It’s amazing how the morning comes and the sunrise can do beautiful things in the sky and I, me, or the long day ahead and all the compounded facts and misinterpretations are nothing more than a series of misunderstandings. But still, morning comes. No matter what the night before was like, good or bad, the sun rises. And it’s been doing this for a really long time. The sky clears and here we are, facing another day down on Project Earth.
My attempt here to reveal my history is only to allow for you to gauge where I’ve come from. In fact, if this is where I am now; then this is why I am here. This is why I am where I am or think the way I think. I am layers of cognitive thoughts, traps, bias, thinking errors and distortions. This is based on a compilation of my journeys that have led me through different paths with different people at different places. It is lessons like this that cause us to flinch or prepare with expectation. However, it is by revelation and discovery that I have come to an understanding about myself.
This does not mean that I am automatically better. Instead, this means at least I knew where to begin should I choose to improve. At least I know where my insecurities come from and why they are there. So, if I ever chose to reprogram my subconscious thinking, at least I know where to start.
There was a summer I spent working in a shop. We were two doors down from a numbers joint that used a luncheonette as a front. The cops would raid the place looking for drugs, but the store was never closed down. And hell, during the crack epidemic, I suppose the cops were happy enough to not find drugs.
The food they served was horrible. The chicken they served was dry and the rice was hard. They never had much of a variety. Then again, no one really went there to eat. They played numbers and gambled but otherwise, the people inside were nice to me.
It’s a different world in the suburbs, which is where I was from and where I was living at the time. However my summer employment was not in the suburbs at all. No, this was one of the boroughs, Queens to be exact. Jamaica Queens would be more accurate and nearby was some of the hardest places where hard facts took place.
The year was 1988. I was young, stupid as ever, unsure, unaware and unprepared for the years that were yet to come. I thought I knew about life. I thought I knew what I was doing too but hey, every kid thinks they know what they’re doing. So, why would I be any different?
I was hurting for reasons of my own and caught in the mindset that made it difficult for me to process information without feeling emotions and sensitivity. There was so much going on yet, it seemed as if I was missing out on everything. I was on the outside looking in, so-to-speak.
Perhaps it would be fair to say that I have always been looking for something. And I say “something” because the answer is still beyond my understanding. I’ve always been looking for more than just my place in life or my place in the circle. Then again, age and maturity has changed my views as well as my intention (and sometimes my intensity). Therefore, what I am looking for has yet to come with a name, place, face or location. All I know for certain is that I am seeking the missing pieces of my heart and soul so that at the end of my life, I can face myself and be completed.
There has always been something about the sunrise to me. Sometimes, the new morning sun was like finding a rose in a battlefield after the carnage took place – or maybe not a rose but a tulip or a daffodil or anything soft in the center of a hard time. This is how I saw the morning sun – glowing, beaming down and shining light, even when darkness was around.
There was a morning after a crazy night. I was awoken by the sound of people cheerfully walking. I looked to my bedroom window to notice that a parade was passing my house. It wasn’t all that long before that I was in this parade too. I was wearing my baseball uniform and marching in a parade.
We walked through the town to the baseball fields on opening day. It was the springtime of my early youth. There was a sense of innocence to this; however, I had lost my innocence and my sense of youth, which was clear to me by the bloodstains which had dripped from my nose and onto the sheets on my bed.
And it was only a short spurt later that it was clear to me that my future was going to be different. I knew something was in the mail. But I had no idea what. I knew something was on the way. My life was like a pot just before the water boiled. I knew things were about to get hot. I just didn’t know the burn or what I’d have to endure.
Meanwhile, I was up at sunrise and working. I couldn’t do much about this because the rule in my house was simple. Either I go to school or I go to work and since the option of going to school was not working out, I went to work.
My summertime adventures were not at any of the parks in my town or on the beach with my friends but in a shop. I went to a place where grown men worked on plumbing and heating. I was small, weak, skinny as could be, and I was “the helper,” which meant that I carried the tools and cleaned up after the mechanics. I dug ditches and broke through concrete on sidewalks to install fill-lines to oil tanks for residential buildings throughout the city. I had blisters on my skin, sweat and filth in my hair, and tiny rocks in my shoes.
I have found that this historic piece of me is relevant to my ideas that somehow, something about me is always out of place or different.
For example, I never fit in school.
No, my history in schools was poor and tumultuous at best. One could argue that some of the school’s practices were actually abusive and scarring.
I never did well in the crowds. I never felt comfortable and I struggled with popularity, which is why I cut out from classes. I would go somewhere else. I would leave the school grounds yet, as far as I was from the classrooms, there was a piece of me that knew I was missing out on something.
The same can be said about my summer at work. I was at work and the rest of the teenage world was out doing what teenagers did. So yes, I was missing out again.
I knew people in my adult life who worked a 40-hour work-week. But me, I always had to work overtime to make ends meet. I was always at work in one form or another.
I never went to college or had a college experience. In fact, I have sat with people who discuss their college life. They relive their old glory days as I sit quietly. And what else can I do but sit quietly? What else could I do, explain that I never went?
Say where I was at the time or why?
Or, should I tell them how I believed in the words “learning disabled” and therefore, I believed in my limitations – is this what I should say?
Again, I offer this not as a means of comparison but instead, to show the different layers of cognitive distortions that separate us from each other or make our lives more difficult.
There is an attachment to shame that comes from my background yet, there are people who explain that this is no big deal. And I’m sure my challenges aren’t a big deal (to them).
However, my thoughts and feeling are mine, which is why I offer them here. I offer this to not only remain humble to my truth but more, I want to expose that truth can hurt our perception which can then lead to the deception of our perception. Truth can be shameful. Truth can be a lot of things, except a lie. However my reaction to my truth is what set me back. This is what kept me stuck to the leashes of my past and my personal distortions. In other words, this is what kept me limited.
I offer this because one of my personal challenges is educational insecurity. There is a piece of me; albeit much smaller now, but still, there is a piece of me who believes that because I missed out. There is a part of me who laments about the missed opportunities or on certain rites of passage.
I say this because I never had certain experiences and because of this, I am somehow a pariah. I am an outcast, or unwanted because of this. The funny thing is I have met and spoken with others who feel similarly and they had all that I missed.
Furthermore, I find that I am a seasonal person in which my personal and emotional triggers are different from, say, in winter or in summer. This was important to discover – to make it easier on me to notice where the anxiousness was coming from (or why).
An old poem of mine reads:
It is the start of autumn outside of the old Garden of Eden.
As the warm-blooded, we find shelter behind the trees
which is where the serpent often justifies our sin.
Or teaches us how to lie.
The sunrise comes from the east and inherits the sky.
Meanwhile, the west is out there, waiting
and slowly overrun by color.
It seems as though beauty changes throughout the year.
Our eyes are opened
and the forbidden fruit has lost its flavor.
It’s crazy, no?
Tomorrow we tilt further from the sun.
Days become shorter
The winds get colder.
And me, I say there’s something to this.
I have this picture in my head:
My hair is blowing in the wind.
Smile is bright.
Skin is tanned from the warmth of August
and the sound of an ocean acts like a dream
I’d hoped I’d never wake from.
I want to capture this moment
like a droplet of rain after a midday storm.
I want to catch it like a raindrop dangling on a leaf
(to prove its place or that I exist)
and refuse to let go of the leaf
onto which it fell.
Of course, I use this as a metaphor
in which I am the droplet of rain
and the leaf is a symbol of the world –
or, is my world and in this,
all I have is my endurance or my tenacity.
I have this tiny center in me
This is where I keep my hope
This is where I keep my dreams
This is where I store my arrows
to shoot for the stars
and come down without envy.
This poem of mine was written at a time when I was stuck. This is not from my young life at all. No, I was grown. In fact. I was working for a living; yet, there was a piece of me that swore I was missing something. There was a piece of me that felt out of place or just slightly off-center or off the meter.
I swear, insecurity is a bitch. This causes us to be on guard from enemies that might not exist. This heightens our tensions until eventually, we snap.
I guess this is why I’ve always enjoyed the sunrise or the sunset. I suppose that even during the hardest times, beauty like this can still exist like an untouched rose in the middle of a battlefield or a tulip or daffodil.
I imagine this is called hope.
This is beauty in the middle of an otherwise ugly time.
And the one thing I have to do now is the only thing that I can do, which is nurture the flower of life with hopes that maybe someday, the flowers can overtake the battlefield.
This way, people like us can find peace because in the end, that’s all we want