“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’”
Viktor E. Frankl
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’”
Viktor E. Frankl
I haven’t been able to put anything down on paper for a good minute. Some people suffer from writer’s block – I wish that was my issue. I have acute writer’s schizophrenia. Spare sentences and loose thoughts have been running amok in the mind. I’m permanently tuned in to every station and quite frankly it’s been overwhelming.
I’ve spent the last few months in the throws of deep self restructuring. Neither the first or last time this has or will happen, but the nature of this crisis was particular. It wasn’t the standard “you can do better” affair. I spend so much time criticizing myself I forget that there are things I’m good at. I focus on one flaw with such intensity the rest of me melts away. I have isolated myself, forbidden myself any close ties and all for what? To stay safe, to not have to deal with the reflections of the parts of me I think are ugly.
I don’t fear my own company, I quite like it actually but in the midst of life and all it entails I had forgotten how to live with me. I didn’t take care of me. I’ve finally forced myself to look at all of it. To admit that I secretly resent my abilities, my thoughts, constantly preoccupy myself with how what I am will be received. My own success terrifies me. I’m afraid of responsibility even though I keep finding myself in positions that require just that, afraid that someone will actually listen to me, think I have “the answers” and turn to me for direction – I don’t know where the hell I’m going. This is all unchartered territory.
I was unable to fully open up to those closest to me as if I was impossible to love, unworthy of it really. I was too ashamed to ask for help from those I fully knew would draw blood for me. I refused to admit that I was in pain. I might get to a point where I am as strong as I want to be but I’ve let myself ebb and flow so aimlessly through the currents of life that I’m grabbing on to this raft for dear life. It’s like shedding old skin, cleansed through fire and baptized by water. I have accepted what I refused to look at and turns out I’m in love with it, with what it isn’t, with what it can be. I welcome the struggle, the occasion existential loneliness, but I will not dwell on the downsides of truly allowing myself to live, feeling like I have a right to exist in my entirety, a right to take up space, to shine. Because why not me?
I love not lying about who I am, what I love, the weight I shoulder. I can’t pretend not to be who I am whether I think I deserve to be or not. I can only accept all that will inevitably come from developing this self. If there is something to be said why not through my mouth? If there is something to be done why not by my hands? I’ve finally re-allowed myself to be in the company of others, reconnected myself with the intensity of feeling I once feared. I do want to give but people take too much. I had to insulate myself and find me, recenter my own desires, my own wants, my own goals, completely separate from any expectation. Let my cup overflow.
It’s frustrating to wear a mask. I wore it for so long I never bothered to find out who was behind it. As long as everything looked fine on the outside I just kept on moving. Sporadic achievements, loving friends and family, all of whom I kept at arm’s length selectively revealing parts of myself under duress. Never too much, always enough to keep up appearances. I lost myself in years of ‘I’m OK’ and ‘everything is alright’. It wasn’t. I wasn’t. I was always afraid. Of saying the wrong thing, of pushing the wrong buttons, of being rejected. I’m not as carefree as I would love to pretend I am. I can hide from the world but I can’t hide from me. I broke the mask and I can’t put it back together and frankly I don’t care to. For better or for worse I’m stuck in this meat suit and I do love it, all that it entails. I’m a mess and I’m proud. I take risks, I push myself to the extreme, I fall on my ass, but I do good.
I do good.
“In my unbelief I’m a believer, in a way, and though having changed I am the same, and my torment is none other than this, what could I be good for, couldn’t I serve and be useful in some way, how could I come to know more thoroughly, and go more deeply into this subject or that? Do you see, it continually torments me, and then you feel a prisoner in penury, excluded from participating in this work or that, and such and such necessary things are beyond your reach. Because of that, you’re not without melancholy, and you feel emptiness where there could be friendship and high and serious affections, and you feel a terrible discouragement gnawing at your psychic energy itself, and fate seems able to put a barrier against the instincts for affection, or a tide of revulsion that overcomes you. And then you say, How long, O Lord! Well, then, what can I say; does what goes on inside show on the outside? Someone has a great fire in his soul and nobody ever comes to warm themselves at it, and passers-by see nothing but a little smoke at the top of the chimney and then go on their way. So now what are we to do, keep this fire alive inside, have salt in ourselves, wait patiently, but with how much impatience, await the hour, I say, when whoever wants to, will come and sit down there, will stay there, for all I know?”
Vincent Van Gogh
If you’re just doing “it” for the money please note: nothing guarantees that the structure that assigns such high value to your field or certification will be maintained so best do what you love.
We see poverty as a disease, abundance of currency as synonymous with a rich, fulfilled life. We do everything to escape it, work harder to make more money for what exactly? We are being made to believe that is what leading a life is but I can’t accept that. That need then makes us more susceptible and willing to accept parasitic economic systems imposed on us by our governments instead of creating new ones that allow us to live in a more sustainable manner, less of this overconsumption. I’m not saying luxury is bad, I’m just saying there must be ways to be more considerate as to how we use our limited resources.
How to break the spell, how to pluck yourself out of this endless cycle of sleeping, eating, being, not being, wanting to be, being afraid to never be. You would think one would be pushed into action with such dissatisfaction but it only seemed to fuel the tepid fire of self-destruction. Mine is a slow and painful death. A tenacious rot eating away at the foundations of a life half built. I might be more like my uncle Alphonse than I care to admit. Till this day his house in the village stands unfinished. Roofless rooms, doorless frames: a homeless house. No fraction could quantify its level of completion. Is that what my life is amounting to? An endless pile of fractioned sentences, fractioned thoughts, fractioned wants, fractioned wills? He only completed our own family house because my mother (bless her brand of crazy) moved us all into the fraction-complete building, still pregnant with Alphonse (named after the same uncle – the similarities ended there). A fraction of a life in a fraction of a home. A fitting abode of sorts. If only I took more after the woman. I stubbornly cling to my mediocrity, the fear of failure dragging me down like cement shoes in a sea of stagnancy. A writer. How can I call myself that when I barely put pen to paper? I think about it though. Oh that I do a lot of. I think. About not writing, about writing more, what to write about, how to make my words tap-dance, endless click clacking on blank pages. What am I scared of? That people will see me? That my words might reveal some unexplored truth? I am looking for something, anything, a lifeline (going down swinging) pouring over books, articles, tweets, binge-watching television. I’m not finding it. Whose voice am I looking for? Mine? Can I even hear myself? Will I recognize that “I”?
Create create create
till you spew out something
that can make order out of this chaos
or at least rearrange it
make it into a mess worth looking at
consume – voraciously
share, don’t be afraid
at best they will love it
at worst they won’t
but it will still be
you will have created
from nothing something will be born
pick up your axe
make yourself a table and a chair
a bed if lying makes it easier
don’t ignore the voices
speak with them
or louder than them
scream until your lungs give out
shine – bright and blinding
fall and stand
dust yourself off
patch up your holes
or make a new dress altogether
do until you can’t do anymore
then do more
soar until you can’t tell
down from up