the seeds, the trees

"But once in a while there's a great dynamite-burst of flying glass and brick and splinters through the front wall and somebody stalks over the rubble, seizes me by the throat and gently says, 'I will not let you go until you set me, in words, on paper.'" – Richard Bach

Tag: life

Rocking Bird

“Rocking bird, I’m tired.”

“Why?” you ask.

“Because,” I say, “this world is too big and too small, and I need to choose if I will be Big or Small, and I can’t decide which one would be best. Sometimes I’m not sure I can be either, and then I’ll just be In Between, and what’s left in the world for In Between? Nothing to be bothered with.”

“Give it time.”

“No. Now. Big or Small? Big or Small? A lifetime of choices, and I can’t make just one?”

“If you want to be Big, be Big, but don’t be loud. And if you want to be Small, be Small, but don’t be so quiet you get crushed. That is all I know. I’m Small, you see.”

“But not quiet?”

“No. Listen. Not quiet.”

“I will decide tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow. There is always tomorrow until there isn’t.”

“Be quiet.”

“I can’t. I’m Small, remember?”

“Maybe In Between isn’t so bad. I’m tired, remember?”

“If you’re tired, you may as well be Dead. You want to sleep, sleep always, and you are Dead. No difference.”

“I don’t know how to be alive then.”

“Wake up. You must decide.”

“I’m tired. Maybe Dead isn’t so bad.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

All the different ends

I’m walking on this path, the first path I found when I woke up that day.

As I’m walking I pass many other paths, some I can peer down and see to the end and their ends are beautiful, blue gold in a breezy light.

Others are twisted and dark and I can’t make out their ends.

So I walk my path, the one I found when I woke up, too afraid and hopeful to veer off.

Eventually my path ends, and I stand in the desert.

Monsters

Monsters are simply beings that are unknown and large. We grow obsessions with them. We don’t mind small things we don’t understand. We can live with those. The mysterious virus that laid us in our beds for a day. The thousands of species of insects we will never find. The tiny community of people far up the mountains of Switzerland who speak a language no one else understands.

But the great, gaping chasms of the Earth – we will not rest until we have measured the depth of every ocean; we will not sleep until we have named every star in the sky; we will not stop until we have caught every monster in the sea and cut them into pieces; we will not say enough until we have hung the heads of every great beast on our walls and ground their bones into powder; we will not dream peacefully until we know what dreams are; we will not die until we know why we came; we will not leave until we know what is next.

We will illuminate every darkness and predict every storm and we fear it all. We will not cry out success! until everything has been proven. We intrepidly and blindly seek so many answers we forget to ask questions and become angry when no one replies. We refuse to believe our flesh and our bones are that of animals but we believe in gods we have never seen or heard or touched. We deny ourselves the joy found in the inevitability of death but believe in the joys of a tomorrow that might not come.

Only in death do we feel the emptiness we have carried with us all of our lives. Only then – between our very last single breath and a complete stillness we have never known – do we realize our mistake. Amidst everything we have discovered and gathered and kept, we stand undeniably alone in our cold homes. And in this tiny moment, we awaken before the deepest sleep. By then, it is too late to tell the others. They will find out in their own time. The curse beneath the blessing of a self-aware life.

Things

I am better than them and not good enough for you

I have made boys love me

taken their insides out, put them back in wrong again and again.

I will not eat food in packages or with more than five ingredients

but I inhale cigarettes like air.

I practice yoga and

the light in me recognizes and honors the light in you when I fall down drunk.

My mother cut the veins along her arms

destroying them like enemies

while her blood still runs through them

I miss her when she’s around.

I took the bus for two hours alone in a state thousands of miles away

to get rid of another baby

and to stand

holding the hands of a man with a tiny Bible

who promised me because of Jesus everything would be OK.

I smoked meth and ate molly and dropped acid until

all the trees grew diamonds

and still I could not find beauty.

I am all of these things.

They multiply on the surface of my skin

and wait for me with mouths open

but they cannot have me yet.

Spread the word

Don’t expect anything from the Universe. It owes you nothing.
You are merely a guest in Universe’s house. A host who cares not if you stay or leave.
Do not think you have some Divine Purpose that stretches past the sky from your crown and the golden tips of your fingers.
The Universe has had it figured out for a very long time.
We are tolerable fleas on the great moving beast; pilot fish feasting on the primordial shark; the salad fork at Life’s table. We appeared one day and were allowed to stay.
But with one shake of it’s wet, rocky back, we will be flung from our perches and expelled through the air at such speed that we will turn to dust, inhaled, finally, by the beast that has peacefully settled down once more.
Tell the kids.

How life feels to the humans

What does life feel like to the humans?

Like hundreds of hearts beating and a tree growing really fast.

Like no trees.

Life feels like…it will never begin and it’s already at the end.

What does life feel like?

Running clouds and golden moons.

Life feels like our mothers,

who love us so much they strip us bare.

We see them in our heads

in so many pictures and sounds and tiny pieces,

in the only way we can see someone who has known us longer than we’ve known ourselves.

What does life feel like? They ask.

Some humans are confused and wary, hurry away,

white-knuckled, holding grocery bags.

Some smile and smile again, or cry, say nothing.

Some are angry because there’s no money or water

or hands holding their hands.

Some say, Life is like nothing anyone has ever had,

nod their heads, good day. 

Survival mode

I come home from the gym around 8 at night and my parents are glued to the TV, like usual, like the bugs that crackle all night long outside by the fluorescent blue death light. They’re watching a TV documentary on D-Day. It’s near the end and there’s a commanding officer, or someone like that, saying, “Freedom is not free. We pay for freedom with lives. Freedom is not free.” My dad says, to me or my mom or both, I cannot tell, “I mean, can you believe what they sacrificed?”

His voice sounds tight and scratchy and it’s obvious, to me, that he’s about to cry. He’s done this once before. Some time in my early college years he was reading some book about some war involving his idol Winston Churchill and, for some reason, as I can never imagine how on earth this happened, we were sitting on the couch together and he read something out loud and he started crying. I called him out on it and he said, choking up, “I mean, can you imagine what they sacrificed for us?”

And it really bothered me. I’ve only ever seen my dad cry twice – once after his younger brother died of lung cancer and once after mom tried to kill herself. Actually, make that three times, since she tried to do it twice. So now, today after coming home from the gym, that makes it five times in 25 years that I have witnessed and almost half of those were brought on by the deaths of strangers more than 70 years ago. And I know it sounds selfish and pathetic even but come on! That’s all you got? That’s all you can muster for us? How much do you think I’ve sacrificed living here with you, being raised by you? How can you show so much compassion for these ancient soldiers when you’ve been nothing but a brick – physically and emotionally – my entire life? When you know more about what’s going on in Chechnya than in my tiny, bubble life? Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I’m so tired of that excuse. What a cop out. Meet me half way, old man.

Anyway, so I come home after the gym, dad’s choking up about D-Day and mom’s staring blankly, crushing red wine, per usual these days. She gets up from her chair, a bit wobbly, which I can’t tell is from the wine since it’s how she seems to walk now – always on the verge of toppling over – and says, “Give me a hug,” and smiles her weird, stretched, fish-eyed smile, the one that’s taken over her formerly big-mouthed, squinty-eyed face since the overdosing and wrist-slashing. I’m extremely sweaty – literally dripping sweat – and I don’t want to hug her, although I wouldn’t want to hug her, sweat or no sweat. It’s awkward, like most our hugs these days. But it seems to satisfy her. If I had the power and turned into a couch cushion at the moment of impact, I doubt she would notice. She doesn’t notice anything anymore, like popcorn burning in the microwave or her friends’ dejected looks when she doesn’t say hi to them in the street. Things like this used to make me cry. It only happened four months ago. It’s incredible the horrors we get used to so quickly.

Whenever they find some girl who was kidnapped eight years ago, living with her captors unrestrained and almost happily raising four kids, people always say, “How did she do it? How she could possibly have survived?” I know how. It’s not a choice. Survival mode. Incredible thing. You cry A LOT and you get mad and then you don’t. Then you start making jokes, still crying on and off, of course. Then you start adapting, changing little things that you do each day – not cooking as much to spend less time in the kitchen where you know she’ll be listlessly lurking. Then you get comfortable. Then you forget. Then a piece of you dies. Then you feel the hole and you can’t remember what everything was like before it fell away. Then you feel really fucking hopeless and watch Netflix instead of thinking about your feelings. Repeat. Life goes on.

I drink to this animal because I don’t want to think.

Please don’t ever love someone so much her skin burns when you breathe.

Mr. Marinakis

Mum told me last night that I didn’t have to be famous. “Oh, you’re so immature,” she said, she cooed, feeling so sorry, after I cried and told her what’s the point of being creative, what’s the point of not being normal if you’re not recognized for it?

What is the point of my lifelong-mental twistedness, my turmoil, my singular tragedy if it bears no fruit? I asked. Except I didn’t say “singular tragedy” or “fruit” because no one speaks that way. It sounded more like, “Why do I have to deal with this shit in my head that supposedly makes me a writer if no one reads or wants to read what I write?”

And that’s when she said, sorrowfully, and a little smugly now that I think about it, “You’re so immature.” Then she said, which wasn’t very helpful but admittedly made me feel less alone, that several months ago she would have said, “Come on, let’s go jump off a bridge together!” She was ready to “check out” in April, she said, but then she saw this man who…I’m not exactly sure what he does, but I think he’s some kind of homeopathic mood doctor. She said this guy – this Mr. Marinakis – completely sorted her out, completely. She always uses lots of adverbs when she talks. That’s all she said. Completely. I let my mind fill in the details.

I see a stocky Japanese man, short but not small, the physique of a Japanese man who has lived in America for a long time and forsaken his traditional diet. He’s wearing a white lab coat (How original, my mind) and a blue, cashmere sweater; gray-black, knit slacks (So specific, my mind!) His office – or where he meets with his patients – has light, wooden flooring, reminiscent of bamboo (Well done, my mind. Use stereotypes. It’s easier.) There’s a few glass vases filled with colored Mancala beads.

When he looks at me, I can’t tell what he’s thinking. He can see through my skull at my beating brain and my brain is blue. He doesn’t seem to have anything in his pockets, not even a pen. I don’t know what his voice sounds like because so far we haven’t spoken. He touches my head without touching it. He talks to my brain. I remember the acupuncturist I saw more than five years ago. I was depressed. She made  a map of my organs with needles in my back. She said, indifferently, I had a wounded heart that would never heal. It made me sadder. Mr. Marinakis doesn’t say anything about my heart. I can’t see anymore. All I know is that Mr. Marinakis is probably not Japanese. “Marinakis” is Greek. His first name is Peter.

Aug. 29, 2012 – 10:48 p.m.

Today, after sitting in room 3021 of Knight Hall for nine hours, I had a revelation. Today, I didn’t do anything important. I made no contribution to the world, but I felt important. I worked all day on the computer with two girls trying to transform a presidential-candidate-contribution database into a map, divided by zip code. It was so difficult, and we couldn’t finish it in time, and something along the way went wrong. But I felt important.

I think that is why people want to love and be loved so much. Because finally they are no longer floating in the space. They have found what’s important, and it is enough. Finally, they know that all they have to care about is right there. They can see it and touch it and be with it. They are not alone. And they feel important. Today I was in a room, a speck of dust, doing something that would not be released or seen but I was with people, close together, doing something together, and I felt there – I was present and involved. That’s all anyone wants – to matter and not feel like the tiny hair on the back of the beast they live in. We want to be noticed, to be somewhere where we feel something else is. Today I was seen and heard by a roomful of people, and then I came home and made my mother laugh really hard and my dad smile and say, “You know, it’s really nice having you around. It’s really lovely.” And for once, it was enough.