How often have you judged yourself by your looks rather than how you feel? For this average white guy, countless.

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?

But we all figure it out in our own time.

I know he did.

Clearwater Beach Florida

The turtle and the dove

“You’re pretty,” said the turtle

to the dove. “Thanks,” said the dove

to the turtle, “but I’m nothing

compared to the peacock.”

“Well, I’ve known many a peacock and

I think you’re much more beautiful.”

“Still I’d rather be a peacock,” said the dove

to the turtle. And I’d rather be a dove,

thought the turtle

as he watched the dove take wing.

My deepest hearts confession

In your spirit lies perfection

Mind, body, and soul

My deepest hearts confession

What a blessing it is to hold

You close when no one’s guessing

My heart strings don’t you know

Sound only for your blessing

This flame is yours to grow

My thought among the leaves

The breeze it blows my thought

Away unto the tree

Like branches stretching out

I rustle with the leaves

It’s there among the many

Shadows I can see

The physics of my body

Expand and cease to be

soup

I eat my soup,

and only eat my soup

mindful that—

With my teeth

I chew.

With my throat

I swallow.

With my belly

I digest.

With my mind

I taste.

With my body

I savor.

—the rest can wait.

It was cold that year I remember well

I fell in love with her smile

like I had a choice?

She looked me over hell

felt like a little boy

It was cold that year

I remember well

Tangled blankets and sheets

that old apartment smell.

I fell in love with her mind

like an Etch A Sketch

She threw so many bones

like we were playing fetch

It was cold that year

smoke on the fire escape

I drew her in black lines

then shook but couldn’t erase.

I fell in love with her body

like it was a toy

We’d make love for hours

then a little more

It was cold that year

with Manhattan in view

We counted down from 10

New Years on Pia’s roof.

Ain’t it a trip life

you work just to get away

She fell so many times

I’d pick her up and say

You choose the road anywhere

let’s take a drive

Coast to coast man

we died to feel alive.

There’s a scrapbook somewhere

it’s unfinished but proof

That true love exists

and it’s in me and you

A crazy beautiful thing now

baby that’s the truth

I’ll finish it one day

till then this’ll have to do.

I fell in love with her eyes

bewitched under spell

At the flick of a switch

I could turn heaven to hell

If looks could kill honey

stare come on I’m your guy

I never loved her more

than when I wanted to die.

I fell in love with her soul

as she burned the sage

Expelling demons like a shaman

she was young and brave

It was cold that year

at the Macy’s parade

Her face covered in scarf

a perfect picture to take.

I fell in love with her frown

just to turn it around

I fell in love with her ups

just to carry her downs

It was cold that year

I remember now

The first night she slept

next to me safe and sound.

Ain’t life a gas man

you work just to get away

You get away then go home

wishing that you’d stayed

One more day in a motel

somewhere new

They’re always coming man

those damn check out blues.

There’s a memory somewhere

to take me back

Always underdressed and upset

baby that’s a wrap

I remember it all like it was yesterday

That’s why I wake up in love

with each and every day.

body and mind

The perfect body

will never build

the perfect mind

as there is no

perfect mind, there

is no perfect body

but only our minds

lonesome perception

of what perfection

should look like

that no body can ever

really have in mind.

Another On Depression. (written some time ago) Or something like that.

It doesn’t feel like a weight
or an isolated incident.

It’s more like a cloudy headed hangover.

The mind knows what it needs
but the body refuses to cooperate.

It’s like sitting with a good book
for hours, no wiser in the end.

Or driving aimlessly
with no set destination.

It doesn’t feel like anything,
really.

Just a relative constant
that comes and stays.

Like an uninvited guest – talkative –
with nothing good to say, whom

upon arrival you wish they would go
but on departure, a part of you wishes they’d stay.

It’s nobodies goal to be addicted,
is it?

It doesn’t feel like anything,
really.

Or something like that.