Poetry: The War is Over

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I was stopped short of the start by every worry that ever gripped my heart
Because there’s a kind of squeezing that made me sick,
But there were no days off

Just a weekend’s denial to bury the fear,
I kept it at bay long enough to keep running,
I ran towards the dream:
The dream that one day everything would be okay

But it’s tiring living in the spectrum between fear and assurance,
It’s emotionally taxing to support the war of feelings constantly fought amongst your thoughts
Because it pulls you back on forth on a ride you secretly wish would stop
So you sleep – you lie in darkness,
Anything to shut that part of yourself off

These invisible thieves of joy could never make sense of your feelings,
And you can never find meaning in the nauseous emptiness they leave
Because ancient animal instincts never learned to factor logic into fear and worry
So we’re drowning daily in a flood of chemicals that barely know the difference between run for your life and hurry

So I’m penning a letter to the part of me I used to think was real:

Dear false self,

To all the thoughts that hurt,
To all the feelings that were never a friend -
You never helped me,
You only brought me down in the end

So I’m asking,
Isn’t it time I stopped caring so much about what I think?
Isn’t it time I stopped caring so much about how I feel?

Isn’t it time I let my inner voice do the leading, instead of believing all that my ego wants me to think is real?

Because I’m learning that I’m not what I thought I was,
I’m not what I wanted other people to see;
I’m not what I was, should, or could ever be

I’m simply me

The boy who saw a life of possibility,
The boy who dreamed of being empowered and free
I’m the guy who fell in love, picked my heart back up, and put the song on repeat

It’s time I recognize there are parts of me that would kill me before I could ever manage to manage them
There are parts of me no drug can suppress, and for which even therapy will not put at rest

There are parts of me that will never be free as long as I take them seriously

There are parts of me that given my conscious attention would forever leave me in a state of needing to meditate
These parts have kept me on the run far longer than was ever fun

These parts, forever wanting to get lost,
No matter the pain, never mind the cost

These parts -
These pieces divided
They’ll never be satisfied and they’ll never be decided
They will always measure, always question, and always compare
And following them I’ll forever be waiting on the day when I can finally say I feel alive -
But they’ll never let me arrive

I can’t wait on the day any more

I can’t pretend my life isn’t underway
I can’t keep being creative with the math to say ‘my life’s just begun’

I can no longer dream of the day when my house feels like a home and my thoughts are my soul’s choosing alone
I can no longer wait on the day when my babe will be there for me and I can forgive myself completely

I can no longer be headed home
And this is not a practice run – there’s nothing beyond but the empty unknown

This is it
My running is done and it’s finally up to me,
Not the skin I’m in, nor the eyes through which I see

It’s not my job to set a heart right that will never be ready,
And it’s not my job to calm a mind that will never be steady

So I’m stepping into my soul and no longer vying for control of a body that’s less than I am
I’ve accepted that the deed will never be done and that someday will never come

This is the song of a soul awakening
This is the resignation that I’ll never find an equilibrium between my heart and my brain

This soul is taking the reins – and while it’s not immune – it’s capable of understanding pain (and it doesn’t create it’s own)

I’m no longer a lab rat, chasing equilibrium
My wings are no longer clipped and I’m no longer marooned in a mind that’s waiting on the ship to come in
I’m shedding my skin and answering the call of my pulse

My soul is calling the plays and the fear isn’t as bad as I thought
The war is no longer being fought and tonight I’m finally able to give my all

And I know that never again will my inner voice and my purpose be forlorn by a body so small

This is a song of a soul in control
This is the release of worldly pain
This is the declaration that my inner voice and my purpose are one in the same

The war is over
He is home now
He is free
I’m no longer chasing equilibrium now that my soul is in the driver’s seat

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Poem inspired by the music of John C. Mayer

A note on Ambition vs. Goals

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Don’t mistake ambition for goals – especially in yourself. Drive is not the same as destination. You don’t need a map, because life is the map – living is it’s own map, but you need to be headed somewhere you can see, you can feel.

You need only reach within yourself to find the confidence to set goals you believe in. You need the confidence to be brave. Not courageous, but brave. Courage comes after. Because the fear will persist regardless, but the fear of not following your inner voice is always greater. You absolutely have to set goals and know where you are going – not what you want – where you are going. Doing this will transform that silent, inner confidence into real plans that will allow you to be brave enough to get where you want to get in life. Sure, life is a journey, but do you know where you are going?

Poetry: Dawn’s Promise

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80 odd years I may have
50 left to go
Not that tomorrow is a promise
But if it is – and each dawn so,
That’s 10 to 15 years more to reap what I sow

I can’t fathom had it happened all those years ago
I’d have a child going through puberty now,
and maybe I would be more mature myself -
But I’m not

I’m still waiting for the rite of passage that ushers in a new dawn where I’m not scared and I believe in myself entirely

I even try to stage my own

Tonight I stripped down to my boxers and walked into the ocean
I lied down under a wave
And in the faded light of dusk the water looked ominous, green, and black
And lying on my back the sea welcomed me in with a gentle, comforting pull
And I hoped to gain something from it,
Some purification or seasoning of my soul
And I walked out of the water slow and dripping
Wearing the slight pride of a minor victory like invisible armor
And maybe for a minute the fear was masked

Poetry: Irreconcilable

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I can’t write in 20,000 words what I can in a poem
I can’t be as honest in prose as I can in poetry
Because in a poem I can tell you I don’t believe in a G-d without saying it
In a poem I can tell you I destroy the beautiful things I touch without confessing a thing
In a poem I can tell you that I am afraid
I’m afraid that love is just a chemical reaction and not the spiritual alchemy I thought it was
And I’m afraid that I’ll never have a family of my own
I’m afraid of so much
I’m afraid I’m not as good at life as I once was
And tonight I’m finding it hard to hope
I’m finding it hard to be alone
I’m finding it hard to love the man in the mirror
Tonight he feels like the man his ex girlfriends think he is:
A jerk, a dick, an asshole – a panoply of lewd nouns and adjectives; even a couple of verbs, and sometimes a mash-up of both: fucking asshole.
Ladies and gentleman, I present: the bowels of the English language, aka me
I’m so jaded, it all sounds pretty believable tonight
And it sucks living in a world where those I love hate me, how strange it must be for them: living in a world where those you hate love you
None of it makes any sense tonight
Hence it must be written down
I’m not crazy
Just postmodern
Just a poet
Just a man
As flawed as my heroes:
Mandela had affairs
Alan Watts drank too much
I’m only human
But I’m reminded of the time I was talking to this homeless hippie in the village and when I said something about being human he said that we shouldn’t use ‘human’ as a synonym for imperfect, and that our humanity shouldn’t be an excuse for our behavior, but rather a benchmark for how we should behave
War is inhumane
And when you look up inhumane it says “Not human; lacking humanity, kindness, compassion, etc”
And so the homeless man taught me something valuable about humanity, how completely fitting
And now that my exes have learned a new word, I shall henceforth be known as inhumane
But I am absolutely human
And that’s why I write, to preserve my humanity and maintain my sanity
I write about what it means to be human
And in a poem I have so much freedom to do this
And I want to be a champion for poetry
Not just the entire romantic tradition of poetry but the freedom a poet is given to say anything
I can write an entire poem on the burdens of testicle ownership for a deviant medieval prince:

With great power comes great responsibility, and so heavy lies the crown that the prince hardly put his favorite toy down
Quit playing with your sword they told the little lord
And why must every shower last half an hour?
“In the name of the family jewels I must slay the dragon”
Fair fair, but next time you empty your flagon don’t stab anything that pulls a wagon
Your neighbor’s ox is simply not meant to be a sausage box

and this is the simple beauty and the magic of poetry
The power to create without boundaries and without rules
It doesn’t even have to rhyme
But the point is that poetry allows us to transfigure difficult things into bites we can chew on and swallow
A poet predigests ideas
How else can I say what I said about being afraid and hated?
I don’t think I could have
A poem is a safe place to bear your soul for a couple of minutes while the rest of the world pays no attention
Writing and reading poetry teaches you about what it means to be a human being
Poems humanize things by sanitizing them
Poetry is about being vulnerable and brave
It’s about declaring the things you think in the dead of the cool, dark night
And it’s about trying to reconcile the irreconcilable things
I am not alone in being hated by those I love
I am trying to answer the questions I dare not ask
For even the most publicly adored can be detested by those who have come closest to them
And what does this teach them
Lord knows
But I hope I find someone for whom hating me is an impossibility
But I’m losing faith

Yet I wake up praying

Remember the time I lost my smile for three years

Something just happened tonight to good not to write about.

I’ve been working long, long hours. Out of false humility I won’t say how long but suffice to say there are few nights in recent memory where I remember falling asleep; I’ve kind of just passed out by the time I called it a night. Long hours.

And tonight I found myself lying in bed absolutely, completely miserable. Tired, run down – just bummed. And I was so sad – if that’s the right word – that I just had to get up.

As Tony Robbins says – “Emotion comes from motion”.

Backing up a few days, I was walking along the beach recently and I wanted to snap a selfie to post on social media.

And I smiled and took a photo and upon reviewing it, I just thought I looked like crap. And I tried taking a couple more – and same result.

We all have our own little relationship with our self-esteem. And it’s easy to let age compound this – we often look back and think about times we held the world in our palm. Anyway, it doesn’t help when we look back and think ‘wow, I looked really good back then’. It’s just not healthy, but we all do it.

So it’s in that frame of reference that I haven’t felt great about myself lately. So, fast forward to tonight: I got out of bed and I went to the mirror and started playing with my hair. haha Yes, dear reader – I’m giving you my full transparency tonight.

To put things in context, I recently had pulled out my clippers and in a Britney Spears moment of angst shaved my head. My hair had been fairly long. But it felt good and during the recent soccer World cup I had been told twice that I looked like a soccer player – a compliment I took without qualm.

And I’ve always been one of those guys who is obsessed with his hair. I assume nature will strip me of it one day in old age but as it stands I’ve got a full head of the stuff. (A few grays in my beard, but hey – you gotta own your look, whatever that comes with.)

So, as far as the hair styling tonight, my hair has grown out a bit, and I felt like it was time to try something new. I enjoy evolving my look. Perhaps I’m a bit vain. I’ll plead guilty to that – but is it such a crime to honor and care for the temple of the body?

Anywho, up until now I had been kind of doing a very short sidepart to the front, so I pushed some pomade through my short bangs in one of those styles you either see on little boys or thirty year-old men. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure how it looked. So, borrowing a move from a smart girl, I grabbed my phone to snap a pic of it.

Well, I smiled for the photo and it was a repeat of the beach-selfie incident. Mind you, there are very few photos of myself taken in the past few years in which I felt I looked ‘great’ in, if one can admit to such a thing.

So, I tried smiling and taking a few more photos. Same result – I just didn’t think I looked good. So I thought to myself, well maybe I just need to take a photo of my good side, or one where I smile differently. So I took a dozen or so photos trying different things until I found a few that cam out good – much better than I had seen in awhile.  And then something clicked. I realized that in the good photos I had a different smile, a genuine kind of smile – not forced. So I tried to smile in the same manner and it felt almost strange – as if the muscles in that part of my face hadn’t been used in a long time. It felt awkward the point where I just had to stretch my face in a short series of awful contortions just to relax those muscles a bit.

(Yes, I’m sure this is the oddest thing you’ve read in awhile).

Anyway, I looked at the photos and then that’s when it clicked. Dimples. The good photos all showed my dimples. The others were way too exaggerated – as if I had tried smiling with my entire face instead of with my smile. As if I tried to look like I was smiling, instead of actually smiling.

A long time ago (~8 years), a friend of mine had something to me that was perhaps the most flattering compliment a male had ever given me – if it even was a compliment. He said “Bro, you know why our girls like us” pause “Because we got dimples”. And he meant it, good guy.

Anyway, I realized it, that I had lost my smile. Not the ability, or the capacity – I’ve smiled many times in the past few years, but I hadn’t been smiling MY smile. And I couldn’t believe it. I said to myself aloud “remember the time when I lost my smile for three years”. Because I had. Maybe longer. Somewhere along the way, it died, or it lost it’s mojo. And at 29 years of age tonight, I got it back. And then I couldn’t stop smiling. It felt so good. As I write this I can feel a taught soreness in the left side along my cheek – just because I haven’t smiled how I naturally do and the muscles aren’t used to it. And that’s fucked up. But I got it back tonight. I got back something very dear to me. And just loooking in the mirror smiling afterwards, I couldn’t believe how good I looked with that smile.

And this may seem like a private thing to share, or something weird – but I cannot state how important this is to me. We rarely get back the pieces of ourselves that we lose along the way. So, I had to write about it because I NEVER want to lose my smile again. I never want to forget that I got it back. (hopefully this helps someone else – if this sort of thing happens to people).

My Sweetest Rose

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I once met a fully grown flower girl.

Not flower power, flower child, but a real desert rose.

Not gypsum and barite but the organic kind of flower that only grows once in a thousand years.

And I picked that flower. Didn’t water it, stepped on it on my way to the porch.

It still grew:

Wild and free – despite my chastise, but never in spite.

She said: come on boy, open the curtains – let in some light.

And for a moment, it was summer.

But winter came and I buried my rose in the dirty snow of the seasons.

And she grew rigid and cold in the hard pack of stomped-in-ice.

Many fires I lit to try and convince her:

I swear – if you just bloom, it’ll feel so nice.

But frostbitten as a January rose – her lip quivered in innocent fear.

And I tried to squeeze her tighter – G-d damnit, come here!

So I buzzed round that bud like a bee, greedy and selfish, and nothing a rose would need.

I flew far from the roost – hungry to be drunk, in search of a nectar as sweet.

And woe was me, so full of poison, a real killer bee.

How many times she took me back – on dirty and broken wings…

Yet each time, I asked:

What had happened to that summer – when the rose too had needed me?

But the universe knew better.

Three times three summers later – I was stung by bees.

Until finally; one day – I lie wounded in the street.

I thought only of her soft petals (those cheeks on my baby lamb).

I feared much: would my rose still give a damn?

What had I brought her, but the buzz of my song.

For I had robbed her of her sweetness. My my, I did her wrong.

And as I tried to fly for the final time – I realized: my sweetest rose had been there all along.

Make Your Place

When I was younger I didn’t know how to fulfill my own heart. I thought my place in the world was something I had to find – or that it would find me. Nobody ever told me that I should just do my best to make a place for myself in this world. Because that’s as home as you’ll ever be. #thinkinganddriving

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