Voices From The Fallen: Once In The Schoolyard

I see empty playgrounds and think about the way things used to be. I see empty swing sets and slides and think about little kids, running around, and screaming like this was their job to have fun.  I see this and think about the way things are supposed to be for kids. I think about the summertime when the streetlamps came on and it was time to go home.This was us once. Remember?

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Voices From The Fallen: Memories About The Farm

I ever tell you about what happened around April 1st, back in 1991?
Turns out I slipped up and made a mistake. This happens to a lot of us,
You say things to yourself like, “Nobody has to know.”
You try and play it off too. You tell yourself, “It was just that one time.”
“Who has to know?”
You repeat this over and again, like mantra, to make it real. You do this so that maybe you’ll believe it too. This way, you don’t live a lie.
But deep down, you really know.
Or, maybe this was me being hopeful that I could erase the entire events of an evening before. Perhaps, I thought I could create the lie and make it true. Meanwhile, I knew what I did. I knew where I was too. There was no denying what happened. None, whatsoever.

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Voices from The Fallen: About Mom

Mom was alone after The Old Man passed. She never paired well with anyone else, which is not to say Mom never tried. She dated a few times and sought comfort in different bereavement groups. She tried to meet people but none of Mom’s dating attempts reached her expectations. Certainly, none of Mom’s dates were acceptable to me, least of all her first date which I admit to making him extremely uncomfortable.

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Voices From The Fallen: A Man Named Henry

They tell you to find a sponsor in the beginning. They say to find someone that can help guide you through the program. They called a “Simple program for complicated people,” which in fact I was both; simple and complicated.

They told me that I should find someone with a good amount of time beneath their belt. If the chemistry was good, it was suggested to follow this person and have them be a mentor. I had sponsors before but none of those relationships were long-term or exceptionally beneficial. Besides, I never liked the know-it-all people that read from a book or told me what I should or shouldn’t do. I never liked the slogan people that were so programmed it sounded like they lived in a cult. There was nothing more aggravating than little catchy slogans that stung like salt in a wound when you’d hear them. Most of all, I never liked the people that parroted what others told them and acted as if this was the one and only truth in the world.

I hated most of the people I met in the 12-step rooms, which in fairness was a problem of my own. At the time, I was 28 and my resentments were plentiful. My tolerance for others was poor. I didn’t like being told what to do. I didn’t like the so-called hierarchy in the recovery world which was not supposed to exist, but yet it did. In the case of clean-time and sobriety, there is not supposed to be a hierarchy. This is supposed to be a non-judgmental, clique-free environment, which it is in most cases. However, in some cases, people are people and faults are faults. In the beginning, this was difficult for me to contend with. It was hard to meander through the people I couldn’t stand and find someone that I could talk to. In my case, the toughest thing to find was someone that actually listened instead of talk over me. This was a tough find for me but gratefully, I found someone.

Henry and I used to take walks after the lunch hour. He was an interesting man to say the least. He was older. He was a veteran as well. Henry served in Vietnam after volunteering at the age of 17. He explained that his father refused to sign unless Henry went in as a marine, so he did. Henry never said much about his time in Vietnam. Mostly, Henry was kindhearted and always had a smile or a joke. He liked to laugh and to me, Henry was a friend and mentor. He was whitehaired with a white beard, pale skinned and although aged, it was clear that Henry was always a big man. 

He had old matching tattoos on the top of both hands. They were little devils with the words, “The hell you say,” written around the top of the devil in a semi-circle design.
Although kind as could be, it was very clear that Henry was in life or death situations before —and he defied them as best as he could. He was in construction. He knew about life and he knew about war. Henry and I would walk from 31st Street at 7th Avenue over to 5th and 33rd Street, which is where I worked at the time.

I remember his old escape plan too. This made sense to me. “I used to want to get away” said Henry.
“Just run, you know?”
“I used to think about packing everything up and move out to the country somewhere. I used to have this idea that I could paint the side of old barns to clean them up and bring them back to life.”

He told me, “This was my plan when things would get too crazy.”
Henry would say, “I could see myself doing this too, maybe I’d have a pint or two with me, a can of paint and a brush, and then I would paint the side of barns without a care in the world.”

There was a facial expression Henry would make when he talked about this; it was the kind of expression that revealed a sense of freedom. This meant freedom from the hustle of business and freedom from the congestion of the city. I always imagined that to Henry, this idea meat freedom from the traffic it takes to get to and from the city and all the bullshit that goes in daily life.
There was a sense of airiness about the expression on Henry’s face when he talked about the barns—he talked about this idea as if he could envision the barns and the countryside in his mind.

Henry explained, “There’s no noise, no one around, no pressure, and no one to argue with anymore.”
Then I’d say, “Yeah, but then I’d have no one to talk to after the noontime meeting.”
Henry smiled and said to me, “You’d find someone.”

It was Henry that helped me stay the course during my younger years. It was him that helped push me along when times were rough. Henry was a friend to say the least. He was a sponsor of mine and someone I admired greatly. My sentiment was not just because of who he was to me but also, Henry served our country. He volunteered. To me, this commanded my respect. To me, Henry was a good man.

Last I saw him was on one of his job sites. Business was going downhill. He was losing control of jobs and although construction was booming at the time, Henry took a big job that buried his company. I guess Henry wanted to go paint barns again. I suppose the vodka was a problem too. No matter how he tried, there was just no running away. Henry never admitted to drinking —at least, not to me anyway. I confronted Henry out of love and respect, but no, Henry looked right at me and said, “Nope. Not me, kid.”
“I wasn’t drinking.”

Then again, most people that drink too much seem to always deny their drinking. No matter what! You could catch them in the act.
“Nope, it wasn’t me.”

You can smell the booze on them.
“Not me. I wasn’t drinking.”

You could tell them, “I know you’re drinking,” and they would say something like, “Yeah, well, a lot of people think they know things. But it doesn’t mean they’re right.”

More or less, this was the conversation I had with Henry. Eventually, his company folded. He took a job with someone else but sadly nature took hold of him. I was told it was something like Parkinson’s, or maybe it was Alzheimer’s. Either way, my friend is gone now. I never had the chance to say goodbye. I never had the chance to tell him how much our noontime walks meant to me. I never had the chance to let Henry know that I admired him —and I never thanked him for listening when I was screaming about one thing or another.

I would scream, and he would listen. Henry would smile, and I would rave about a resentment I had. Then I’d ask, “What the hell are you always smiling about?”
Henry would laugh and say, “Because it’s just not as big a deal as you think it is.”

He would tell me, “You’re doing much better than you think you are.”
“Just don’t quit before the miracle happens.”

Several people had told me this before. I never liked sayings like this. I never liked the catchy little self-help slogans. As a matter of fact, they infuriated me. Drove me mad, to tell the truth! This was perhaps one of the only times Henry ever talked about Vietnam. He told me about what it was like at night, things flying passed his face, which, God only knows what they were. He told me about the sounds he heard at night and the smells he’d smell that never seemed to go away. He also mentioned the most unforgettable smell in the world, which is the smell of burning flesh.

“You never forget that,” said Henry.

He talked about the booby-traps. He told me about the mines called Bouncing Betty and that when tripped, the mine popped up about 3-4 feet in the air to about waist-height, so that when the charge detonated, the mine sprayed hot fragments around and hit as many people as possible. He told me, “They were very shrewd people.” He said, “They knew to kill one man is to kill one man. And then he’s dead. That’s it. But if you injure a man, it takes two others to help him move. And that’s how you disable a platoon.”

Henry talked for a while about the nighttime and what it was like for him. He talked about what he saw without actually saying anything, which was unreal to me and put things into perspective. Then Henry stopped and said, “Wait, what was is that you said was bothering you again?”
“It was important, right?”
Suddenly, I got it.

Half the time, we think our problems are these “life or death” things, when meanwhile; the only thing that is life or death is actually life or death alone. Henry told me, “None of that stuff is ever going to kill you.”

His delivery was always the best. He was one of my most favorite people. I called Henry my sponsor, but he was more than that. In fairness, I never had a sponsor like Henry again. I tried to have other sponsors. After Henry was gone, the relationships were never filled the same way. Plus, I was angry all the time. I figured I’d need someone that could help me with this. I figured it would be best to find someone that could talk me off the ledge like Henry would. I tried but never found the right fit. Someone suggested I tried to find someone opposite from me. And I did but this was not a good fit. Then I found someone; it sounded like he understood what it meant to be angry. And he was. He was as angry as they come. I figured if he could stay the path then I could too.

One night I called him for advice. He talked to me for a good 15 minutes, which was rough because although he was being helpful, the man was very aggressive and yelling. Then the conversation turned odd. This is when my new so-called sponsor and mentor told me, “Listen, I have to go. The cops are here because I just lit my neighbor’s lawn on fire. I’ll speak to you later.”

It was times like this when I missed Henry most. I know what Henry would say if I told him about this. He’d laugh. He’d tell me, “It ain’t life or death, kid.” Then he’d probably laugh about the story and ask me, “What the hell were you thinking when you picked this guy anyway?”

Most people listen with the intention of what they’re going to say back. Not Henry. Henry listened with the intention to understand.

Years later, I was new to a neighborhood. I went to a 12-step meeting in a different town with different people that never met me before. Safe to say, whenever a new face comes into the room, people are supposed to walk up and introduce themselves. One thing they are not supposed to do is be presumptuous. Sometimes people assume and other times, people do as they are supposed to. After the meeting, a young man came up to me. He asked me how many days I was clean. This is an odd question to ask someone. First off, this was a strange question because at the time, I was clean for more than 26 years. The young man wanted to mentor me. He wanted to help me along and be “that guy” that helped save me from myself.

I listened because his advice was good; however, once I realized the direction of this conversation, it was time for some clarity. “You seem to have a good hold on this thing. How long have you been coming around?”

“I have 6 months,” said the young man but it could have been 9 months —and I tell the story the same way each time to keep things honest.

Next, the young man told me, “You’re gonna see. Before you know it, you’ll have 30 days. Then it will be 60 and then you’ll have 90!” He told me, “Before you know it, you and I will be here and you’ll be talking about having 6 months clean, and then next thing you know, we’ll be here celebrating a year!”

I listened to him and I thought about Henry. I thought about how he would be laughing at me. At one point, this would have been insulting. I would have taken this as a sign of disrespect. Instead, I listened to a young man tell me about what he knows and how he could help me get sober.

He asked, “How many days do you think you have?”
I answered, “I really don’t know to be honest with you.”
“You really need to count your days,” said the young man. And he said this as if he were an authority.

“Take a guess,” he said. “How many days do you think it is? Just guess.”

I looked up at the sky to make my best, “I’m thinking” face.
“I don’t know,” I told the young man.
Then I asked, “How many days fit into 26 years?”

“You’re clean 26 years?” asked the young man.
I answered him, “Yes. Did you want to teach me something else?”

This is why I loved people like Henry. He never assumed or told me what to do. Henry helped me to learn and figure things out on my own. I wish he was here to see that one. Henry would have loved my answer.

Dear Henry,

I live upstate now. I see barns all the time. Each time I see one I think of you and send my best, wherever you are.

Anyways, thanks for listening to me. It really made a difference.

Your friend always…


Voices From The Fallen: One Of The Gems

I remember back when I landed my first real suit and tie job. I was a low-level salesman in the bottom-end of a dying industry, which was literally brutal because shit rolls downhill. And me, I was literally at the bottom.

The abuse was tough; the phone calls, the door to door sales, the cold-calling; the constant rejection and hearing the same damned thing all the time. My products were necessary but they were the least important. O sold to garment manufacturers.
At the time, I worked for a company that manufactured labels and identification items—if there is any confusion about this, pretty much, the label in your shirt that itches the back of your neck? Yeah, that was me.

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Voices From The Fallen: You Never Forget Them

There was a night in my young life when I turned left instead of right. Some of my friends went off in one direction and I chose the group that split off to the left. Simple, right?
This was the night I was picked up by law enforcement. This is when I lost to my decisions and no matter how I tried to run or manipulate the system; there was no getting away from this.

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Voices From The Fallen: A Scene From A Park Bench

There is something to be said about people that go through a lived experience with each other. Same as I will never forget the kids from the neighborhood, and same as I will never forget the first time I listen to Led Zeppelin at the back of a middle school’s empty football field, and the same as I will never forget the first time I was in a fistfight or the last time I stepped out a courthouse, it would be impossible for me to forget the people I lived with, long ago, in a lifetime, far, far away.
It would be remiss of me to say the people I met so long ago had nothing to do with the person I have become now. And should I see any of them now, regardless of how much time has come between now and then, I would embrace them as brotherly now as I did when we were close.

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Voices From The Fallen: The Foyer Incident

Before moving forward, it is important to understand that everyone is recovering from something in their life. In some cases, the personal battles people face are more severe. Some lose and some live to fight another day. Above all, however, the young losses in this fight are tough losses to see. And please, make no mistake, it is a battle to live sometimes, especially for some people.
Safe to say I have seen this. Safer to say I recall a day in the main foyer of a treatment center where I stood as a witness one of these battles first hand.

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Voices From The Fallen: Intro

Keep in mind, this was decades ago. We were closing in on springtime. I had found myself doubtful of everything. I was unsure who was true with this process and who was unwholesome. Yet meanwhile, I was in too deep. I was part of a process that I never signed up for. Months into my stay on a farm, I was in a therapeutic community, cleaned up and short-haired like a good boy. I had surrendered to a process that was unnatural to me and given into the rules and regulations of the farmhouse and its principles.

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A Redirection of Thought

Put me out there, know what I mean?
Put me out there in the middle of the ocean when the sun is high, the sky is blue and the winds are just enough to blow back my hair. There is no tension, no grief, no reason to believe or disbelieve anything.
Put me out here where nothing else matters except this, us, and the buoyancy of the deck beneath our feet.

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Just To Get Away

There are times when there is literally nothing else we can do except wait. There are times like now for example; there’s nothing we can do about the epidemic or the pandemic (if this is one) and monitor the facts until things change.
Most of all, there are times when there is nothing else we can do but implement our own model of self-care plan. We can do nothing else but settle in because for all we know, this ride could be short or long but either way, the best plan to have is a plan that serves us best.

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Day 3: Presentation Day

Today is the last day, which means I will be giving a presentation in a few hours about the language we use and the labels we place on people with mental challenges.
My presentation will be judged upon my knowledge of the subject as well as my delivery of the information. I am not nervous to speak in a roomful of people. I’ve done this more times than I can count. The only difference here is I am being graded on my performance. Best that I stick to the books and keep my subject with the facts, which is fine

Either way, the truth here is simple. The truth is we all have challenges of our own. Truth is everyone is trying to outrun something in their life at least once; whether it be a simple thing or more complex; everyone has something to tangle with at some point.

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Day 2 of 5: They Pulled a Switch

This is day 2 of 5 which has officially been shortened down to 3 days, to which I say “Fine” without any protest so long as I reach my goal and become certified.
However, first and foremost, I must remember that first and foremost, I began this trip for a reason. I came here because my reasons are true. I am here because my reasons for understanding mental health are true as well.

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From Letters: Old October

Old October and I was young on cold morning and the rain came in rushing in. The streets of Midtown West, the 7th Avenue Garment District woes and crazy times, rushed with people in quick hurries to beat the out-of-nowhere storm, which came in suddenly and without warning.
And me, there I was in a window seat at a coffee shop, writing a letter to my Mother, looking out the window and watching everyone scatter and run for cover.
I watched businessmen with briefcases put their newspaper over their head to shield them from the heavy rain.
Large gulp-sized drops fell from the sky and spattered on the ground in a chattering sound that could be heard from my place inside, safe from the rain.
Some were readied with umbrellas and some just ran through, trying to avoid the downpour, to avoid the curbside puddles, and the dirty splashes from crazy cab drivers, swishing through the street, eager to pick up a fare and make their ends meet.

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There is a strange buzz about the place now, the city, I mean, and the scared emptiness I see of a pandemic experience, which no one asked to have but “Surprise,” it is here anyway.
And this could just be me —I know this is me and my anxiety, my old familiar friend, and companion, which I call this out for what it is, because it is what it is, which is “Just another day,” because after all; it is in fact, just another day. It’s just another thing. It’s just another concern among a list of many, but I mean come on now, really? Did we really need this right now?

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They say loss is part of life. They say into each life, a little rain must fall. Some lives will only drizzle and others may pour, but either way, we all go through the rain. They also say that dying is part of living and death is part of life. They say that all things, do, and must change. Everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. There is no avoiding this. The only thing that cannot, will not, and does not change is fact.

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A Piece Out of Sessions From The Balcony: Just A Dream

There is no real difference between now and then, except for you and me of course and the age of our existence. There is no more difference between us and then, except for this, us, still  being the way we are, —still hoping to be the way we dream to be, which is young, always young, and always hopeful, eager to feel and eager to laugh.
I want to feel the way we do when the sun comes up and hits the garden at Central Park near 116th street on a summery morning, where, in the middle of nowhere in the city life, there was a scene, which could have been from a movie; —as if New York City became this totally different world because of a little garden with a slate-stone walk-around, lined be specimens of trees, the kind that seems royal and regal; enough to give someone the feel of storybook reasons to walk around and love someone so much that you’d though time could stand still.

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Another Turn Around The Sun

And here we are, Project Earth, the world’s biggest conveyor belt, literally, as it moves around the sun. Things will be mild soon, up here on the northern hemisphere. We will lean in and move closer to the sun.
Why, it was just a year ago today that Project Earth was at this very same position. Time sure flies when you’re moving through orbit. We age and we grow, and look at it this way, a year has gone by since this very day.
But what does that mean?

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Remove The “If”

If it were up to me, we would never grow old.
If it were up to me, everything would feel as good as the first time my Grandmother told me a bedtime story or fed me a meal. Nothing else in the world ever feels like grandma’s bedtime stories. Nothing tastes as good as when Grandma makes it.
If it were up to me, everything would be as easy as an afternoon I once spent in the autumn months. The air was neither too warm nor too cold. The sun was on its way down and the world was quiet. I could see the golden hue from the sunset reflecting against the trees in a field as I walked home from a moment that was (shall we say) less than comfortable. But yet, the afternoon was somehow by a beautiful moment before the sun went down. God, that was perfect.

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To Parents: A Note Of Explanation

As parents, we have hopes and dreams. We have ideas of what we want our children to become. We wrap them in their little blankets and we tell them bedtime stories. We hope, and we pray to keep them safe.
We teach them all they need to know to the best of our ability. We teach them their A B C’s, the 1 2 3’s, and all about the itsy bitsy spider and the wheels on the bus that go ‘round and ‘round.

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This Is For you, Kid!

Beware the angst of youth.

When you have no other way to voice yourself, then you have no other language beside your actions. And you try. You try to fit. You go along to get along but the frustration in your heart makes it impossible to play along.
Know what I mean?
Next, you find yourself in compromising positions, doing things you know you’re not supposed, which is fine, until you’re caught —until you’re cornered by someone, maybe it’s a teacher, maybe a principal, maybe it’s a cop or your parents, and then they ask you the most commonly asked question.
They ask you “Why?” to whom you answer, “I don’t know,” of course because there is honestly a part of you that doesn’t know why you do what you do. You’re not even sure why you say what you say. You just do it. But deep down, you know there’s a reason. You know there’s something in there but it doesn’t have a name or a face or anything you can describe.

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From Life Volume 1: Do Not Give Up!

Exhale, whew. And now we begin.
It is not right that we say, this is it or this is all we’ll ever be. It is not true that we cannot or will not improve or change because everything changes.
Socrates said that change is law and no amount of pretending will change this law. And he is right.
No negotiations or compromises will be made. Life will happen. Bad things will happen. Good things will happen. We will rise and fall more times than the sun or the moon, and yet, time will not regard us.
Life will give us the unfortunate accidents the unexplainable misfortunes that range from minimal to modest or sad to tragic.
We will live and we will learn. We will encounter tragedy. We will both overcome and succumb to habits and routines.

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Here’s To A Better World

I used to work an early shift that began at 6:00 in the morning. The good part is I finished at 2:00 but the bad part is I was up every morning before the sun.
Each day I’d arrive at the building about an hour before my start time because the trains only ran at certain hours.
This was okay because I’d start my day slowly, drink a little coffee, read some, write some, or watch the news some.
Each day, I’d see the same people on the train. None of them were happy to be where they were. No one was happy to be awake.

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Just a Thought

There is a house over on Prospect that has never taken down their Christmas decorations. The house has been this way for years. Then again, I moved away years ago. Perhaps this has changed. Truth is I’m not sure.
Year round though, the house was dressed with an old holiday spirit that was never removed. It is unclear if anyone lived in the house. I’ve never seen anyone come in or out. The house is aged and weathered and the landscaping is unkempt to say the least. I’m sure the neighbors on either side do not appreciate the look. The houses in the community are moderately priced. Prospect Avenue is a main street, although, the neighborhood is otherwise suburban and the town is the place I grew up.

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Don’t Be Afraid To Try

I was ready to quit after my first class. I couldn’t help it. All I could do was look around the room and listen to the others introduce themselves. Everyone in the meeting room had letters after their name. They had titles and credentials. They had professional history, and worse, they all knew each other.
They were all players in the mental health field. They were all on a first name basis, and then there was me, passed the midway of my 40’s with a limited education and wondering if I could make a go of a new direction in life.

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Let’s Take A Walk, Shall We?

More than anything, I get it; you want to find a way out from the hole that you’re in. More than anything, you want anything else except for more of the same.
You want to wake up someplace else or be someone else. Maybe the problem is money or your lack of finances cause you to believe that this makes you a failure. Maybe it’s the lonesomeness. Maybe it’s the hopelessness. Maybe it’s a feeling or better yet, maybe it’s an idea that tells you, “This will only be as good as it gets.”
More than anything, you want the thoughts in your head to stop spinning around and adding up, one by one, and more than anything, you just want a break from it all.
You want the symptoms to slow down so you can catch your breath instead of running away all the time.

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What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What To Do Too

I was a guest on a local radio show last night. The show is called “The Connection Hour,” on WFDU, 89.1fm.
I love the host, a man by the name of Anthony Greene. I love the name of the show because everything we have, everything we do and think, and everything we are to one another is based upon a connection to an idea, thought, feeling, or a need.

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Valentine’s Day, Friday February 14, 2020

I began to wonder if anything was even real.
Are you real?
Am I?
Or, are these just words formed in a sentence to fit into a trained opinion of how life is supposed to be?
Or is this just how things go here?
Sometimes, I feel like I’m just a passenger in this place, down here on a circulating conveyor belt, which I call Project Earth.

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The Farm: Dreams of a Young Man

People still amaze me. At least, I want them to. At least, I hope they will because above all I don’t ever want to lose my belief in amazement.
I want to be amazed because I still want to be surprised every once in a while. I want to be amazed and see new amazing things, which are not even so new at all.
Take a child for example. I want to see kids play, and I mean really play, not with a handheld device or something automated —instead, I want to watch a child play with a toy that actually needs human interaction.
I want to see kids in a playground, screaming as they slide down the slide or swing as high as they can on the swings. I want to see this and feel as if hope is still alive and not reprogrammed into an app on a cell phone.

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Prose From The Advocate’s Side

It’s hard to see you this way, but hey, this is part of the game, right?
We signed up for this, remember?
There is me on my side and you on yours, which is not to say that you or I are against each other, because we’re not.
Not at all.
There is no line between; there’s just a wall you’ve built, which I understand because I have my own walls too.
We all do, as a matter of fact.
I spent most of my life trying to build mine, only now, to take them down.

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This Is Why We Keep Going

I have a rejection email from a magazine submission. I rarely submit poetry and with work, life, education, and with my schedule being the way it is, I rarely send out poetry submissions at all.
However, the idea of rejection or that my submission was withdrawn stuck with me. First and foremost, they believed my submissions were fiction, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I make it a point that everything I write about is real or true —or at minimum, everything I write about is real or true to me.

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Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn

I sat in a classroom for 8-hours, learning about mental health with the main premise, based on a few different acronyms. One idea above all stood out to me. They called it the four L’s.
Two instructors alternated, subject by subject, which I thought was brilliant because their upbeat energy was enough to keep the classroom alive. They complimented each other very well and kept the information interesting, which is good because an 8-hour class is a long class to be in. All the while, both instructors stressed the four L’s, which are Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn.

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It’s All In Your Head

I hate those words . . .

The problem is what if this is true? What if this is all in our head like everything else is? The fears and the doubts and especially insecurity are in hour head, which I get, and which is not to say that none of them are valid. Instead, I say everything is valid if we believe in it.
I say reality and belief is not always the same thing, which I get as well, which is why I ask the main question in the first place.
What if this is true?
What if all this is really in our head?

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A Night In The Woods

We took the trail between the crevice of Eagle Rock and Limekilm Mountain and headed closer to the Ladentown and then over to the second reservoir. This is where we set up camp. The hike itself was several miles and the terrain went from mild to steep in different spots. It was summer and the winds were extremely warm. The trees were green and the air was sweet from the dew and the mountains. It was hot for sure but the climb was well worth it.

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