I suppose the reason I began to write is simple. I began to write about my thoughts because I never thought I could tell anyone about them. How could I tell someone?
Besides, writing is writing and telling is telling, which means I am safest here. There’s no judge or a jury. There is no one around to reveal or expose me or worse, there is none here to humiliate me. Plus, who would care to read something written by me? Who would care? I was too scared to dance and scared to sing. I was too scared to share myself in any way that might unmask my deepest vulnerabilities. After all, I was just a kid, right? I am still a kid at heart, yet I have grown. Or perhaps I should say I have outgrown the old layers that buried me deep beneath my life.
I think that first and foremost, all I ever wanted to be was cool. Maybe like James Dean. or better yet, maybe like Dillon from the movie The Outsiders. I wanted to pull off a look which was never really quite fitting for me. I wanted to lean back on some wall by a store in my town. I had long hair and a fresh cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth. I could even see the pose. My back is against the wall, leaning back with my right leg up. The sole of my boot is braced on the brick wall. My left leg is planted on the ground. The look in my eyes is dangerous. I am unmovable and impenetrable. And yet, I couldn’t care; not one way or the other. Come what may. Nothing mattered. I am standing at the start of the evening with a long night ahead. I have a pack of smokes in my leather jacket. I’m dressed in my t-shirt, jeans, boots, and some hell-bent rebellion, in which I would take no prisoners, spare no lives and be cold like the winter’s wind.
I wanted to have a sense of mystique or that sense of danger. I wanted to be this character you see in the films. Instead, I had the unsettledness of awkward thinking and awkward feelings. In turn, I learned to euthanize this with different chemicals or spirits; which, did nothing else but leave me to stumble and slur. I could never tell anyone about this. Besides, who would want to read about this? Who would want to read about the rehearsals I had in front of the mirror? I couldn’t tell anybody about this. Not even you. I could never tell anyone about the speeches I rehearsed, but yet, I never dared to say. So, instead, I simply played along to get along. I had to. Otherwise, what? Be alone? Be unwanted, unincluded, or worse, uninvited?
I needed someone in my life. I needed someone to talk to. I needed feedback and help. I needed support and someone that could understand. But wait . . .
Who could understand something like this? I needed to tell someone something but yet, I could never dare to tell anyone. So, instead, I started writing. Writing is writing and telling is telling. There’s a difference. I have more control here. Either way, the challenge is once my words are on paper, now it’s real. I see this as a contract between us. This is our paper. This is our bond. This is our link, for the rest of our life or even longer. This is the one thing that connects us as people and without any deceit or intent to deceive. This is why I come here: To go on –
I don’t think we are as different as the world tells us we are. I don’t think that culture changes the core of a person as much as we believe it does. In the chest is the heart. Our influence or perceptions of “Cool” might not look the same. I get it. We all come dressed in a different package. This is true. But the one thing we all want is protection. We all have the need to be and feel safe. After all, this is why we come up with our images to begin with. This is why I created all of my past personas; to be safe.
We all want freedom to be, think, talk and act as we choose. We want things to make sense. We want to understand the way things are because not understanding is like losing our car keys, our wallet, or worse, losing our cell phone. (Which by the way, cell phones have become nothing more than a technical part of our body. Lose this and it’s like missing a limb. Am I wrong?)
I suppose the first time I was ever impressed by someone’s writing is the time I saw someone write a poem. He was a young man with a past. Just like me. He was a young man with his own rebellion, just like me. He was angry. Also like me. And he was trying to figure out his next move, which was like me as well. We were together in a long-term place, both of us kicking a lifestyle that comes with battle scars, withdrawals, nightmares and post traumatic episodes such as watching a bullet hit someone’s flesh.
I watched this young man write his thoughts in an effortless prose. This was amazing. It was quick, like a punch to the throat. His brief poem was cutting like a long knife that sliced down to the bone. His poem was raw, like an undecorated truth, which showed no mercy nor concern for interpretation or plea for acceptance. He was brave to me. And yet, although I never saw anyone as brave as him; I never saw anyone as afraid either. Hence the anger. Hence the rebellion. Hence the fight because who knows what happens when the fight ends?
I wanted to be like him. I wanted to write like him too but I lacked the words. I lacked the talent, and yet, the truth is I never lacked anything but the confidence. I suppose my biggest fear is that I might leave something out. I’m afraid that my picture might be misinterpreted. I remember when I sat alone, trying to find the words, trying to be flowery, or dark or meaningful. I remember when I put pen to paper. I was trying to find the right words. I was trying to be tough. or, depending upon the crowd, I wanted to be magical or sexy. I wanted to find the right descriptions. I wanted to paint pictures. I wanted the world to see me and yet, not lose my edge or my so-called image that I used as a shield.
I had to learn about my art. I had to learn how to create. I had to learn how to do this from the heart. Most importantly, I learned that writing to impress people is something that never works. I had to find my voice, my heart, my soul and my own words, which I choose to share with you now, here, where no one else can see.
This is personal. I know. I get that this is personal. This is raw too. I understand. This is me and all my little imperfections, my secrets, my history, my pain and my hopes. These are my stories. This is my truth and my reason to continue. I write this because my hopes are that someday, you will read this at any given moment. You can pick this up at any time and put it down, just the same. And, when you find me and my thoughts, I can be like an old, welcoming friend to you. We can talk as if no time has passed since our last visit. We can be this way, us, me, you, the way you relate (or not) to my thoughts, which I have exposed, precisely, categorically and explicitly here for you.
I’m older now and fully grown. My James Dean approach is not quite the same, nor is my Dillon approach the same as when I had long hair and smoked cigarettes. My intentions have changed. So have my motivations. According to the school of life, my education has improved. I can say that although my room is not filled with diplomas; I have my share of certificates. I have my little trophies, which no one can deny or take away. I have these notes, which I have been keeping for a long time. And as for the pages beyond this one, I admit that I have a purpose.
I come here to rid myself of my demons, which are weaker now because they have been exposed to the light. I come here with hopes that you and I can find this place in our hearts. I want to create this because elsewhere, the world is a crazy place. As for me, well, I need a place where things make sense. This is here. This is my music, my art, my paintings and my scriptures. This is where I put down my shield and surrender.
(So I can rest.)
I might never be Shakespeare or Fitzgerald. I might not write like Fulghum. I might not write like Keruac or Burroughs or Carroll. But that’s fine. I learned from my old friends that the only person I can ever be is me. So, I might as well write like me.
So, with all my heart, “Sleep well, old friends.”
This one’s for you . . .