Notes From the Heart: To “The Kid”

So you breathe . . .
You breathe because what other choices do you have? You’ve fallen (maybe?) or you’re tired or you’re hurt, but hey, life doesn’t seem to care, right? Hurt or not, we still have a race to run.

Eventually, something has to give. Or, at least we hope so. Eventually, one of the doors is bound to open. At least one of them has to. It just has to. Know what I mean?
And that’s it.
But even if no doors open; even if you find yourself down and out, and there’s no warmth for the hand or food for desire, then what? Huh?
What do you do then?
What do you do when the pain is all you feel? You’re tired. Your legs can’t seem to carry you another step. You’ve been working so hard. You’ve done all you can. You checked your facts. You’ve dotted the “i’s” and crossed all the “t’s” and you gave it your all. You put the work in to the best of your ability but somehow, you lost to the competition (or whatever that means). You’ve taken another hit, another fall or maybe it’s not in the cards for you.
Hmm? Is that it?

For some reason; call it timing, call it the luck of the draw, call it personal or call it the will of the universe — or better yet, call it whatever you want but either way, the truth is the road is lonely. No one talks about this part. I mean, we see all the flashiness. People talk about the fame. They talk about the rewards but to hell with it. None of that’s real without the work it takes to get there.

The bumps you take are painful. And there’s always someone around with something to say.
You’re like, “Shut the hell up!”
There’s always someone around to tell you what to do or how. And almost inevitably, there’s almost always someone who comes along and says, “Just keep plugging.”
“Don’t quit!”
Sound familiar?

You start to ask yourself, “Does anyone even get it?”
“Does anyone even see me?”
“Do they know how much this hurts?”
You’re out there with a nosebleed and your hat is in your hand. You try and shake off the dust from the fall but hey, there’s no time to heal because ready or not, tomorrow’s coming. Time is going to keep on moving and here we are, still nursing our wounds from yesterday’s loss.

You have to get up.
You have to go.
Keep pushing.
Keep plugging.
You can’t stop now.
You can’t quit because this is more than business.
In fact, this goes beyond being personal.
This is our purpose we’re talking about.

There are times when the past is weighty. There are storylines that are lengthy and date back to long ago. There’s old pain that combines with new pain and yet, somewhere in the mind you tell yourself, “The hell with it! It’s just more of the same.”

You start to wonder, “When is it my turn?”
When is my turn to have the life I want?
When are the doors going to open?
When will I get the nod?
You want to know. You want to see it.
You want to feel it and you want it now.
You want this dressed in a package of something like, say, someone comes along and tells you something like, “Right this way, please. We’ve been waiting for you.”

I have news about this. No one else feels what we feel. No one else knows. No one gets it. And even if someone does get it; it’s easy to say what to do when the pain isn’t yours. It’s easy to tell someone to keep pushing when it’s not your legs that can’t take another step. It’s easy to say what to do when it’s not your back that can’t straighten out. And it’s easy to tell someone to “Chin up,” when it’s not your face that’s been slammed by the door.
No, life is not easy my friend.
Not by a long shot.

There was a woman I met who lost her 6 year-old daughter to a brain tumor. She told me the hardest thing she had to hear was her baby girl explaining, “Mommy, my head hurts so bad that I want to hurt myself.”
The mother told me, “I will never tell anyone ‘It’s gonna be okay.’ ever again”
She told me, “I won’t ever say this because sometimes, it’s not gonna be okay.”

I have a problem with the word, “Just.”
And I know I’ve told you about this before. I know that I’ve explained why but hey, now is a good time to reiterate the reason I stay away from the word, “Just.”
I see this word as an unfair simplification of a hard fought struggle.

“Just don’t think about it.”
“Just don’t let things get to you.”
Or, wait—how about, “Just don’t give up!”
What the . . .
Meanwhile, it’s us who are bleeding. Our knees hurt. Our back is out. Our spirit has been kicked around and there’s a layer of dust on our tongues from our faces being in the dirt.

When it comes to subjects of the mind and heart, I hate the word “Just” because the word itself simplifies and minimalizes the pain and the anguish. I hate the word because sometimes the word “Just” is a word that just doesn’t fit.

Go tell someone with food poisoning, “Just don’t throw up.”
“Just don’t shit your pants.”
Go tell someone with Covid, “Just don’t go on a respirator.”
Tell someone with cancer, “Just don’t die.”
“Just don’t get sick.”
Just don’t get hit. Keep moving. Just don’t let the pain hit you.
Is this real? Is this even possible?
I understand the terms, “Just keep going.”
But remove the word “Just”
“Keep going!”
Do not stop
Keep writing
Keep building
Keep creating.
Remember something, kid. The outcomes are out of our control. And so what? You shot for the stars and missed. Most people don’t even get this far, but hey, I get it. We’re not most people and most people will never know what it feels like to feel our pain.

There comes a time when you have to turn a corner. You face a new way. You find a new direction. You find hope. You find something because otherwise, all you have is all you’ve ever had; and if you want more, well; then you’ll have to endure. There comes a time when the old insults lose their sting. You can heal. You can come out now. No one is around to hurt you.
(Not on my watch.)

When your will and your intent outweigh your fears; when you’re fed up enough and your drive to stand outweighs your pain that keeps you down, (believe me. I know it hurts) this is when we get up and go.

I never tell anyone, “Hey, it’s gonna be okay.” I can’t say this because the mom was right. Sometimes, things are not going to be okay. I can’t say that it’s gonna be okay but I can say that as far as I’m concerned, there’s no one in the world who is going to cheer for you louder than me.

I have to say this here. I’ve been down. I’ve been beaten. And there are times when man, this hurts. There are times when nothing works. It seems as though the powers are against me.
I can say that I’ve been part of my own downfalls. I’ve been part of my own self-sabotage. I’ve seen the damage of my insecurity and the problems with ego.
I’ve been hit before. I’ve seen a bullet pass through flesh. I have seen what happens when people die too young. I have pictures from my youth which flash in my mind. And they hurt.
I have memories and I have scars. I have old wounds that act up every now and again. I have this inner voice, which I tend to grapple with sometimes. And there’s a term for this. In fact, there’s a term that explains all of this. It’s called being human. Sometimes I weep. Sometimes, I shake my fists. Sometimes, I lick my wounds and sometimes, I don’t know how but I find my way home. I am grateful now, more than ever before because son, I am the underdog. I am as my Father made me. And I hope he’s proud.

I don’t know how to get through life in any other way than this: There’s no way to it but through it.
So dig deep, kid. It hurts and I get that.
I get that there are times when the weight on your chest is so heavy that you don’t even want to get up. You hardly want to get out of bed.
The thoughts in your head keep pulling you backwards.
You start to wonder, “Maybe I deserve this.”
Sound familiar?

Maybe I’m just not good enough.
Maybe it’s just not meant to be.
Someone will try and tell you, “Or maybe it’s just not happening in your time.”
This hurts to hear, by the way.

Rather than worry about “When,” what if we pay attention to what are we going to do now?
I won’t say it’s gonna be okay. I won’t guarantee anything but this; you and me, we have to figure a way out of this because otherwise, this is all we’ll ever have.
And I want more.
(Don’t you?)

So to close, I want to be clear with you. It hurts. And I get it.
Sometimes the answers and the remedies are too painful to consider. You know what you have to do. You just don’t know how. And kid, I’m not here telling you I know how. I’m not saying that I have all the answers. All I’m saying is that you’re not alone . . . unless you want to be and even still; just for the record, I’ll always be right here if you need me. Count on it because I love you.

Side note: One day, something is going together. One day, everything I’ve tossed up to the universe will come down. One day, a door will open. And even if they don’t; no one can ever tell me that I was a quitter.
I made my share of mistakes. Big ones too. Embarrassing ones!
I was told to give it a rest but because of you, my most special friend and creation, I was able to pull through
.

I built something that no one can ever take away
I did this
And you . . .

You can do anything.

I promise.

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