I have found myself in this tussle between the then and the now. More than once, I have lost myself to the ideas from my past. I have lost to battles that no longer exist because I have lived in the past. More times than I can count; I have lost myself to the arguments in my head. I’ve tried to relitigate the past. But ah, the past is inflexible.
The past is unalterable; therefore, I have no control over what’s gone or what’s happened.
I only have now. That’s it.
To be clear, much of our personal challenges come from our struggles with our identity.
The question, of course,becomes “just who in the hell do you think you are?”
If you are anyone, that is. Of course, you must be someone, right?
You have an identity. You have a body.
You have a background; but more importantly, do you have a backbone?
Do you have a spine?
Or do I?
Insomuch, if you are someone to be recognized; or if you’re someone to be noted; or if anything else; if you are able to scratch the surface or find success in this thing we call happiness; or should you matter or be noted by some great chance or style of merit – then the question becomes this: Out of all places, how the hell did you end up here with me?
I am not simple nor am I so complex.
I am not a mystery or a story untold or unheard.
Yet, I am unique. I am different and, at the same time, I am no different at all.
I am the same as you.
I am someone with a heart and a soul.
Dare I say this, but even the heartless have a heart.
Even they need to breathe.
They bleed too.
Everybody does (except for the bloodless).
I have dreams and secrets and a past.
I have a present and, with all my heart, hopefully I am on my way towards a bigger future.
Hopefully, I will find my way to so-called greener pastures.
Hopefully, I will leave my mark and leave behind something more than just ashes and dust.
I am a separate entity to this world.
You are a separate entity as well.
We are all unique and different in our own right.
I am, of course, a lineage and an extension of my culture and history.
I have a background. I have a family. I had a Mother and a Father.
My life is a sum.
I am a compilation of events.
I am both a mass of assumptions, calculations and, notwithstanding my miscalculations, I am a series of mistakes, facts and I am individually wrapped in this cloak which I call my body.
I have always been in this skin, so-to-speak.
Better yet, this has always been me.
Or, as the late Baba Ram Dass explained, this is my space suit.
This is my basic design which I have tried to dress and decorate along the way.
This is my total and complete package.
This is my flesh and my blood, my body and my bones.
This is my heart and my lungs which act as a complement to each other. Therefore, this is the way I live and I stand and I breathe and I walk.
This is my suit, otherwise known as my physical attire.
I have spent the last five decades adjusting, decorating, growing, fueling and somewhat modifying my body as I’ve gone along.
I have never surgically enhanced anything; however, I have altered my presence.
I’ve had pierced ears which I outgrew because of the business models that I have to contend with at a professional level.
I have decorated my skin and shaded my arms and chest as well as my ribs and my back.
I am a decoration of culture or a large tattoo. This me – or, at least, this is my outside.
My inside is no different from when I was a small boy.
I am no longer able to fit in my younger clothes. I do not fit the younger models or versions of my life. However, I can still recall the glory of seeing the first firefly of the season. Therefore, it was only the outside influence that I allowed myself to trade this fascination because, at some point, it’s not too cool or tough to be a so-called man who’s fascinated by butterflies or the semi-fluorescent glow of a yellow-green tail, flashing at the backend of a lightning bug.
I have endured. I have evolved.
I have matured and improved. In other cases, I have reverted back to my past because I am eager to find that one true thing that beats my heart or fills my lungs.
I want to feel young again.
I want to feel wonder again.
I want to believe in fairy tales once more and in return,I want to resign my posts at the warfront because at last the battle is over. Nobody won and like a bad game of tic-tac-toe, none of the tricks worked and everything resulted in the deadlock or an unfortunate tie.
I have grown into my body because I want to become more distinguishable and unique – however, nothing I have done or worn or said is so altogether different from anyone else who’s alive in this world.
I am amongst the masses. I am me. Plain and simple.
I have my own version of beauty.
If I choose, I can relate to anyone.
I can certainly relate to the hopefuls and the dreamers. I can relate to the wishful and to the dying breeds of hopeless romantics who stand their ground, awaiting their happiness, who wait with all of their hearts and all of their souls because to them – a life without love is nothing short of lifeless.
I can relate to the lost or to the anxious and, of course, I can relate to those who live with the constant anticipation.
I can relate to the either semi-well or the sick because other than this person, I am someone in this encasement of flesh and bone – I am a person in this world.
I am an entity, a body, a shimmer of light in the spiritual sense and, for now, I am an entry in a book.
I am a chapter which makes me a number in a column or a name on a shelf. I don’t mind this – to be on a shelf I mean; hopefully somewhere, hopefully in a library – obscure in some rarely visited section where a stranger who knows nothing about me can open up to any page and just like that – they can see me.
And I mean they can really see me.
I am an inscription of hope.
I am the line between me and my next step; therefore, I am both the factor and the answer to my own equation.
I am not so different nor am I like anything or anyone else.
And finally – I don’t need to be.
No one else has my arms or legs.
No one else can experience touch from the tips of my fingers.
No, this is something that only belongs to me.
No one else has this right but me.
I have entered into this world in this simple formation. Thus, I am complete with my own shape, form, chemistry, my own DNA, fingerprints, and, of course, I am my own man. Or, better yet, should I avoid the identity politics and call myself “a person” who has entered into the guise of a community or society.
I’m just trying to be, that’s all.
I am a person who has succumbed to trends and fads.
I am a person who talks openly about the pursuit of happiness; yet, I see a problem in the midst.
I see a challenge amongst us.
I see a travesty.
I recognize this as a special war, whether dignified or controlled, or whether our fight is with ourselves or spent in a civilized brutality of trench warfare – Or, if the fight is ugly; or if the fight takes us to the darkness of either jungle or guerilla warfare, and should this fight take us to where nothing is either honored or sacred – it is here, most certainly here, where the depths of our soul intersect with the challenges of the heart.
And again comes the question – just who in the hell do you think you are?
Why you? Why would anyone choose you?
Why would anyone listen?
What makes you the expert?
What qualifies you to be a speaker or a leader?
What defines you as someone with value?
Herein lies the biggest battle of all.
Who the hell do you think you are?
Or if anything, when the contradiction inside of you hints to the imposter inside of you – you start to wonder about the following – what’s going to stop the world from finding out the truth?
What’s going to happen when they see who you really are?
What will you do when the curtain lifts?
What will you say when there you are, for all to see?
How will you stand in this so-called suit of yours or this so-called body of yours?
How will you face the reflection in your mental mirror?
Will you be timid or hide?
Or will you stand, positive in your footsteps, proud of the sculpture that you’ve upheld while alive on this earth and then, will you stand tall without comparison or shame?
Will you declare yourself as the model of all hope?
As much as we know – we really don’t know anything at all, at least not until the moment comes.
This is when life is revealed and in that moment of judgment or at the time when you face the tides and you find yourself at the crossroads of decision to go or stay, this is when you start to learn about who you are.
When you face the strain or see your fate in front of you, will you quit and fall down or stand up and rise again? I ask this because until then we really don’t know who we are until we find what we’re made of.
I am more than my skin and the decorations on my flesh.
I am more than my history and more than my scars.
I am more than my consequences; however, I am the consequence of everything that happened.
I am part of everything that happened before right now.
I am afraid. I am terrified of doctors. I am afraid to fail.
I am afraid of shame. I am afraid of not being enough.
I’m afraid of people who have diplomas on the walls.
I am afraid that I will never make my mark.
And that’s what I want.
I want to dig myself deeper and leave a groove, at least one that will be deep enough in the flesh of this earth so that I can say “Yes, goddammit. I was here.”
I did what I could.
I left nothing untouched or unloved.
I left nothing up to judgment. Instead, while on this thing I call Project Earth, I ran when I could. I ate when I had the chance. I did the dance. I said the things. I toasted to the moonlight and I loved upon the daybreak.
So help me, God.
No one knows who they are until they recognize themselves. No one knows until they learn more about their silly decorations and the little keepsakes, their selfies, their little mementos that say hey, look at me. Then one day, they start to recognize that half of what we thought was actually pertinent to our lives is simply meaningless at best.
As we grow, we learn about the things we need.
We also learn about the lies we’ve told ourselves.
We learn that some of our needs were actually unnecessary.
But some people never evolve.
Some people live their life in the dark with blinders on because seeing is not only believing; but in this case, seeing is knowing – and we all know what knowing does when we don’t want to see the truth.
I know this.
I know because I’ve kept my head in the dark.
I know because I’ve avoided the light because the light exposes truth.
There are so many people who go through this.
We try though – to fit in, I mean.
To fix our grin
To put on a brave show
Instead, we pick up a new variation of our so-called or commercialized version of life.
Or wait, if this is not life, then what is it?
What the hell are we doing here?
At my stage of life, I am on the line in a doctor’s office and waiting while so-called healthcare givers and workers look over my chart, which I hope excels rather than degrades like a downward line that falls from a cliff.
I have come to an age where I can look back because, at this point, I am passed the midway and closer towards the end.
I am aware that this moment is more precious than we think.
I am perfectly aware that as I live through this day, I will only have one shot at this moment.
I can do one of two things with this:
I can accept me as I am and live and move forward
I can be stuck in the trap of my yesterdays.
So, ante up bitch!
You can’t relitigate the past.
All you can do is live…