Memories From the Balcony – Father/Son

I have not always been sure what it means to be a man, at least not really.
Of course, I know what I used to think. I know about the more commercialized versions of what it means to be a man – or to be strong. Then again, I’m not so sure I know what it means to be strong either.
Least of all, what does it mean to be tough?
Do I even know what this means?

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Memories From the Balcony – Where it All Began

Of course there will always be the memories of yesteryear. There will always be the memories from the times of our youth as well as the things we remember about the kids from the neighborhood.
We will always remember the shows we watched on television. We will always remember our favorite meals and the way our bedroom looked when we were little. Or, maybe I should speak for myself here.

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Memories From the Balcony – Intro

I am starting this here with a new journal. Memories From the Balcony is nothing more than a warm invitation. I will set aside the sadness and the hardships and share with you a few details of life. This journal is made to show nostalgia and the warmth of our memory.
My aim is to make this relatable as well as visual. In which case, I want you to read what I leave here; but more, I want you to feel this. I want you to see this. I want you to think about the honeysuckle bushes and the way they smell. I want you to come to a picture in your head and at the same time, I want you to connect this to memories of your own.
My intention here is to bring you a memory and a warmhearted smile.

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Answer the Question – Where the Road Closes

Maybe it’s a good time to end this here.
Maybe the intentions of our lives are not something that will always match our best wishes which, again, there’s a saying for this which goes, “That’s life.”
Isn’t it?

I began this journal with the same intention that I begin all of my journals. First, I use this place as an escape. I start my day this way to help me start the process of what we call daily life.
At the beginning of my journal, I am sitting in the dark, in front of a white screen that offers a slightly bluish light to the room. This is my loft.
I use this empty white screen as a canvas. I type my thoughts down which, I can tell you this much, has brought me far beyond where I used to be with paper and a pen.

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Answer the Question – Change Is On the Way

I know that change is a part of life. I know it. You know it.
The people who look to hide from this or avoid it, they know it too.
Everything changes. Our bodies change. Our opinions change. Our intentions change and as we grow older, our options change too.
Technology changes by the way and the moment you find that you understand a program or that you get used to a certain process, technology changes again. Once more, you have to train yourself to jump through another hoop and learn a whole new trick.

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Answer the Question – Surrendering Can Mean Victory

Safe to say that I have lost. Safe to say that I have given myself to battles that were unworthy of my time. And yet, safe to say that I entangled myself in the unsuccessful battles of emotional warfare.
Come to think of it . . .
I used to say that I never pay attention when an enemy growls. That’s what they do. It’s when they smile at you; that’s when you might want to pay attention. I say this because if they’re smiling at you, then you might know that something’s coming your way.
I can see this as a matter of hindsight, which is always 20/20.
I can see an example of this before a meeting took place where I recognized a dilemma. I could see that this was sabotaged by someone. Rather than accept the field of play, I leaned inwards and fought back – but was it worth it?
The answer is no.

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Answer the Question – This is the Sound of My Voice

Aside from knowing what I see, I don’t know what life is like through somebody else’s eyes. I don’t know what love is like to anyone else. I don’t know what it’s like to feel the sensation of touch through someone else’s skin.
But I’d like to.
I’d like to understand but, at the same time, all I can do is ask. All I can do is listen and try to relate; but still, all I’ll ever know is my perception. 

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Answer the Question – So, I Heard They Call This Life on Life’s Terms

Sometimes the mind gets too full. What I mean is there’s too much on your plate at one time.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that life is always happening. We have grown folks business and people who mistake our kindness for weakness. So yeah,
rest assured, life can be a crazy place to be and the question becomes how do we keep our head in the game when it seems like the rest of the world is playing offside or against us?

What I’m trying to say is you need something to break the pressure. For me, well, this is it.
This is my pressure relief valve. This is where I can come and let everything go.
Right here (with you) but then again, I’m sure that you already knew that.
Or should I say that I hope you already know.

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Answer the Question – Just to Dig it All

If I asked you a question, would you answer me?
For example, if I asked you something like, say, if you could go back and say anything to anyone from your past, who would it be and what would you say?
If you could go back to a person from your old life or from what might seem like a previous life; who would you pick first and what would you tell them?

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Answer the Question – Reconstructive Thinking

It is true that we are who we are and that we are products of our background and environment. It is true to say that much of our hang-ups are linked back to early memories and carry on as a remnant from our childhood.
I often discuss this because this is where my roots begin. This is also where I had to begin the process of unearthing my old truths so that I can unlearn and re-teach myself, as well as replant the new version of who I choose to become. 

In my case, I came to my stages of awareness at different moments in time. This was my journey, which might be relatable, or I might be more alone than I think. However, if we relate to the core of the story instead of the outcomes and instances, my belief is that everyone has their thoughts which are in need of reconstructive surgery.

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Answer the Question – Deconstructing the Truth

I admit it. I am not a fan of bullies. Then again, who is?
I’m not a fan of anyone or anything that looks to punish or humiliate people just to keep them down or to keep them meek.
I see these people. I see them all the time.
I see them and their insecurities. Let’s face it, we all know this is true. No one bullies people because they are comfortable with themselves or because they’re well-adjusted. 

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Answer the Question – The Ability of Music

This entry does not belong to me so much as this belongs to the artists of the world and the musicians who have changed the way we see life. I can say this now as a disclaimer in order not to plagiarize any of someone else’s work. But more, I would like to offer this as a humble gesture to put aside all the common rumbles and nonsense dramas in our life.
This is not about me so much as it is about all of us. This is about the creators of music and the process we go through when listening to a great song that makes us think or feel.

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Answer the Question – Get Out From Behind Yourself

There comes a time when you wake up enough to realize that everyone is human, including our parents and teachers. This also includes authority figures from our youth. This includes everyone who told us or taught us something in our lives. This also suggests that not every lesson we’ve learned was accurate or correct.
At the same time, we can go years without ever coming to the realization that not everything we’ve been taught is true.
We have to see this. We have to come to an awakening where we break the molds of our past so that we can be free from its mistakes. Hence, this is why I say to get out from behind yourself.

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Answer the Question – Let’s Get Down to Business, Shall We?

It is a quiet morning here in purgatory. . .
The streets are empty and the sun is beginning to do its trick. I am unclear whether the sky will be blue or somewhat gray because the clouds have not seemed to let go, at least not yet.
There have been so many changes that are both mounting and oncoming and there are so many times that we try to look away or turn a blind eye. Either way, the one thing we know is that denial does not stop devastation.
Not at all.

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Answer the Question – About the Chain Reaction

My first journal was written in an attempt to save my own life. This is important for me to express because the action it took to create that journal was important to the details of my life; in which case, this is what has brought me to this point.
This is what’s brought me to the here and now of things, so-to-speak, and had it not been for the chemistry and the chain reaction of certain efforts and events, none of this would be so.

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Answer the Question – Here’s a Thought

Before we go one step further, I would like the record to reflect that I come from a time that existed before filters.
There were no cell phones or camera phones and, at best, the smartest phone we had at the time was a cordless phone. Yes, I did have a rotary phone in my house, which is funny when I think about it.
We eventually had answering machines and pay phones and beepers. Yes, beepers (or pagers) and if you paged a friend from an unknown number, you typed in the phone number from a push-button phone and added a special code so they’d know it was you.

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Answer the Question – The Art of It All

I will say that there’s an art to the way we live. And to each their own, or at least I think this is what people say.
We all have our ways. We all have our own little quirks and personal fashion. I can say that yes, although we’re perfectly unique and individual; there’s a branch of commonality that links us closer together.
There’s the way we think which may be different for reasons that number higher than our minds can count. At the same time, I offer a moment of truth here. I offer the hope to link us together with a certain special understanding that we can all relate to.
I offer this with hopes that we can find a common ground because even if people go on their own separate ways, at least we can come to an understanding about the internal voice (which everybody has) and at least we can come to a conclusion that our thought machine is not always operating to its best potential.

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Answer the Question – So, I Heard You Want to Talk About Love

The following is a bit of uncomfortable truths; however, in the efforts to answer the question, truth is exactly what this entry calls for. So, in the ideas of love or in the mention of what love is or if love is real; my answer is yes.
Of course love is real. But where does love begin?
Where does this come from and who teaches us what love is?

Come to think of it, back in the early days of my so-called romantic career, I remember an eighth grade science teacher who told me, “There’s a reason why they call them crushes.”
He told me, “They call them that because that’s what happens to you.”
“You get crushed!”

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Answer the Question – Take the Reigns

Maybe the goal is to defy your fears every day.
Maybe fears alone are not so bad. Maybe this is just a case of the mind looking out for us.
To keep us safe. . .
And that’s fine.
Maybe the fears of being hurt or being lost; or maybe the worries we have are only intended to be protective. Maybe this is all precautionary or a reminder, to warn us of the holes in our path so that we don’t fall, or so we don’t trip, or slip on the ice and fall through the cracks.
Maybe this is it, no?

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Answer the Question – In My Defense, I Was Left Unsupervised.

The one thing I know about life is that everyone lives it. Everyone goes through something and, essentially, the one thing I know about life is everybody is recovering from something.
Everyone has a past and a secret; but more, everyone has had to face adversity of some kind. It would be inaccurate to look at someone and believe their life has been absolutely untouched or untarnished.

To each their own, of course.
Not everyone’s adversity is the same. Not everyone experiences life on the same level.
No, we all have our own personal casualties and tragedies and, to me, my problems might seem luxurious to someone else. Or better yet, my complications are only a challenge to me.

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Answer the Question – A Special Thanks to Mom (and Mr. Anka)

There is a saying that Moms always know best . . .
Maybe this is true; however, I’m not sure if all moms know best. But I am sure that moms have ways of saying things that stay with us for a very long time.
The world has certainly undergone some changes since Mom has been around.
I know this.

Now, before moving onward, I am going to ask if I can appeal to your emotional side.
My request is simple. Then again, my request is that you try and feel the words I’m offering. Try to picture life. As we endure the descriptions of our memory, I am going to ask that you feel this internally and allow this to open up to you as a vision of hope. My intention is to offer this: Hope and love and the truth of our very existence.

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Answer the Question – Get Out of Your Way

I was in a roomful of people with different credentials and letters after their name. Each person in the room had a position in a field that I was hoping to enter. Each person had school behind them. All of them had more than one degree. And then there was me. There was no title. There were no letters after my name.
What the hell was I thinking?
First, I was thinking that anything I said on the matter of mental health would be dismissed. I was called a “specialist” yet this meant that I was mainly part of a project and brought in as a person with “lived” experience.

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Answer the Question – Truth

And here we are again. (Aren’t we?)
We’re on the verge of a decision. We’re on the verge of fear and dealing with the problems of what comes with indecision.
We’re in the purgatory of emotions and thoughts.
Here we are again, unsure, hopeful, wondering, wishing that something would just happen already, like an answer perhaps, or maybe a sign or something, anything, anything at all that would make the challenge of our heart be settled and fine. 

Here we are again, sleepless yet dreaming, hopeful yet doubtful; thus, here we are caught in a womb-like place where the world is on the outside yet there’s this emotional dilemma of being on the outside looking in.

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Answer the Question – Shelter From the Storm

The truth is life is a journey. Along the way, we are going to find new discoveries. We are going to learn, change our mind and update our thinking.
We are going to meet people and see new things. We are going to live each day being a new chance at a new life. This is true for all of us. However, perspectives will vary and so will our levels of optimism.

Not everyone will see the light at the end of the tunnel and not everyone will come to the understanding that life is always unraveling. Life is a lesson and a mix of experience and actions.
However, not everyone sees life as a streaming form of grand opportunities.

I understand that life can take on a robotic appeal. Maybe it’s work. Maybe it’s a routine. Maybe it’s a lack of drive or purpose. Maybe life can seem pointless; as if there’s nothing big or bright; as if the glimmer to all the flashiness becomes dull or faded.

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Answer the Question – About Being Bad

Back on the farm, it was just before Christmas and all the members of the house gathered to watch a special movie. We were all together in the main room to watch a movie called Boys Town.
To be clear, I was never into old movies or black and white films. At best, the only black and white shows I’d watch were some of the old sitcoms like The Honeymooners or maybe I Love Lucy.
For the most part, I was far from a movie buff and far from interested in an old film that I could never relate to.
However, in this case and, as usual, I was wrong again.

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Answer the Question – A Moment From the Heart

My intention with this is simple. I want to normalize how common we are and that although we’re all different in our own way; life happens to everybody.
I think now is a good time for a moment of truth.
I think it would be best to say that since our thoughts are the direction of our mind, it is safe to say that there are times when we need to step away from ourselves. There are times when we need to step away from everything; but at the same time, there’s nowhere to go because everywhere you go, there you are.

Let’s be mindful of something.
Life shows up whether we’re ready or not.
Got that?

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Answer the Question – The Problem with Outside Predictions

I used to listen when people would tell me about myself.
I used to buy into this too. After a while, I started to wonder why?
Why am I allowing myself to submit to the predictions and the judgments of other people?

I never questioned any of this. I just listened and accepted.
I never thought to myself, “Hey, maybe they’re wrong” or “Maybe this is more about them than it is about me.”
Instead, I would buy into the idea that maybe they were right.

They had to be right, right?
Why else would they tell me these things?
Or better yet, why else would I listen?

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Answer the Question – Does It Get Better?

I have news for you.
Moments will happen that come without warning. Sometimes life has a way of throwing us off. Sometimes people betray us. Sometimes we say mean things. We can be hurtful at times. We can grow and we can fall. We can only take so much or so it seems and just when we thought that we couldn’t take anymore, life comes along and hits us with something else.
We can heal and we can suffer.
We can stand and we can regain our composure.
Or we can submit to the world and allow ourselves to be washed away in the undertow of life.
But why?

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Answer the Question – Nostalgia Warning

Ever hear a song that brings you back to a time when you were much younger?
The world was a different place then. I was different and so were you, of course.

I’m not sure what I knew or what I thought. Then again, I’m not sure if I was aware of anything. At the time, I suppose I never focused on anything more than what I should wear or how I should look.
I suppose I thought we would be young forever. Or is this a common thing? Wasn’t it common to think we could survive forever on simple foods and our crazy friends?
I suppose I never thought much about the future or setting up a retirement fund. I never thought about a career or what I wanted my life to look like when I was older. Besides, thoughts like this were for older people and I never wanted to be older.

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Answer the Question – The Day I Woke Up

In answer to the question, I will admit that this is a tough one for me to tackle. However, in answer to the question, I believe it is necessary to tell the world what I was thinking and that somehow, I was confused by an internal narrative that misled me to believe that something about me was off or defective.

For some reason, I believed in the labels I had been given. I believed in words like learning disability. I believed in words that coincided with me being a bum, a crook, a junkie or uneducated.
This is what I thought and this is what I believed people would see when looking at me.

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Answer the Question – Recovering Friendships

I will make this one quick and yes, indeed, I think this might sound a bit sappy. But sappy or not, I will report this to you out of love and solidarity.
Over the years I have been fortunate to create new friendships. Some of these friendships are actually old connections from back in the days of crazy nights and memorable mischiefs, which took place in a town called East Meadow.
However, our paths have either crossed again or maybe it’s safe to say that our friendship was reborn in our later years.

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Answer the Question – Being the Newbie

I love it when I see them on their first day. 
They are the young ones, the newbies. They’re fresh in the world and just starting out in the working world.
I love the look in their eyes; partly intimidated, partly unsure of what to expect and partly nervous, partly hopeful, partly wondering what the people they work with will look like or talk like. They’re green to the world, brand new.

This is an interesting place to be. This was me once
and this was you once too.

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Answer the Question – The First Day of Forever

It is the first sunrise of a new year. The morning is unusually warm here in New York but the sky is pretty and the hour is quiet. I write this to you in a deep stage of thought. But more, I offer this with an honest version of myself. To be truly introspective, my goal is to be as honest as possible.
To begin with, I view this day as a moment of reflection. I view this as a memory of something which took place in my childhood – but ah, childhood does not last forever. Neither will our parents and neither will our yearly rituals.

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Answer the Question – The Kenny Incident

There is a story from my past which I am not too sure how the details go. However, for this entry I will do my best to be as true to the story as I can be.
The story takes place in a typical suburban neighborhood on Long Island where a young man looked to gain his reputation as an all-out gangster.
For this entry, I think we are going to call him Kenny. Just to be clear, this was not his name and to be even more clear, names, places and tiny details of this story will be altered to protect the less-than innocent. 

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Answer the Question – Time Served

I suppose I wasn’t sure what to expect. This is the thought that came to me when it was early and my schedule had changed. My Sunday morning routine was altered by one special cause.
Rather than wake up and journal before heading over to the homeless shelter, I had to make an hour-long stop at a new place to begin a new program.

I took this on as a challenge. I also took this on because I knew the attendees would be harder and tougher to speak with and I also knew that whether I spoke with 100 people or 1,000, the only goal I had was to at least reach one person.
My aim was to make people think and question their choices as well as their assumptions, Meanwhile, the people who would be in attendance would be as hard as the bars that kept them inside of their pod-style living. 

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Answer the Question – Understanding a Teenage Joyride

In the case of me vs the world or wait, better yet, as it is in the case of most kids when faced with a letter that came home from school, or in answer to the main question which is the question I will be answering throughout this journal; oftentimes, there was an obvious answer to the question of “What the hell were you thinking?”
I am going to explain more ways to diagram our thoughts, feelings and emotions. But first, this begins with the need to understand them.
I understand that parts of my story are either harsh or raw. My apologies if this is uneasy for you.
My intention is not to be harsh or intense; instead, I use my stories as a graphic narrative to accentuate the details of emotion and understanding. For the faint of heart, sorry but you either brought the wrong book or you backed the wrong pony. As for the critics . . .

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Answer the Question – The Watch Situation

Here’s a little introduction to a journal that will be based on the ever-popular question known as: What the hell were you thinking?
The answers to this will range from “I don’t know” to, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Now, in all fairness, I am certainly not the first person to journal about this. I definitely won’t be the last. However, I will be writing about this common question. This comes from a question that I asked in the closing of my last journal.
What the hell was I thinking?

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A Random Christmas Ramble, I know

Before we go forward, this is not about religion.
This might not be for everyone. However, this is written for those who find themselves “out there” and without any hope.
This is a little piece about hope and salvation but not the typical kind.
This is about redemption and forgiveness and the doubt that forgiveness could ever be possible.

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A Witness Though the Window – Entry 35

I will leave this here and let this be enough for now. I will leave this with you as my witness and say that yes, there are things I wish I could see again. There are times I wish I could relive. If it were possible, there are memories that I wish I could change or readjust.
There are remnants from my past that are unresolved yet I have created a system of living and programs for my future because these are the steps I take to resolve the remnants of my past.
I am like you, a work in progress. I have a history and a present. If I learn to use both of them wisely, I have the ability to create a better future for myself. That’s what this is about. This is why I am up early, every day. This is why I work the hours I work. This is why I’ve tried to develop as a person and as a professional. This is it.
This is my purpose.

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A Witness Through the Window – Entry 34

I know that I mentioned a few things about a bus ride in my previous entries. One bus ride in particular was a trip back home when The Old Man was dying.
I remember how cold it was yet the bus was warm. Maybe the bus was too warm but for the time being, it was perfect enough to let me lean back and absorb what was on my plate. 

But there’s another bus too. This bus ride is equally as important to me and impactful. I’ve never been on this bus before and hopefully this isn’t a trip that I’ll have to take anytime soon.
By the way, this is Robbie’s bus.
In case you forgot, Robbie was my cousin who passed away when I was in my mid-20’s. Robbie was much older than me. He was sick with cancer of the liver; moreover, Robbie was toughing it out in a hospital bed at the V. A. hospital in the Bronx.

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A Witness Through the Window – Entry 33

Today is a special day . . .

It was 33 years ago when I stepped onto a bus out of Monticello, New York. I was young and scared. The ride was long and strange. It was Christmas Eve and the sky was gray. I chose to take a window seat on a mainly empty bus. My heart was heavy and my head was full.
I watched the scenery change. The sky was gray and there was snow on the ground. It was a white Christmas, which is otherwise known as a miracle for some.

I sat with my forehead against the plexiglass window. I was numb and at the same time, I could feel everything. I could feel the pain and I could understand the severity of the moment. But there was something that wasn’t real. How could this be real?
How could anything be real when it comes to life or death?

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A Witness Through the Window – Entry 32

Suddenly, I am on a trip and, to put this simply, I am only a passenger.
But wait, let me explain.
There are choices to make like which train to go on? Do I take the train on the left or right?
Either way, both trains head to the same destination.

Both trains depart at the same time and move at the exact same speed and in spite of all of their cosmic similarities; the two trains are separate, Both trains come with their own unique experience.
Again, the question is which train do you choose? Do you go right or left?
Try to picture this if you can.

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A Witness Through the Window – Entry 31

I want to take you now to an actual view of real life. This is not just my view or my life; but more, this is a view that will help translate and explain what it’s like to live with a certain mindset. Here take this.
It’s an envelope. Inside are the contents of the mind which you’ll understand more as we go along.
I offer this message as an explanation yet I offer this view as a means of expression. This is not just for me at all. No, this is also for those who either will not or cannot explain themselves. 
Either way, here it goes.

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A Witness Through the Window – Entry 30

I am sitting here with you now, alone, in the dark, and writing during the early hours of morning. This is before the day breaks and the sun sets sail. It is cold outside and winter is about to take its place on the main stage.
I noticed the stars last night which means that today’s sky will be clear, at least I hope so.
Then again, I am a fan of the sunrise. I’m a fan of sunsets too.
There’s a reason for this.

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A Witness Through the Window – Entry 29

There was a friend of mine who used to say, “I am as God made me.”
This means, I am who I am. Or in his case, this means he is who he is.
But this is me and in the version of myself, there are other parts of myself in which I say yes; this is me too. I am a mix of so many things. I am part combination of my past and part a mix of assumptions and perceptions.
I am who I am and though I do not discuss my choice of identity nor do I propose myself as a representative of culture; at the same time, all I know is I am human.
That’s all.
I know what I see. I know where I’ve come from and while I might not know (or understand) what’s in store for me, I know what I want to be.
I want to be happy. I want to be proud of what I see.
I want to look back one day and say to myself with the utmost esteem and say, yeah, I did that.
That was me.

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A Witness Through the Window – Entry 28

There was a morning, cold as ever in the month of November. I was only about nine years-old at the time and the hour was early. I remember this was a morning at football practice. I remember the frost on the ground and the cold mist was rising up from the icy grass.
I remember the smoke from my breath as it left my mouth.
I remember the jumping jacks and our young little grunts as we counted out the number of jumping jacks and push-ups.
The team was holding a scrimmage because the coach wanted to see us at different positions. This way, the coach would know where to place us when the season started.

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A Witness Through the Window – Entry 27

I don’t know what you see, at least not really.
I talk about this often but the phenomenon of sight is not provably the same from one eye to another. I cannot say that I know for sure what the color red or blue will look like to someone else. I can’t tell how yellow the dandelions are to someone else nor will I know if my experience with the smell from a honeysuckle bush is the same to anyone else. I bring this up because our associations and our experiences are different. Our views are not the same and neither is our experiences. Yet, we think and we feel and there are times when we assume people think, or see, or feel the same way.
Well, the truth is I don’t know what anyone else sees.
So for the moment, I’d like to offer an explanation of what I see with hopes that you can see your way clear to notice me and see that what I say is true.

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A Witness Through the Window – Entry 26

I still think about this day, a Sunday morning, when I was back on the farm. I remember this because I had to go home for a day to see him. By him, I mean The Old Man.
I was taken home for a visit after learning that my Father had a heart attack. I was only home for a short amount of time yet I can remember walking back into my bedroom. I can recall standing at the doorway and looking in, as if I was returning to the scene of the crime – or should I say crimes.
It was amazing to me though; the way my bedroom looked. It was as if I was viewing a murder scene. You know the kind?
I mean the type of dramatizations where bodies were outlined in their last and final position. Only in this case, the bodies that were slain were more like the remnants of my past.
I had only been gone for a few months yet it was as if a lifetime went by.
I was different now. Everything was different.

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