We gather in phases. This starts in our childhood and evolves as we grow. We start with birthday parties until eventually, you’re too old for clowns and balloons and birthdays just become birthdays. The next phase comes with communions and confirmations and things like that. Then we go through our little graduation get-togethers that happen at grade school. Then there’s middle school. Then there is the age of sweet-sixteens and then proms. And then we spread out a little bit.
High school ends like a chapter in a book and suddenly, ideas like Mr. McLellan’s shop class or Driver’s Education and the glory days and the crazy nights are only a memory.
I suppose no one will ever know why, at least not specifically why things happen or why we feel the way we do — especially when we don’t want to feel the way we do; and yet, we still do.
We still think. We still feel and there is an aim to feel differently.
There is a desire to think otherwise but the thoughts keep coming. I say this with a distinct understanding. I say this because of my past that was unrelenting. There were people who would say, “Don’t think like that,” or “You’re just being paranoid,” but it wasn’t paranoia. Besides, there was a difference.
I recall the drive to an upstate place in an upstate town that I had never heard of. I was never much for these long drives, least of all the drives like this one, sitting in the backseat of my family’s old Caprice with my Old Man behind the wheel.
I can recall sitting in the backseat of the car with the side of my head leaning against the cool glass of the passenger’s side window. I was looking at the scenery and noting how the drive went from suburban, to urban and then finally to more of a rural kind.
We were in the middle of nowhere. I had never heard of these towns before. Ellenville? Kerhonkson? What kind of places where these? What do people do in places like this, watch the grass?
There is so much ground to cover and only so much time. Ah, but for the first time, at least I find myself at a point where I am enjoying the process. Life is not supposed to be a chore, at least it’s not intended to be.
I find myself in a fortunate space where I am no longer conflicted but instead, I am focused on the direction that I have chosen for myself. It was once said to me that we move in two ways. We are either moving away from something or moving towards a goal. Moving away is not focused on direction. In this case, it can be any port in the storm, which is something that we will touch upon in a few short paragraphs from now. Moving towards something means we have a plan, a focus, and more importantly, we have a strategy and a destination in mind.
There was so much ahead of me, the world, the life, the entire love affair with the ideas of my future and my future successes. Nobody tells you about the uphill life or the times when the fridge is empty. No one expects the life they find. At least, not really.
There are words that we say when we are young. Perhaps the only reason why we say them is because we are young. We haven’t seen anything yet. We haven’t lived long enough to run into ourselves at the door. We say things like, “That’ll never be me,” or “I’ll never do anything like that.” There are times when young people swear, “I’ll never talk to people like that,” and they’ll say,, “I will never let anybody talk that way to me.”
I’m never gonna sell out.
I’m never gonna be like that “Suit and Tie.”
Uh-huh. I said that too (before I had a mortgage).
If we are able to do anything then we are only as able as we believe. The challenge is our projections. This is the inner turmoil, our thinking, the self-talk and the subconscious bias, which we tend to project in ways that stem from doubt or assumptions.
For example, we tend to create narratives of upcoming events. We mentally set the stage and systematically predict that there will be problems ahead; therefore, we behave on behalf of or in response to our assumed projections.
I want to be clear about something. The first place I needed to clean was my side of the street. I had to stop the blame machine. I view this machine as something that churns like a locomotive, angry and moving with smoke stacks, billowing with black smoke and moving almost unmercifully down the train tracks in our mind. The train is long and behind the locomotive are all the cars behind it like fault and shame, regret and doubt. I had to stop this. I had to end this cycle and stop my interaction, which was the fuel for the locomotive.
Or, as my good friend Fran always says, “I had to fess up when I mess up” and learn to keep moving.
When there was nowhere left to fall, then there was no were left to go. When there was no place to turn and no one else to turn to, it was here that I stopped wondering about the numbers of what could go wrong and therefore, I became numberless. The calculations had stopped because the complications of my life had simplified me down to the bottom of the barrel. It was here that with no other attractive opinions, I chose the option to change.
But yes, I admit it. There are photographs of me that are blackmail worthy. There are pictures of me that should I ever choose a life of politics or if fame should hit, I am sure these photographs would surface.
There are pictures of me in less than favorable conditions, positions and pictures that were taken of me at locations that were less than righteous.
Included on this list are pictures of me from different fashion tragedies and photographs that even the simple thought of them is enough to make me cringe. This includes my different hairstyles, which I shake my head. And I laugh because somehow, I suppose I thought this was a good look for me. I think about my wide leg jeans and my black boots with the wooden heels, which were in style at the time. I think of this and all of the places and stories and I still cringe; at least a little bit.
There is this idea we have that everything we believe is true. And it must be true because then why else would we believe something if it wasn’t true? Am I right?
Even if truth and belief do not match, we find ourselves with the firm intention of defending our beliefs. This is it. This is truth. And that’s that, right?
There is the fact that perception is not truth. Perception is only true to us and our belief is altered by opinion and emotion. To me, my truth can be changed and altered to fit what I believe.
But this is how self-deception works. This is where the deception of our perception tricks our belief system into following a matrix of ideas that keep us from our best.
Don’t believe me? Okay, then read on.
I suppose the start of my life was to learn more about this thing we call boyhood. Then it was how to be a teenager. Then I had to learn how to be a man. Then I had to learn how to be me. It seems like most of our life is spent learning how to be something we already are.
I trace this thought back to the days when we were on corners or in front of stores, asking the so-called “Cool” looking adults if they would buy us some liquor or beer. The conversation always started out with the same, “Excuse me,” and sometimes we’d luck out. Sometimes we’d find someone who thought it was their job to educate us on life. It was enough for me to roll my eyes, thinking, “Good God, man. Just buy us some beer or get lost.”