Life happens in phases and episodes. This is like chapters in a book and at the end, hopefully, we can leave something behind that is worth telling. Again, I say to each their own. To each are the chances and opportunities. To each are the moments in the fast lane. To each are the wild nights of summer and too all are the memories of our youth. To all are the memories to comfort us after we age beyond our prime.
There are people we meet in this life. Some are certainly more memorable than others. There are the basic family models, which we are taught about from a young age. We are taught about our mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. We are taught about the routine closeness of our cousins and the family lineage, the cultures and traditions. This is where we come from. This is where our earliest story began.
No one questions whether any of this was good or bad. At least not at first. No, we go along to get along. We live in our family and social dynamic until perhaps one day, we grow or reach a different level of awareness. We find ourselves at a turning point and question ourselves. For example, both moms or dads are not seen as usual people. No, they are the first initial teachers; however, not all lessons are meant to be taught because not all people are fit to be parents. And then we wake up. Then we realize that parents are people too. They have pasts too. They’ve lived. They’ve felt and hurt and like us, they have flaws and defects too.
We find new heroes in life. We come to a stage of realization and begin to form our own personality, which is not hinged upon our background. But more, we come to the understanding that moving on or moving away has nothing to do with love or loyalty to the people in our life. Unfortunately, not everyone stays together forever. Love does not conquer all and in the end, life is still life, complete with all simple things that we make complicated.
We come to the understanding that life is finite. We only have so much time and so many opportunities. This means the windows of opportunity become few and fewer.
Therefore, we look to find new versions of hope. We look for new mediums or intervening substance to motivate our best possible life.
At some point, we learn to combine the lessons we’ve learned to perfect our trick. We look to move beyond ourselves. And what I mean is, there comes a time when all the jazz and all the little rumbles we think about need to find a place of peace.
After a while, the riots come to an end. The wounds get old and the scars grow deeper. The mental soldier needs to rest from the wartime rhetoric. There comes a time when the battles are settled and the soldier wants to retire. There was no question about this for me. The only question I had was how? How do I let go? How do I stop being who I’ve been programmed to be. Besides, I believed in lies for so long, what do I do to encounter the truth?
I asked myself these questions:
But there was no answer
(at least not immediately).
There was a small apartment in the upstairs of a small home, which is where I sought to find myself. I was lost and bitter. I was uncomfortable. I was afraid of this new thing called life without someone in the room. To put this simply, this meant that I was on my own for the first time.
I was alone. I mean truly alone. There were no distractions and no one else to speak to. I had a therapist, but hey, she wasn’t free. My circle of friends grew incredibly small and my finances grew incredibly smaller. Nothing made sense to me. I swore this was as if I sat in a movie theater to watch a foreign film with subtitles in an unfamiliar language, There was nothing around to cushion the blow nor soften the fact that I had put myself here. I was painted into a proverbial corner, alone and afraid, and this was my life or my so-called failure. I had to lose in order to find out that what I had was not necessarily working for me.
I entered into this commitment, which is why I find myself here. As a matter of fact, I find myself here because I have been coming here to meet with you on a daily basis for several years now. I moved away from my typical life and found myself elsewhere. This all started 15 years ago. This started 15 years, 0 months, and five days ago to be exact. I left an old life and turned the page from my previous chapters.
I was in the light of a new beginning. There was no choice now. Change was on the way. I was on the verge of a new beginning and wondering which direction my path would take me.
I learned that life is always moving. Life is always changing, even when we don’t want life to change; still, life changes. I know this.
I never thought I would be where I am. Then again, I never thought I would be where I was either. I never thought about my life beyond a certain level. Instead, I accepted the trades and the people in my life.
Some of these people were desirable and some were the opposite. However, rather than sit and stay in a life that was not for me; I made the decision to move. Yet still, there was a new course of adventure and yet, I was afraid to see my way through the door. I was petrified.
Who would I be now?
Who was I if not the person I had always been?
And wait, more importantly, who the hell was I anyway?
Did I even know?
Was I brave enough to learn or find out?
God, what a world this is . . .
I found myself recounting the episodes of my life in which none of them were promising. I found myself sifting through old memories, like old photographs in an album. While viewing my life in a sense of retrospect, I found myself wanting. I found myself faced with the realization that I had submitted my life to different trades and settled on low bids because i was afraid that no one would bid for me at all.
I had an awakening.
I came to a point where I realized that all of my life was built and based upon the acceptance, appearance and the reaction of others.
I had no semblance of self. I had no source of understanding and no inspiration, other than the need to rid myself from the taste of contempt. I sought through craziness and to find my sanity but the results left me empty. I was empty, hollow, hurting, and above all, hopeless.
I couldn’t live this way anymore. I had to find a way out but the only ways I knew to escape were no longer acceptable What could I do?
It was the start of summer. I was back in my childhood town and driving down memory lane. The streets knew me. They looked different. Most of the stores I grew up with were gone.
Most of my friends moved away. I was somehow alone and yet somehow comforted by the anonymity of my town. She knew me. And when I say “She” I mean my town. She welcomed me home like an imperfect mother, sober enough to understand and give me a meal and a place to stay.
Sometimes I would see an old familiar face around town. I would notice them, but yet, no one noticed me. No one even recognized me. Besides, I was much older. I was nothing like my former self nor was I interested in the memory-lane conversations about the tragic pasts. Of course, in time, I understood this was a reflection of me and not anyone else.
One night, I had a long conversation with someone at a reunion. We were talking about the old days and went back and forth. I thought everything about me was so obvious. I thought everyone knew about my shameful events. I thought this way for a long time.
That night, someone who I’ll describe as a remnant from my past explained, “I never saw you like that.” and then they told me, “I think that’s just how you saw yourself.”
I started to learn that my opinion of others or my interpretation of how others speak to me or view me is only a projection of me. I never knew that I held myself mentally hostage nor did I know that it was me that kept myself trapped. But I learned.
I started keeping my journals 15 years ago. I’ve shed a lot of sin since then. I’ve closed a lot of chapters and watched different episodes go by.
I am here now, of course and with you, still.
Above all, I am still hopeful. I am still looking to improve. I am still looking to perfect my craft and improve my level of consciousness.
I was thinking about the technology of 15 years ago. I think about all the social updates and the new programs. I remember this thing they called Myspace. Do you?
I remember AOL chatrooms too.
I think about all the times I’ve had to update my systems to keep up. For example, my first computer was saved from a garbage bin, rebuilt by a friend, and then given to me as a gift. I still have the computer. I’m sure the computer’s storage has a few stories to tell. I’m sure not all of the stories are proud ones but not all were shameful either.
I’ve updated and upgraded and advanced myself since then. I suppose the only reason I’ve been able to do this is because I had no choice. I was faced with the idea of either I live or I sink.
Do you know what sinking is?
This is life in the emotional quicksand. No matter how hard you fight, no matter what you try; it seems like all you do is sink deeper. It seems like you’re losing to yourself.
You lose like water loses to a drain. I say this often because this is my favorite way to describe the way I felt. I couldn’t sink anymore. I couldn’t fight anymore. My fatigue was endless. The thoughts in my head would not stop. All I could do was sink or drown.
The mind needs a relief valve. And mine? You, this, my journals and these pages have been lifesaving. This is my relief valve for past 15 years. And to be honest, I just don’t know where I would be without you.
Know what I mean?