There was an evening in the autumn months which I remember specifically and for no other reason than the color of the sky, which was beautiful and I, well . . .
I was listening to a song called Us and Them by a band called The Pink Floyd.
I remember this more as a moment of reprieve. To be honest, this was a moment of truce or a temporary stay of execution.
There was nothing about being right or wrong. There was no thinking about the crowds or my status with anyone or anything.
All I remember was the orange sky and me, sitting in one of the secluded outdoor places where I hid in my youth. I can recall the trail of smoke lifting from the tip of my cigarette. I had very long hair at the time which was lifting in the breeze, blowing away from my face and reflective of the setting sun.
To me, this was relevant to a scene in a movie. The scene took place at an old abandoned church on top of Jay Mountain near a town called Windrixville. Whether this place was real or not, I understood the mood which was real to me.
There was a scene here when the two main characters talked about the ability to stay gold and referenced a Robert Frost poem which began with the words, “Nature’s first green is gold.” This is also a reason why people who know me and know me well will often tell me to “Stay gold.”
There is a beautiful stage in life, which we call the beginning and then, of course, with all beginnings there is a middle and an end.
However, in the beginning there is wonder. There are things we haven’t seen before. There is belief and there is desire to dare, to touch, to see and to feel.
I think we lose this somewhere in the middle. I think we lose this until we reach an age where we’ve come to an age of realization.
This is when we realize that life moves much faster than we thought. Days become weeks and weeks become months which turn out to be years and then decades.
We come to a realization that we’ve kept our head down for way too long. We’ve kept our nose to the grindstone without looking up. We notice things, like the colors of fall or the blossoms in spring.
We notice the chairs which have been empty for way too long and thus, we realize that our rebellions and our battles were less important than we initially believed.
I have met people who have lost their lives to loneliness simply because they refused to turn back or look back with a sense of honesty and say, “Hey, that one was on me. I’m sorry.”
I have seen people so committed to their resentments that they have missed decades just to hold a grudge or just to keep their pride intact.
I’ve watched people refuse to forgive and live with their battles throughout their entire lives; no truce, no justice and no peace. And I’ve seen this within myself. I have seen my part in this and, in all honesty, there are times when I’ve kept the fight alive instead of letting all things lay to rest.
I am saying this to you now; there is too much that we have missed. There are too many times when we’ve inaccurately prioritized our needs and our lives become less of what it can be.
There are times in my life when I gripped too tightly onto inaccurately prioritized thinking, in which I eventually came to the idea: Would I rather be right? Or would I rather be happy?
There is nothing in this world more irretrievable and more valuable than time. Life is equally so yet we waste too much. We forget too often and we miss the sweetness of the world due to a prior argument, which might not have been as important as we think.
I can see where I have missed the window. I can see where I’ve lost opportunities and how my actions have closed the doors to another chance. I can also see that this is a reciprocal thing. It’s a two way street and, often, there is culpability on both sides.
The other day, I read on social media about two brothers who hadn’t talked or seen each other in over 40 years. That’s a long time and, somehow, something triggered a return.
I don’t know what this reunion was like. I don’t know if this rekindled their connection or rekindled the reasons why they hadn’t spoken in so long.
I’m not sure if they realized that 40 years is more than a lifetime for some people; yet in this lifetime, four decades have passed and neither of them had the chance to say “I’m sorry,” or “I love you” or “Remember when we used to talk?”
I say this in all fairness and in all honesty because I am also a person who has chosen to break ties with people in my life. I am someone who does not speak with certain family members and, to some degree, this choice was the right choice for me to make. In some instances, the choice was not mine to make and in many of those instances, I miss the people who I love.
I will say that there are times when the split is necessary. There are also times when we come into a state of awareness. This is when we realize the silliness of ourselves. We come to an understanding and think about our grievances or our grudges. We come to a moment of enlightenment and wonder to ourselves, “Was this even worth it?”
The understanding of forgiveness does not always lead us to reconnect. However, the understanding of forgiveness allows for a sense or personal healing; in which case, whether we reconnect or prefer to stay away, our acceptance of what “is” or what “happened” can allow us to heal without constantly regarding the pain. This means we can move beyond the anger. We can let go of the fights and surrender to “What is” instead of looking for accountability or trying to figure out why things didn’t go our way.
I think back to that sunset I was telling you about earlier.
I think back to the moment of comfortability of when I decided to let go of my gripes and, for the moment, I allowed myself a stay of execution. There was no need to prosecute anyone. There was no need to be angry. There was nothing but me and my trusty little radio, an orange sky at sunset, some music by The Pink Floyd, and the romance of a dwindling pack of cigarettes, which seemed apropos for the moment.
There are so many beautiful aspects of the world which I admit to having missed.
I admit that my mind was so focused on being validated that I forgot to enjoy the moment. I forgot to celebrate the reasons why I’m here in this world and, moreover, I missed out on countless opportunities to settle my old debts and right my wrongs by changing my behavior.
By the way, this is the best way to apologize: it’s not that we say we apologize, it’s that we show we’ve realized what happened and made the necessary changes so it won’t happen again.
I do agree that life is short and time is finite. I agree that we only have so much time before the lights go out and, yes, there’s only so many hours in the day.
Our value system is what interests me the most.
Where do we place this? Are we too focused on validation and being right? If so, then why? How does this affect us? What’s the return on an investment like this and does this create a bias which can only hurt us in the future?
I have met people who constantly look to prove themselves.
I have witnessed people who are always on the move to be approved of or accepted.
(I include myself here too.)
I think to myself, “What are you doing?”
“You got the job!”
You don’t have to prove yourself.
You don’t have to bring your report card home anymore!
I see this when people are afraid to lose their loved ones. I see this when people are afraid to lose their passion for each other. I see this when people are begging others to feel the same way about them as they feel about someone else. I see this when people are afraid to lose their favor or afraid that someone else will come along and be better, brighter, or more desirable.
And I think to myself. “You got the job!”
(Perhaps I should say this to myself sometimes too, right?)
It would be inaccurate to say that life is a stream of optimal conditions. It would also be inaccurate to say that all things work out in the end. We can’t say that life coincides with us or that life regards our wishes before life shares its terms. Nope. Life happens to all of us.
I know there are moments like that sunset which will never come again. I know there are other sunsets which have proven to match with an equal dignity.
I know there are connections which are wired in our brain; to moments like the one I was telling you about, and to moments with each other. We call this life.
We call this experience. We call this the memories that we’ll have that can last a lifetime – if we allow them to. To be clear, these can be fleeting. These can be sporadic and rare and without care; these memories can tarnish and lose their glimmer.
I think back to when I made this commitment to my daily journals. My first entries were exceptionally raw and there was a time when I was afraid to write what I saw or how I felt.
I was afraid to be vulnerable. I was afraid that I would be seen as weak or be humbled and degraded by the common critic to which I say, to hell with the critics.
Fuck them. Fuck their opinions and fuck their abilities to degrade a person’s work. Fuck the fear which they instill and fuck the ideas which deceive our perception and keep us from reaching for our dreams.
To quote a phrase, I have come to the understanding that “there is a time to tilt and a time to withdraw.” There is a time for empathy and kindness and, yes, there are times when love must become tough.
There are times when truthfulness is paramount and other times when the truth is just the truth; and if we choose to, we can allow our truths to coexist.
We can forgive. We can forget. We can heal or we can hold the gripes and let them sting as we go our separate ways.
We can either build bridges and not walls or we can burn the bridges behind us with hopes that they’ll light our way. Only, it’s important to remember that when the fire dies, it might be hard to see where we came from.
It was not always my choice to end relationships or never speak to people again. It was not always my choice to fit the role I have in this life.
As a result, I can see that there are different versions of life as well as different versions of a story. I have my side. You have yours. They have theirs. And that’s okay.
But for now, rather than grip the reasons why we’ve become detached or why we’ve hurt; and rather than invest my energy over who was right or wrong and rather than become so angry that we’ve forgotten why or what we’re angry about, for now, I think it is best for me to breathe.
Or, just say “Ah!”
I’m taking in the rays from the early morning sun which is now over the trees and shining on my side of the mountain. For now, I am taking in the moment. I am not worrying about “being tough” or “being valid.”
I’m not here to reach you and “make” you love me. No.
Not at all.
Instead, and with no words to sell myself to you, I’m writing this to say good morning. Nothing else and with no other intention except for this: I want to allow today to be sufficient for itself. I know what happened yesterday. I don’t know much about tomorrow or the day after, nor do I even know if any of this is promised. All I know is this moment, which I have in front of me is listed with people who I miss and people who (for my own best interest) I’ve had no choice but to love from a distance.
No one else will ever be the best advocate for us. However, there are times when we do need to enlist others for their help or support. But still, unless we seek help or learn how to ask for support, no one will ever advocate for us the way we will.
I know of people who are out there in this world who will never dare to look up. They’ll never take the time to read this, which is fine.
But at least I wrote this. At least I’ve shared my truth. I’ve shared my feelings and whether I am validated as a man or tough or whether I am cool or otherwise; at least I’m honest.
At least I have this moment, here with you and, together, we can take in the energy of the new day’s sun. We can share a cup of coffee while the sun trickles in through the trees and the summertime sky is blue. The patches of clouds are white. And me, well . . .
In a minute, I’m about to listen to a little instrumental by Jerry Garcia’s Love Scene from a movie called Zabriskie Point. In fact, I’d like to share this with you. Here it is. . .