Memories From the Balcony – Got to Get Out of Our Head

The only time you really lose is when you lose yourself to the comparisons of other people.
You lose to the contrast of these inaccurate ideas of who’s who and who’s what or who is better and who’s worse?
What is beauty? Who is beautiful?
Who decides these things? Was there a poll?
Was there a vote?
Was there a board meeting on this and for some reason, I just didn’t get the memo?
Is that it?

They say this level of judgment (or persecution) has to come from somewhere.
And I suppose it does. right?
They say this has to come from somewhere, like the messages we have in our brain, which came from a thought or a past experience.
Or maybe these are built from our interpretation of events or better yet – maybe this is all just a string of mistaken assumptions.
This could be true too, right?

Or . . .
Maybe these are a personal study of details from our life; as if to say; these are the things that we learned about ourselves and along the way, somehow, a fear or a worry took place. Somewhere along the way, we were misled and miles away from our truest self.
I can see how this happens. I can see how we fall to the misconceptions of beauty – or should I say so-called beauty because, of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Then again, I can say that I have seen people refuse their own beauty or perhaps I should say, I have seen people refuse to claim what they choose to find beautiful .
But why?
Why is it we falter or waver from ourselves?
Why would anyone fail to see their own richness or allow themselves to enjoy their true spirit?

I can say that I have done this too.
I can say that I have lived like this, on the edge, always worrying if I was wanted or desirable.
I can say that I wondered if I was “enough” and what a bitch it is to think this way too.
Am I right?
See, now I understand this is raw and the truth itself is raw. This is nature and often, nature can be unnurtured.
We know this.
But why?

At some point, a moment came into focus and as we stood at the crossroads of judgment and rejection, we found ourselves in the crosshairs of our own conviction, which had been cast down by the judge and jury in our mind. To be absolutely clear and transparent, I admit it.
I am someone who has lost myself in the comparison game. 
I have been in the mental courtroom and that internal prison too, more than once.
In fact, I have my own cell there – complete with a drab view of an inaccurate world which is always welcoming to me – just in case I’d like to go there – or go backwards where the morning sun doesn’t bloom and doubt keeps the sky all tinged with gray.

I am calling these journals the Memories From the Balcony and to be clear, I have had my moments in balcony settings. I have seen great things and lived through great experiences. I have seen my City from the worst to the best place and from the low-end to the high-side of our society; I have seen the confusion and misdirection that comes with this so-called commercialized life. 
I have eaten at my City’s best and tasted the places of the worst or the poorest. From uptown to downtown – to the happy times and even to the panic attacks at a place called Wo Hop at 17 Mott Street – I have seen some great things and some awful things.

I know what it’s like up in business class and true to my form, I also know what it’s like to feel the bumpiness in coach where you’re all cramped in and the flight attendants would sooner argue with you about a passenger’s crutches than serve with a smile and ask you to fly the friendly skies with them again.

I am not first class or last class.
I am me.
I’m no commercial and, to me, my life is not a commercialized version of how to live or feel.
No, I just call this me. I say this is my growth.
I say this took me exactly 50 years, five months, and four days to reach you with this.

This means that at the time of this entry, I have been alive for 18,419 days. That’s a lot of mornings and a lot of chances to start over again. Make no mistake, this meant a lot of opportunities to make things right for myself.
This means throughout this time, I have made some helpful and accurate realizations and this also means I have made my fair share of mistakes.
Then again, who hasn’t?

So again – who’s to compare?
Who’s to say what was right for anyone or what was wrong?
Who knows about my sessions in the balcony or whether I was right to go or stay? Either way, throughout the years and all the nonsense and the victories and in spite of my falls or returns to grace; I can say that regardless of what happened (or how?) at least I made it here.
At least I have something to show for this.

I can say that in all honesty, I lost to the ideas of who I was or who I should be.
Dare I say this loudly, softly – or hell with it; if I say this at all, then first allow me the right to say that this is not the typical script. This is not something that “so-called” man is supposed to say.
But here it goes.

Yes, I know what it’s like to look around or live in envy.
I know what it’s like to look around and be misled by the belief that somehow I don’t add up.
Or, at least from my point of view, I know what it’s like to see every imperfection.
I know what it’s like to have my image in the mirror become distorted or to have my values become unrecognized because of a false or inaccurate comparison to other people or other bodies.
I do understand what it means to see myself as both desirable and undesirable – and if asked, I’d choose desirable any day of the week. But, as I’m sure you can understand – not every day is a good day and not all views of myself are as pretty as I would like them to be.

And that’s okay.
This is not a put-down.
This is being honest and, therefore, this is freeing because insecurity depends on secrecy.
Insecurity is the bully.
This doesn’t want you to tell on yourself.
This is the lie that you are ugly but ah, your voice and your ability to speak out . . .
This is proof that, above all things, we are absolutely beautiful first.

So let’s be clear,
I have never had the perfect body or the washboard stomach. I was never much for the gym or the workout scene. I was never much of an athlete and though I tried to fashion myself and I tried to pull of my best “James Dean” approach – and while I tried to pull off that “rebel without a cause” mystique and be the mysterious one or have bedroom eyes, or be “the guy” with the ever-cool look and forever evolving features; at best, I have only been me. 

Maybe this stems from my early youth. Maybe this stems from being the short one and the late bloomer. Maybe this stems from the imposition of social bullies, as well as the private bullies, which are the ones that live in our head.
Maybe my inaccuracy of beauty comes from a fed or forced-upon definition which is to define what’s cool, what’s not, or who’s beautiful or who’s not. Maybe I needed to unlearn the plastic lies and let go of the fabrics in which our opinions were woven in place by a forced narrative.

I have a fear of crowds. I have a fear of people. I have fears which are almost like a social claustrophobia; whereas I would love to fit in. I would love to be comfortable in the crowd; however, the thinking that takes place and the thoughts which close in around me send a tremor from my central station. It’s like a fire alarm going off in my personal control booth or like an internal “911-emergency.”

But yeah – I admit it.
I admit that the drugs helped. I admit that I built a persona to find my safety. I admit there was a certain notion that the way I held a beer or a cigarette in my hand was a symbolized characteristic of what I thought was cool. Think about this, it’s not what you do; it’s how you pull this off at a social level. 
It’s about what you wear and who you know, how you stand and how you perform on this so-called stage which we call life.

I remember thinking about the dreams I had about love or happiness. I can also recall envisioning the hopes I had about finding my best level of success, or about my dream house, my dream car (or cars) or about my dream boat. I can recall the details of my visions to the point where I could literally visualize myself in this dream; to the point where I could see myself in this life. While I’d love the fantasy, I can recall somewhat of a disassociation or detachment of this because I was afraid that none of this would (or could) never exist.

I used to have this idea which I called “the velvet ropes.”

I got this analogy from my days of heading into the City and waiting on line at some of these so-called exclusive clubs where there was a huge line outside. There was a doorman or door person or some sort of fashion obstacle, dressed up all fancy, all pretty, and it was them who acted as some kind of judge at the front of the line.
They decided who would come in –
This was the person who decided who to let in or who to reject. There was a section in front of the door to get in. There were crowds around this section that was bordered by red-velvet ropes that were hooked to golden stanchions. If you were picked or if you were beautiful enough, the person at the door or the so-called gatekeeper would unclasp one side of the velvet ropes from the stanchion. They parted the way at the sea of popularity and allowed you to pass – so now, you can go in.
Now you can be amongst the pretty people.
You were “in” so-to-speak and the people outside were the people outside.

I can’t say that I was always rejected or that I was always allowed to pass.
No, I think it would be better or safer to say that I was placed somewhere in the middle.

I used to call pretty people ‘the velvet ropes.”
I used to see them as their secret-society or secret handshake assholes or I would “other” them as if to refer to “them” or “they” and somehow, I lived with the misinformed assumption that I was less-chosen, less-valued, less-worthy or less-wanted.

I have written about this before yet, to me, I believe in all fairness that I have never been so forthcoming about this until now. Therefore, I say I was wrong.
I was misled. (And so were you.)
We’ve all been lied to.
I was misinformed and misdirected by a supposed belief system.
I took the bait and was fish-hooked and brought to my social misperceptions all because of a mistaken version of what I saw in the mirror. 
Ah, the inaccuracies of self.
That’s what they are.

The idea of “being enough” can be punishing to people. The misinformed assumption that you or your love, or you and your worth is somehow not enough; and more; somewhere, somehow, the inaccurate belief took place and burrowed in our subconscious that who we are is not the right fit. And that’s bullshit too.
We fell for it, at least most of us have.
Or, maybe this is just me.
I thought that I was nothing more than the outcast.
But . . .
Maybe it’s them. Do you know what I mean?
Maybe it’s “they” or “them” who do not deserve me (or us) and whether we fit right or whether we march to the beat of a different drum or whether our versions of beauty are not the same or if we differ from the typical norms; at least we are this – at least we are original.
We are not a carbon-copy or commercialized version.
At least we are unique.

It rained last night. The streets are wet. The sky is still dark. While morning is here, the moment of first light has yet to change hands with the dawn. 

It takes a long time to decipher between truth and bullshit.
It can take a lifetime to unlearn the details that we’ve been given.
Maybe this is a lifelong process. Who knows?
But at least we know.

At least I do.

At least I’m one step closer to reclaiming my spot in the kingdom; of letting my past go; of allowing me to see the signs of the horizon ahead; and, whether I dance in the rain or as if no one is watching – either way, then I say let me dance. It doesn’t have to be a two-step boogie or anything fancy.
No, this dance is simple yet sacred. Yhis dance was made for me – no velvet ropes necessary. No fancy shoes. Just a few steps and a few notes from the band and then let me swing and spin and carry on out-loud and alive – from here on in, from now until eternity; from now until the hour of our death (amen) or until death do us part – because to be honest and as I see it, not even death can split us apart. Not even death can detach me from my fate – only I can do this – and that’s why I don’t want to compare anymore.

I want my own life – I want it all.

Don’t you?
If you ask me, we’ve been through too much to want anything else.

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