I will post this as my last entry for this particular journal. I am not sure where the winds will take me. I don’t know who will come with me or go the other way. But then again, none of this is within my control. All I have is this. All I have are my thoughts, which I have shared with you. All I have are my recollections and the stories that I have shared with you, honestly and to the best of my ability. All I have is this moment, right here, and right now.
The current conditions at the beach at Point Lookout are as follows. The wind is moving from the south at approximately 15mph. The temperature is 51°F and raining.
Wave height outside of the Jones Inlet is approximately 2’ and moving in at 7 second intervals. The sky is gray and the weather is calm. It is peaceful and sleepy, or even dreary. Today is far from a day with clear visibility. But still, I have my imagination to keep me company. I have my vision of The Old Man in the wheelhouse of a boat with a sweater on, a turtle neck to be exact, and a captain’s hat. The seas are not too rough but the motion of the ship is enough to rock The Old Man back and forth as he moves the bow through the waves of an ongoing sea.
I have this vision of my Father heading outward from the inlet and I can see him on his way out, moving past the other commercial ships. I like to think of The Old Man this way, which is why I seldom visit the graveyard. I don’t go to the cemetery because this is where dead people live. But not the ocean. This is where spirits live.
I grew up here. Not on the beach or at the inlet but yet, this is where we’d come on New Years Day. This was our day of truce between The Old Man and myself. This was our way of saying that the last year is behind us and hopefully, the new year will bring new things and new promises.
I still hope the very same thing to this day.
I have seen the beach at Point Lookout in every condition. I have seen this in the summer, covered with blankets that were covered with bodies of people who were eager to take in the sun. I have seen this place empty and winterized with snow-covered dunes. I have seen this beach when autumn took away the warmth and led to the first morning with a frost in the air.
I have walked this beach from the inlet and back. I have come here, similarly to those who seek refuge in a sanctuary or church. I have come here to find answers and yes, I have come here to offer my confessions.
In fact, this is my church. The calls from the seagulls and the sound from the waves are my choir. The sky’s my steeple and the wind, the clouds, the sun and the moon are all preachers.
I was trying to remember the last walk I took with The Old Man. It had to be January 1, 1989. My condition was poor. My skin was green. I was probably shaking off the remnants of the night before, which meant there were chemicals in my bloodstream. These were the chemicals that kept me from being present.
Even still, as bad as I looked and as horrible as I felt, The Old Man and I kept to our tradition. This was too important to me, even with my habits and the discomforts of the morning after, nothing in the world was going to keep me from this day (our moment of truce).
I remember sitting in the hospital with my Father. He was dying but I was hoping that he would make it to the New Year. I wanted this day of truce but no, fate had other plans.
I remember there was a book at The Old Man’s bedside. The author of the book is Robert Fulghum. and for the record, Fulghum is another hero of mine.
He would never know this about me. He would never know that his book was the last that my Father would attempt to read. To Fulghum, I’m just another citizen in the world. However, this is not about Fulghum. This is about the birth of me.
I took the book from my Father’s bedside. I read this from front to back. I read this book during one of the most difficult periods of my life. I was at a crossroad. What would I do? Who would I be?
How do I live now that my word just changed?
Do I go back?
Do I run?
Do I place myself in the loss column and say, “What the hell” and quit?
The name of Fulghum’s book is “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”
One day, my hope is to thank Fulghum. Or better yet, here it is a special thanks to a person who has no idea what he’s done for me.
I want to thank Fulghum for his prose. I want to say thanks for the inspiration. I want him to know what it was like to read about him and his grandfather, whom he never met. I want him to know that his style encouraged more than my dreams to be a writer.
No, there is much more than this.
I was purged of something that was in me. I was certain that I would find myself back to the old predictions of myself. I was sure that the old predictions of either jails, institutions or death were not only likely but inevitable. There was no hope for someone like me. How could there be?
This was the first time that I ever sat in a place by myself and was totally comfortable with my company. It was okay to be myself. And that’s why I come here. This is why I’ve built this place.
(Know what I mean?)
There is no need to fulfill a statistic or be part of a column. I don’t have to lose my life like water loses to a drain. I can change. I can switch directions. I can move in any way that I see fit.
The choice is mine.
Safe to say, reading Fulghum’s book was the first time that I ever felt truly inspired . . .
It’s been 33 years since the last time The Old Man and I walked the beach at Point Lookout. It’s been 31 years since my last trip into the worst places of my life. No drugs. No drinking. No cuffs around my wrists. It’s been decades since my last time in treatment. But more, I have been a project in the works. This has been me, faults and all.
The point of my journals is to find a better way of understanding. I have this delay in me. And what I mean is I have a way that I need to learn, which is unique and particular to me. I remember when someone told me that I was learning disabled. And I thought “Great. What else is wrong with me?”
I never knew this meant that all I needed was a new way to relate to information. No, quite oppositely, I thought this meant that I was stupid.
This is not true.
I use my history and my analogies so that I can understand the remnants of my past. I use this to understand my personal data so that I can improve and be one step better than I was the day before. I have learned to use data to understand new methods and information.
I use my stories because I am a real person. I have moments of anxiety. I have times when I panic. There are times when I literally feel out of control, and the more I try to control this, the worse it seems. I am someone who lives with depression. However, by learning to understand, I can understand the differences between thoughts and reality. I have learned that thoughts and feelings are not fact and that by not attaching judgment to my thinking, I can save myself the chemical response of emotional thinking.
I am a real person with a culture, a style, a history and a future, which has yet to be determined.
I used to allow myself to be defined by labels. In fact, I believed in these labels so intensely that I would submit to people simply because I believed they were better or smarter.
I used to give into my social intimidations and what’s more, I believed in the notion “What comes around, goes around” so deeply that I somehow interpreted this to mean that I would always be destined to live in the underbelly.
This took me decades of growth and soul-searching to realize one undeniable fact:
That was all bullshit. Simply untrue.
I was not the sum of various triggers that led me to behave in actions that kept me sick.
Better yet, I was caught in the belief system that this was all I would ever be.
But I am so much more.
I began this journal to open up to a world that only knows me from a virtual perspective. However, whether this is virtual or real, everything in this journal is true. And everything about me is real.
I think today is a fitting moment to end this journal. My aim is to start a new one tomorrow. I don’t know where this will go. I don’t know how many people will care or if anyone else will read this but us.
But hey, that’s fine.
I have not come here to comfort the world or seek their approval.
Instead, I have come here to disprove the old narrative. I have come here to show the old me that I am capable, able, and more than anything, I am still working and still writing. Most importantly, even at my worst, I held to my commitment – one day at a time.
Happy New Year, Pop.
Wherever you are.
Oh, and by the way, I think you’d have really liked The Old Man.
He was one hell of a storyteller.
And that’s my goal:
To be just like him
someday . . .