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.

(This was me, 2:25pm, August 31, 2020—happy, and holy, and released)

It’s become abundantly clear through time and misfortune, not to be confused with the physical form such as money or objects, but rather with the exploration of self, the embodiment of peace, and the idea that expression can or should be limited or contained due of a value system built out of fear and intolerance.

Most of our lives we are given what can be thought of as a safety net of ideals—paths to follow, standards to meet—to make life “easier” or conducive to the perception of others.

Rather than present ourselves the way we deem fit, the general standard is to be as the chameleon—to do whatever it takes to fit in—who blends into its surroundings for survival.

Well, for myself, I’ve learned to accept and reject that pattern as it does not allow for growth.

I’ve grown everywhere from upside down to sideways and still have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard you try, there will always be a group, a banner, many men and signs who will make it their duty to mock one’s freedom of self.

I accept myself.

Further more, I applaud myself.

I look in the mirror and examine an ever changing life force composed of trial and error, love and appreciation, a life force who has exhausted himself to live his truth, that is…well…hell if I know!

I’m still figuring that out, one moment, one step, and one portrait at a time.

Thankfully enough, I’ve been blessed by an equal partner, a beautiful guiding spirit of light and love to help nurture my venture to freedom of self—Ariel Rachel—who does not judge but embraces my eccentricities as I honor and trust full heartedly in hers.

I highly recommend letting go of inhibition, being open and honest with yourself, others, and showcasing who you are, each and every day.

Be well my friends. I look forward to seeing you for everything that you are, today, tomorrow, and in future discoveries.

(This was me, 2:25pm, August 31, 2020—happy, and holy, and released)

2:25pm, August 31, 2020—happy, and holy, and released