Dreaming of treasure …

•July 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I am an old dog, well set in his ways, but that is not to say I do not spend much of my life looking for new tricks that are worth learning …

I could be gentle, and describe myself as (at times, by turns, in measured doses) acerbic, but that is ridiculous understatement. Venomous, again, does not cut it. When I anger, I stand as Zeus, and cast down thunderous wrath on whatever unfortunate mortal set me off. And what has often set me to rage in the past have been things I had no right hating – to do so was hypocritical. But worse, I would not allow others their foolishness, their whimsy, their imaginative indulgences. Facts needed to be examined, damn it. Escapist ideas can be life saving, but they can also signal the darkness before a messy end; the closing of eyes to hopeless scenery. And since we are chained to a social structure that envelopes us all to varying degrees, it behooves both the individual and the community to raise standards of rational, logical, reasonable (and especially critical) thought wherever possible.

Now I find the scale tipping.

No doubt it has done so before, probably more than I realise, but this time seems noteworthy.

I have the heart of a collector, you see … and there is a certain piece of merchandise I have spied with my little eye, in a marketplace I frequent, that makes my heart leap. If it is legitimate, it is a piece of history in a certain area of interest, and (subjectively) an objet d’art of burning personal desire. If it is not, then of course, it is worth little either way.

But if it is … If it, indeed, is …

And there comes the quandary for the day: Do I care? I have no way of verifying one way or the other whether this article is as described; I have no reason to believe it is not authentic. But do I care? Or can I let go of the reasoning I usually try to evangelize, in favour of misty-eyed dreaming? Can I afford the emotional investment?

I think I can.

I think I would like to purchase this article, and treasure it as genuine, and brook no questions (from myself or others) as to its provenance. It can be my fragile belief, my ponderous hope … my own piece of stuff-and-nonsense. If it is really what I think, then all the better. If not … well, that is a closed door.

I cannot go back through those whose musings I have stomped on so wilfully (well, most of them … a few are within reach, and will hear from me shortly), whether I would or not: a lot of that stomping and thundering needed to be, for one reason or another. But I can look forward now, and relate to the strange fancies people sometimes allow themselves. Perhaps.

Unless they are being really stupid; then, all bets are (always) off.

Who stole all the colour?

•May 26, 2013 • 9 Comments

I have often heard people speak of depression, and throw around the word ‘gray’ … “Everything feels gray. All the colour is gone; just gray left.”

And I would think to myself, if you can’t see colours, you probably have much more serious problems than you realise. (I also took offence on behalf of gray; black, I could understand, but gray?)

As sometimes happens, I took a literal approach to something abstract. I wanted a clean-cut, definitive handle. Something that would differentiate sufferers from the general population – “Blue, you say? Clearly, it’s gray. Actually, so are the rest of these …” Something that would make it easier to identify, less of an abstract and more an absolute.

Imagine:
Doctor – OK, what colour is my tie?
Me – Uhm … *cough* red?
Doctor – I see. Take two of these at night and spend at least an hour a day looking at pictures of puppies and kittens. Now, let’s get you linked in with some support services …

Instead of:
Doctor – So, you think you have depression? Well … go for a walk every day. Try to eat better. Get some sleep. You should feel better soon.
Me – ……

Because of course, depression doesn’t destroy your motivation, mess with your sleep, or put you off food. Maybe he was suggesting it as a sort of Iron Man challenge – If you can TAKE IT TO THE MAX, and be TOTALLY HARDCORE, and EAT YOUR VEGETABLES, you will be OK!!! *epic guitar riffs*

I don’t think he was suggesting that, but it’s what I prefer to imagine.

Today, I finally feel like I understand the use of the word. Black and white are stark, but gray has that haziness to it. I can imagine black punching me in the face or hiding under my bed, waiting to get me. White yelling at the top of it’s lungs and blasting brightness. Gray would sit next to me on a park bench and steal my wallet. It is subtle, nuanced … accurate.

Gray is meh. Literally.

What should I have for dinner? Meh. How to occupy myself today? Meh. Oh, that thing I paid a lot of money for because I wanted it so bad arrived today? Meh.

If you have ever seen that infamous wrestling video where one of the performers thoughtlessly called on fans to throw him a chair and got buried under an avalanche of hurled seating, you can imagine what the gray meh is like. (If you haven’t seen that video, go look it up; it’s surreal.)

Meh doesn’t subtract; it’s easy to think of it like that, but that is not the case. Meh adds. It piles on. It twists around your legs, covers your eyes, keeps you up at night with hopeless whining. Somewhere under that pile of meh is a person. They are crying and lonely and hurt, but good luck getting to them. All those gray mehs are damn heavy.

Which is not to say you shouldn’t try; you damn well should. Just consider how to proceed. Try to understand. Be careful about pushing. VERY careful. Concern to you might be someone sitting atop the pile of mehs to them. And the mistake so many make – don’t try to understand the problem. Understand the person. It might not make the least sense to you that they have lost interest in everything; probably doesn’t make much sense to them, either. But they are still the same person they always were; they are just a bit hard to see, buried in the gray.

It’s not your job to ‘snap them out of it!’ or similar; just be there. Be there so damn hard you burn a hole in the floor. It will wear on your patience. It will make you tired and sad. And you may not see any difference. You don’t need to. And note that when I say ‘be there’ I don’t mean literally. Bedside vigils can be touching and all, but let’s not go overboard. Some sense of consistency, some reliable care and concern, knowing that at least one person will not yell at you or harangue you or ask, No, really … What is actually wrong with you?, but just talk to you like a normal human being – that can make a world of difference. And sometimes, it can prevent things getting a whole lot darker.

So remember, we of the gray mehs are much like other folks, just filtered; I still love my books, even though I can’t read more than a page without drifting off mentally. I still cherish good food, even though the thought of actually eating anything turns my stomach.

I am still me … But I am also meh.

From: me To: you

•February 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I considered this a while, and then put it off a while. I thought to procrastinate longer, but then I saw you in passing, and thought, well … Needs be.

We haven’t talked lately. I know you don’t like to be left alone; neither do I.

Usually, I would make sure that doesn’t happen. I would put aside my fears I am rambling, and shake off the feeling that I am (by and large) talking to myself. I’d come up with some silly story, or just find lots of words to fill in the space between you and I.

I’ve done that too much before. Ask the folks who have been around a while about how I am with people. How I was. The sad stories of enmeshment, of tumbling after, of giving it all and keeping none for me. Things are changing; I will not allow myself to stagnate any longer. I can’t. One thinks to know one’s limits, thinks they are tested time and again … til the clarity of age sets in. There comes a day when one may discover there is nothing left – things MUST change. They simply MUST, there is no other option. Often, it is expressed explosively, radically – some tremendous, perhaps even iconic, upheaval. That is characteristically my style … But times are changing.

I have faults. I have flaws. I have issues. I also have needs. Expectations. Hopes.

Enough has changed in my thinking already that I cannot even say, I wish … I wish I could do it all, I wish I could be that person you think you need, I wish I could be good enough.

Screw that noise. I am good enough. I have yet to get so much better, and to be so much more, but that won’t change this. 

I have told you time and again, if you need me, then speak. If you want to talk, then do. How am I to take the silence? Am I to feel wanted? Am I sleeping on the job? What to do, what to do … 

Likewise, I have told you of the issues and challenges I face. I have left a lot out, but given you plenty enough to paint a picture of me and my insecurities. I have challenged myself again and again to see things differently, and let that guide my path, hoping that in doing so, I could help you do the same. 

You fear that people will discover the ‘real’ you. Why do you think I spend so much time being the entertainer, the talker, the creative thinker? I am every bit as scared as you are of ‘being discovered’. Or rather, I was. It is starting to be replaced by a sense of worth. That will take years of nurture and work and care to mature, but the seeds are planted. 

If you do not want to be ‘that’ person, then don’t. Otherwise, you never know who might pass through your life, and be unable to see anything other than the starring role you have written for yourself in what you consider to be the most boring script ever written (apart, of course, from Twilight) … what happens when that person says (and means) I care about you so much … But who am I caring about? Where are you? How do I find you?

What happens if they are lost themselves. What happens if, in seeking to elevate you, they are left feeling like they need to make concessions they have stopped allowing anyone else, and to question their own progress besides. What if confidences are shared, and left to wallow in an uncomfortable silence. 

Would you seek to keep that person? Would you ask them to stay, or watch them walk away, blaming yourself for every step they take?

I have been too easy on you, because I desperately wanted to be that person who could make it all better, that mystical magic maker who could change your world and mine. But I can’t. I need to work on me. If I have any miracles still to produce … I am afraid they must be directed inwards. The deep, dark hole must be filled in.

A promise was made; I shall not revoke it. But I am pointing out that it was a pact, shared between two who thought they understood. One cannot bear the weight alone. 

Both must change.

So, I leave it to you. I have no idea if you will read this or not … I commit it here rather than something more direct because this is my space. It will stand with the other posts as a testament to the hill I am climbing, so that I may look back and laugh at where I have come from.

It would be lovely if you could join me on that walk; if not, then so be it. 

It is up to you.

Guess how much …

•February 12, 2013 • 2 Comments

At the risk of destroying the dark tone this blog usually takes (or perhaps as an attempt to avoid self-imposed typecasting), I am casting aside a post about the universe’s bizarre sense of humour / timing in favour of something brighter.

There are a lot of emotions I struggle with, because they are largely foreign to me. Likewise, there are various events that are no doubt commonplace for others, but rare enough for me to catch me off-guard and leave me unsure how to react. It is a mix of too much introspection, and too much time spent studying people throughout my life in an attempt to understand why people are as they are, instead of, you know, actually relating to their humanity. I should just be able to react, and that is that … but I can’t. I would say it is not in my nature, but that is not true; it’s simply the conditioning.

Anyhow, I received a certain gift this past Christmas. Travelling from so far away, it took its sweet time getting here … and then I likewise delayed actually opening it. I placed it reverently atop what I can assure you was (and presumably still is) a clean pile of washing on a chair in the middle of my … well, I suppose you would say it is my bedroom. (It was purposed as a living room; I pretend the open kitchenette attached is an opulent extravagance – “Oh, you have a mini fridge in your bedroom … How quaint.”) I looked at this package every morning, and every evening, and every time I passed through the room. Sometimes I just went to that room with the express purpose of eyeing it off, and pondering. Savouring. Delighting. Feeling as though the world would change dramatically if I actually dared to open it.

I felt this gift needed some sort of due process, perhaps even some small opening ceremony (the price of ribbon these days is quite extortionate, and don’t get me started on those oversized scissors one should cut it with; am I a market of one?!) but above all, I felt it required timing. So I delayed it through several tempestuous days of unpleasant emotions; it became a small island of reprieve. I took to imagining it as such, and did my best not to look at the postage so I could imagine stamps from a nation of one, commemorating hills that we ran up and a successful (though terrible) war on sauerkraut, which I generally think of as ‘dish made of stuff that wasn’t good enough for hot dogs’. I did manage to curb my enthusiasm and not surround it with water; my carpet and (I assume) my neighbours are thankful for that.

It seemed like many gifts; that it existed at all was some kind of marvel. Any time I receive items by post (which is disturbingly often; online shopping is such a gift to we hermits), I like to consider how many people must have collaborated to bring it to me, from the producers of the raw materials through to my mate, the postie. It’s quite a thought at any time … but purchases of some cheap curio from Hong Kong are impersonal, unfeeling – at least, as far as I know; I watched a heartbreaking documentary about a young girl in a jeans manufacturer’s sweatshop in China, and the poor little dear wrote a note about her life and put it in one of the pairs of jeans. It was hopelessly cheerful and friendly and longing, written under such terrible conditions … Needless to say, my partner and I decided to go denim shopping the next day (or rather, denim examining, just in case …)

But I digress. Story of my life, as it were.

All these people working together to bring an expression of love and care and respect from it’s original location, halfway around the world, so that I might … stare at it suspiciously every time I walked past. It would possibly be a moving image, if I was not such a difficult character.

So finally, today, I opened it. And it was as overwhelmingly wonderful

 

…………

… as I had expected, and so much more. What was unexpected was an interruption when I originally sat to write this, a month ago. It has sat in a note on my desktop ever since, but got lost in the clutter.

It did not get lost in either my heart or my mind, though. I thought of it often, and wondered what else I should, nay, could say.

I came up short (a rarity for one as tall as I), and concluded that nothing more could be said that would do any justice to this gesture; I know not enough elegance to express it.

It is a unique friendship, and although we spend a lot of time calling each other crazy, we mean it in the fondest of terms. It is our secret handshake, our knowing wink. There shall only ever be two members of our cabal, the PFC. And yet we are as opposites in our tastes and preferences. We are an odd complement, each to the other.

And yet, for so many reasons, it makes for a beautiful friendship.

So let this speak where I cannot, this adoration, this respect, this warmth.

 

(And of course, it also requires a postal reply, which has already been conceived … Now it merely awaits creation. And yes, at least two of those tags are her fault.)

Into insomnia

•November 28, 2012 • 1 Comment

It being an ungodly hour here, it seems a fair time to examine my lifelong battle with sleep.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not hate sleep; it is waking up that I have a problem with. Each day presents new difficulties, new challenges, new anxieties. So I avoid sleep in the hopes I might stave off tomorrow as long as possible. I daydream these nights away, imagining the clock striking three … then no more.

Ah, what a relief it would be!

The other side of the world could toil endlessly under an eternal sun, while I remain hidden in the forgiving darkness.

I could stroll the streets, mocking the closed stores; taunt me no more, accursed merchants. I cannot feel deprived if your offerings are forever unavailable. Likewise, the sleepers dreaming all around me; rejection by the unconscious is of little consequence.

I could scurry to an all-night convenience store and claim a bounty of sustenance from the poor fare on offer; it would not offend my senses, since there is nothing else on offer at this hour.

My phone does not ring or buzz or chirp; who is to disturb my thoughts at such a time? (thankfully, I keep no company that shares my insomniac affliction) No mail is delivered, nor any other notices. I am due nowhere, expected by none; I am my own man, free to do as I will without interference or hindrance.

Even the air itself seems more pleasant during the wee hours, perhaps because there are not so many fighting for their share of it. Perhaps it is due to the lack of vehicular traffic. Perhaps it is just a delusion, a sweet lie of indulgence. Whatever the case, I breathe it deeply as I wander the empty streets, reveling in the stillness.

The world becomes my stage, and I feel safe in the lack of an audience. This time is mine, to think and dream and ponder and wander as I will.

Soon, though, dawn will shatter my illusions, as it must. I best seek what sleep I can get before the trials of the day, the departure of the dark dream.

Until tonight, dear world, when you will be mine once again.

About? Part 1

•November 19, 2012 • 1 Comment

Since I am troubled still by the notion of the About page, here then is something of a biography. Naturally, it takes an abstract form; a patchwork quilt of dissonant rhythms.

The First Act:

I am the son of an iceberg and a butterfly, a roughly-hewn statue and a beloved jester. Though I bear the stature of a king, I was the last pawn to take my place on our familial chessboard.

I was raised in a house built by the hands of convicts oh so long ago, each brick a sad testament to a life left behind. Some were carved with hearts, in memory of loved ones left behind; others, an arrow, the symbol of their caste. A ramshackle misery, crumbling under the weight of time, changing its façade so often … but never its true character. I could not rightly have been born anywhere else.

I see a little boy, playing in the rear courtyard with his toy trucks. The sky is rich and clear, the day mumbling quietly by around him. He is called to lunch, and then taken for a nap. Crisp, clean sheets; they smell nice.

I see a small boy, playing ‘dress-ups’. He wonders why none of his friends get the dreaded ‘belt’ (or spoon or any other reprimand) for playing this game. Doesn’t everyone want to look nice?

I see a lonely boy, standing in tears and confusion. His peers mock and jeer; the Teacher ignores him, intent on being ‘one of the cool kids’, even if 20 years too late.

I see a wild boy, enraged by the dictates of a rigid education system. He is writing furiously a story full of mythical creatures, magical happenings, and of course, an idealized central character. His fourth grade teacher will praise it unduly, and briefly resurrect his hope that he may be allowed to grow as he will.

I see a lonely boy, troublesome and troubled. The pseudo-mothers have decided he is too difficult, and retired to their usual distant sisterhoods. He wonders why he is not loved. Could this really be ‘family’?

I see sleepless nights and reckless days. I watch the boy as he travels with his father, couriering Important Things to Important People. He feels like a young man now, beginning to find his feet. If only he knew …

I see the old house being surrendered to a new owner, a man of false promises and high hopes. The boy will see it once more, during his early manhood, and then it shall be torn down.

I see a boy on the cusp of teen age, swaddled in quilts, reading by a dim lamp as his family’s caravan treks southwards to more verdant pastures. It is a dark and stormy night; this feels right for the transition.

I see a teenage boy and his dog; returning from a walk on the beach, they are captured crossing a bridge by a painter. The boy will never know what becomes of that painting, that frozen moment. He assumes the painting will remain similarly ignorant.

I watch the boy as he struggles with the new environment, the unfamiliar territory … and again, so much cruelty. He has learned his place as the outcast, this one. For now, he will treasure it with a bitter pride.

Now, at last, he is a young man. I watch as he finishes his schooling, and returns to the city he once thought he knew. It is a bitter homecoming, and will give rise to many strange tales before he leaves it again at the end of the year whence he came.

 

Man o’ war

•November 19, 2012 • 1 Comment

I am preparing to go to war against a child.

We will be on the same battlefield, but where I see the corpses of broken promises, the walking wounded hopes, the blood shed in ignorance and fear and spite, she will see only naughty teddy bears, plastic soldiers, perhaps a tea set.

I will be raising arms against injustice, greed and vanity; a desperate man’s last stand against a plague of hypocrisy. No-one wins a war like this. She will be raising a bubble blower, creating any number of self-contained little worlds that belong to her, alone. Should they burst, they are easily replaced.

I will weep, for all those lost to this conflict over the years. Untarnished by the carnage, the princess shall daintily dance across the backs of the broken. I would feel like a war criminal, piercing that innocence, if it was not artificial.

We are not toys, my compatriots and I. We have cried, bled, fallen. We have known endless horror, unthinking cruelty, shameless profiteering on the misery of others. Those of us who have not succumbed are hollow wrecks, angry parodies, monsters.

She sees only playthings; if Mr Bear is upset, it is because she wishes it, otherwise it is simply not true. If a plastic man has fallen, he need only be stood on his feet again, ready to twirl her across another dancefloor, whispering sweet nothings into her ear. And if someone is crying … Best to look away, dive deeper into the private game, find another who is smiling an empty smile.

But when all is said and done, I and those like me shall be returned to the toybox. Plastic soldiers do not bleed; teddy bears do not frown. Such silly war games are for boys. Nice girls play House and Marriage and other silly, light-hearted games, where the sun always shines, and everyone is always happy.

Huddled in my trench, waiting for the final conflict, I think (not for the first time) of turning my weapon upon myself. Surely it would be easier than attacking this grown woman squeezed into a tiny sundress, pretending at an endless childhood. But there is no honour in this thought; it would be a cessation of my pains, but the war would roll on without me.

Sighing, I settle into position, line my sights … and wait.

Soon.