Whatever you decide, do it without the need for validation.
To seek validity is but a farce. It’s like aiming to make a splash in a rain puddle.
A child learns early on whether they care to admit it or not, that their choice is theirs and theirs alone. Nobody really cares more than it takes them to realize, eventually with age, that nobody really cares.
Sure, a mother cares deeply, but only as far as it interrupts her well being.
A father can break his back many times, but only as many times as it serves his cause.
Progression doesn’t come from an audience. Progression comes from within.
Progression comes from love, awareness, and nurture.
And although social media tells a different story from reality, we seek it, crave it, we often need it, but do we really?
Perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from posting our day to day lives, morality, and hardships is that we are all equally as alone as we are the same—myself included.
Not too long ago, there was a time, it seemed, the world was much larger than we could ever imagine.
Driving cross country felt then like an achievement whereas now—after doing it more than a dozen times—it feels more like a routine I’d rather not admit.
Mostly it’s this that scares me.
Desensitization. It’s this that makes me wonder.
What’s the point?
The point is to treat yourself with the same dignity you would a stranger—a child.
The point is to look beyond life’s blessings, with eyes wide shut, and understand that all will be regardless of whatever validation you seek.
We can learn this by simply looking at a flower bloom. We can understand this by accepting that although, it may seem, the flower dies, another will take its place, as equally and wholly as beautiful as its former.
So whatever you decide, decide knowing, you aren’t as separate as you feel—we are all one.
When I was a kid—after bedtime—as quietly as I could, I would crawl from my bed, onto the floor, then elbow and knee my way down the hallway to lay in the doorway of my brothers room to watch his television.
He’s four years older than I am and, well, I thought he was really cool.
One, for having a TV in his bedroom. And two, for probably knowing I was there but not saying anything.
Whatever he was watching didn’t really make a difference but it was comfortable there, on the carpet, with the blue light flashing.
A dark bedroom can be pretty scary to a child, especially during a thunderstorm.
Now that we’re older, we speak when it is necessary, but not all the time.
Probably less than either of us cares to admit.
He’s a busy working husband and parent while I’m pretty much all over the map.
Though when we do talk, it’s a meaningful talk of mutual reflection. He provides me with information from four years down the line and I remind him that I’m listening by offering whatever small insights are on my mind.
I thought he was great then and I still do now. No matter the distance the bond between two brothers is strong and unwavering.
Basically what I am saying is I look forward to the next time we’re able to watch a little TV, crack a couple jokes, and just hang out—without any pressure—even if it means the carpet or floor, that’ll be enough.
If I could go back, all those years, and stand next to twelve year old me, would I have the courage and strength to tell that nervous boy watching all the other children, swimming, laughing, and running—playing shirts v.s. skins—to quit worrying and join in, that it doesn’t matter how chubby you feel, or how different you look, that as long as you love and accept yourself, no words from another can harm you, or would I just sit back and watch, still the observer unable to join the party?
It’s funny how something so simple as taking your shirt off to swim can be so detrimental to a young child’s self esteem and yet as adults we often forget what that was like or rather what external forces beyond our control led us to believe ourselves unworthy of such a simple, yet harrowing task.
As in childhood, so as in adulthood, what we allow to harm us will.
Commercials show us long, slender, sleek models who seem to effortlessly fit in to their surroundings while being rewarded with warm smiles and admiration for seeming perfect.
Television shows and movies give us well manicured, quintessential versions of ourselves that often seem more like science fiction than what actually is.
Billboard ads and magazines are placed conveniently to fill all our psyche with blemish-less detail to promote this false sense of unattainable beauty that even when met, there’s ultimately an even whiter teeth formula, or wax to whisk away our imperfection.
It’s a cycle that even before the mind has time to develop, stunts it’s growth and like a cavity begins to decay all sense of self worth.
How often have you judged yourself by your looks rather than how you feel?
For this average white guy, countless.
But it’s taken all those countless times to figure out that it doesn’t matter in the slightest, especially as a child who’s developing.
So would I tell that twelve year old me to take his shirt off and go swimming with the rest of the lot?
I don’t think there is a clear answer other than that instead of telling him what he should or shouldn’t do like all the rest of the world, I’d allow him the opportunity to listen to my story and decide for himself.
But I would say this. Chances are that boy or girl over there thinks there nose is too big or there ears are too small. Chances are that kid who cringes to put on his glasses everyday feels just like you do now, wondering what others will think of what makes him human.
Perhaps I’d reassure him that everybody has stretch marks, even the biggest, strongest athletes. Even his mother, and what could be more beautiful than sacrificing your physical form to grant another life?
I spent a good portion of last night, mooring with the tide, tied to emotions, most of which surely weren’t mine to suffer, though, like a good little buoy I did all I could to stay afloat.
But what causes a man to harbor such feelings of faithless dread.
Sympathy? Empathy? Selfless, selfishness?
Isn’t it funny how even when no one asks us to suffer, we often choose to suffer.
Could it stem from guilt? Plausible, though I think not. Depression? No, because I could still move. Trauma? Not in this case, as it had nothing to personally do with me.
Perhaps than maybe deeper, beyond the physical self, far from age or reason, like roots grown deep within the soil, always there yet invisible to the naked eye.
So then what?
Let’s take the current state of society in which the mind is placed.
We are and always have been reactionary beings, jumping to conclusions without fully taking the time and energy to understand or explore where these irrational compulsions come from.
So the year is 2020 and we are still at one another’s throats.
Not a day goes by that I don’t get a phone call whether or not I am willing to vote. Not a day goes by that I don’t see one side of the argument ready and willing to cut the other’s throat. Not a day goes by where I don’t get the impression that peace is just dependent on war, like an inside joke I just don’t get the humor.
So it’s within this grey area that I swim where both sides of the equation continue to expel these deep seeded emotions from within.
Had it not been for the open minded, tirelessly educated guidance and good nature of a mother, I may have gone another way years ago, though still I stay afloat while the undertow continues its torment.
So it seems here, now, in the mornings clean light, where all that I can do is observe—in nature that surrounds—human nature take its course.
I know who I am. And I know my intentions are good. Sometimes our actions speak louder than words but for most of us, words just don’t seem to be heard.
But that’s no reason to destroy what you can’t control.
So for those who cannot express or explain this current state of extremes we face both alone and together, I suggest this: be a beacon of hope.
Because what we know today, with or without our help, will surely change tomorrow.
So even in my darkest hours, I know, hope will never falter, light will find a way, and tides will turn, if not now, then surely another day.
She examines her shoulders
her breasts, each time
she comes exposed from the
cool chlorinated water.
She’s aged but not old, tan
but not that dirty brown leather type
lifting her arms to slick back her hair,
each gesture is strategically planned
as not to exhibit the slightest idea
of wrinkles or tear of stretched skin.
It’s important for her to feel young, almost essential.
It’s as clear as the ripples of water she leaves behind
as she folds to the comfort of a faded maroon lounger, the
heat of the sun slowly dries the beads of water
which spider like tears upon her olive thighs,
and disappear into the fading afternoon.