to the stars on the wings of a pig
My favorite type of writing is to sit an observe the people around me.
This is man, sitting at a coffee shop.
There's a weight to everything he does. Like he's walking up hill. Like there's something he's hiding. Something that if you could just understand where he's come from, it might all make sense.
He sits there. Staring blankly at his computer screen.
He's been here before. Just trying to get off the starting blocks. Just trying to build momentum.
How do people just have the momentum to continue on.
He's the personification of potential energy. A ball at the top of steps. Waiting.
Hoping that someone will come along and give him a nudge.
But no one does. He looks around. Trying to make eye contact with someone. Trying to find some sort of connection with someone. But no one matches his gaze.
He takes off his glasses. Rubs his eyes. Takes a deep breath.
Begins to type.
This is quickly followed by the repetitive motion of tapping the delete key.
How do people get started?
How do people move on?
How do people keep going?
He used to feel like it was all building to something.
Today, he is a lumbering soul.
He's given up on flight.
The stars? A memory from years ago that brings with it a twitch of pain inside of himself.
How do people start over again?
He closes his computer. Pulls out his phone.
Clicks on an app that is out of habit rather than intention.
And he scrolls.
Maybe it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe this was all a pipe dream.
But he could have sworn he created something special before.
There was something there. Wasn't there?
Did he waste it? Did he miss it?
What was it? Was it where he was? Was it who he was with?
Why can't he get back to that place?
These questions fly through his mind as he continues to scroll.
A lumbering soul.
A weight hidden within his chest.
A sadness that looks more like aloofness.
A ball waiting to be pushed.
It's Just a Paycheck
Below is an excerpt from my first ever blog- It's Just a Paycheck. It was a chronicle of my life while working at Panera Bread.
Day 287 of captivity.
I write to you as a servant in chains to capitalism. Each day I have to come back to this prison- put on my khaki pants, a neutral colored polo, my name tag, a beige hate, and don a smile.
The sheep wonder in because that is what they do- they flock to the easiest solution for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
"Hi! Welcome to Panera. How are you doing today?"
They walk right past me, so entangled in their own thoughts and world that they don't even have the common decency to acknowledge my existence. This place makes me question my existence.
"I'm doing well too in case you are wondering..." I murmur to myself.
Someone should have taught these people how to interact with other humans. But, I might be expecting a lot out of sheep.
A man walks up to my register.
"Hi, how are you doing today?"
"Alright, I'll have.."
I should probably let this man know that normally after asking a question of how someone is, it's common courtesy to wait for a response.
"...ahhh, hmm well actually I'm not sure what I'll have."
Well it's really good you figured that out at the register while a line is building up behind you. But ohhh no don't worry, they can wait. It's all about you.
"How's that Sierra Turkey sandwich?"
Oh so now you want me to speak?
"It's great, it's got chipotle mayo, field greens, onions, and turkey."
What I should probably tell him is that it tastes like a lunchable.
But I don't think Mother Bread would like that.
Mother Bread is always watching.
"Alright give me that."
"Good choice! And would you like bread, apple or chips with that?"
"That sounds good."
Oh I'm sorry sir, maybe you don't understand how this works. I gave you three options. You have to pick one. You can't just say yes.
"Sorry which one did you want?"
What on earth do you think bread apple is!? Have you even eaten one? Have you ever even heard of one?
"I'm sorry again, it is a slice of bread, a whole apple, or a bag of chips. I should have made that more clear."
"So I can't get apple chips?"
"ahh, fine. I'll have... Wait bread comes on the sandwich right?"
I do believe that is one of the defining features of a sandwich. It's what differentiates from a salad, a wrap, or soup.
"So why would I want bread with that? I mean..."
I don't need to know your reasoning behind what you choose sir, I just need an answer.
"...if bread comes on the sandwich I don't need it on the side too!"
"haha, yeah, that's true. Some people however do like bread."
"Well I don't. So give me chips."
"Alright, anything else for you sir?"
"Nope that's it."
"Alright that is going to be $6.52"
"Are you serious!? For a sandwich? You should really lower your prices. That's outrageous!"
You do realize that other people, much higher up than me, decide that, and that as an associate trainer, I carry little to no power in not only this story but the company as a whole.
But maybe I'm expecting too much again.
I guess I just have high expectations.
Alabama: You really love the confederate flag… and racism… and alcohol… and jean cut off vests… You’ve really got a lot to work on before you should be allowed to interact with other states.
Maine: You’re that girl Kevin Arnold from the Wonder Years meets on the beach on his family vacation. They fall in love and kiss. Then she only writes one letter. Jerk.
Utah: You’re the only state with the idea to make your basketball team about music. Not going to lie, that was an interesting choice.
California: You know who you are California? You’re Rex Grossman. Tons of potential. A lot of hype and excitement. A couple of great beautiful thrilling moments. And then lots and lots of disappointment. (Yes, I’m referring to you Fresno)
Florida: You’re America's skin tag… one of those things I’m afraid I’ll get when I’m old and nasty… normally they’re under your armpit or something… I’m afraid I’m going to end up like you.
Illinois: “Ohh! Illinoise. Yeah I’ve heard of that… Chicago’s the capital right?”
Kentucky: I'm not sure why I hate you so much.... it's probably your people, the fact that you lack anything interesting, and your looks, demeanor, and every aspect of who you are. Yeah. That's actually why.
Massachusetts: Are you actually a state? I know Boston is real, but I've never heard anyone say they're from Massachusetts.
Missouri: The only thing you have going for you is that you're not Alabama.
New Hampshire: I feel like you must breed presidents. New Hampshire, it just sounds presidential, right? Nope. Just Pierce. And he was sub-par at best. Great job on that Kansas-Nebraska Act.
North Carolina: If I had to pick a state to tar and feather. It'd be you. Also, what the cuss is a Tar Heel? It's stupid, that's what it is, and it shouldn't be your college mascot.
Oregon: We like you. We’ve kind of got a crush on your woman, and we’re jealous of your men's beards.
South Dakota: If you succeeded from the union no one would care.
Vermont: We hear Vermont is beautiful this time of year. What with all the snow and all. Our mothers love White Christmas. We love you. But let's be honest, I can't name one person who has ever been to Vermont.
Wisconsin: If so many of my friends didn’t have lake houses up in Wisconsin, I’d beat you up and shove you in a locker so you’d miss third period French.
Alaska: If we cut you in half that means Texas would be the third largest state, and that would mean you’d be the first and second biggest disappointment for the whole "oil frontier". Why is gas so expensive when you apparently have so much?
Colorado: You’re alright in my book. I’m planning on visiting you this summer and throwing up a hammock in between some trees and slack lining or something.
Georgia: A peach on your license plate.... Really?
Indiana: I literally don’t have the time to explain why I hate you so much. But I do. I really really do.
Louisiana: You’re an ugly shaped state.
Michigan: Remember when that kid transferred from a new school in 7th grade. He told us all he was amazing at basketball. Then he sucked… well he didn’t suck… but he certainly wasn’t as good as he said he was. That's you Michigan.
Montana: You’re like Korea. And I mean the whole of the Korean peninsula. Half of you is really awesome… the other half is a group of isolated, insane, communists.
New Jersey: You don’t have the best reputation. We know it can’t all be true. But we totally believe it.
North Dakota: We aren’t sure which one of you has Mount Rushmore, but honestly, we don’t really care. It’s stupid. You can leave with your little brother.
Pennsylvania: If I ever need a wooden electric fire place I’ll totally call you up. The odds of that though are like me asking Utah for advice about what to name my sports team.
Tennessee: I feel like you’re that state that had a crush on my state growing up and you were super clingy and weird... and now we're both older and it's just like... let's not hang out.
Virginia: You’ve really done a lot with yourself in the last two hundred years… wait nope- you’re exactly the same… but come one, who doesn't love a static character in a novel. Especially when that character is a racist who grows tobacco and belittles women.
Wyoming: You’re that really attractive girl. From far away. Then you meet her and all she eats is oats and leafs, also, she doesn’t shave her legs and, she hates candy.
Arizona: It’d probably be a cool state, if people didn’t go there just to die.
Connecticut: You’re too intelligent for me. Senior year of high school you decided to take AP Physics for fun.
Hawaii: You’re like my friends little cousin. You’re super cute and small and fun to be around for a little bit but then you're just always there and it's like, come on, I didn't come over to hang out to babysit for 4 hours and not get paid for it. So I kind of just want to roll you up in a rug and leave you by the swing-set.
Iowa: Let’s just say I’m glad the Mississippi is between us.
Ohio: Drew Carey once had a TV show based in Cleveland, Ohio. I hated that show. It was always on when I got home from school. Ohio, you’ve contributed nothing good to my life or humanity in general.
Rhode Island: If Hawaii doesn't slide "Island" into their state name, I feel like it's a pretty bold move for you to do it. Feels like one of those marketing scams to get people to visit you. Not cool man. Not cool.
Texas: Arkansas had nice things to say about you. But most of the other states weren’t really as taken with you. We get it, you’re big but Alaska is bigger. Speaking of Alaska, you’re another state whose kind of let us down on the whole oil frontier.
Washington: You’re that guy in class who makes really funny jokes but only to the people sitting around you. Then someone steals your jokes and passes them off as their own. Don’t worry. We know you’re funny.
Arkansas: You’re the person who steals Washington’s jokes. You piece of crap.
Delaware: If I was forced to compare you to a superhero’s girlfriend I’d say you are most like Gwen Stacey. Smart. Attractive. Easy to talk to. Pretty much out of my league and your dad hates me and is wildly intimidating.
Idaho: I appreciate the potatoes. I really do. But even Ireland got tired of potatoes.
Kansas: You are to Illinois what Anne is to George Michael. We love you... but everyone else is like... her? What is she funny?
Maryland: Interesting choice for a college mascot. A turtle. I bet that really inspires the troops.
Mississippi: If I had to choose between keeping you a part of this country or a pan of hot brownies with ice cream... I'm fairly confident what I would pick.
Nevada: What are you doing with yourself? You’re like my neighbor down the street who started building a shed and then stopped after a week. You can’t just make two cities in your state then quit.
New York: New York, New York. You stole the name from England, and the you just doubled it up. Arguably the least creative naming process in all of history.
Minnesota: You got lost in the woods a long time ago and never really came out. We’re glad you people stay up there.
Nebraska: You have a college there. You’re called the Corn Huskers. I think you probably have pretty low self-esteem... and probably your self-esteem is right where it should be.
New Mexico: You need to get yourself some hobbies. Or friends. But maybe start with hobbies. Work on your resume a bit and then maybe Nevada will want to hang out.
Oklahoma: I’m not going to lie. We are all afraid of you. Me and the other 48 states talked. We’re afraid of you.
South Carolina: I’m not sure if in James Taylor’s mind he had gone to North or South Carolina, but if it was you. We’re ok with you.
West Virginia: You're like 98% of the periodic table. I don't know you, I don't know what you do, and I don't care.
This is a piece that was previously published in Humanity Magazine, check out the Be the Hum here, designed and published by the amazingly talented Kailey Sullivan.
I've never heard my grandmother sing
If I'm honest I'm not sure if she plays any instruments
And I don't know if she paints, writes poetry, or dreams in color.
But what I do know,
Is that stitched throughout the fabric of the bread she bakes-
There is a song.
When I was a child I used to sit and listen to her sing this song;
Faithfully kneading out the imperfections in the dough.
This song of hers seem to have far more rest notes than before.
There will come a day,
When the quiet humming of her hands at work will cease,
When the dough rising on the counter isn't there.
There will come a day when this song of hers must end.
But when that day comes, I will simply remember:
Sitting in her kitchen,
Smelling sourdough baking,
Waiting for her symphony to finish,
And her teaching me how to spell "diagnosis"
I will remember my grandmother's song.
With all of its silent love and patience,
I will remember my andmother's song.
The Flamingo Lounge
The Flamingo Lounge sits a half block east of Lane street. Respectable is not a word often used to describe this neighborhood. Even in the most generous of prayers, potential is the closest it ever comes to a compliment. The windows are blacked out, making it seem always appropriate to be drinking. It’s not until you open the door and let the burning light of day rip through the darkness that you realise it’s only noon.
He wears the face of a man who gave up fighting years ago. Some men stand taller than others, and although he is easily over six foot, I wouldn’t put him past 5’10’’. Some men never learned to rid themselves of the slouches their mothers all so badly hated. He was one who thought he fit better into other men’s shadows. Men who stood tall, men who fought for things. He never stood a chance, he tells himself. He blames where he’s at due to fate. He was just never dealt a good hand, he just never came up aces. He never stood a chance, he says.
He looks at his watch. The kids who he never gets to see anymore are probably at recess. He wonders how they are doing. He wonders if they ever miss him.
There is a weight to defeat that he carries on his shoulders. There is a smell of loneliness, two parts fear and one part gin. And there is a look of despair that is eternally caught in his eyes.
What stands out at The Flamingo Lounge is the silence. You don’t notice it right away. It sort of sits there, an unnoticed guest. Then all of the sudden at once you realise, this bar is quiet. Not a library quiet or a peaceful quiet. This is a quiet like your mother is doing the dishes for the first time alone since your dad died. There is the sound of glasses clinking, hard breath, and emptiness.
Then out of that emptiness comes the sound of a phone ringing. Equal parts of confusion and curiosity creep onto his face. He looks at his phone. Clears his throat.
Recollections of a Dream
"There's a train, hidden somewhere within my body. It is full of people, of stories, sorrow, joy, creation, and destruction. This train has no regular schedule, it comes and goes as it pleases. But I've begun to recognise the sounds and the signs of it coming near. And in those moments, if I don't write, I will never get to meet those stories. I won't know their names or where they've come from. If I don't write, it's as though they never existed."
I don't know what sparks it. But there's this feeling I get, it's when I know a story or a poem is coming. Sometimes I catch it in its entirety, but often I just get fragments of it, recollections of a dream, just enough to piece it together.
But quite often, the pieces don't fit. And I'm stuck with the leftovers.
That is what these are. The leftovers.
Inside of me lives a large black woman
She longs for freedom from the slavery of the South,
That wet heat, and her oppressive owners
In the rooms of my body there is
A constant struggle and a great choir
Singing to walls a song of hope
Waiting for them to crash
Within the rubble,
Next to my ribs is a clock maker,
Each night he wines these clocks inside of my chest
Twists the key in their backs
And rests his eyes for the evening
And just like a wasp
Isn’t all made of stinger
I’m not all hatchet
I have found that some
Rules, are meant to be broken
My Grandfather was raised on a farm
His hands were hardened by the breaking of soil
His words by the passing of years
There are deep callously that live inside his fists
They have been there since I was a child
And just as old is the dirt under his nails
Though he was a generous man,
His hands were never open.
It seemed every part of him was
Waiting for a fight
Waiting for a long winter
For the rains to be spars
For the land to be hard
For the harvest to be lacking
My grandmother played the violin
She knew only one song,
But each day there were new verses.
They grew from the same dirt her husband toiled in
Beauty and frustration
What strange bedfellows they were
The Song my Grandmother carried with her,
It was in the stitching of her clothes
It was the way the floor creaked in harmony beneath her
The moonlight that kissed her face that evening,
It was so beautiful.
The oceans the sky had been hiding were suddenly revealed
And I could hear the gentle crashing of waves
The reprise of undeterred love
The faithfulness of the shore,
I could hear how the moon stretched the waters
Making room for the tides
All this was held simply in the quietness of her song.
In the fruit that she left cut on the table
I could hear this all by the way she said I love you.
Too Great a Burden...
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
These are truths upon which this nation was founded. That all men are created equal. That they are all endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; and that these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
It breaks my heart how we have reacted to the shooting in Paris. To the bombing in Lebanon. And to other acts of terror around the globe. In the face of such evil, evil that has left families: men, woman, and children, trapped, we have reacted from fear. We have called upon our leaders to close our boarders. It breaks my heart that I live in a state that has said they will no longer accept refugees.
I want to preface this post with a few things.
First, I'm not trying to undermine the complexities of this crisis or immigration policy. I, by no means, have the answers to all of this. This is simply my response to the overwhelming movement to completely shut our borders to refugees.
Second, I'm not one to normally add my voice to current event discussions. It seems there is an excess of noise with the explosion of social media over the last decade. And I've never wanted to simply add to the already cluttered sound-scape. But I simply could not sit by and watch as so many let fear rule our choices.
"I am not surprised by the amount of evil in the world, I'm simply surprised that there isn't more. Apart of Christ I can do no more than hate, than fear, than curse."
In the last week we have seen unequivocal evil. We have seen the reality of hate. We have seen the reality of darkness. And in the name of self preservation, we have turned our heads from this evil. We've changed our profile pictures to stand with those who were attacked, but we have forgotten about the families who must live under the rule of ISIS. I believe we should stand in solidarity and in mourning with the people of Paris. There is no doubt in my mind that it breaks Jesus' heart. It breaks mine as well. But we shouldn't stop there. We cannot forsake those whom are caught in the midst of the heart of it all. We have forsaken the call Jesus.
"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow."
We must choose love. In the midsts of such hatred and discrimination, we MUST choose love. We simply do not have the right, having understood and having seen what Christ did for us, we do not have the right to stand by and do nothing.
"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
This past year I had the great privilege of getting to do life in the Middle East. I got to spend day and night living with Jordanian neighbours, Syrian roommates, Egyptian housemates, and Palestinian friends. These men, woman, and children truly became dear friends of mine. They welcomed me into their homes, they gave me their food and drink, no matter how little of it they had to offer, they let me into their struggles, and they called me their friend.
I got to sit and have conversations with Syrian refugees, I got to hear their stories, I heard how they were fleeing for their lives, simply trying to survive. Simply trying to find a safe place to raise their families.
Dear brothers and sisters. Please in the face of evil in the world, in the face of such great fear, please choose love. We cannot choose any other option and still call Jesus the Lord of our actions. Yes, that might sound harsh. It might over-zealous, but we are to be known by our Love. We cannot simply accept the grace and love that Jesus has pour out upon us, even when we were "enemies of the cross", and keep it for ourselves. We must respond the same. To Love.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Radical Islam does seek to kill, steal, and destroy. It is evil. But for us to forsake those whom are caught in the wake of this evil, which we can name and give a face to, for us to sit by and do nothing, for us to forfeit them to their fate. We cannot say it is what Jesus would ask us to do. We must choose Love.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing."
We need to be a people who welcomes the widow and the orphan and those in danger. We need to be a people that seeks justice. And loves mercy. And we need to be a people that pray fervently.
Abu Bakr' is not too far gone. The Lord's heart is still that each member of ISIS would some day know Him and worship Him, His heart is that they would turn and repent. So please join me and pray for ISIS. Pray for peace. And pray that Jesus would be known.
We must be a people known by our love.
I'll end with this prayer from St. Francis of Assisi:
"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done."
Hold Me Poseidon
There’s this painting. It’s by a guy you’ve never heard of before, R. Contellious. You can look him up, he’s really never done anything. Except this one painting, it’s of a boat. One of those old beautiful sail boats from back in the 1800s. This boat, it’s in this storm. The sky is that heavy grey that it gets right before everything comes undone. It’s like the weight of God’s disappointment is all going to come up and out in this one storm.
I named a star after you,
But I didn’t tell NASA
So now it’s actually called PLQ-794
I tried driving into the sunset,
But I never could quite catch it.
It’s like trying to look directly into a floater
It’s always just out of reach,
Always slipping off to the sides
You were in my dream last night.
Slipping off to the sides.
It didn’t look like you, but it was you.
We were in a field,
There were mice as large as mountains,
I was tied to the oak tree we used to sit under
And you were dancing in a summer rain.
I tried to join you,
Tried to save you from the lightning
But these ropes held my hands
Like if they were to fail,
Atlas’s hold on the earth would slip.
Like you used to.
Like if you let go, it’d all be over
Like if I woke up from this dream
I knew I wouldn’t remember it.
Like it was about so much more than these ropes
Or this dream,
Or even staying still.
Like it all depended upon
The white chickens that hid from the rain.
There you were. As soft as air.
Fresher than cotton.
The sun arose out of your eyes.
A cool wind came off your back
I sat frozen in time and in space
You were warm and beautiful
I am a stone.
I am flat and smooth.
I fit in your hand.
You pick me up
To skip me on a sea of glass
You hold me for a moment
Contemplating things I do not yet understand
I do not understand you.
But I am ok with that,
I am a rock I do not understand much of this world
You release me,
And I fly through the air,
Skim gracefully across that sea of glass
The water is warmer than I expected.
Fortunately I don’t need oxygen
But I hold my breath anyway
Sinking into that dark nothingness
That holds me, like those pictures
Hold who we used to be.
I awake from my dream.
I go to the kitchen.
Pour myself a glass of water,
And just like that...
I wrote this poem a couple of years ago when I was studying English Lit in college.
I had to write a 15 page paper on a poem and what the author was "actually" trying to say.
Truthfully, it bugged the heck out of me. Because what if the author was actually just saying what he was saying. What if a red wheel barrow really was just a red wheel barrow and a bunch of stuff depended upon that.
Now I'm not saying that poems don't have deeper meaning, they can, they do, and actually the example above, I fully believe does, but we were getting so caught up in the process of analysing, that something about the simple beauty of the words were lost and the feeling it conjured up in the reader was gone.
I think that's what initially makes people fall in love with poetry. How without fully understanding, you can see, for a brief moment into another person's struggle, into their heart, you can feel with them, and so often it feels like someone is joining you in your struggle and what you're feeling.
And all of that comes before ever figuring out what the "yellow smoke" means or why "the woman come and go talking of Michelangelo." I think there's a beauty in the depth of what poetry has to offer, but I think so often we miss it, we miss what it's really about.
So I wrote this poem, Reality, for class, and I sat back as the class torn apart each line and figured out what I was "actually" saying. And in the end I stood up and shared what it really meant.
Absolutely nothing. The imagery, the words, the idea, the plot, it all meant and means nothing. I wrote this poem to show how we can so often make things so much more complex than they are. We're humans, we're complex, we read into things, we're constantly trying to figure things out. But that's just it. Sometimes we need to stop trying to figure it all out and just be held in the tension of not knowing. Be held between that feeling of uneasiness that accompanies not knowing. We're so afraid of not knowing. We're so afraid of making mistakes that it drives us to inaction.
How many opportunities have I let slip past me because I couldn't see 10 steps ahead. Because I didn't have it all planned out.
Let this be the year of mistakes made with such audacity and boldness that others look upon you and think.
"Wow, he screws up good."
I want to step out with boldness, and if I fail and if I miss it, then at least I tried.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade wins in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover."
- H. jackson Brown's Mother (not Mark Twain)
Stones and Stories
I used to hurl rocks deep into the lake that I called an ocean.
Burying my past in these stones that would sink.
Writing my future in the ripples of broken glass.
I was once told I had no story.
Nothing to raise my voice about,
At least not yet.
"Someday you might be horses on a branch
Or a house in the woods,
Someday maybe you'll have a box to fill
But not yet, not yet" he said.
I would write stories on keys and lock them away;
I'd have conversations with the ghosts of myself.
Drawing pictures in each heart beat.
Hiding away the truths I'd found
Longing for the day I'd be told,
I had something worth raising my voice about
City-scapes were hidden in my bones,
I had the maps of countries unseen drawn out
And the lives I'd wanted mine to look like,
Hidden in poems and spoken by others in stories.
My knees click when I sit,
My ankles not so strong from the beating they've endured.
Some men stand taller than others,
I was one who thought he fit better into the shadows of other men.
Never ridding myself of the slouch my mother so badly hated.
Cut fingers and bruised eyes.
I was a mess of a man becoming less.
Someone who thought not a story to tell.
But I was living with them up under my skin.
Circus acts unfolding
Great strong men lifting
Scripts held three quarts on napkins
And one forth in my head.
I know what it is to feel less.
To stand in front of a broken mirror
And look for your identity.
Knowing somewhere between the cracks and the cuts
There's something there worth sharing.
Hoping that someone else would be able to see it too.
I can see in the way you bury fingers in your palms
That you have something to share.
Unfold your story for me.
Take me into the forest with you
Read to me the words you've penned
Show me the walk between Monroe
And the lakefront you think through.
Give me the keys to your forgotten-about park.
I want a chance to see the world through your eyes.
I want to know your story.
We'll build a wall made entirely from the rocks
That fit perfectly in the palm of your hands
And we'll stand together as it all falls apart.
And in turn I'll take you to the cliffs I've stood upon.
There you can shout into the void ahead of us.
You can look into the deep before you.
Knowing you have something to add.
I want to let you know you have something to add.
This emptiness that sits between us.
It would be lacking if you were not here.
You have something to give.
You have something we need.
Please. Settle my ears with the rest of your song.
Lend me the peace hidden in your story.
I've traveled long enough,
Hearing only the sound of my treading heart,
Or my struggling feet.
Give me a story to fall asleep to.
Hide me in the safety of a home.
Break this bread with me.
Drink this wine.
Walk with me,
Through this process,
Walk with me,
Through this garden with weeds,
Through this city with cracks,
Walk with me.
I need to know that I'm not alone.
This is a poem I wrote awhile back. Far enough back to have some perspective on it, but not quite long enough ago where I can't still relate. I wrote it at a point in life where I was struggling to belong. I didn't know where I fit. I didn't know what I was suppose to do. And because of that I felt like I didn't matter. I just wanted to know that I mattered. I wanted someone to validate the journey I had been on and the road I was taking, wherever that might be. I just wanted to be something. Something clear and stated and purposeful. I wanted to be special.
I think it's something we all struggle with and desire at times.
To be special.
To be someone's something.
But so often we get caught up in this tension between the story people think we should be living with the story we're actually living. We end up either feeling like a failure or disappointment or on the other hand we feel like we're lying to everyone, or to ourselves at least.
I've rarely found a situation where living out others expectations for our lives is healthy. It does us no good playing the part others have created us to be.
I have a problem with being vulnerable.
I can often mask it by being open with struggles I've had, or how I felt, or what happened in my life. But really that's just me sharing about things I've overcome. That's me painting a picture of being finished, of me having arrived at that point we all wish was a reality. It's me being open, maybe, but it's not me being vulnerable.
See being vulnerable is hard, because it let's people in on the process, and at least for me, the process is what I've so often run from.
See in the process you see that there's no ending. And if we're always in process then there's no resolve. And that can make you feel kind of helpless. It opens our eyes to the need for others. And it could be just that I'm a prideful human being with an X and Y chromosome, but it's hard needing other people. I find it very easy being needed. I actually kind of thrive on it. It fills that spot of mattering. If people need me then I must have value, I must mean something. But needing others... that's completely different... but it's something I can't escape. I need people. Because I don't have the answers. Believe me, I wish I had all the answers, but as much as I try to deny it. I'm in process.
But I don't know if answers to problems is really what I need. I don't actually think that it's what any of us really need most of the time. I think what we're longing for is to know, that despite all of it, every mistake we've made and struggle we've gone through, to know that we're not alone.
So if it's self-hatred, depression, loneliness, anger, sin, doubt, expectations... whatever it is. I promise you, you're not alone on this journey. I'm right there with you.
So in case you haven't quite gotten it. This is me. In the midsts of a struggle, just trying to be a bit more open and a lot more vulnerable. Come and join me. I think we'd do better off if we laid down our masks of who we thought we should be and simply were ourselves.