look within

Seeing persons and things not as they are, but as I am. 

I never wanted to become this way, insecure and fearful about the prospect of loving. But here today, there is hardly anything that scares me more than truly loving or committing to a person. In the morning, I feel devotionally committed to bringing the best part of myself to every interaction. By the evening, I am questioning if it is even worth the effort.

The truth is, there is a lot of internal work that needs to be done. This is why I opt out to take the sidelines as an observer. Can the work be done as a participant? Perhaps, but how much hurt will result from a rushed process. 

I don’t know where to start with myself. I have cried tears in a hopeless fit to uncover some truth, some response that will lead to more peace and courage and less fear and shame. But there is very little to show for it now. The idea is that I am living in blindness, unable to see things as they are, but only as they appear to me. 

The sun rises, according to where I am, and then it sets. See, that’s blindness, because what happens is that we are orbiting the sun and rotating on an axis every 24 hours or so. Like a big, giant spherical carousel, we spin around to see the sun then hide from it. 

It may be that my ego prefers this blindness. For a blind man, there is comfort in familiar territory, familiar anxiety, familiar pain. But returning to the past to question and potentially alter the future can have fatal consequences. At the very least, there will be unknown consequences. 

Today, he is suffering. He is me. He is sitting in his room, typing in his laptop, getting ready for a phone call with his hooded sweatshirt on and the lights of his room cut off. He is writing, and he is suffering. It hit him like a wave, and he withdrew into himself to find familiar habits. A question, has he not grown up or experienced enough of this to anticipate where he will be in the next couple of minutes? 

I was never very good at chess. Maybe, I digress. I have never had a natural aptitude for chess. I win games, and I can anticipate moves and strategies. But I never picked it up as quickly as others. The obstacle to chess for me lies in going deeper, in relentlessly asking why until I have reached a point of underestanding. I want results, outcomes, trophies before I want internal understanding. That’s why I find it hard to perform in certain arenas. 

True growth is internal. In the very first story of Hurakami’s Men Without Women, I encounter this passage: 

“The proposition that we can look into another person’s heart with perfect clarity strikes me as a fool’s game. I don’t care how well we think we should understand them, or how much we love them. All it can do is cause us pain. Examining your own heart, however, is another matter. I think it’s possible to see what’s in there if you work hard enough at it. So in the end maybe that’s the challenge: to look inside your own heart as perceptively and seriously as you can, and to make peace with what you find there. If we hope to truly see another person, we have to start by looking within ourselves.”

And Kendrick Lamar stated this: 

“Look inside of my soul and you can find gold and maybe get rich,

look inside of your soul and you can find out it never exist.”

The story says, that we need to begin to look inward – but how? How can we when it gets so difficult to find the time? And without a very regimented schedule. Perhaps this week, I can set a schedule to meditate or at least experience the quiet within myself in the last 30-45 minutes before bed. But I am always distracted.

The promise is gold and wealth, but if you look into another person with those intentions you should find that you are an empty soul, seeking greed and personal benefit. It is in times like these, that I sort of understand that one must treat other people’s histories like those in museums. Especially, the free to enter museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. To discover, and understand, that a history should be viewed, maybe studied, experienced, but never owned. Do not touch. Do not lay claim.

Another tragic trope, see with your eyes not with your hands. And why? Because the hands that have not long handled clay will turn to mush the very essence. If you’re not good at something, it will not happen overnight. Give it time, promise to go deeper, and remain patient in your journey. 

Don’t give in to temptation. Ok, that’s enough wisdom for now. Tomorrow will be another day.

a prayer

Dear God, 

Give me strength today to accept my past, and to accept the moments where I have felt insecure and insignificant. These moments are a part of my life history, but they should not mean any more to me than they do. I am a person who loves, dreams, and breathes curiosity, but sometimes the past gets too heavy and it weighs me down. Let me empty my backpack in which I carry the memories and dialogues that haunt me. Let me release these heavy thoughts, and make space for lighter ones of peace. 

God, I want to love again. I don’t want to resent. I want to feel joy, purity, and peace. I want to smile when I wake up, and I want to forgive. I want to appreciate the beautiful life that I have, the work that I get to experience, the people and art. You have created a beautiful world for us to be kind. There are kind people out there. Show me the way to them.

Bring forth the calmness. Release the need. 

Bring forth the certainty. Abandon the doubt.

Bring forth the confidence. Examine the shame. 

There is emptiness inside of me. I know it. I see it. I feel it. These voids are indecipherable, but God has the answers. I need your strength to go into the darkness. The darkness is temporary and unavoidable. In a room of darkness, you must search for the switch that will bring the light. 

This transition will take courage, but I will be here every day, and I will write. I will write. Then I will write. Then I will write some more. 

dealing with change

What do we do with the knowledge we have? 

People sitting in cars waiting for traffic lights to change from red to green. The anticipation, and sometimes frustration, grows with each passing second. Like watching sand grains squeeze through the smallest portion of a sand-timer, you can see the individual grains falling to the heap below. Time freezes, or so it seems. When the lights change to green, the people respond in the same way – flex your right foot to advance to the next juncture. Predictability appears.

Then it continues, whether at work or at home, we enter a scenario – a forced pause of the computer booting, and the username appearing with a blank password slate – that forces us to stop and make a decision. What do we do with the knowledge we have? 

We go. We enter password. We start new doc. We cook the dinner. We interpret. We talk. We judge.

Ever since the days of Ape-dom, we have done something with the knowledge we acquire. We gossip, to spread it all. Did you know Adam and Eve used to live in the garden of eden? Did you know that they were banished from there and they might never be allowed in again? 

But that’s just the way we are, and the world can be a cold place. Today, I thought about people struggling with addiction. The hardest part of addiction has to be for the people you let down. People who will do anything to see you well again, free from the chains of your toxic attachment, are having to witness your suffering. There is nothing they can do, say, anticipate to make an addict stop. Not even hitting rock bottom will sometimes help to stop?

And what happens after? Things do not go back to the way they once were. They change and now you know that this is something you have dealt with and will struggle with as part of life. You now, in proverbial terms, walk with a limp. 

I heard the phrase said, never trust a leader without a limp. The people you want leading you through shit, are the ones who have been through so much of it. 

Here’s a bonus phrase: When you’re neck deep in shit, do you duck when they start flinging baseballs at you?

The point is, once you know something, it’s on you to act and change accordingly. So, there may be time for some changes now. I’ll happly oblige.

maybe

maybe i’m a little afraid to go back there

because i remember the pain.

maybe i wonder if its being alone that 

i’m scared of, these thoughts

have such a strong grasp on me.

maybe its the sense of urgency or the fast

approach to nothing

maybe its that im scared of what i’ll discover

maybe its that i’m a coward – sometimes and 

the nights are so long like, niiiiiights, with so

many i’s and its the part i cant escape

because i is what it always came down to,

i is who i’m afraid to be left alone in a room with.

is there anything i’m more afraid of, maybe its 

forgetting the past because now it’s so much a part

of me.

maybe it’s crying to sleep, at 28, when it’s getting late

and i forgot to shower because i’m 

not really worried about that.

maybe grandma’s right and you should forgive and 

she’s been alive longer so maybe she knows.

maybe i’ll be here longer than i think, and so i will feel alone.

or maybe i wont, maybe tomorrow i’ll go, 

and there will be nothing left,

not a tooth or a hair or a piece of bone marrow 

to show. 

maybe i’ll just vanish, like the sun sometimes does 

behind the clouds. 

the writer who does not write

“I look up at the sky, wondering if I’ll catch a glimpse of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see are indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably shouldn’t be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative often self-centered nature that still doubts itself–that, when troubles occur, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. I’ve carried this character around like an old suitcase, down a long, dusty path. I’m not carrying it because I like it. The contents are too heavy, and it looks crummy, fraying in spots. I’ve carried it with me because there was nothing else I was supposed to carry. Still, I guess I have grown attached to it. As you might expect.”

Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I am a writer who does not write. The empty page leaves me mesmerized with its nothingness, and I, with my paralyzed thoughts, find comfort in doubt and non-action. Because why should I write? Would you even want to read what I write? After all, I write for you, right?

But I have found peace with what I am. Sure, I am a writer who does not write, but I do other things. I start my mornings with a warm cup of tea, and I genuinely enjoy a calm run in the afternoon. I watch basketball highlights in the evenings, and then I catch up on my favorite tv shows – Rick and Morty, Better Call Saul, and Mindhunter. As you can see, I’m pretty normal. There are not many differences between you and me, and perhaps nothing makes me unique except that I am a writer who does not write.

Of course, I think about what I would want to write if I ever did write. I have ideas: identity and the philosophy of mind have always been fascinating to me. Maybe I could write a science fiction story, or perhaps just a collection of short stories. Many authors have published terrific short stories. I can think of a few: Jhumpa Lahiri, Adam Johnson, Ted Chiang, and Haruki Murakami. Murakami wrote a book that I could very well imagine myself writing if I were to write. It’s called, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It is a self-reflective novel with meditations on sport, being, and writing. I would write a book like this if I ever wrote a book, except that I am a writer who does not write. 

But what if I did write? I could slug it out and write one page per day for the next three years. That would be well over 900 pages, enough to publish a book! If I did write and writing brought me peace and confidence, I would probably have readers. The readers would expect me to write more and… um, I guess I like my life now. After all, I don’t have to write, which is ok because I don’t write. My whole life, I have been a writer who does not write, and I wouldn’t be the same if all of a sudden I started writing, would I? Could you believe it? Me? A writer who does not write?

the mirror

The hard work in life comes when you have to face the person in the mirror. You pose your questions to understand why your visions and dreams escape your reach. The hours pass you. The metamorphosis that could be is not. Instead, you have another dull, hopeless moment. Why won’t you stop running?

The soul grows weary of your dreams going ignored. Excuses run dry. There is nothing else to say, nowhere else to look. But keep your gaze focused on the person in the mirror. See that he is suffering, that he is lonely and perhaps scared of you. Because you are the one who does the damage, and you are the one who wants to see him fail. You nitpick his flaws and draw the comparisons that haunt him.

Why can’t you talk to your mother like you used to? When was the last time you confessed your fears or expressed your dreams? You are still so afraid. The traffic along the bridge is moving slow. The seed breaks its shell and feels incredible pain as it sprouts. It digs its way out through hardened soil to experience life. Everyone pays their price.