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So much can happen in a year that it is little wonder that time is the great equalizer. I’ve always felt that time in and of itself is the greatest judge, the most effective executioner, and the most passionate protector. While time delivers us onto the chopping block of life, dismembering all semblance of our former selves with one last breath, one last quake, it also holds off the inevitable decay, and heals the microscopic rips and tears of our hearts. Time has the power to heal, to destroy – to equalize.
So much has changed – my wife and I, deeply in love, married in March of 2009. On our honeymoon, a great revelation in drunken stupor lead to a new spiritual awakening. Time has healed the rifts between my father and I, and has closed the great chasm between my mother and I as well. My sister and I have a new relationship, a new genesis of understanding and mutual respect. My art has culminated in satisfaction, and its fruition has become a staple in our decrepit scene.
For now – I sleep. Tomorrow, we talk. There’s much more to hear, friend. Silence comes when you grow old and sad, then die. I plan on doing neither of those any time soon.
See you soon kid.
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Alone in a cold, dark bedroom, I stare at the patterns in my carpet, shifting consciously between states of apathy and desolation. The phone, alive in my hand, keeps shaking in it’s vibrations, threatening to wake the gods with it’s deafening silence, shaking the earth into a rhythmic motion of somnambulism and despair. I had expected this moment to happen, but was surprised by it’s sudden appearance – almost as if you called an old friend in a store who happened to be in the adjacent aisle – you know it’s going to happen, but it still frightens you. The sensation of ice creeps across my skin, both the icy breathe of despair and the white hot rage of consistent anger and frustration. I answer the phone delicately, asking why she continues to abuse me this way. I lash out, unable to hold back anymore, and finally ask her the intent of all of this. I wait with abated breath, hands shaking with anger, disappointment and betrayal, waiting for the sickly poison to drip from those cracked lips and broken teeth. I feel so incredibly alone in my average situation, which only increases the drama and irony of it all. She is the most insane, abusive, disloyal person I have ever met, but all these emotions, suppressed in the twilight hours of morning, serve only to highlight the fact that I have convinced myself of an emotion that is non-existent – my fear of being alone has forced me into this condition which, ironically, is one of loneliness.
She has decided to be a whore. She has made the conscious choice to have as much sex with as many people as possible, and that hurts me – but I realize in that instance that the fake emotion that I’ve convinced myself I feel is not what has caused the pain inside me. Oh no, I could care less for her. She is trash, a waste of space, excrement of the earth fit more for decomposition than walking in her current state of reanimated corruption and deceit. What hurts me the most is that I am just one more line in a journal, one more memory that can be locked away. I am an errant word on a piece of paper, decaying in a trash heap. That, more than anything, causes me to snap. I tell her it’s over, that I hate her, that I hope she realizes one day, while she is in a drugged up stupor, having degraded herself and destroyed her soul, that she gave up the single person who has ever given more than two seconds of care for her. I hang up the phone. A week later, I tell her that I never want her to call me again, that I hate her, and that she is a waste of humanity. I have only talked to her once since then, and she is as predicted – destroyed, utterly. I rejoice.
That causes such an internal friction inside me, however – rejoicing in another persons pain. As I alluded in an earlier piece, I am a Christian, one of idealistic values of morality and justice, even against the corruption of the fundamental. So how can I, a Christian, claim joy over another persons suffering? After a year, I still held such anger towards her. Why? The circumstance isn’t unique – I’m sure I’m not the first person to be damaged by the morally questionable activities of another, nor am I the last. I wonder how many thousands of people have been abused before me, and how many will be after me? The emotional scars I hold are identical to many others, even those in my own life, so what can cause such anger, why do I still hold such a derisive hatred towards her? The answer, as with most answers in life, is complex in it’s simplicity – I am alone. We are all alone. The suffering of life is simple and collective – as per the human condition, we are made to suffer by our actions and inaction. We are, realistically, all alone, in a collective mass of despair and regret. How is this possible, to be lonely yet surrounded?
Firstly, we are born into a world which we did not ask to be part of. We exist for unknown reasons, in a world that is damaged so heavily by the actions of those who have decided we should be part-and-parcel to it. We did not ask to be brought here, but brought here we are, to this world of such intense sorrow, joy, suffering and delight, confused by our inadequate understanding and pompous in our self righteous attitude. We can’t be told anything – we are humans! We are the dominate species! We waste as we want, destroy as we want, do as we want, for we, despite claims to the contrary, see ourselves as our own God. We are our own personal messiahs. We are born into peaceful ignorance, and ascend generally into deliberate idiocy.
Secondly, the idle conformity of youth acts as a second scene in the grand operatic depression. We resist our ascendancy to idiocy, trying however unfruitful to maintain the innocence and joy of youth. We resist conformity because to conform is to become that which we hate – the very image and type that caused such despair and destruction in this world in the first place. We are asked to become like those who forced us into this world; we are forced to become like those who destroyed this world. We suffer and rejoice through bad and good, but we ultimately are alone.
Third, and finally, we die alone. We lose our loved one (or abandon them, as the case may be), at least if we are lucky enough to have had a loved one, and then leave this world that we became part of without our agreement by force. We never asked to be brought here, yet we never asked to be taken out. It’s the grand irony of existence – there was no consultation, no intent on being created, yet when we are created with our will being known, we cling to existence, however menial, however desperate, fearing the unknown. We are untimely alone.
I know a large group of people are currently staring at these pages (or computer screen, depending on how you are currently reading this), and questioning to themselves how this all fits in with my idealistic view of God and existence. How can such despair permeate the world? Simply, we choose to be alone. We choose to continue this cycle of despair, we choose to submit, we choose to conform. Simply, we choose to be part of a collective of despair and negativity. This collective despair, however, is the very key to joy – rejoice in the suffering of life by supporting each other. Give love and happiness, honor the world for what it is, and do you very best to change it. One cannot simply accuse society of faults and then refuse to fix it – be the change you want to see in the world (to paraphrase a great mind). You are not alone – your situation is not unique. Somewhere in the world, someone is suffering as you are, being rejected as you were, or is being oppressed as you will be. We are, by nature, a collective of both great joy and suffering, but it does not have to be this way. When we acknowledge that we all suffer, when we acknowledge that pain is universal, only then can we move forward and support each other through love and understanding. If a man lashes out at you in anger, find the fault in that mans life, and support him. You may be who he needs. If a woman rejects you, honor the decision – it has a purpose, a reason. Support her by accepting, and move on. If you are wronged, do not “get even”, acknowledge that person is so damaged as to feel the need to attack you. Refuse to be alone.
It’s been a few years since that night. I don’t harbor hatred anymore. Eating at my soul, the hatred took hold and began to sprout ignorance and defensiveness in my soul. I refused to be alone, rejected it by the Lord, and have found closure. I encourage anyone that needs closure to do the same. Even if you do not have a faith, find something to discover closure in, whether it be your own God, a book, a song from a forgotten record, or a journal entry from long years passed. I am no longer filled with anger. I am filled with joy – I am not alone in my suffering. I am loved by a beautiful woman who is loyal, beautiful, and kind. She is bearing my child, and we are happy together. We refuse to be alone. As for the former relationship – I only hope that she, and others like her, find solace and compassion where they need to find it. I hope they become what they were intended to be, whatever that is, and that they find fault in their actions and seek forgiveness, from themselves, from those they’ve wronged, and from where they need to find it. God bless the fallen. We’re all mad here.
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Clad in ripped jeans and a hoodie, life rushing by in milliseconds captured and flashes of red, blue and black, I’m staring at the lonely faces surrounding me. A man, deep in a book I could never hope to read, a woman, engrossed in a silent conversation on her white cellphone, and a child, fast asleep against his sister, dreaming of the life he’ll have and the happiness he’ll give to others. I’m sitting on the JR Line in Japan, returning to Matsudo, where our guide Aya lives. I smile, tired from the day, but fulfilled. A long day of sight seeing had culminated first in a nice, full shot glass of sake, and then with a wonderful session of Karaoke. Joined by drunk business men across the hall and the wonderful hostess who guided us to the private room, Wayne and I had sung like there was no tomorrow – we sang combinations of heavy metal, prog rock, and finally ended it all with a delightfully depressing rendition of “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls (which, by the way, still brings water to my eyes whenever I hear it – ah nostalgia!). I close my eyes, and the memories, anxieties, emotions, and thoughts of the day catch up to me, rushing behind the eyelid like a broken movie theater projectionist, running reel after reel of disjointed scenes in his mad candor.
It flies by in a split second, and I can feel my heart skip a beat. Slowly, the heat in my body increases, and I can feel the beginnings of a migraine creeping into my temples. My smile slowly drops, and then quickly deepens into a scowl. My mind races, my heart slams against my chest, and my breath comes quickly. My brain jumps around, trying to find out why I’m reacting this way, and it hits me like a ton of bricks – at this very second, we could all die. Now, don’t take that the wrong way – it’s not as if I’m a remarkably morbid person. I have my moments, and although my humor has been regarded with many a sour face, I am generally a happy person. Regardless, the thought hits again – at this very second, we could all die.
Looking around at the lonely faces, I wonder – what have these people become, if we do die? In others words, what is the sum total of their lives? The man, deeply engrossed in his book – what has he done with his life that could make his existence warranted, or at the very least, a positive influence? The woman talking, the children sleep, myself – what have we done? It’s not as if we could control it, either – a man who has six months to live will do everything in his power to leave something of himself behind, some legacy, some influence. It’s, after all, human genetics – we are programmed to leave a piece of us behind, through either procreation or legacy. We wouldn’t choose to die at this very second, but if we did, what positive would we have injected into the world? What action, what word, what attitude would have made our existence not a waste?
Fundamentally, we tend to think we control the universe – man is a very self-centered being, and we’ve convinced ourselves of some percieved supremacy. We hunt living beings for food, we cut down nature to write on it, we burn entire forested areas for strip malls. At the end of the day, however, we control nothing. Allow that to soak in for a minute – we truly control nothing. We don’t control our bodies – if we did, then we would not have cancer, AIDS, or even assault and murder. We don’t control our money – in the modern day economy, that is blatantly obvious. Even with the smartest investments, you could be screwed. Even if you left it all in the bank, you could be screwed. If it’s under the mattress, you could be robbed. We control almost nothing.
This comes across as depressing, but I want to point out something I said above – we control almost nothing. The only thing we can ever hope to control, ever hope to understand, is integrity, and more specifically, honesty. We, as a society, have become a group of liars and thieves in every sense of the word. It’s not entirely our fault, however – people are told by society that if you’re “normal”, you’re welcome, and if you’re not “normal”, you better at least fake it. We’ve been conditioned to lie – don’t ask don’t tell, counter culture suppression, government mandates, tyrannical rule of free information – it’s all been designed to keep us in another persons view of the straight and narrow, or at the very least, designed to make us pretend to be in the straight and narrow. Every single person knows at least one other person who has committed a crime, has a weird fetish, has cheated on someone, or any number of truths, and continues to make the choice to hide them behind lies.
A second memory comes to mind, and is the perfect example – I’m standing on the sightseeing deck at Narita International, looking at a plane taking off. That plane could crash before even taking off the runway, and all those people would be forgotten within weeks by the majority of the world. All their bank accounts would be depleted in some way or another, their jobs would be filled by another cog, their children would find another father in the man mommy decides to have sex with, and they would be truly forgotten. As depressing as that is, it’s true – nothing in their lives would make their existence warranted, except for the microcosm of impacts they left. Say out of the 60 people on a plane, only one of them told the truth about a friend who abuses his child. That child would be freed from abuse, and could someday grow up to start an organization for the safety of children and abuse education. Directly due to this institution, another child could be freed, and that child could remember the positive impacts of that organization, and choose to use it as a platform for politics. Someday, he could become a leader of Japan, and move for tougher regulation on the treatment of children and women, therefore liberating an entire section of the population.
If the man keeps silent? Who knows. All that can be said is the sum total of positive possibility that could be derived from his life is gone. He has left nothing. He has had no impact.
My heart slows, and my smile returns. I know that it’s a side effect of me being tired, and that the sort of thought that runs through the mind at one in the morning typically isn’t one of intelligence. I simply think to myself – “Maybe I should tell Jenny how I feel. Yeah…”. Almost two years later, I’m free of all the addictions that plagued my body, and I’m going to be the father of a beautiful baby boy. All because of telling one simple truth.
Come on people now. Smile on your brother, everybody get together. Try and love another right now.
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The memory, as most of my fondest do, begins in Japan – more accurately, in the least accurate terms, somewhere amongst the scattered tourists and natives celebrating the New Year, spinning through the crowds like an oceanside torrent, a current of life. I’m six stories up, staring at a white wall, bobbing my head silently – Tower Records is a strange kind of place, hidden away at the top floor, minimal in it’s complexity, yet complex in it’s absent minded decoration. Walking past a kiosk, I had heard jazzy beats emanating from a pair of headphones, suspended off a hook, vibrating to the ‘bumps’ and ‘ticks’ of the drum line, and was intrigued – though I was a Jazz fan, I was more a fan in the school of Take Five and Bunny Berigan, and had not yet heard the smooth beats of club jazz and acid groove. Nonetheless, I was intrigued, and upon hearing several fifteen second clips, I promptly demanded a piece of paper of the hostess, who responded kindly in good, yet broken, English – “Is Indigo Jam Unit – good jazz!”. After writing their name in semi-inebriated and exhausted scrawl, I bid my farewells, and joined Aya and Wayne on their exit with the Mars Volta and The Pillows secure in my backpack. I spent the next week checking to see if I had the name written down – one in my wallet, one in my pocket, one on the laptop, over and over again. For some reason, I felt it was important.
Almost two years later, it’s occurred to me – jazz is like life. Well, any music really, but particularly jazz. Life is like jazz in the sense that there are a multitude of parts, all working in harmony, to produce one of two classes of jazz (and really, there are only two main classes) – pure unlistenable noise, or pure delicious audio sex. Of all the comparisons that can be made, however, the one that catches my attention is the drumline, in all it’s complexity and planning. The drumbeat is but a section of life, and to me best represents the concept of memories – not the memories themselves, but the grand overall place for them in the human experience. Each hit, each cymbal strike, each roll of the bass, is a memory – all with varying degrees of recollection and strength, all with varying levels of pertinence. The pattern rolls on, forgetting each note, driving forward always – however, no matter how driving the beat, it means nothing without referencing a previous sample of sound – after all, how strange would a song sound if the composer refused to remember any previously played note?
Memory, as a whole, proceeds in much the same equation, though we tend to go to one of two extremes. On the one hand, there are those that pick each note and hit methodically, bogging so far down in details that the overall composition suffers, or refuses to be completed. On the other hand, there are those compositions that drive fully ahead, with no reference point, continuity, or logic – the aforementioned noise. In each of these cases, the overall line suffers, and a song is only as good as it’s weakest part. If the drumline fails, the bassline will lose rhythm, the guitar will strike absently, the brass and percussionists will fail to find their place – it’ll be a mess, punctuated by horrible authorship. It is only when a delicate balance is discovered that the song comes to fruition, and it’s potential is realized. For those who live in the past, picking each detail one by one, the future rushes by – for those who spend their live pushing forward, it all ends suddenly, having experienced nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Really, it’s not the composers fault in the end – it’s the human condition. We tend to think of the moment as being of singular importance – Carpe Diem, as they say. The only thing that matters is us, the here and now, the impermeant. It’s a defense mechanism – when the hatred of our condition and situation exceeds of tolerance to pain and loss, we retreat into the past, or march ignorantly into the future. It’s pure escapism. What we need to realize, though, is that there is more than one song on this Earth – there are millions of drum lines, millions of songs, and our single instrument, though important to us, is really, truly, and completely insignificant. This is not a thing of despair - a record can only work with songs that are in harmony. When we recognize the darkness in the world that we wish to change, we can then flood it with the light of understanding and peace. I’m sure we’ll meet again, old friend. In this life, or the next.
So long, Tokyo.
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Leaning against the railing of a wrought-iron balcony in Chiba, Japan, I stare out at the sprawling black road in front of me, covered in the moisture of seaboard air. The air passing over a cigarette in one hand elicits a glowing red spark, sending burning red paper swirling in the air, fluttering onto my hand, which seizes in response. The ember burns the skin, but only as deep as the cold coastal night ambiance has permeated. Flicking the Lucky Strike into the street below, I watch as it plummets, striking the ground with a silent grace, and I find myself unable to look away. Staring at the black asphalt, my mind races with possibilities, ranging from the extremities of running into the mountains to disappear , seizing the opportunity to drift to the earth in an extremely lacking grace, and the natural concepts of slow assimilation and a career abroad. I am unhappy with my life – the multitude of failures and ultimately useless decisions has caused my life to slowly fall apart, tearing at the seams; the nature of expression has dulled, and the art that once seemed vibrant and colorful seems listless and grey at best, and utterly pointless in those black, worsening hours. My old age has come to soon, capturing my youth in adolescent cries and yearning for peace and tranquility. I grin and bear it, as I usually do, and decide that my only chance at survival is one of assimilation – to give up ones dreams is to succumb to the poisons of reality, to allow oneself to be happy with sub parity and discontent. Love is but a fleeting dream, and peace is a bitches brew that burns my tongue as it slips away in the vomit of depression. I slide the door open, laying down on the cheap plastic mat that I’m borrowing from the person that I am staying with, a person that I have never met in my entire life, but that is seemingly happy and content with my brief stay. I envy the happiness she could feel – with little to no money or credibility to her name, she somehow manages to smile and prosper while faced with the daunting prospects of mothering her newborn child and maintaining a job she loathes. I envy that. I really fucking do.
Less than a year later, I am on one knee, ring in my hand, proposing to the love that I never acknowledged. I was so afraid that she would hate me, that the love I had for her would be unrequited, and so I kept my heart sealed away in a formaldehyde jar, sitting next to that peace and tranquility I so desperately reached for, collecting dust amongst the various dreams I had given away and the pounds of flesh gouged out by toxic people who, as passersby in a life filled with inexpensive cardboard furniture and wasted moments, slowly bled me dry of what was left. That elusive happiness that I found so far away has come in full force, healing the wounds in my heart torn open by the liars and oppressors of years gone by, allowing me to breathe the air that I found so cold and desolate. I am happy and in love, something never experienced before, and it seems that in such a short time, my life has come full circle. From the nicotine addicted waste of humanity, suffering in silent desperation and depression, to the incredibly happy, newly healed, devout man – I have come full circle.
The human response to longing and pain will, generally at least, be one of seclusion – like a tortoise in the midst of fear, we pull our heads back into our shells, hiding out in the requisite darkness and safety of our own consciousness. I suppose that all human response is, in some form, an effort at self preservation – the response of anger resulting from past predatory experiences as the essence of self defense, sorrow from a need to separate negative emotions entirely from our everyday selves, happiness a signal of wellness and achievement, and so forth. The very nature of emotion must be tied at least primally to the status of the individual, affected only by variation within the species subgroup and the individual perspective. Of the two statuses, one of subgroup and the other of point of view, I suppose that perspective is the singular variable that is truly controllable. Our lineage is predetermined, our genetic faults set in stone, and our species variations by their very nature unpredictable but at the end of the day, it is our primarily self driven environment that controls perspective and emotion.
In reality, it truly is the perspective that controls the emotion – the primary driving factor of any representation or emotional causeway is perception and perspective, subtly different yet interchangeable. It is the perspective, the point of view of the individual, that causes the emotional response to the physical or mental stimulus, and it is this driving factor that immediately causes and can be interchanged with perception, the understanding of that stimulus as driven by perspective. The two, though interchangeable, share the strange amorphous quality of resemblance with a nearly divergent result. For instance, in my past experience mentioned above on the balcony, my perspective was that of the distraught – with this perspective in mind, it is extremely evident what the driving factors of those thoughts were – my perspective, doused in angst and feelings of failure, led to the perception of the world as it was to my mind. In my situation, I perceived the world as a violent, cold, uncaring place, and my options limited to only running for a destructive life or ending it all. This was of course idiotic, but that perception and perspective changed the situation into what it was.
What we need to keep in mind, however, is that our current predicament, perspective, or perception (I must subtly enjoy alliteration) is temporary, and most likely incorrect. If I had acted on the emotions in Japan, you would not be reading this. If I acted on the emotions the next morning, I would have stayed, and missed out on my wife, child, and everything in life that is worth living for. Carpe Diem, but keep the future in mind. I know this all seems somewhat jumbled, even psuedo-stream of consciousness, but above all else, never forget that life is a series of passing moments – each second passes by with our decisions, our lives, our selves, giving an essence of themselves to it. We have but one life. Live it well, friends.
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I suppose one of the most difficult of procedures a human can undertake can also notably be the most difficult to commit to – after all, the procedure is completely contrary to both our natural humanistic tendencies and our survival instincts as predators. Belonging the predator class entails certain classes of characteristics which are not necessarily exclusive to said class, but rather prominent as compared to less prevalent traits. As a class of predators, we have become a paranoid species, one with little trust for those outside our close knit community, and in all honesty, phobic of all culture, personality, and emotion foreign to our preconception. So the procedure which I consider of prime importance is not only difficult to achieve due to some sense of self protection or defensive nature, but due to our very nature as predators to reject that which hams the community as well, regardless of intent. We reject the procedure because to enact it would be to possibly put ourselves in harms way, to allow ourselves the opportunity to become the prey, rather than the predator. Of course, such a primal urge so easily falling into the “nature” categorization is effectivelty forgetting the possibility of “nurture” – is it the anger of a persons experience, which in itself can be argued between nature and nurture, that causes resistance? Could the anger resulting from experience or acquaintance by proxy of another being be the cause of such seemingly primal urges? More to the point, can the actions undertaken by one individual to cause such feelings in another be themselves a result of said resistence?
It seems to be natural and in line with the human condition to resist forgiveness, but as previously stated, it may be the most important procedure mankind can ever undertake. Conflict, by definition, is a state of disharmony between incompatible groups or ideas – in simple terms, conflict arises when two individuals refuse to acknowledge the other. It may seem like a gross over-simplification, but conflict can truly be broken down into the basic argument of correctness. Take, for example, the Six Days War, a war fought between Israel and a coalition of Arab troops led by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Whilst the publicised cause of war – the Egyptian expelling of the United Nations Emergency Force invasion of the Suez Canal as a response to the prior English-French-Israeli invasion – still remains central in most arguments related to the war, the cause of the conflict can be traced even further back – it can be said the origins of the war find it’s home more in the Imperialist nature of the French and English as well as the seclusionary nature of the Arabs, and even further back, in the ancient arguments in regards to the legitimacy of Ishmael and Isaac. While the Islamic populace of Arab contries generally believe Ishmael to be the legitime heir to Abraham, the Jewish people generally believe that Ishmael’s brother, Isaac, is the only legitimate heir. This incompatibility in faith is one of many debates raging between the two groups, and has been the repeated cause of combat – each side believes themselves to be blessed by a higher power, correct in methodology and theology. The inability of the Arab and Jewish people to live as brothers and sisters of the Abrahamic faith has led to warfare, terrorism, genocide, and racial hatred.
Though this is an extreme case, it is a fine example of the need for forgiveness, and through forgiveness, peace and understanding. I’m not suggesting that one forfeit his rights, beliefs, or fundamental values – I am merely postulating a state of coexistence. What I am suggesting is that two seemingly incompatible ideas can exist without the need for bloodshed – despite human nature, or perhaps because of it, we are given the ability to forgive. As author Linda W. Rooks once said,
Forgiveness is one of the most painful decisions we can make. We know that somehow we’re supposed to forgive, but when we step right up to it, we feel as though we’re being asked to turn ourselves inside out, tear out our hearts, and give them into the hands of our enemy.
Linda W. Rooks, “Broken Hearts on Hold”
That’s not to say there is no place for conflict, or that they are themselves incompatible concepts – as I said before, I’m not suggesting that we allow things so obviously imcompatible to our worldview and theology to affect and control our lives, I’m only suggesting that we pick our battles. More often than not, I see people fighting over the most frivilous things, and this definitely expands onto the international political stage – is money all that important? Is the number of people subjugated under your rule truly important? Does it really matter whether a country is socialist or not, as long as they have decent human rights standards and aren’t aiming nuclear and biological weapons at your backdoor? I currently reside in the United States, but this is not a limited problem – this world has become war centric, and to a point, the military industrial complex has become the powerfigure of this planet, and that’s a very sad thing. We have thousands of people currently losing their jobs, millions of people dying of hunger around the world, genocide being waged over entire continents, nuclear weapons constantly trained on strategically and socially important locations, and our legislature is arguing over gay marriage. Is it really that important? Does it matter whether a man loves a woman or a woman loves a woman? As a Christian, I oppose gay marriage, but as a citizen and a patriot, I honestly don’t care – I couldn’t give any less of a shit about gay marriage if I tried. I’ll start caring when our men and women stop dying fighting an enemy who literally believes,
It is far better for anyone to kill a single American soldier than to squander his efforts on other activities.
Osama Bin Laden
This issue is not entirely limited to politics – only a few decades ago, injustice against the minority of races in America was rampant, ranging from denial of basic civil liberties to outright murder. What was the purpose of all of this? Some perceived wrong perpetrated by a minority set of people? Some prejudice as old as the act of subjugation itself? What was and is the purpose of racism, sexism, or any of the multitudes of “-isms” that seeks to persecute any set of people for such basic qualities as the color of skin, type of reproductive organ, or level of intelligence? Frankly, there is none – there is no acceptable reason for any of this. All of this, however, has resulted in a greater calamity – the inability of both populations to forgive the other has lead to racial tension, favoritism, and racial action against both minority and majority groups. I’m not suggesting we forget about racism, sexism, or any of those “isms” mentioned, but to dwell on them and demand retribution for the actions of ancestors that may or may not share the same believes as ourselves only bolsters the presence of the racist, sexist thought pattern, and allows the scourge to continue living.
The point of all of this is simple – forgive. Despite all of your human nature telling you to do the opposite, forgive – but do not forget. I have mentioned several times the insane relationships that I have had in my life, and the negative impacts they have caused. If I were to dwell on this and lack forgiveness, I could fall into a pit of hatred and darkness deeper than any I have ever seen. Instead, I choose to forgive – there must have been something in their lives that have caused them to commit such crimes, to dedicate themselves to wrong-doing, but at the end of the day, I have no right to judge them – whether or not you believe in life after death, we will all have to account for our actions, either to ourselves or to a higher power, when we pass. It is not my place to pass judgement – that shall happen on it’s own. Forgive. Do not allow yourself to continually be hurt, and do not allow those who have hurt you to continue their actions, but do not dwell on the past. Only with open hearts can the evil of the world see the wrong in it’s activities. Perhaps if we can all forgive each other for the atrocities we continually subconsciously use as the root of all conflict, we can begin anew and finally find some semblence of peace. Defend yourself, defend your home, defend your beliefs – but choose your battles.
I set my pen down, looking at the treatise of peace and harmony etched into the old notebook I packed for purposes unknown. A new beginning is on the horizon – I’ve come to that crossroad where choice meets future, and it’s obvious which of the two I can control. I either forgive and move on, remembering the lessons I’ve learned, or I dwell and become the same kind of person as the ones that have continually hurt me over the years. I choose to become a new person. I’ve made the choice to forgive.
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Change, Depression, Memories, Nostalgia, Smoking
The memory has clung to me for some time now – that night was cold, but the life of the city and the exhaust pouring from passing cars all but dissipated the choking fog which, despite the enveloping darkness offering sanctuary, had drifted off into my periphery. The distant murmurs of horns and sirens wailing against the dark tidal rush of night pull me softly from the pleasantly out of focus softness of a day dream. The peace that I had sought for after a day of heart crushing betrayal and lies slowly drifted away, only to be replaced by an overwhelming sadness. Pulling my knees to my chest, I pull a cigarette from my pocket, lighting it with the broken old lighter I’ve kept after all these years. The light illuminates my face, and it’s warm glow casts a burning haze over my vision. The sickly sweet smell of burning tobacco stings my nose , and the guilt of addiction weighs heavily on my shoulders, amplifying the once distant murmur of cityscape poetry into a cacophony of stress induced paranoia and anger.
Staring at the stars, my best friend approaches softly. I had escaped in silence to indulge in reminiscence and suffer in silent addiction, and had until now completely forgot where I had been laying. Wayne was a true friend, one who would give you the shirt off his back without a question as to the purpose – more than anything, he had become a brother to me, a person whom not only understood but shared my personal faults and weaknesses. More than anyone else, he was the one that I could talk to, the one that understood me, the kind of friend who would suffer in self-imposed solidarity as men most often do without complaint. Drawing slowly on my cigarette, he eyes me with admonishment and begins to utter the words that resonate even to this day – but he quickly catches himself, preventing the declaration of danger to my health with a clenched jaw and bitten tongue. I lean back again, cigarette burning the skin near my nuckles, and I stare at the stars. As I begin to fade into the comfort of my day dream, I can feel the familiar cold wetness of tears slowly building behind my desolate eyelids. I shut them tight, and pray to anyone who will hear me – “Please…save me…”.
More than a year later, those words fade into the cold air, falling flat into the cold Tokyo evening. Having left Aya and Wayne in the apartment in the interest of privacy, I casually walk the streets of Matsudo. Freshly out of both alcohol and tobacco, the orange and green corner store sign labeled Sunkus glows like a beacon in the storm, and after parting with unearned money, I began my street trek once again. Briefly forgetting the path back to the apartment, my heart races, and I make a slight wrong turn. After traversing the same ground for what seems like an hour, I decide to return to the train station, a landmark on which my understanding of the sprawling street layout is based. Spotting a stoop on the way, I sit down, cracking open my drink and a new pack. “This is not what I was meant to live for. What the fuck am I doing? There has to be more…” Having said those words before, I felt my heart fall into the acidic pits of my stomach, dismissing any thoughts of clarity or correction.
The nature of change is turbulent, to say the least – the entire concept of change hinges on the fact that things cannot stay the same, that they must transition, and more often than not, this transition comes in the form of abrupt realization or gradual decay. People grow old, hearts either soften into uselessness, harden into despair, or stay at an ever tightening pace of clarity and peace. Walls are built, they last, then they crumble. More than anything else, people are born, they live, and they die, and all of this takes place in an erratic, unorderly fashion. Perhaps the best example of this is that of the teenage youth – having just exited adolescence, the teenage soul begins to believe in some sort of omniscience. The supremely emotional being of the teenager is as headstrong as it is unlearned, and whilst it is busy clamoring to reach adulthood, it forgets to enjoy the peace of those precious few years. As W. Somerset Maugham once stated,
Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence, one would have thought it sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.
W. Somerset Maugham, The Razors Edge (1943)
When one ages past this point, achieving the title of “Young Adult”, the ugly head of change rears itself upon the unsuspecting youth. All across the nation, newly created men and women awaken from the night of graduation to the thought “What Next?” – it is that disparate relationship of youth and adulthood that both shocks and terrifies, paralyzes and excites. The thing to remember in regards to this example however, as with any example of change, is that the duration of change is extremely short – and each change is enacted by those whom the change affects. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of it all is the fact that the perceived change we often blame on our surroundings (and those in our lives who we perceive to have enacted such change) are truly changes in ourselves. Each change, as turbulent as it may be, is part of a grand subconcious plan, a primitive blueprint for the psychological and intellectual development of our beings. Without change, there is no progress – without turbulence, there is no life. Nelson Mandela eloquently elaborated on this point, saying
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered
Nelson Mandela, A Long Walk to Freedom
Finding myself sitting on the top of my hood, fuel pumping into my Mustang, I remember the cigarettes lit in California and Japan, and those memories of absolute desolation. Then, with a single deep breath, I count in my head all the massive changes I had undergone. The cancerous leech that had plagued my life for so long was removed, and her abusive tendencies and suicidal methodology along with her presence vacated. I had quit the dangerous, cancerous practice of habitual tobacco ingestion, freeing my already chemical laden, damaged body from further strain. I had most importantly found the love of my life, whom I had for years been in love with, though I had been plagued with silence by my inability to converse with the opposite sex. The multitude of changes raced through my mind like a bullet train, racing past my former self, drunk and wrapped in thick gray rings of smoke at the foot of the Matsudo station. Breathing out, my breath swirled in the fog of my former self, crying out for guidance and help. My plans of running away have dissolved into the ether, I now faced the glorious prospect of entering the United States Air Force, and beginning a family. This change, occuring over a year, turbulent and increasingly quick – it was enough to draw a smile to my face. All this change, in only a short year or two…turbulence was too light of a word. Nostalgia is the state of ignoring change – or at the very least, heeding the words of Maugham, and realizing it is far too late.
Click. The tank is full. The memories are happy. A new sun is rising. Adulthood had come, and I was ready.
Load the six shooter pilgrim. We can drive it home with one headlight.