Posted on | October 2, 2015 | No Comments
Darwin was a monkey,
Adam was a murderer of innocence
A meme of internet interest,
the evolution of what’s holy and scientific
And how they intersect
And all the truth we can fit in an instant
In life and death, God and insect
Every atom began with a big bang, and the news cycle is infinite
Hitch your chariot to that horror and ride it
Lord knows everyone else has tried it
Even I did
Start your article with while others in the media have cited these two things and I deny them
You have to tell the truth, as if everyone else believe they were lying
when they climbed into the belly of the Beast, Leviathan
Went and did it it’s misogynistic, only white men did it, these crimes are chauvinistic,
let me design it, I’m totally committed
We will close our mental health centers and fill our prisons
10,000 murders that regular guy with guns committed,
assault rifles need to be expressly forbidden,
guns can guarantee our freedom and protect our children,
the perfect gift for Christmas for a civilian, who remembers thanksgiving from the point of view of the pilgrim, more guns in our schools, principal as the hired hitman,
We just need to pray for a good religion
God apparently had a hissy fit, he had these audiobooks and no one would listen to them
The victims names and pictures as they listed them
The media for telling us that it even existed and interviewing kids after five minutes of the violence that they just witnessed
Freedom has a hitlist
Those that suffer most turned into murderers and villains,
TV tells what’s evil isn’t the killing, Chuck Norris can kill the villains
Even if the body count is in the millions
The moral is that only the government are allowed to murder children
Using this a way of starting a conversation about mental illness is like using Scarface to for education about drug addiction
Any excuse we can use to say that if we only we could fix them
As if evil actions were the result of a mental condition rather than mental conditioning
Whatever label we can affix to them
As long as it is us against them
Won’t help 17 year old unless he has slashed wrist with him
For an Emergency room to admit him
He needs to have a good plan for them to listen
Photoshop him, and take pictures of everyone who would miss him
And we can say how could we have missed this
Society is sick so we want to believe it’s personal illness rather than what we believe willed this
We know how it killed them
Because we were the ones that built them
And baby I still remember how we spent the billions
We got from selling violence to children
Back in the day
We really made a killing
Posted on | September 15, 2015 | No Comments
How dope can you get
Ask the junkie as he lights the jets that let him lucid dream
Lucy in the sky with diamonds on the soles of her feet
Dancing to the beat of I am leaving on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again, baby I hate to go
But papa’s a soul man
He doesn’t make music he’s just a fan,
been so since the first rythm ruined his life
He has an excellent record collection and a life he sometimes recollects at night
In his arm he feels the blues bite
The needle buries its steel teeth in wax and asks him again with respect
How dope can you get
Baby it’s true
Miles Davis used his bitches brew, playing broken fingers of God and the smile of you know who,
while on the heroin nod, little light he let shine,
Chet Baker had his own funny little Valentine
Kurt played unplugged, Nirvana unstuck in time, plugged into the machines that separates his skin at the seams
With a chokehold on inspiration, crack and weed make Rakim’s eyes bleed and there comes Cream, Wu Tang 36 chambers of Shaolin,
Old Dirty Bastard howling
Oh baby I like my raw
Along the Watchtowers in multicolored clothes, the world saw Ladies Screamed Death and Hendrix composed
How many highs came out of their lows
Negatives turned positive when the proofs were exposed
Number one hits dilated eyes to slits and blissed out eyes gave way to sold out shows
Dope music let’s you let go, behind the curtain in a frenzy of echoes
What the fuck do you expect
Turning life to poetry when you cannot stand the prose
How dope can you get
Carried by worshippers wearing his crown of shit,
Johnny Cash almost drowned and came out of it
Elvis died a King in Graceland, face a sagging recollection that he used to be handsome
The junkie looks to get outside of his head and ends up barricading himself inside the clutching veins
addicts always live in attics without windowpanes
His burnt fingers can’t play the guitar and his smoked skin, looks like a man who wants to get out, so bad he can’t be let in, a King in a world of flesh lives as a skeleton all of his memories are of trying to forget
45’s in all barrels, hoping to be on their way to 33,unfortunately all devils die early and don’t go to heaven
He’s 45 and he’s never been 27
How dope can you get
The Jester is worshipped,
all jokers stuck in the middle with you in a world that’s all ears In a sea of dead Davincis
So much talent, Jim Morrison becomes GG Allin
Mirages make oases out of salt water,living for future generations, but not living long enough to see his daughter
Papa was a rolling stone but not a father
How dope can you get
In a world without time, he can’t hear the music
The records are skipping, and his heart can’t keep up with his mind
The motors old and the vinyl has watermarks
Slowing down the constant of movement, in a world of sharks
How dope can you get
The response is a needle scratching that no longer makes any music
You can only let life get so far away before you lose it
The junkie dies in a room of records,remorse and regrets
The stacks were against him, and jokers always get taken out of the decks
How dope can you get
The answer was a hundred percent.
Posted on | December 30, 2014 | No Comments
The reality in life is that people are almost always too close or too far away.
Proximity invites conflict. Distance invites loneliness.
Distance is yearning, hope and no arms around you when you sleep. With distance you can be selfish, you can own yourself so completely there is no other reality than the one that exists in your head. It can be perfect and you can revel in the pain of the perfectionist, of the idealist, holding onto what comes next, of what could be. It also means that you secure yourself against the world. The other is being witnessed in highs and lows, in strength and weakness, in feeling each moment so strongly you lose common sense, your misery so sharp you forget to notice where it falls into joy, where you are mood, where you are passing through agony and bliss so rapidly you forget the movement exists at all.You also will make mistakes. Many of them, many many of them. Some because you can’t escape your head. Others because you can’t read minds.
The point of these endeavors is to get close to people because ultimately the best moments and worst moments in your life involved other people. It becomes clear that you can’t do this without invading someone else’s space. You can’t do it flawlessly because they have built up their own routines for how life can be safe, how distance can feel as secure as a warm blanket. You’ll get in their way. They will get in yours. You will attempt to please them. With time this runs out and you become simply awkwardly yourself. Because there really is no other choice after awhile. And sometimes you won’t be fun. Sometimes you won’t be interesting. All you need to do is not pull away so far that you can’t come back.
Sometimes you won’t want to be held. Sometimes you’ll need it like a child does, because you can’t get close to someone else without first getting close to yourself. And being that close can hurt. You feel those wounds you’ve avoided by living shallow. By letting your life be dictated by trivial things, by defining your moments purely by following your interests and obsessions, imagining your humanity was simply a TV screen to be filled with the latest programs and your voice simply a laugh track and Facebook status to be shared with the world.
It feels like going insane. Everything seems to have meaning attached to it. Every second has weight. When you are in their orbit. And the meaning falls away and is replaced with some other mood. Some other gust of wind. And it’s capricious and unreasonable as the weather where the lightning that strikes you may have nothing to do with you. There is that amazing sensation where you hear the rain falling in cascades and you know they can’t go inside yet and you grab your kite instead of an umbrella. Because you know tonight they get struck by lightning and you aren’t willing to let them do it alone.
When people are far away they can be perfect and so can you. This is why unrequited love hurt you so badly as a child. This is why we mythologize reunions and hide relationships in entertainment. We want the closeness that comes with catharsis. We don’t want the process of breaking that leads to catharsis. It’s easier to be a friend than to be a lover. It’s easier to watch the Olympics than compete in it. When I’m single I give advice to my friends in relationships and think they’re insane. So wrapped up in small issues. So stuck in their own head. Going into crisis and emerging from it with no memory. As though each salvation was special. As though each step forward a high dive miracle.
It’s easy to see it as insanity when you aren’t inside it.
Sometimes I think people who don’t go crazy have run too far away from life. Sometimes I think that completely rational people are unable to poop.
The experiment makes no sense to the scientist. But here was what I realize when I’m inside it. When I am close enough to people that I put my self into jeopardy. Those moments when I am just close enough to people, when they sneak further inside me than I thought they could have come as a result of constant company. Years disappear with the world on my periphery. I don’t remember. It’s when things that messy I remember. Because time slows down when you are close. You can feel the pressure of being seen, of noticing your own racing heartbeat, your own speeding thoughts, you can’t be numb like this, no matter how much you drink, how much you smoke, how much you pretend, it hurts to be this close because every cell in your body is alive.
You have to risk people getting too close to have them get close enough.
Or to put it yet another way, how close you are to life dictates how quickly it passes, how fully you remember it, how much meaning people have for you. With distance time barely exists, your memories are flimsy when not granted weight by pain and hope. By allowing someone close you can experience the very nature of time change. Space dictates time.
Posted on | December 20, 2014 | No Comments
So there’s this joke I have been trying to word. It’s good. I mean I laugh. Sort of.
So this guy is experiencing low grade anxiety.
Nothing big. Just feels a bit like a teakettle collecting stem or a man about to scream into the face of a stranger on a bus.
He just wakes up and he wishes he could go back to sleep. Maybe his thoughts race a little. Maybe no matter what he does he keeps coming back to feeling a bit like a failure. He doesn’t like to think about this. He prefers to think about Doctor Who and how so many British actors could play the same man.
He figures there has to be something his doctor can deal with. Maybe his medication isn’t working. Maybe his thyroid is working a little too well or not well enough. Maybe he needs a lexus.
So he goes to his doctor, little dude, like two feet tall. But he seems big. The Doctor seems big I mean, not the guy, the guy is not really noteable height wise. But the Doctor, he stands on a stool and he yells at alot.Wears hats. And he has this deep voice. Like a cave is in his throat and everything he says echoes. And he is better at basketball than you’d expect. Anyways…..
Doctor checks him out. Looks in his throat. Looks in his ears. I don’t know why he does this. I don’t think you can see anxiety. Though I imagine it might be in your ears. Does a blood test. Nothing comes up. And they are flummoxed. I mean they look up that word in the dictionary and that is the only thing that describes their level of confusion.This just doesn’t make sense.
Then the Doctor casually decides to prescribe him a pill because he figures fuck it, this will make this unctuous tall bastard quiet down. The man blushes. Feels his heartbeat start to rise. He can’t afford medication. He is doing a calculation his head and it’s how much further down he can comfortably take his bank account into over draft.
The Doctor chuckles. “You don’t have depression. You’re unhealthy but not more than most tall bastards. You’re money sick.”
“You need more money. Than you’d be happy.”
Money sick is a condition where you worry about money all the time. You feel embarrassed and shameful when asked about your life because you lack the proper amount of money to feel confident. You also take a lot about what you watched on netflix. Because socializing is the one expense you can cut out. And you don’t feel quite so alone when you’re watching enough TV. That’s how the doctor describes it. He asks the guy, “Are you watching enough TV”
Because if you watch enough TV you will be well armed for your social conversations. The ones that happen incidentally at work or at a coffee shop. Because other people are also money sick and have been watching their Netflix, the church that protects the world from the realization of their Great Depression. It’s that sense of collective doom you feel and the irritation yelled in your face in Facebook. It’s the smoke from the fire of helplessness. It’s money sick.
So the Doctor realizes he could just give the guy some money. A little bit.Then he realizes how high his taxes are. How expensive his first home is. And he decides to talk about that for a while. And then write a refill for the guy’s anti-depressants.
Because a doctor can’t cure everything.
Posted on | December 16, 2014 | No Comments
I don’t understand why people don’t want to give speeches at funerals. For me that would be a big moment. I would write the hell out of it. People would cry. People would cheer. I would momentarily be your grandmother’s hero.
I’m not saying I’m ghoulishly excited about the death of those close to me. I’m more concerned about what happens before death. The idea of no one inviting me to give a speech.
I’m not waiting to give a speech at your funeral. I’m just thinking about that disconnect where people are worried about public speaking rather than the loss of a connection with someone who is close enough to you that they would want you to speak at their funeral. There has to be a very few people who would want me to speak at their funeral. And I don’t think this is where my writing career is headed. I don’t want to be a freelance funeral speaker. I would obviously be very good at it.
What I want to focus on is how much we fear awkward conversations. Even though we know the people we love could die. How many times have we jettisoned meaningful relationships because we didn’t want to get in a fight with them about we feel they’ve mistreated us? Two hours of feeling uncomfortable or stop being friends with someone who loves us and for some reason annoys the fuck out of us at this particular moment?
My tendency is to let things drift.
If you are anything like me you fear arguments for a simple reason. You suspect this might just be the moment when someone reaches behind the curtain and grabs the little man working the wires, that terrified little midget that lurks at the heart of all humans, that inner child panicked and crying at adult life who is sure people understand how little he is able to live it. And then drag the little man around to meet everyone else you know. And suddenly you aren’t allowed to do your job. Or associate with your friends. Because you’re a fake. Because you don’t deserve it. And they might know you well enough to know it and explain it.
Or maybe not. Maybe you can somehow rationalize how bottling up your feelings will be beneficial to everyone. That the people around you have big enough problems that they don’t need to deal with yours. So instead of opening up, getting into an argument or serious discussion you quietly drift out of their lives forever. Because you’d rather let a relationship die than face your own culpability in the situation you find yourself in.
It’s interesting to me how we lose important connections because we don’t want to feel momentarily awkward. Because we fear not bad situations but confirming the truth of them. Think of all the people who stay married when the love is dead, who stay in friendships where they no longer have anything in common. Because we fear the truth. We think it might be truth etched out of the same poisonous material that makes up our minds.
We would rather be in a situation that is rotting and dying than have to suffer a surgery to excise the cancer. To learn that we don’t love perfect people. That they don’t love us because we are perfect. To learn that the more you love a person the more conflict you will experience.
This is inspired by nothing in particular in my own life. But a podcast considered to be the greatest podcast of all time. Where Mark Maron and Louie CK deal with the ups and downs of their close friendship. Where Mark Maron’s insecurities pushed him away from people who could note them.
I’m at a time of change. Where I’m striving with everything I have to reach my goals and as yet have little to show for the struggle. Where I don’t really want to talk about my life with people. Because I can see are at different places and I’m at a different place than I want to be. I wonder if this shame about my own life means that I’m not there for the people who need me. Because I don’t call because I don’t want to spend money that socializing entails. Because I am so concerned with getting where I want to be that I don’t check in to see where you are.
Well I love you. And I want to be there.
Even when my life isn’t great to talk about. I want to hear where you are at.
Posted on | September 16, 2014 | No Comments
What if those things you hate about yourself were beautiful?
What if it was perfectly reasonable to want to be safe
What all that pain and worry gave you compassion
What if that war you fight with yourself makes you part of the human race
What if your mistakes saved your friends from following in your footsteps
What if your utter exhaustation lead you to your dreams
What if you had a good heart and you performed a couple shitty surgeries to make sure it wouldn’t hurt like it did and you have to undo the damage by walking through agony and love was your reward
What if the pain you’ve lived with was a measure of the wisdom you’ve experienced
What if you had done things differently, if you’d been smarter, what if you didn’t have the friends you do, if I didn’t get a chance to get to know you, if you’d been more successful and we hadn’t had too many drinks and said inappropriate things
What if you weren’t insane, you were just getting to know yourself
What if sanity isn’t really being anyone, just making yourself a mould of what someone else wanted to make you
What if you couldn’t know anyone else until you stopped seeing yourself as some boat meant to take you somewhere else where you wouldn’t be, whatever the hell you don’t want to be that you are
What if the reason people struggle to connect with you isn’t your imperfection
But your inability to love yourself even if you have some opinions you disagree with
What if they have some opinions they disagree with
If their knee jerks when there’s lightning in the air and their reactions are also fucking stupid sometimes.
How could they expect to be loved for who they are when you can’t love you who are
What if all that unnecessary suffering wasn’t you choosing to hurt yourself
But trying to make your life better
And no one ever having really told you how to do that
What if all those things you want to get rid of were to go and you didn’t have any character left
It’s lonely being perfect
And everybody needs somebody to love them
And Mr. and Mrs. Perfect don’t need anyone at all
Posted on | September 15, 2014 | No Comments
I remember walking through a Freshco in my pajama pants on the phone with my dad trying not to cry. Also trying to find yogurt. But not mainly trying not to cry.
His voice was gentle and mine was fighting panic.
I did cry but we haven’t gotten there yet.
My house burned down the previous November and a girl I didn’t know died. Her name was Alisha.
For the first months after the fire I was trying to finish my movie, find a place to live, enjoying being in love for the first time in years. I felt like I was okay with it. I felt like I had dealt with at the time.
On my birthday I found out that I had to go back into my old house to get the film equipment we had left behind. Doing so felt cathartic. But in the back of my mind this terrible anxiety was growing. Each ordinary problem felt magnified. There was this deep sense that there had to be a reason my life felt so out of control.
And I am in the grocery store crying.
A few days earlier I had been telling someone about the movie I made. How my house burned a few days after. And they asked me if my film equipment had lead to an electrical fire.
And I felt this deep sickness building in my stomach. I said nothing for a few days. Just locked in this ironclad sense of shame. This belief that somehow I was responsible for the fire that burned down my home. That I had killed someone.
Inadvertently. By accident. With my dreams of being a writer.
I knew it was unreasonable, I also was scared that I believed it.
I called my dad because when I fall apart I call my dad.
He explained to me step by step how my fears were impossible. If the circuit was going to blow it would have happened during filming, if an electrical fire happened I was no more responsible than if I had simply plugged in my laptop, if the wiring was faulty it was the landlords fault. He was careful, he was thorough and he was convincing. And he was right.
And I was crying.
Part of trauma is a sense that you could have done something differently. A lingering guilt. A desire to protect yourself from ever feeling like this again. Telling someone about my fear marginally released the tension. Seeing a therapist gave me the perspective that I needed to be patient with my pain. And the tremendous tension lessened.
A week ago I went to a ceremony where butterflies were released to honour lost loved ones in High Park.
I met Alisha’s mother and father. I met her friends. I made awkward jokes and watched them crying feeling like a space alien watching Earthlings. I never feel things right away.
And I watched frozen butterflies try to fly into the warm heat of the sunlight running rampant through High Park.
It took a few days for it to hit me. To realize how close I came to my own loved ones being hurt like that. To see how one of the worst experiences of my life was infinitely worse for her mother and father and her friends. And that type of pain makes you crack a bit inside. The safe walls crumble. The feelings go places you don’t want them to go.
I wanted somehow to be able to make them ok.
I remember that walk through the grocery store. The panic and the relief. How my desire for a simple explanation as to why bad things happen to good people forced me to my knees.
I wanted my dad to somehow be able to explain it to them like he explained it to me. It’s not your fault. Bad things happen. I know it feels horrible but this isn’t your fault. There was nothing you could have done.
The tears that fell down my cheeks were from relief and release. That maybe I could let go. I hope that the tears that fell down their cheeks as butterflies left their palms were the same type of tears.
And I still want an easy answer.
I don’t want to have to make peace with a hundred times. I want to be able to control it. I want to be able to control how I feel.
Only I can’t.
Human life is fragile. People love you and would be shattered by your absence. Each moment we live is lucky. It hurts that we can’t control our feelings anymore than we can prevent tragedy from taking what is irreplaceable.
There is nothing wrong with feeling pain when the world is incredibly unfair. There is nothing wrong with losing a little patience with yourself when you suffer more than you’d like.
From my own experience I’d recommend picking up the phone and sharing the thoughts you’d like to keep hidden with someone who loves you. They might be able to carry it a little bit better. They might be able to lighten the load.
You might feel better. Even if you’re weeping in a grocery store in your pajamas. Even if they are out of the yogurt you were looking for.
Posted on | September 4, 2014 | No CommentsBrief Intro: Sorry for the Upworthy style title. I just feel like people should read this. Because my friend said some important things and he said them well. I’m not super close to Ken Thomson. We went to school together. We may have talked about a few geeky things because like me he is a geek. He had a great beard and that was about all I really knew about him. Besides he could write. And we graduated the same year from university and apparently we’ve had similar feelings when we went through Facebook feeds and saw what seemed to be a legion of our friends finding success as we were a little embarrassed by our own lives. We also both live with depression. His story is about wanting to kill himself and seeking out a friend who could help when he most needed it. It brought tears to my eyes. Because he talks about a lot of things many of us go through that we can’t put into words. I was blown away by his bravery. I expect you will be too. Michael Kimber Kenneth Thomson September 2nd, 2014 A month ago I was ready to kill myself, and had Kylee not opened her door when I showed up unannounced that Saturday, I very well might have.
This is a hard thing to admit, to having been suicidal, especially so recently. I have been worried about saying anything for fear that now everyone will think of me as some delicate flower, or some object of pity, or an attention seeking drama queen, or that people will just walk away, because why invest in something that might be gone soon? And when you’re surrounded by people who are achieving things in their lives and careers its embarrassing to say “I can’t even get out of bed some mornings,” let alone “I just want to not be alive” when they’re buying homes and starting families. So I’ve been a bit distant lately, but a weekend with some friends changed that, I think.
I’ve been depressed for years. Probably longer than some of you have known me. And I think I’ve been anxious for probably longer. Since June I’ve been on medication, seeking counselling, and I’ve been given a handful of self-help books (thanks Su, Robyn & Chuck).
It was really easy to ignore it all for so long. Not that the signs weren’t there. I’ve spent years seeking out shit jobs because I simply don’t think I deserve a job that could make me happy, especially when everyone else is simply better. I started smoking because it’s the only socially accepted way to kill yourself. I have a selfish attitude towards relationships. I find a flaw in everything. I’ve been avoiding social situations because I just figured I’m a miserable bastard and who would want that around? I’ve had an e-mail drafted to a friend for over two years. I kept saying “once I have something good to say, I’ll finish it off and send it.” Two years. Getting a good night’s sleep has been hard for a year now, at least.
Recently, and probably much longer than that, it all started really affecting my relationships with others. I was getting short with people, so many little things would just piss me off. The performance anxiety in the bedroom did me very few favours with the ladies or my confidence. I watched myself systematically destroy a dear friend’s trust in me, because how dare they be happy when I’m not. To top it all off I had a day where I physically could not leave my house. I just couldn’t face the world.
I went to the doctor, got some medication and an appointment with mental health. I quit my job, which just felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. But as “happy” as i seemed, i still couldn’t sleep well, and my thoughts when I had a few seconds alone turned instantly negative. And then I ended up back at, essentially, the same job. My one little victory that I was clinging to was taken away from me.
After a few days of feeling absolutely miserable, as in the only feeling I could feel was misery, I gave up. I can’t think of a better way to describe it than I just gave up. I started to resent my connections to other people, because it would make me such a selfish bastard to do myself in. If there was no one it would be so easy. When I was at the Buskers, surrounded by happy people and I just couldn’t relate to the world. Smiling seemed like a foreign concept. While walking home I knew when I got there I was going to hurt myself, I knew how I was going to hurt myself (it involved the mirror, which probably says a lot about how I regarded myself at the time), and I knew I like to finish what I start. This is the hardest thing to say: this felt good. It felt so good to finally feel like I had total control of my life.
I don’t know what happened, but walking across the Commons some sort of survival instinct kicked in and I turned towards Kylee’s apartment. I knew she was around that weekend, I knew no one else could get to me in time, and I knew I trusted her. I did not have her phone number so I just buzzed her and hoped to fuck she would answer. She did. Thank god. Just having someone there, at that moment, was the most important thing. She brought me along for the night and I actually enjoyed myself a little.
I made a few, tentative, attempts to reach out to other people that night. Not that Stephanie on the West Coast could do much, but Robyn invited me out the next night for Shane’s birthday. It was nice to see Shane, someone who always seems happy to see me because, I don’t why actually, but it’s nice. And dear Joel has been an absolute peach through all this.. There were one or two bad days the following week and a phone call to the Mental Health Crisis Line, but since then it’s been better.
I’ve told a few people now, and they’ve all been supportive. My medication has been doubled. I’m getting more sleep, like almost the recommended amount. I think my overall mood has been improving bit by bit. Not that I would say I’m “happy” but I certainly want to keep living. I really do. Maybe that’s the hardest thing to say: I want to live.
This is such a weird place to put this, but writing tends to help me organize my thoughts, and why write if no one is going to read it? I’m certainly not writing it for my own amusement. (That’s what my notebooks full of poetry and plays are for). And I guess I just want people to know that maybe this is why sometimes I don’t respond to messages or don’t show up to parties, because it’s just been so hard to face existing some days.
So this is where I’m at right now; bad but getting better. I hope everyone’s summer was better than mine, haha.
Posted on | April 30, 2014 | No Comments
To be in love is to be helpless.You can’t feel it without being vulnerable. And it’s going to hurt. A lot.
Our ego is meant to protect us. It tells you whatever you need to hear to be safe from pain. It’s interesting to note the delusional hatred that spews from your mind in the name of this sense of security. It’s a little like your heart is America and your ego is the Patriot Act.
You’re willing to destroy a lot of things in the name of world peace and the pursuit of a happiness without pain. Since you want something impossible you ask for something impossible from yourself to deserve it.
You ask yourself why you can’t be loved. You create detailed portraits of the things that lack in you. If you’re meticulous you create pie charts and venn diagrams. You dream of ways to fill in those perceived holes. You diet, you drink to pretend to lose your inhibitions, you self-destruct because it’s seems like you won’t have to take the test if you’re in pieces.
To love you have to embrace a wider world that you can’t control. The more people you love the more you have to willingly surrender your imagined power over chaos. The more you love the more life can hurt you.
Many of us search out people we define as more broken in an attempt to heal them to heal ourselves. So that we can imagine the love we receive to be similar to the love we give. That love can be help and as such achieved by the correct actions.
Yet condescension can always be sensed in these attempts to help, and also a fear. That love is deserved and can be lost at any moment. If we don’t follow the advice. If we aren’t what we are expected to be. And this love is a brittle love, founded out a barter system of checks and balances and the King James bible. Did you know that only 144,000 people were supposed to go to heaven and they were all celibate Jews? Unless you are a celibate Jew you should pretty much give up on being perfect. And you wonder if they got to heaven because they refused to fall in love. But you aren’t so lucky.
You’re like me.
You love more than you’d like to.
You know enough hell to hold hands.
I ask you to remember those moments you felt most loved.
Were you at your strongest?
When you loved with the most intensity had the person just composed a poem? Had they just thrown you a surprise party? Did they give you a valued internal organ? Or were there tears in their eyes and you held them and didn’t have anything to say. But you held them anyway. Even though you were helpless, even though it made you hurt.
Who hasn’t killed love by trying to control it?
I can’t be the only one of us who went mad with jealousy. Who let my thoughts become bogged down with how I would hold down to this marvelous feeling, who became so submerged inside of the maelstrom that I wanted to control the feelings of the person I loved most in the world.
I can’t be the only one who tried to make people love me and was astounded when the effort failed.
And haven’t we all watch love die in the very same clutch of grasping fingers doing our very own imitation of Mice and Men.
I also can’t be the only one who lost my love for myself in an attempt to control my mind. Who wanted to only think happy thoughts and hated myself for feeling badly. I can’t be the only who tried to heal myself when I only had to love myself.
I repeat love is helpless.
It can’t be the answer to your problems because your problems will continue even if you find true love. You can’t hold love like it’s the reason you’re happy because it doesn’t always make you happy. I can’t always make anyone happy and I wouldn’t want to if I could.
You have problems and I won’t always know how to solve them. I will look at them with you and express my desire for you to be safe. I will not lie to you when you ask me to. Most of the important questions we ask ourselves don’t have easy answers or we would have already found them. We’ve been looking for them long enough.
The measure of closeness to a lover and a best friend is whether they have seen you at your most vulnerable. Did they try to fix you or love you without asking you to change? We ask if people were there when you needed them. We don’t ask if your friends saved your life. Merely if they were there.
It’s human to want to help. It’s only necessary that you were there.
The more you fall in love the more aware you become of your vulnerability.
They could break your heart. You have given them permission to.
They see you naked and they could laugh at you! They know your secrets and they could tell them! You’ve given them your love and they didn’t provide you with a receipt! They know what your bodily fluids look like and the weird noises you make when you are really happy.
You forget that you’re more like everyone else than you’re special. More carbon copy than a signature in distinctive cursive. Everyone looks at their body and wonders if they’re ugly. We don’t have a lot of experience in seeing ordinary naked bodies. We see porn and movie stars, the people we have sex with and maybe some old men at the gym. We don’t live at a nude beach so we don’t realize the wide varieties of naked there are. We also don’t get to see too many people nakedly vulnerable because we live in a world where it is appropriate to dress up your feelings. It’s why it always feel like you’re dating a crazy person because eventually they can’t pretend they are sane because you’re watching them for too long.
Everyone farts when they shouldn’t and feels the tickle of an awkward laugh at a funeral and wants to shout bomb in an airport.
Get comfy. Sometimes you will have great sex, sometimes you will have shitty sex. Sometimes you will be loving and sometimes you will be an asshole. If you let someone see your flaws they start really loving you because they can share their own flaws. They can stop performing.
You will break their heart and they will break yours.
I don’t mean to say that everyone that loves you will leave you. I mean they will hurt you. Because they’ll suffer and you’ll watch. They will make you suffer and they will watch. The world will make them suffer and you won’t be able to stop it. To love someone is to want to take their pain and be unable to. To love someone means you get to feel their pain and you’re willing to do so.
To be willing to feel pain on behalf of someone you love is a magic trick that somehow bridges the space between us.
It’s what people mean when they say they can feel you in their heart. And you can feel them in yours.
The times in my life that were least painful also had the least pleasure. Connection means magnifying your ability to feel multiplied by the number of people you truly love.
It means that you will go to funerals and you’ll cry your eyes out. If you’re really lucky you’ll get to go to a lot of funerals of people you care about. Yes, that is the definition of winning the lottery.
It means that your heart will sometimes sit in your stomach when you listen to their voice over the phone. You’ll sit next to their hospital bed and you won’t be a Doctor and there won’t be a cure for everything and you’ll be there even if it hurts.
You won’t be able to protect that feeling and keep it locked in a safe. Even one you bury in your chest. Sometimes your pain won’t fit in the neat compartments that we call civilized behavior and you’ll cry over commercials and when you talk to the people you love on the phone you won’t be able to make jokes.
And it’s okay.
You don’t have to solve their problems. You don’t even have to solve your own. You just have to be with there for them without making the prequisite of your love their ability to change to become whatever you think they should be.
When you are inside your head you don’t have to solve all of your problems before you are willing to feel your own pain and want yourself to be happy. You don’t have to help.
Love is helpless.
All you have to do is be there.
Posted on | April 29, 2014 | No Comments
The sandwich had fried chicken and onions. The side order was fries. There was some type of mayo based spicy sauce. I may or may not go back. I was not strongly affected one way or the other.
What I might remember, if only because I’m currently writing it down, was the face of the counter man as he watched the hockey game. It was as if he was suddenly not at work at all.
I wondered where he was. Should I ask him? Would that be considered intrusive? Should I just overthink it? Yeah. That’s exactly what I should do.
Was he standing on the ice, pretending he was one of those highly paid players? I didn’t think so.
What I saw in his face wasn’t fantasy but the reality of being a fan. There is something both nostalgic and child like pure in that face, something much more than fantasy fulfillment. Maybe he was in the stands yelling like crazy when a goal happened at the last minute, his voice one in twenty thousand shouting the same thing, heart beating like crazy in happiness that what he wanted actually happened. Maybe he can feel his pulse on the sticks as they slap into the puck and races past the goalie glove. Maybe he was exactly where he stood but with all of the other people watching the same thing from different places.
It’s been a long time since I was a sports fan.
I remember hockey wars against the neighbours on Beech Street back in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There was no clock counting down from one period to the next. The games were to ten and you had to stop when a car came racing down the street. Grabbing the net in your hands and bringing it back when they turned a corner and left you to play for another few minutes. We didn’t have a referee because none of the kids wanted to sit out a whole game. We usually played at least three games because we didn’t have anything else to do and what could be better than playing hockey? Rivalries were fierce but rarely become fist fights. We resolved our tension by expressing a few words we had recently learned.
I remember when those games ended and we’d won that I felt like an Olympian. With no one to tell besides your parents. With no one to know what miracles you had accomplished by pushing one leg in front of the other and somehow managing to avoid a tennis ball to your testicles. Fantasyizing about the top right corner of the net and your razor like precision that ended the game and the curse words you shouted into the summer sky because you were untouchable. You could say whatever you wanted. Because you were good and you didn’t need anyone else to tell you.
Maybe he is thinking of when his dad used to take him to local hockey games and that strange feeling that he had been accepted into the adult company of heroes. Finding their seats. That sense of disbelief that you were actually here. That strange surety as you looked at the bench that one day you’d sit there. And you’d race onto the ice when the coach gave you the signal.
I collected the cards. I watched Sports Desk at eight in the morning. I was part of hockey pools and I may have even won one. At some point I stopped caring about hockey and sports in general. I still went to the games. Because they were something I did with my father and my childhood best friend Jordi. Jordi and I played hockey in all those heroic games on Beech. We knew what it was like to be champions together. I remember in Grade 7 yammering on about a girl I liked. Jordi nodding his head as I high speed rambled, trying to make as many jokes as possible because I liked the sound of his laugh. He told me I didn’t have to make him laugh to be his friend. This was a profound moment for me.
Eventually I stopped watching the game. I would plot what I would eat during the intermissions between periods. Work on the plot of a new book I was thinking about. Drinking in the energy of the crowd. And then there would be that moment. When the game was close and the Halifax Citadels were on a power play and you could feel everyone’s breath stuck in their throats. Like maybe it would be our time. Maybe we’d actually win one. If we missed the adults would swear like children. If we scored we’d scream like we’d just walked into our own surprise party. People would hug in the stands. Either way hypothetically rational people would paint their faces and chests to sport our colors.
It was the insanity we shared. That yearning to be a part of Halifax. To hug a stranger. To ride the energy of 20,000 people all hoping for the best. To be part of something.
Like how I was part of Beech Street and my friends were from around the corner. Like I was part of Grade 4 at Sir Charles Tupper when we would play tag football and Willie Fyles would throw it into the end zone and I would catch it and celebrate for much longer than would be considered polite. I remember when my fascination with hockey became about NHL 94. When we had our own league in first year university and I was the master of left rights. When I would battle Matt Stasyna for Super Nintendo supremacy and he became my best friend in best of seven series I would rarely win.
There is this inherent desire to come together and be a part of the place you live. This happens more sporadically as you get older. People, like myself, jump on the bandwagon when the Stanley Cup is in sight for a Canadian team. We come together when tragedy hits our city and we can’t bear to be alone. We spend a lot of time pretending we are nowhere on Subways leading us away from work back to our small enclave of friends. Where we work and we drink and we talk about TV shows. The world gets smaller as you get older. Doors open and we figure out how to close them. We aren’t as brave as adults as we were as children. We stop seeing the people on our block as extended family. We stop talking to strangers.
There is something about a sports fan that feels different from any other type of fan. They want their team to do well, they pray for it, they live a part of every day for it. When a TV show sucks we stop watching it. When the Toronto Maple Leafs suck they hope they’ll do better. We curse the screens and luck and life and we watch the next game with our hearts in our throats like children.
Who remember what it was like to play on the street and grab the net when the cars were coming . To scream in stadiums with adults and children celebrating something as meaningful and meaningless as a goal for the home team.
So I wait for my unmemorable chicken sandwich, while reading my copy of the Master and the Margarita. I fold over a page where they talk about love jumping out at a couple like a murderer with a knife and remind myself to read it to my girlfriend over the phone. To pass the time I talk about sports with the counter man. About that feeling that lets him leave work. And I feel like I’m a part of something. As small as waiting for a sandwich and large as being in Toronto.
Just talking to a stranger. Like I used to do obsessively as a child. Like an explorer. Finding all friendship that could be had on the horizon.
I don’t need to be funny or make the counter man laugh.
I only need to remember I’m a part of something.
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