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.

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

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 2 – Decisions

There is some unspoken part of being a man, a requirement to have a firmness of choice.  It’s confusing to me because I am expected to make decisions and stick to them even when I am unsure. To cut through the fog, and smoke like a sword, swift and with purpose.  It would be a false bravado, and maybe that’s what I need, to fake it until I make it. If people are to give me the power, perhaps I should learn to wield it, and do what I think is best.

The decision, that force that tears through the cloud like vengeance, requires me always to have the tempered blade ready to use in moments where it’s do or die, and I may have to kill.  That what decision feel like at times, subjecting myself to the fog of war, where left, right, up, and down seems negligible to the enemy in front of me. Trying my best to survive, as each choice takes its toll on me, I am just like others, not wanting to make decisions all the time.  I sometimes push off the responsibility to others so that I can go along with the ride.

The expectation is a guy I will make and stand by my choices, sway people like waves on an ocean to my choice. To be the lighthouse that brings the boats in during the dark nights and rainy days, a constant to turn to. It becomes the responsibility of the one making the decision, the one making this choice, to keep everyone in mind.

I don’t know how many times I’ve sat across from people trying to figure out what to eat and looking for that evasive input that would point me in the right direction it eludes me once more.  Seeking to narrow down the multitude of places that all swarm my brain and are all equally good.  Even sometimes when I make a decision, they tell me to choose again. It’s effortful and taxing in situations where the decision is much more significant, but maybe it’s a matter of learning to get stronger and more resilient so I can go further along.

I know that I overthink most things, and not every decision is tantamount to a national emergency, but like most people, I don’t like being wrong.  I guess I should learn to get over that, learn to make decisions the best I can with what I have.  I am an academic at heart so collecting information is my go to, but I need to know when enough is enough. When it doesn’t pay to squeeze out that last drop. It’s all part of growing up isn’t it, making do with what you have, and embracing the limitation and coming up with something new.

Maybe I shouldn’t put that much emphasis on what I do, and maybe I shouldn’t care as much about others think when I make decisions. Maybe I will just choose and let the cards fall where they may. I only know so much and am working with what I have because I’m “just a guy” right.

When My Heart Fell To Silence

One of my favorite authors is Paulo Coelho, and my favorite of his books is the Alchemist.  Its one of the few books which have had the patience and desire to read multiple times.  Most of the book is about the journey of a man looking to find his personal legend. All along this journey, he learns how to listen to the voice of the world and how to listen to the voice of his heart.  There is a point in his quest, where obtains all he needs to live a good life, a life better than what he had before. There he considered the end to this quest, stop following his dream and settle down to a life worth living.  It was then, a wise man told him, should he end this campaign to fulfill his personal legend, ignoring the calls and prods of his heart, one day his heart would stop talking and grow silent forever to be lost to him.

I find myself slightly askew, feeling like there is something missing within me.  Sometimes it feels like my brain is drowing, waiting for air to releave it of its suffering, only to sit working on what I only hope will grow into something better.  My heart rests itself in a grey cloud, feeling the luke warm of the air around it, never feeling content, but also never getting the motivation to get out of this shroud. I am not unhappy, but I am not exactly chipper as my usual self. This feeling of cynasism creeps forth as my heart and mind lash out at me like a wounded animal.This is slow and painful insanity that eventually overcomes and become a psuedo reality in which there may be no percievable real escape from.

My feeling is at this moment I am the furthest I have ever been from my heart, and where my personal legend may lie.

Its exasperating, my heart is whispering strange thoughts and notions into my mind, wanting me to cut loose and go while, escape from the grey clouding my heart, give my brain some fresh air to breath. I sit here and I think about it, process it, there the revelation of my current standing in life, this is my chance to finally listen to my heart and leave to where I want to go. I must take contol of the reins and move myself back on this path. I must find this lightening path, the road to the end of the tunnel, I will see the light of day again.

We must face ourselves in the mirror and I can’t become statisfied with what I see in return. Change comes from a need born deep with, a necessity that will push me further than ever before.   I will start on my journey, start on my course, follow where my heart leads and never look back.

This I promise, I will start now, right this minute, because tomorrow is already too late.

Convert To Humanity

I’ve gone to church for all of my life.  Mass after mass every Sunday,  learning about what to do, how to do it, and what is the righteous path. Growing up in the church makes people a bit apathetic, less responsive, and less zealous. I can remember sitting in the pews when I was younger, dosing off as the something akin to muscle memory took me through the motions.  Responses and prayers at that point just become words and empty ritual that your hearts not into (not the best way to practice religion).
It was in these brief periods of dozing that I realized there were a group of people who had all the love and faith to put into the mass, who hung on every word. They would sit in anticipation for the next lesson, and always have a distinct reverence for God, and be the loudest voices when it came to singing and praying.  These people I would find out later usually converted to the religion. People who ultimately chose to be there, not because of some familial obligation or routine, but because they found exactly what they were looking for. As I got older, I had always had a great deal of respect for them, because it’s their zeal that I aspire to.

It was around age 7 when if you wanted to find me I would be in one of two places, staring at a screen in the living room, or watching a screen in my bedroom.  It’s not that I was particularly antisocial, but I had always felt more comfortable with a monitor in front of me.  If I wasn’t at school or with friends that was what I was doing.  Video games and cartoons were my life, a consistency that I sought, and for some time, the only consistency I had.  I wasn’t much for humanity, people were fun to be around, but I always guarded myself against them. For a while there I didn’t understand the appeal of people, though at times I enjoy being around them, I always defaulted back to that life in front of the screen. People and I seemed to be on a very different wavelength so when was playing video games it was my home, it was my haven, where I would go to escape into the world I felt like I might actually belong to.
As I grew older, the feeling of something missing within me began to grow.  Though video games and anime were fun, they ultimately could only provide a mostly superficial experience.  No matter how far I delved to fill this part of myself, I was never really satisfied completely.  I doubled down, how can something that had sustained me for this long suddenly be lacking. Hundreds of episodes, countless games, and hours staring at the backlit screen of a laptop, I needed something to change, but for a while nothing did.
It was much later when I started to see the value in those types of relationships we foster. It took a while for that desire to spread root within me. It was then that my love of humanity began to grow because it was something I realized I wanted to be a part of, something I knew would make me feel more complete and alive. I wanted to know as much as I could about this group that I seemed strangely distant from. I wanted to be apart humanity because I finally accepted I was human.

When I think about why I believe in humanity so much, in the goodness of man, the greatness of our capability.  I realize, I chose to be part of this miraculous people and have fallen in love with our antics.  It’s a zeal I find reminiscent to those converts to religion. I sing out praised of humanity and acknowledge their shortfalls. I find that I love people because doing so makes me feel whole. It birthed a passion that I can’t live without.

At the end of it, I believe in how great people can be.  I have always been a lover of history, and it has always been enough evidence to show me how much we can accomplish if we really push ourselves. Within the last century athletes, academics and activists have pushed the boundary and advanced our society beyond people hundreds of years ago would be able to fathom.  Though there are times in which we follow a misguided or evil path, we always show a high capability to learn and grow.  Our greatest strength is to adapt and teach others a better way and strive for a better future. I am a convert to humanity, a believer in our purpose, I will sing our songs to the heavens and hang on every lesson.

A Resolute Resolution

What will I become in this new year?

I see a vividly a version of myself standing upon a hill with back faced to me.  A much larger more powerful person stands before me, confronted with the future, ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow.  He has a grin as if he knows what the future hold and how to move about it. This man standing at the other end of the year is challenging me to catch up.

Resolutions don’t work, at least no the majority of the time.  Trying to change yourself in so many ways all at once and expecting result immediately is only setting yourself up for failure. Anticipating the arrival of the new year to have some sort of bearing on how well you are able to do something is a bit silly. Moments should be grasped when the motivation is at hand, not when we feel like the motivation should come.

This is why I don’t have a resolution but a resolve. I want to be better, stronger, more compassionate and helpful. I want to be that man on the mountain I see before me, not just stuck staring at the back of what I could be.  I want to the one who is more of a man of action, one who is less hesitant and less likely to be paralyzed by fear and indecision. This might seem vague but what I am to do is eliminate the feeling of being able to do more by actually doing it.

In learning all I can, I came upon a concept of deliberate practice. The practice that you do to continue to push your ability and skills to the next level. This is the way you become an expert at something. This is something I must learn to do, deliberate practice of life.  To make it so I am constantly pushing the boundaries of what I can and can’t do. Learning how to get to each of the next stages in my own life.

This is my promise to myself that I will be that man I see on the hill, that man who is challenging me now, so by the time next year comes around, I will be able to challenge my past self too and welcome the next challenge with a smile.

This is my resolution, this is my resolve. I hope to all of you that we are all successful in our pursuits, but I have a back to catch up to, and I have to get started now!

Death.

In the spirit of the holiday of Halloween, I wanted to turn my attention to the topic of death. Know this will be a bit darker than normal.

Death.  I’ve honestly been thinking about it lately.  The idea of death, what it would mean to die.  Now, I’ve never seriously entertained the thought of speeding up the process; I’m too Catholic for that. I have felt, though, as if I have wanted to die.  As if I wanted my existence to end,  and the suffering involved with pressing on to cease. Those moments, where it seems as if I’ve already messed up too much and it’s not going to get any better from here.  Where the world just looks like it’s against me, death becomes a choice.

Death is a self-involved choice, something that would be done without anyone else in mind, because the results of death effects not only but the people around you. The only reason I would do it to add a bookend to my life, to see the culmination of my life put together.   I would love to attend my funeral; it’s in the way to get the review of the book  that authors put on the back cover,  taking who I am and compressing it into something that some that understandable. The only problem with that plan is that I would have to be alive, and you can’t have a funeral for someone who hasn’t died yet. The question stands, when do we really die.  Is it when we give up on our last breath or is when we give up on our last dream.  Is it when our brain stops functioning or when we stop being remembered.

Whatever happens after death is for the living.  Funerals, burials, and rituals all stand to give that closure to those who are left behind.  Each culture giving some credence and someway to remember those who have come before us.  It’s then, on the day after Halloween, All Saints and All Souls day that we take a moment to remember all those who have perished. We all have our own way, but is something calls to be dealt with whether we like it or not.

What does death mean then, as it has no intrinsic meaning to it, it can only be given meaning. Unfortunately, the people around you can only really give you the answer.  With each different belief, we can only speculate as why someone lived and died in the first place.  Whether or not you believe in an afterlife or sorts, death is a very final act on show that is your life.

As of now, I can only say that death is a motivator to make sure the book of my life has a happy ending, and that it may be worth a read along the way.

Funny Boy

I have a serious nature by default, one which I inherited from my father along with a sarcastic tone.  That’s not to say that everything has to be serious, but the words that I speak carry a dry wit, a calm sensibility, or an almost ridiculous notion on every utterance. Truth be told, I can’t help it. It’s a consequence of my always overthinking nature – which as I have said before gets me in more trouble than it’s worth.  Now, that is to say; I do have my moments of comedy. But in the grand scheme of existence, I default to talking about the nuances of life instead of saying something funny.

It’s problematic, as you might know, to constantly bog down a conversation with reality.  It makes for conversations that carry too much weight and (much to the chagrin of social scientists everywhere) people don’t want to talk about that type of stuff all the time.  Against my best efforts, my conversations can become humorous and light. Which are always a joy to have but I don’t know how to get there except frequent happy accidents.

What can I do, this reflection all came to head with the fact that I became unfunny, which to some isn’t a huge difference. But, it was something that I had taken for granted.  For the life of me, I couldn’t comprehend how the change happened. What was left is seriousness and the weight it carries.

Usually, that’s not usually an issue; I am young and healthy so I know how to wear the weight, it’s just that my favorite thing in the world is people’s smiles.  Now try to get someone to smile when you are talking about the various problems of life and history.  Usually, that only makes a handful of people happy.

Humor is, at least to me, is about taking the world and changing it in such a way that sad thoughts can become a happy one. My goal in life is to understand pretty much everything this world has to offer and that includes what makes people happy.

Now I am not going to say that I have to change my serious nature; it keeps me on track and surprisingly calm about most things in life.  What I do need is to lighten up a little, allow things to be stretched and skewed a little bit. That little twist is sometimes the thing that changes crying from sadness and crying from laughter. So wish me luck on this endeavor, god knows I will need it.