s like putting away childish things, the memory then is the thing that may hold a sense of pricelessness to it.  The interesting part is when we put meaning and value into things we can’t hold or touch.  The value of values. They mean nothing unless we choose to believe in them. They carry no weight unless we give weight to them. What does it say then, are they just a figment of our imagined psyche, or something more that comes from within.

I have trouble sometimes with the idea of value.  What is it? Thinking about it plainly, it’s an agreed upon a statute, one that acts like a monument but folds like an illusion.  It is the same idea behind laws. Laws are an accepted set of rules, that we (and the people that came before) have set up to create a society that we feel is fair, and just in its own way.  Laws work then in the interest of those who have the power over them.  Laws though have a consequence, and thus it is born with weight to it. Without the consequence, the law becomes just a set of words upon paper.  Only followed by the people who believe in it. Those who are not afraid of the consequence, or are truly unaware of it have sort of freedom to act beyond it.

This works too with the laws of a community. What is made to be wrong, or taboo is agreed upon, and the community will take its own sort of justice out on those who break it.  Each community will have its own rules that govern it, with its own sense of punishment and reward for those who abide by it.  Even then, if you are unafraid of the consequences or unaware of it, then the rules have no meaning, and you can act beyond it.

It is then, the values you place upon yourself, what you make taboo, or meaningful retains its value because you believe it too.  You associate value with it, and so it is worth protecting. If you break them, you will feel guilty or in some way punish yourself, but if you are unafraid of the consequence or unaware of it, then these values lose all its meaning.  A rule becomes a statement, and something important may just become a motion.  So then, what value does it have, if it can be broken so easily, is there a value to value.

To find meaning in life, sometimes we create it.  We all have different ideas about what should matter, and what shouldn’t.  From person to person, this will change. Varying wildly in degree and circumstance.  It gives our lives motion, a thing to fight for, without these internal laws we are just an existence that heads towards the end without ever trying to get better. Given meaning, there is a constant evolution of what we hold true to ourselves. So should we change our values, according to the laws of community, generation, and society, or hold steadfast to them. Can we be the rock on the shore or are we doomed to be the rock in the river, slowly eroding away as time ticks by?

I honestly don’t know the answer, something deep down inside tells me to believe, and that’s all I got… maybe that’s enough for me.

The World In The Life Of A Guy: Part 5 – Courtesy Conundrum​

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There’s an interesting juxtaposition of being courteous and being modern. Not that I think these two things are opposing each other, but at times they lay on opposite sides of a very fine line. Let me explain.

Growing up, boys are taught to be forward, to go after what they want.  To be gentle, and kind but in some ways more aggressive. To protect and to fight.
It’s in these things where the social dynamics take an interesting turn.  Imagine this, you go out on a date, to for a guy, a lot of the time, it’s engrained in us to pay for the meal. Not a bad thing, or a thing I am complaining about, but something to be very aware of.  If we don’t, we are thought of as cheap or stingy.

It’s just strange to think about, the system or manners have a certain non-contemporary nature to it.  Most of the rules are in assuming a certain power dynamic between men and women.  With the rise of modern feminism, we need to take a brief look into how these manners manifest themselves.

Paying for a meal, now the best suggestion I have heard about this is either to split the bill or whoever does the asking does the paying (now that does lead first dates to usually lean on the guy but that’s a whole other issue).

Asking people out.  Though it falls primarily on the guy, I feel like now is a time where girls can feel comfortable (not that asking someone out for the first time is easy) asking.

Opening the door for people.  A little bit goes a long way, plus, I would be happy for people to open the door for me but maybe that’s just because I am a bit lazy.

Driving people. This goes according to comfort and vehicle.  I feel like this should just go to whoever feels least comfortable about things. Though it can be a good exercise in trust, meeting someone at the location has never been easier.

Not talking about politics or religion. Probably a good idea in general unless tha’ts what both people are bonding over.  Its great to know people and that is always a fun topic to talk about but the conversation has a lot of other places to go too.

Of course, the easy way to go about things is, just to follow the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have done unto you”.  This makes things very simple in the long run and can prove to be an effective way to approach pretty much everyone you come in contact with. Here’s the kicker though, people appreciate when you enact old time courtesies (the appropriate ones).
The difficulty stems from what to do and where in this environment its sometimes hard to gauge how familiar you should be with someone.  Each person is different as is each relationship.  Learning how to navigate it is going to become more complex as time goes on.  I think as long as you go in with good intentions and the other person well being in mind we will do okay.

I don’t think it will make things any less confusing but it will certainly make it so you know exactly where you stand.

The Little Things

Standing on the precipice of sleep
Working my way to my feet
It’s the little things that make and break me
Each day I go through each day
Trying to catch the good moments
Letting the bad ones go
But being tired makes the whole thing a lot more complicated
Makes me wonder about how good of a person I am
Deep down
It’s the person who pushes through obscurity despite it all
that’s the person to aspire to be
I catch myself sometimes
Failing to do good
Because my body falls behind
And my mind drives me to close my eyes
Wanting there to be more to it all
To return to the land of dreams when the sun is still shining
Keep going
Keep pressing on
You have to pull out a win
This is for you
No one is going to be pulling you along
Drag it
Pull your body along with your aspirations
Drive it with your dreams
It will follow you where you go
Because it has to
Then you can sleep
When you have exhausted all your resources
And gotten the job done
That’s when you deserve it.