Conversations with myself – #3

What did you want to be as a kid? I ask you – myself – what did you want to be as a kid?

Did you want to be a slave to your obsessions? To your insecurities? Did you want to feel trapped inside your own mind? Did you pine to be, just simply long to be, an outsider, misunderstood by others, misunderstanding them in turn? Did you wish to lose yourself?

If not these noble dreams, then what?

Maybe you didn’t formulate it. Maybe you failed to think it through. Think of it at all.

Youth was great. We were the lucky ones. I was a lucky one.

Strength of spirit and endless optimism and boundless hope. Enjoying life as it came, sharing experiences with friends and family.

Games.

Hikes and canoe trips and watching TV on Mom’s bed.

Oh, the antics and joyful shit devised with friends!

Christmas.

Shooting hoops outside and swimming in freezing pools. We didn’t need vacation. I didn’t need vacation. It was all – all – right there.


Well…

not all.

No. Not all.


I remember like yesterday walking my street alone, or with a buddy, in the early morn, on the way home. Sometimes drunk, yet always completely sober. And dreaming of nothing, and of everything. This, this whole world was mine, and I loved it, and it loved me.

The stars were so bright on these nights. And when not, then only for the light of the full moon, lighting the gray road and loose stones of the shoulder.

Yellow dashed and solid lines. Black threads of tar filling cracks. Can you feel it? The roughness of the asphalt and the gummy tar and the smooth paint of the dividing line as you slowly jog barefoot down the middle of the road?

This was my road, illuminated by my stars, and the moon, the moon was my deepest friend, my….confidant. And I was so aware, so very aware, of myself, and my feet on the solid ground.

Optimism.

Unbridled hope.

The houses housed guests asleep in my world. I was content they were there. Live and let live. And they let me live.

As did my mother. She let me live. And my father. He let me live.  Hell, they encouraged it…life…and me, in whom they had faith. And my sister too. Perhaps she came to see I was a viciously free spirit, stubborn, passionate. Arrogant. Oh so arrogant! Not with aggression, nor malice, nor sickening self-pride.

But arrogance in my optimism and self-confidence. And why not? For me, I was the king of my world, this sleeping, trodden street.

On my road. On my road. Arrogant happiness and naivety. Walking on my road. Ask me anything. ‘What would I like to be?’ HAHA. What a silly question. Can’t you see, I am content right here?


What did you want to be as a kid?

In all honesty: nothing precise. Nothing defined. The wind perhaps. Yes, that’ll do.

I wanted but to remain in that blissful state, forever.

It was all right there.

And yet…

it wasn’t.


And now the roads are all foreign. The stars, well they don’t shine as bright. And my feet don’t trust the shifting ground.

I say live and let live, but I don’t understand the rules of life.

And I have a family, kids, a wife. I have a job, a car, responsibilities.

Birthdays.

Graduations.

Report cards.

Football games and bush-craft.

Laughter.

Tears.

And I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

Well, maybe one thing: to have it all as I have it now, but to have me included. Yes. Me included.

But who am I? I am here, in this form, behind these walls, writing these words. But a part of me is back there. On that road. Where it all made sense.

A part of me walks that road every single night.

A part of me has never left.

Optimism. Unbridled hope.

What do I want to be?

My answer: nothing. But to have that peace again, in whole. To see those stars again, as bright. To be guided by that moon again, back home. To find me again, barefoot, on solid ground.

Fatherhood – a poem

The Abyss Post

Silence reason and there, within

A fruit of consciousness and reflection,

Pushes like a force against the walls of the mind,

Like the beauty of a cloudless morn,

Something indescribable.


On another plane,

When you were young, paddling

A warcraft canoe with your dad – captain,

On Frog Lake in the failing light,

Toward your amphibious haven.


And oh the sound! Of fiberglass on sandy shore.

Of kindling crackling and flame warming.

And oh the smell! Of steak and onion and pine-needle carpets.

Of supping and talking and laughing and thinking.

And the sight…the sight,

Of two people on a log, and a dog

In the bush on a bed of moss.


Tired. Cold. Afraid.

Lying there you listen

To his breath, its rhythm.

As an anchor in the storm of your mind,

You sleep.


Sitting still in the afternoon sun,

This fruit of consciousness and reflection,

Pushes like a…

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The fortress nursery

I am a play-acting leader wandering aimlessly,

Trudging up and down each ridge and valley,

Marching headstrong on twisted paths unknowing;

Eager to say ‘Here is the way, follow me.’

 

I set off young, ill-equipped, and eagerly,

To a distant snow-capped peak I aimed to journey,

Heavy burdensome pack filled to overflowing;

Doubt, inexperience, arrogant insecurity.

 

In each palm five tiny digits clasped firmly,

My delightful, loving, innocent responsibility,

Yet cradled deep within another growing;

Swaddled in armoured layers deceptively.

 

I now know I am the king of a fortress nursery,

Revealed to me by their lips curled mockingly,

To veiled contempt, through muffled laughter owing;

They all scorn the child I refused to see.

 

Now too great the burden’s intensity,

A suffocating pack and no hands free,

Foundation’s cracked, there is no more going;

Deep within a child cries desperately.

 

In this storm of clear and urgent necessity,

Heed those mocking faces – growth requires honesty –

King’s garments stripped as the tempest continues blowing;

I, reborn and naked before you, stand awkwardly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shifting shores

For eleven years we stood side by side, drifting on the surface of a mirror lake.

Eyes cast down, we mistook our reflections for reality.

And as we drifted toward the approaching falls, the surface remained smooth, unbroken, for we drifted imperceptibly.

In and out of silent coves, we failed to register the shifting shores.

And then there was one more who joined us. And another. Two new reflections appeared and we both tilted our heads.

And as seen from without, as by an observer to the unfolding plot – fate, say – there would be no doubt: they apprehended the reality of those new souls, and it filled them both with joy, real and undiluted.

And with love.

Eyes fixed on our children, or cast down on unbroken reflections, we failed to register the shifting shores.

And then, as seen by fate, they picked up speed. Unaware. Minutes dripped into days and days into months, and then the years, passing without break, without mercy, without warning.

So it was. The slow drifting became a swift advance, and we, mere passengers on a rudderless raft, convinced we had control, trusting our deceiving eyes and the distending reflections being swept swiftly along.

Hand in my hand, her arm began, is if made of rubber bands, to stretch, pulling with an unseen power away from me.

Her body, elongated horizontal, being sucked into the nearing vortex.

And we, convinced this distorting reflection made sense. Looking, to either side, at playing, growing happy children. Mixing reflections and reality. It all made sense.

And now, her arm is so long. The fingers intertwined with mine growing ever thinner, narrowing to nothingness, approaching the horizon of no return, sucked, pulled unknowingly, terribly into the gathering torrent of the approaching falls.

And still that distending reflection was all we knew of each other. And it made sense.

Head bent. Children playing in the sunshine.

And now her body a distant point. Distended from my perspective as to be unrecognizable. I see the shifting shores, fleeting now to blur, too late my desperate lunge, pitiful attempt at self-preservation. I plunge over the falls.

Now nothing but air and water, air and rocks, in a tumbling kaleidoscope of chaos.

And looked at from without, by fate, mother and father extending wings soft and strong. Wings not meant to fly, for nothing can rescue them from this plunge. But wings to protect, to shelter, the only real thing left, knowable. An act of pure instinct and love. Wings unfurled and then immediately furled, wrapping soft protection, cocooning the children.

Coming up. Gasping. My hands palms upward break the water’s surface. Between my fingers, a memory. The reflections on the water scattered continuously in bursts of churning bubbles, sparkling light.

Through the thin wings enwrapping, the children see and sense, yet cannot comprehend this different world.

And I, desperate to find my bearings, head bobbing, eyes no longer cast downward, but seeing as if for the first time. Wings wrapped protectively, I search timidly.

And here, on distant, barely perceptible shores, rising and falling as I bob in place, her body rematerializes from the ether, organized web of light.

Seen from without, he looks at her. Eyes no longer cast downward. He looks at her. And for once he sees her, but fails to discern the direction of her gaze.

Narrative seeds

Severed narratives. Ego, understanding, security, perspective, ripped asunder.

Open, festering, emotional wounds.

Who am I?

With what do I build again? How do I see again? Where does the nightmare end and the future begin?

I repeat: where does the nightmare end and the future begin?

Optimistically uncertain. But afraid. Nervous. What parts of the old me are worth holding onto? Which bits scattered afield should I collect, pick up and place in my bucket, to be cleaned and reassembled?

I survey the fields. Empty. In need of nourishment. I survey the fields. A hollow shell.

Who am I?

A father. Aye! A father! I am that. Indeed I am. And what else? A fighter. Aye! A fighter! I do indeed care enough to fight. And what else? Alive. Aye! Breath still enters these lungs. And what else? Principled. Yes. I am grounded in principles.

And what are those principles? What grounds me?

Truth. Yes truth, and self-awareness. Avoid, at all costs, self-deception, willing blindness. Avoid, at all costs, refusal to peer within and assess, comprehend what you see.

This aids truth.

Truth. Yes truth, and respect from others. Accept only so much deceit before moving on. People lie for any number of reasons. You have the power, the right, to move on, to no longer accept partnership, subjection, to another’s consistent lying.

This aids truth.

Truth. Yes truth, and forgiveness. Understand we all, everyone of us, make mistakes, are sometimes led down dark corridors, can lose our true paths. Forgive others and forgive yourself, but never forget. Don’t become naive. Don’t blind yourself. You can forgive, but you must not allow yourself to become the victim of another’s consistent, disrespectful, harmful actions and words.

This aids truth.

Truth. Yes truth, and self-confidence. You are as capable and as good as you currently are. Have you reached your potential? Continue the struggle with confidence, head held high, looking skyward, until you do. You are only as capable and as good as you currently are, and nobody can ask more of you at any given moment than that, including yourself. There is no reason to get down on yourself. Control only what is in your power to control. The hand you were dealt belongs to a cosmic lottery, the same one played by every single person who exists or has ever existed or who will ever exist. Compare not with envy and longing yourself to others, but look hard into your own eyes and find where you can and are willing to improve. Control only what you can control, with confidence.

This aids truth.

The nightmare ends, and the future begins, at truth.

Not so hollow after all. I survey these fields, life-giving, life-affirming seeds in hand.

Happiness lost is always found within

January 13th, 2005

It is a new year and the streets of Bamberg are still free of snow. My son was born Wednesday, December 8th, 2004, at 3:39 in the afternoon. Enan Franz smiled on his first day of life, and poured forth his innocence and purity, bringing clean tears to this dirty face.

Your birth was the finale of a development well over nine months; the development is as old as I, and perhaps as old as time itself. For you see, Enan, I am the product not only of my own life and experiences, but my mother’s and father’s also, and their parents, and their parents’ parents, ad infinitum; my actions, my behaviour, guided by more than my lack of wisdom.

For every action there is an equal, but opposite reaction. Remember this Enan. The path of your life is not all of your making, nor of your will, because you are tied to me, to your mother, and to all who have impacted our lives, either directly or indirectly; you respond with action to an infinite set of reactions vibrating the web that keeps you alive, keeps you human, and you in turn pluck the threads of that web to send reverberations to those around, in an ever-widening circle of influence. However, you will always be unique. Like a star in a sky of a million, a trillion, other stars, of the same stuff you are made, but you shine with a different light.

There are two inside you, Enan, the world and you. They are tied together in inexorable knots, where one ends and the other begins is impossible to know. So remember, you are never alone; you have the whole world within.

Use your own voice to guide the world within, and learn from your experiences, from history. Try not to make the same mistakes as many before. But if you do, don’t despair, for those who stumble, yet pick themselves up, construct bridges for those to come. One day, Enan, one of those bridges might eventually span the gap between ignorance and understanding, and make the world a better place.

And if you fall, if you become lost, get back up and recover your bearings. Build more bridges ahead, forge fresh paths. You may find the last chasm you cross separates the world from your dreams, and the green grass upon which you land is no less than the rich pastures of your freedom and happiness. And that is a worthy struggle.

Raise your voice to the sky and shout loud over land and ocean. Tell the world that you are here. Be not afraid. Sing loud and for as long as you want. Sing in the sun and sing in the rain. You have a limited number of days to sing, and all eternity to be silent. Flex your voice in pure happiness, fearing not the stillness of death, for death will surely come, regardless of how you live your life. So live your life well.

Wail when you cry, whether you shed tears of pain or tears of joy. Let the animals in the forest feel your emotions and let the echoes of your weeping carry to all the lands. You and the world share the same wild nature, the same primal emotions. There is no pain worth concealing, and no joy too small to share. You may shake the very hearts of humankind, and this is not such a bad thing.

If you feel down and are lost, remember, those who pursue their dreams also live their dreams, so continue your drive, only then are you alive. And those times when all hope is lost, listen to your heart, for your dreams and your heart are one. And when your heart is silent or you fail to listen closely enough, sit under a tree or watch the moon, and let Nature’s devices instil you with peace and harmony. As you return to yourself, let your wildest fantasies and dreams bloom like lilies in the pools of your mind, the coves of your soul. Be not afraid to admire them, to pick them, to inhale their fragrance. Let their beauty diffuse through your mind and heart, easing your troubles and bringing calm.

Never forget who you are or where you came from. Look in the mirror and stare hard into your eyes. Look past the costume of daily life, peel away the layers of insecurity and doubt, wade through the muddy waters of your fading youth, your incompetence, your troubles, your lack of wisdom, your mistakes, and find the very muscle and sinew, the essence, of your being; you will find you have folded wings of white. With great optimism you will navigate toward sparkling horizons of colour.

Listen not to those who say angels are not real, that rainbows are not magical. Listen not to those who cannot appreciate the infinite wonder of reaching out, of nearly grasping the stars on a cloudless, moonless night. For, Enan, I have stood on a mountaintop, have seen a rainbow touch the ceiling of heaven, and upon its arch I walked, hand in your mother’s graceful hand, until she took flight, and left me standing there, filled with the deepest love.

Do not be too harsh on metaphor. The story of your life, the one you tell yourself, is but a metaphor.

Remove the mask of most men, and you will find a deep well of fantasy, of joy. What you feel and what you think when you experience a shooting star or gaze into the unbroken surface of a mirror lake, is what you will feel and experience when you peer into the hearts of others, including your own. Awe. Desire. Wonder. Curiosity. Happiness. The very best of humanity.

We are all children, Enan. Each and every one of us. The majority of our lives is a process of covering ourselves with layer upon layer of worldliness, and then spending time and tears trying to recover what we have hidden.

Happiness lost is always found within.

And do not let the apparent sterility of science diminish your awe, and do not feel disheartened when reason explains away the wonder of rainbows. Reason and science explain how the world is, but cannot give it meaning. That is your job.

Enan. Make your own why. Imbue your life with your own meaning. Feel free to climb to the moon. Jump around in amazement and bewilderment. You have nothing to lose. You have everything to gain.

Fatherhood – a poem

Silence reason and there, within

A fruit of consciousness and reflection,

Pushes like a force against the walls of the mind,

Like the beauty of a cloudless morn,

Something indescribable.


On another plane,

When you were young, paddling

A warcraft canoe with your dad – captain,

On Frog Lake in the failing light,

Toward your amphibious haven.


And oh the sound! Of fiberglass on sandy shore.

Of kindling crackling and flame warming.

And oh the smell! Of steak and onion and pine-needle carpets.

Of supping and talking and laughing and thinking.

And the sight…the sight,

Of two people on a log, and a dog

In the bush on a bed of moss.


Tired. Cold. Afraid.

Lying there you listen

To his breath, its rhythm.

As an anchor in the storm of your mind,

You sleep.


Sitting still in the afternoon sun,

This fruit of consciousness and reflection,

Pushes like a force into my mind,

And I relive the feeling in perfect detail, of a time

Indescribable.


I have this image as in a dream:

A wrinkled man with parchment skin, my father

Weeping he forms pools, floats away.

“Captain!” I cry…”Come back!”

As our eyes meet across the infinite sea of tears, joy

Like music composed with the deepest meaning, I awake

To the sound of distant voices singing – and little feet running –

“Papa”.