I had an idea for a long time but I never acted on it. I suppose my reasons are the same as why I never acted on most things that were out of my control. Safe to say that I am not alone with this.
Safe to say that my reasons why I failed to launch or resisted to dream were the same reasons why so many of us give way to the doubts in our mind.
However, in an effort to reach you (and I mean to really reach you) I would like to share a dream of mine which is slowly evolving and somehow coming to light.
I have never been a person who is comfortable reading out loud or let alone in public. I suppose like many people in this world, I sing best when I am by myself and in the shower. Safe to say that I think this way about my reading voice – or even about my voice at all or my accent for example.
My accent is me, of course. This is who I am and yes, I appreciate this now. However, there are times when I hear the critics discuss my accent or my pronunciation as if to discount my message because of the way I speak.
It has taken me decades to be comfortable with myself. I am a person who comes with a list of insecurities which, at worst, only proves that I am human.
It is strange to call myself a speaker yet, I have fits of panic attacks before speaking at many of my presentations. Secondly, as a speaker, it is strange to admit that I struggle with social anxiety disorders. My depression screams at me when I receive feedback, especially harsh or cruel feedback, which happens from time to time. In fact, I could receive ten thousand compliments and one person could come along and flatten me with one swift word.
I do not think this makes me so different from anyone else. I only say this is something that I deal with and even with my challenges, somehow, I get up each day and work my way through this.
This means I am uncomfortable in crowds. I am a seeker of attention and affection. However, there are times when my anxiety is so incredibly high that it is uncomfortable to be touched or greeted.
As a writer, I have never staged a reading or read any of my poetry at an open mic. I have ideas about this. I have a picture in my head of a small room; the house lights are down and the only light available is shining on a wooden chair in the center stage.
I am not sure which poems I would read. I never get this far into my fantasy. I think of me, dressed in a black button-down shirt. Black pants. Black shoes. My hair is grown out and long (like it used to be).
The top few buttons on my shirt are open so the collar spreads a little to reveal the top of my chest. (You know, to be cool.)
I exhale and speak to the crowd who is faceless to me. I can speak calmly and without stutter. I am not worried about the sound of my voice nor am I uncomfortable thinking that somewhere in the audience is a hyper-critic, looking to cut me down and assassinate me with their criticisms.
There are some poems that come to mind. For example, my first poem was short and meaningful yet, I never dared to share this with anyone who was meaningful to me.
My first real poem was simple:
If I listen, I can hear you in my thoughts,
And if I look, I can see you in my dreams
and on the movie screens behind my eyelids.
But my only hope is that someday soon,
I can hold you in my arms
I wrote this during a lonely time in my life when love seemed evasive or more like a fantasy. Better yet, I wrote this at a time when love seemed like it was something that only happened to other people. Admittedly, there are other poems that I have written but this is the only one that I remember word for word.
I have been working on unraveling some of the details, which have led me up until this point. My actions have all been created by something I saw or envisioned for myself.
I have called this journal Imagine the Action because all of what I’ve had or created has come because of a vision. In order to create my life, I had to see the life that I wanted. I had to nurture each angle of my desire, which I cannot say was easy or comfortable.
I had to design it and shape it, color it and then make it so. I do not say that I am finished nor do I say that I am a recovered person by any means. No, I am a person in recovery, which means I am working on recovering all that I have lost that reaches way back to the days of my early childhood and extends to the losses and the forfeits of my adult life.
I have something in me, a child, let’s say. I have this burst of youthfulness like a little kid who drew a picture and was anxious to share it. But like a child, I was always too afraid of bullies. I was afraid to be picked on or “ragged on” and made to be the punchline of somebody’s joke. I never dared to reveal myself because I was always insecure about the condescending nods that go out as if to say, “Bless his heart.”
I have this person inside me who wants to be heard, who wants to create and wants to recite. Yet, I have this other person who is not childlike by any means and instead, this person is too afraid of the rejection or the critics. This is why I’ve never done a reading. This is a person who remembers the days when I had to read in class and how the others laughed at me because I couldn’t read without stuttering. This is why the fantasy of me at mid-stage with a light has never taken place.
There is something that I would like to share with you, which is something that comes from the heart. This is another prose of mine, revealing a series of sadness and hopefulness as well as allowing the child in me a chance to open up without fear, without worry and, of course, without concern for the coldness of the crowd.
This is something that comes from my days of cobblestone memories and downtown moments where I was hoping, waiting and looking for this thing we call love. And by the way, I’ve always wanted to be relevant. I always have been, too, which is why now is the time to choose bravery over the child that’s been too afraid to dance in public or sing, or smile. Now is the time to let the mask go.
This is something that I wrote and I’ve rewritten more times than I can count:
and somehow the world we know
becomes something else.
I stand alone, watching the rainfall,
looking through the same eyes
which I’ve owned since birth
and yet, somehow,
everything looks different to me.
Or wait . . .
maybe nothing is different (except for me)
and my way of looking at life has changed
or, perhaps I’ve outgrown my expectations
or surpassed them.
I don’t see things the same way anymore . . .
The light from street lamps glisten at night
And ah, the rain
They make the lamps glow with colorful halos
that take on the shape of misty rainbows
and circle around pendant globes
that beam down the street with a soft yellowish light.
It’s mysterious and sad,
lonely perhaps and yet
beautiful at the same time.
The streetlamps –
dipping over the streets in New York City,
shining on the rooftops of speeding yellow cabs.
All this goes on and more
beneath a rainy nighttime sky.
It isn’t so bad that I feel this way—the change of time,
the age I’ve grown into,
or my year which is about to turn into another number.
The world I live in has changed
and it always will.
Life changes. I’ve changed and so have you.
Or should I say we’ve only just evolved.
We moved into something better
something more fitting of who we are.
And it’s good this way.
This means we’ve grown and that all of yesterday
was nothing less than various moments
that happened for a reason.
This doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it means to feel young.
This doesn’t mean I’ve given in
or set aside these dreams of mine:
To read you this
or to show you a side of me
which no one has ever seen,
scars and all.
It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it feels like
to walk down Avenue A
or head down St Marks.
That’s not what I’m saying at all.
I have not and will not
forget the times I spent downtown,
or the cobblestone streets on 14th and 9th,
or the long nights I spent in SoHo,
walking alone down Mercer or Broome St,
wondering where I’ll be in 20 years
and now it’s been 30 years
But here I am.
This does not mean
that I’ve forgotten the drive or desire to feel young—
to feel perfectly unhinged
or unattached from the puppeteer strings
or from life and life’s terms.
This only means I can smile and say,
“I remember those days.”
I relive them in memory with a satisfied smile.
I don’t regret yesterday or the things I’ve done.
In fact, I appreciate them because
they’ve led me to become someone with purpose.
Ah, but the City . . .
It knows all my crazy little secrets
(just like you do)
Just like the City, you’re both still here
That’s why I’ll always love her
And this is why I’ll always love you . . .
Maybe the stage has been set for me all this time and I just never knew it. Maybe now is the time I take a shot and say to hell with the crowd. To hell with the critics. Besides, where were they when I was digging through my symptoms to find my only cure, which is this moment, right here, right now, with you.