I am a searcher. For as long as I can remember, I have been searching for the meaning of life, which is why I will call this new section of journals, Life – Volume 1.
I am a young man. Yet, at the same time, I am not so young. In some ways I am grown and in others I am still an infant. But yet, I am still a searcher. I am still learning and still seeking to find the different meanings of life —and I say meanings to pluralize the word meaning because to me, I believe the meaning of life is infinite.
Life as defined by the dictionary is the period of our animate existence.
But no, life is more than that.
According to the dictionary, life is defined as the condition which distinguishes organisms from inorganic organisms. But no, life is much more than this. I have also read definitions that say life is the state of existence conceived of the soul. I like this one, but still, life is so much more.
I was sitting in a small principal’s office as a kid, longhaired, and with an altered mind. I was young and afraid, trying hard to fit, and trying even harder not to let on that I was petrified and literally intimidated by absolutely everyone and anyone. I was about to find myself expelled from school. I was about to end one chapter of my life and begin another. This is life. However, my life is not limited to this. No, not at all. This is hardly even a chapter of my life. If anything, this is only a paragraph, which would be one out of a countless many. This is me in scattered parts. The following are bits and pieces of my falls and aims towards redemption. But more, the following is about life, my life, volume one.
I experienced life the first time I was able to walk the streets as a kid after a rainfall at night. I was free to roam the street in an innocent way, just after sundown, and after a long period of rainfall. My town was quiet and the autumn months were still kind enough to lend us a shred of decent temperature. The streets were wet and the blacktop pavement on the road glistened beneath the streetlamps. I walked along the side streets of my town with no particular destination. Some of the fallen leaves clung to the wet ground like brown pieces of paper mache, soaked and stuck, flat to the sidewalk. There was a full moon and a smell in the air that I could inhale and catch the aroma of fireplaces from nearby homes smoking up through their chimneys for the first time of the year. I was a searcher then. I was alive; therefore this is life too. But this was only one of my stages and one of my phases; therefore, this is only a small piece of my memory collected from a young recollections before the real trouble began.
I recall a moment of awareness one night while sleeping in the front seat of an abandoned car that was left in the vacant lot on Merrick Avenue. I was on the nod and running from several people in my town, which meant that I could not be seen. And the reasons why I could not be seen were several. First, I never knew how to defend myself. Second, I was in no condition to defend me. And third, I was too small, too thin, and too high, and too sickly to even consider ways of self-defense.
The car was small—it was a little Mazda, if my memory serves right. The wheels were taken the hood was ripped off, and the windows were shattered. The radio was taken away and the battery was removed. The steering column was torn apart, the glove box was empty and the windshield was smashed and gone. The car was left hidden away on a trail just over a small hill in the lot near Glenn Curtis Boulevard. And me; I was inside, lying back, and just trying to find someplace to hide away from the world.
It was late night and the winds were cold but I was warmed by a synthetic method that allowed me to feel uncaring and unfeeling of the cold or anything else for that matter. Then, amidst the haze of my nod, I heard the voices of old friends that were no longer friends. Instead, they were now my enemies and I knew if the discovered me, they would have beaten me and left me bloody.
I sat there quiet as ever and unafraid of death but more afraid of the beating and public shame and humiliation. This is why I chose my drugs of choice to be more deliberate and detaching. I wanted to feel suspended. I wanted to feel high, to feel weightless, to feel numb, and to feel absolutely, positively nothing, but yet, at the same time, I could literally feel every bit of the warm sensation of the drug flowing through my bloodstream—which is why I chose to be alone, and to be myself, because the last thing I wanted was to have my weightlessness interrupted by the gravity of life or fall beneath the weight of my life as I saw it.
And yes, life has weight. Life has its own density and mass. Life is a mathematic calculation, a phenomenon, a collection of living things, collectively interacting (or not,) and life is us; it is our environment and what we make of it. And for as long as I can remember, I was always trying to find out what life means. What does it mean? What does it mean to actually live and what does it mean to feel alive?
At one point, I felt most alive when living closest to death. At one point in my life, I felt most alive while teasing the boundary between life and death in an altered state of consciousness, in which, I felt protected or “cloaked,” as if to assume myself warmed and protected in my own little cocoon.
But simply, I was only mirroring the ideas of my perception of me and trying to find a little hole in the sky where I could hide.
I was lost and searching. More accurately, I was lost on my path and had no idea that I could be found (nor did I believe I could be found) or saved.
I believed that I was the sum of all my fears. I believed that I was the sum of all my insecurities, that I was the wretched, that I was in the wrong mind, the wrong body, the wrong life, and that I was the wrong person.
Why else would I feel so alone in crowds and so ostracized with my head hidden in the sand? The path of my own destruction came from an inward energy, which I exploded outwardly and sickly, slowly dying in small euthanizing sessions, because honestly, I did not know how to live any other way—or so I thought.
Truth is, I knew there was another way. Truth is I knew what to do. But the other ways to live entail fear and the possibilities of failure. My way of life involved fears too but these were more understandable to me.
The other ways to live involved the responsibility of routine maintenance and the accountability of my efforts. My way only involved the accountability for one thing, which was the maintenance of me, myself, and my mind. The other ways of living were too raw for me to consider. I was afraid of blame, shame, the reasons why I was as I was, the risk of being really me, and the actual effort that goes into living a life without the absent feeling of my perfect escape. And whether I escaped metaphorically or chemically; whether I escaped behaviorally to ease the excess of emotion and quiet the cries in my head; whether I reacted and responded through ways of my behavior, whether soothing or otherwise, whether the rush was adrenaline or emotionally cloaking through like say, a sexual experience, or if I chose a display of wild interaction, be it bloodied or violent in self-harm or by trying to claim a victim—the truth is, I was just trying to feel something redeeming of my inner-discomforts. I was just trying to feel alive and to feel the antithesis of mundane and ordinary. I was trying to rescue my inner thought and settle their disputes by acting out as means of expression for things I would never dare admit to.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been looking for the meaning of this thing we call life. What does this mean? What is life? Is the way I felt when standing in front of a fountain, awaiting a meeting with someone about my writing while knowing I was about to be turned down, but yet still, I felt so alive while sitting in Columbus Circle, New York City, standing with my loosely tied blue converse sneakers leaning over the curb, a dirty-water hot dog in hand with extra napkins, and me on my new journey. God, I knew there was a new hope for me.
I never knew that along my search, I would feel the true experience of what life could look like from a place like say, standing on the roof of a tall building in Manhattan and watch the sun go down on the southwest side of the downtown scene. I never knew what it truly meant to feel the touch of someone’s warmth without any selfish regard—and to feel them this way would mean that I would have to let go, that I would have to submit and forgo my own regard of self-centered survival and to be unafraid, or even in fear, this would mean that I have to be brave enough to love and commit to this love without any sort of hesitation.
Life is the ability to create and to build, destroy, to rebuild, and to recreate again. Life is the experience we feel deep within us. Life is a right of freedom; it is the freedom to succeed, but more, life is the freedom to fail and then try it once more, all over again, if we so choose.
My Father (may God rest his soul) used to take me on a walk along the beach at Point Lookout in Point Lookout, Long Island. We would do this on the first morning of the year, New Year’s Day. No matter what the issues were at the time and regardless to the hard feelings, which neither of us wanted to have towards one another, but regardless, we still had them; The Old Man and me took a walk along the beach and braved the cold to connect us as father and son.
This is life.
My Mother, (may God rest her soul) tried to teach me things. But I would never listen. I never listened, mostly, because I thought she could never understand. I never listened because I thought, mainly, I was uniquely alone in this world, that I was different, and that my Mother’s experience was unlike mine, that her feelings were unlike mine, and that everyone else in the world was simply . . . UNLIKE ME . . . in every way imaginably possible.
My Mother used to try and reach me but I chose to remain unreachable. I dismissed the things she would say as either wrong or bothersome, but more accurately, I dismissed my Mother’s direction because she was just being a Mom And what did she know? What could she possibly know because as a Mom, keep in mind, Moms and Dads are a separate entity in this world of ours. They are not real people to us. They had no life before us. They have no sexual preference or desire nor do they have the interaction interpersonal emotion. The do not have the capacity to understand insecurity nor could they understand the intricate details of our otherwise complicated life.
I mean, seriously, what do parents know? They have no feelings other than the feelings of being out parents. What do they know about us? What do parents know about our heartbreak or about our interaction with the world? What do parents understand about our insecurity? What does anybody really know? And how could Moms or Dads help us trough life, because, after all, they’re our parents; they are supposed to support us. I mean . . . it’s their job to do this . . . at least, it‘s supposed to be.
This is life too.
Life is a series of slip and falls. Life is a compilation of events and a combination of victories and bankruptcies. Life is experience, unique to each individual. And like I said, I am a searcher. I am a seeker of life and all of its meanings because in my opinion, life’s meanings are infinite, and the more we see and the more we experience, the better our life can be.
The truth is I don’t mind talking about the time I hid in a stripped-down stolen car. I don’t mind the recollections of places like treatment facilities or the mornings I spent in holding cells beneath the county courthouse. I don’t mind defining my times with handcuffs around my wrists either because none of this defines me.
Instead, these are only brief descriptions about my path. Life is so many things to me now. And I know that I have changes to make. I know that have wrongs to right and growth to achieve. I know I will fall sometimes but I also know that I have it within me to stand up again. Life is meant for living, not existing. And truly, I can say that I have done this. I have lived—
After one of my presentations at a facility in Northern New Jersey, I shook hands with those who were in attendance. Someone asked me what I write about. And I told them I write about life. I write about my search. I write about my mistakes and my discoveries. I write about the search to live and my search to feel. And some day, if I find a way to pull off my trick, I will compile my notes and put something together.
“I hope I’m in it,” said the inmate.
“You already are in it,” I told him
And so are you . . .