[Miscellany]

Friday, July 04, 2014

And The Tree Was Happy



One of the best books I know is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  I read it each year to the class; sometimes numerous times, I give it away as a present to new parents, I talk about it often, I think about it even more.  It’s one of those powerful books with an influential message about being selfless.  In this era where narcissism is so central to our lives it’s more of an important message now than ever before.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately; about narcissism and how it has now become a human ‘value’ to put oneself first.  Now, I think that putting oneself first is the only way that someone can get ahead in this world, don’t get me wrong; you need to look out for yourself.  But I think this is true as a product of the way we live now rather than because it should be something we hold fast to as a good value for humanity.  Over the past few years I’ve seen the old mantra of ‘don’t’ let others dictate who you are’ turn into ‘never mind other people, just do what is right for you’ (or even, ‘don’t let others hold you back’). Seems like a subtle and positive shift but I’ve been wondering whether it really is.  The former is about empowering yourself the latter is about stepping on others to get to where you need to be. I’ve amplified that, of course to make a point.  They are both about empowerment, but the latter is empowerment without considering the needs of anyone else, and sometimes at the expense of others too.
That seems right though, doesn’t it?  One shouldn’t think of others, one should only consider oneself when making any decision shouldn’t they?  What about your children, your parents, your partner, your family?  Are they a consideration or should they be?  I’m guessing if you have them your children come first. What about other people’s children?  No, too removed…  So what about when people don’t treat your children nicely… I mean if you don’t treat others with fundamental consideration then why should they consider you and yours?  They won’t.  Never mind other people, just do what’s right for you.  They’ll not mind you, you’ll not mind them and together we can all look out for ourselves.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world.
I’ve been thinking a lot about being selfless or selfish; giving and receiving.  They are fundamental to the human condition and there’s a big question mark that hangs in the air right now over my head about how we all fit together when it comes to giving and receiving. Sure, I do it – we all do.  Everyone gives.  Everyone receives.  It’s a fundamental part of being human to give to others.  What I never really contemplated though was that there are different ways that people give.  It’s in the capacity of the person doing the giving that brings about the difference and I think somehow they are related to those so-called positive mantras we keep telling ourselves – ‘don’t let others hold you back’ and ‘never mind other people, just do what is right for you’.   People give to the extent they believe in this.  It doesn’t make either type of giving any less important or positive but there are subtle differences.  There are other types of giving but I’ve narrowed it down to two that I see most commonly:
The Giving Gesture
Giving in Absentia: The Giving Tree
Perhaps there are better names for this.  I don’t know.  I just made that shit up on the spot because that’s how things happen in my brain.
The Giving Gesture
This is the most common type of giving. It’s a present, an invite, a phone call, a random text, a donation, a helping hand, an offer, cooking a meal for someone, etc.  It’s straightforward and everyone knows where they stand. It’s basically a grand gesture and that gesture says:  I’m thinking of you.  I care about you.  I want you to know that I’m here; right now, I’m here.  It makes someone else feel good and it makes the giver feel good too, because they are giving something tangible – an experience or a *something* that one can reference later; “remember that time we…”, “you know that time when I helped you…”
This type of giving is important because on the one hand it gives that person in need something tangible and on the other hand The Giver can put a time limit on it. It saves The Giver from being drained and also gives them something tangible to take away from the experience too: This is what I’m willing to give you.  I will give you this now.  See this thing, this thing is tangible and it’s for you and we can both share it.  There’s a lot of happiness involved in this type of giving because it’s visible.  One can always refer back to it.  One is usually celebrated for doing it and the person receiving knows who to thank and what to thank them for.  It will make someone’s day!  They will remember it.  It’s a lovely thing to do and people who do it a lot are thought of as lovely people.  Everybody wins.  It’s the Facebook of giving.  Everyone sees it… it’s on the wall.  It works well with our new positive mantra –Never mind others, just do what is right for you.  This type of giving allows you to give on your terms.  This is right for me right now and so therefore I’ll do it. If it wasn’t convenient, I wouldn’t do it but that's okay because it's giving you something you need.
Everyone does this type of giving.  Even Mother Teresa did it.
Giving In Absentia: The Giving Tree
Why absentia?   How can you give while absent?  Well you can’t, not really – but the absence is not absence of being there, it’s the absence of ego involved.  Ego is the thing that causes us to think of ourselves.  Of course, as we’ve established, in order to get anywhere in life you must think of yourself first but when it comes to giving it’s possible to do this without ego and still not be degraded by the act giving.  This kind of giving isn’t quite as visible as The Gesture, nor can you always reflect on something tangible afterwards.  It can be difficult to accommodate someone else and let’s face it, it’s usually without reward.  The person receiving might not even know they are being given something!  The gesture, if there is one, usually goes unnoticed.
An example of this might be bringing up someone’s name in a positive way in a conversation where they might not even be present because you know that doing so will shine a light on them in a positive way and may bring about a good thing for them (perhaps talking up a co-worker to the boss or helping to enable a someone else’s friendship to grow even if you may not even be part of it).  Maybe it’s being there for someone; listening whenever you are needed and being totally on call, anytime.  It might be offering to be there to sit with them when you know they might be alone, even if you didn’t feel like being social or you are missing out on something.  Maybe it’s letting someone else know that your mutual friend needs TLC even though that means that they get the TLC and you don’t.  Or maybe the giving might take the form of letting someone take your place in something, thereby enabling them to step forward and shine for a while even if it means that the focus is off you. It might even be a loving thought you have towards someone – a hope for them that is really beyond a fleeting thought but a truly intentioned moment devoted totally to them. This type of giving is not about a shared reward.  It’s totally about the other person and probably, no one will remember who did the giving or even know… but if they do know they’ll never forget, trust me.
This type of giving doesn’t fit with the positive mantra but one doesn’t have to be degraded in order to do it either.  I think that’s what’s so difficult about this type of giving.  We’re so obsessed with building ourselves up that we’ve forgotten that once we’re all built it’s just superficial.  So you flirted with his girlfriend to get a wife but your friend is gone – who cares, they weren’t a real friend anyway if they stand in your way… and you took an opportunity you saw was for someone else because it’s cut throat out there, if you didn't do it someone else would have - look out for you, that's important... and now you earn more but your co-workers can see how you got there, and phew, thank goodness you removed yourself from the situation where you were being drained by someone because their problems make you feel bad and you don’t want that, no matter how temporary.  You've saved yourself from that little 'I don't feel good right now so I'm not going to do it' moment that we all kid ourselves isn't part of being human but actually is.  You’ve done all that and you have fulfilled your mantra – never mind others, just do what is right for you.  And so, now what?  Nice Empire you have there.  The way we're going everyone will have that same empire.
In the book, the tree gives unconditionally.  It makes her happy, you see, to give to someone something they need to help them be better. Perhaps it is appropriate for Silverstein to have made such a selfless being a tree rather than a human. It’s difficult to give to someone else in a way that helps them without giving you accolades.  It’s even more difficult to think of someone else before yourself.  You’d think that the tree would be degraded… but she isn’t.  By the end, although the boy will never fully understand the extent to which he has been helped by the tree and that tree; having given almost everything she can to the boy she loves, they are still both fulfilled in their own way.  I always wonder at the end about how love is fuel for the best things and ego and narcissism isn’t.  I wonder about the people I know who are like that.  I wonder about narcissism and how it fuels ego and how is it that we have made it such a positive mantra to push someone aside and step in their place, calling it self-fulfilment or strength of character and positive self-image.  I wonder about where we are going with this.  I wonder where we will end up.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can be a better giver and indeed who are the people who have given me the things that have truly helped me in my life.  I’m thinking about The Giving Tree.  I think you should read it.  Really read it.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Words

I've been thinking a lot about words lately.

That saying; sticks and stones...What a dirty little lie that is. Try all your might with that sword or stick or whatever it is that people use and brandish so violently to get at someone, it's actually the word that will penetrate to the core every time. Anyone who has ever been any bloody good with them will know that. Anyone who has ever watched a face crumple or light up from things said will understand completely when I say that a word will go anywhere and everywhere because it really does. It's the word that will remain after all those walls have crumbled and cities have disappeared into the sands. The monument ceases to exist without them. The word is the last breath. It is the very last thing that you will ever do and be…even after the sword goes in for the kill.

I found myself, the other night night in a meeting where words were the topic: my words to be exact.

I wrote some, you see. Teachers tend to at this time of year; we write lots of them. Almost 10,000 in fact, twice a year. I counted. Mostly written under duress, sometimes while cradling wine and often after many sleepless nights in a row. Some teachers will agonise over them, unable to scrape together the right ones that will make sense and do the child justice and other teachers write them easily and with flair, the words almost dancing out from their fingertips and dying to get onto the page. Some will be boring and uninspiring and others will make you smile or laugh out loud or bring about the one thing that all humans must have; connection and recognition. I've read them all and it's a privilege to do so. Even the bad ones teach me something about myself.

For me, I admire the ones that are truly beautiful. I'm in awe of those who can use them to delight others and I really *am* delighted by the clever ones, the kind ones (especially the kind ones) and the ones I rarely hear are the most coveted of all. I love putting them to good use and sometimes I labour over them, trying to find the right ones to say or write and berate myself because I can't find the ones that fill the gap or hate myself because I used the wrong ones. I know that they can sometimes be inadequate and more often than not I am inadequate in the way I use them. Often, I am at a loss for the right ones, or misuse the ones I have at my fingertips, or misconstrue those said to me and had mine misunderstood by others.

I recognise all too well that a gap exists between the word and the subject though. The space can be infinitely huge with the word not quite ever being able to do the subject justice. How wrong to misrepresent what you mean in your heart with what comes out of your mouth. Sometimes I wish there were no words. Sometimes I wish I could just walk up to someone and place my forehead against theirs and somehow they would understand, not in their head but in their heart. Yes, words are everything and yet they are so fallible but there is no escaping them. Mostly, I long to say the important ones but I just can't... for some reason I feel that saying them will create a new reality that will change everything. It will. It does. It's amazing to think that telling someone something will change their reality forever and yours. Good or bad, words are absolutely powerful. I think you can create someone's whole world with a few choice words. You can also destroy someone. I've done both and I've had both done to me, many times over and many more times will come, I'm sure. Both these things are happening to me simultaneously right now actually. I don't know if this is the same for everyone.

Even the absence of them will create a catastrophe. After all, did you ever really believe that choosing to omit words would mean they wouldn’t be heard? Mostly those ones just echo louder in our thoughts (more words) or are whispered in actions one chooses to enact but not express. In this case sometimes those words are twisted and broken and may be pieced together wrongly but still they are there and will create a reality that, intended or not, truly exists. Insincerity: the same.

So back to the meeting... There we are, adjacent; parent and teacher - leaning in toward each other (as I tend to do), when the topic of words came up. I bring it up, as a matter of fact: Did you get a chance to read the report (duh, of course! But, sometimes they don't)? Do you have any questions about anything I wrote? I've asked this question roughly 300 times over the years …but this time the parent cried.

She was grateful for the fundamental human thing I did through my words and that was to recognise something beautiful within another human. I wasn't amazed that my words could do that but I was humbled and emotional alongside that parent. She thanked me as I have thanked others for their words in the past and we talked at length about why it was so important for those words to be written.

Later that same night, in another meeting I was insulted by some words hurled at me via a different source. To be honest, at first I wasn't, but a day later I have to admit that the sword would have been an easier wound to heal than this one. Words remain. Worlds have been created. Another reality was built ...or torn down and rebuilt, whichever. Both, probably.

Words, I'm thinking about them a lot.  I'm thinking about the words that exist in silence and I'm thinking about the words that will never be said.  I have spent a whole lifetime in the wonderment of words and their meaning and the way that they can change a reality.  I wonder how they are yet to change mine.

I am wondering.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

You

I'm looking at you and I'm wondering how you slipped through the cracks.  I'm wondering how you can cope at * years old; daily, with what most people never know until they're an adult. It's a horrible realisation to know that adults can and will let you down.  Just to know this is a slap in the face.  To expect it as normal is debilitating to the human soul.  To know it as your reality is beyond words.

You deal with it daily though and don't think I don't know how you cope.  Oh, I know.  I see it every day.  I see it in the way you move in your seat.  I see it in the words you ignore - those both harsh and full of praise.  I notice the way you lash out when others wrong you; desperately trying to cling to that part of you that is still a little hopeful and protect it.  I understand the parallel universe you've created to exist alongside this real one and I also know that reality is a dicey concept right now anyway.  I know you slip in and out as you need to.  I know how protective you are of the world you've created and I know why.  I know how comforting that world is.  I know how essential it is.  I know you need it.  I think you're amazing for having concocted this space for yourself.  You've shown at * what most adults never have to do - that is to completely protect yourself from all sides; from all attacks; from everything.  It's unfair that you have to and they never do.  Most will never, ever, EVER understand because they never, ever, EVER had to deal.  Lucky them.  They'll be the people who will tell you to look on the bright side.  Nice.

You haven't learnt yet how to ask why and when you do that will be yet another hard pill to swallow because there won't be an answer that won't come pointing back at you; yet another little something to deal with.  I understand from that look you give me that you are completely resigned to this way of being.  This is your reality and mate, you are doing a magnificent job of using absolutely every resource you have to survive it.  And you are surviving but it won't help you in this reality; the reality that isn't all that dicey for everybody else.  In this reality you are barely treading water; slowly sinking into quicksand; gasping for Ventolin; sawing logs with a butter knife. I recognise this.

I think about you a lot.  I think about you when everyone else is long gone.  I think about you when I should be thinking about myself but I have no answers.  I don't want to be yet another adult who fails you; like all of us have done so far.  As I sit here for yet another night at my desk with my head in my hands, trying desperately to make a bridge between us that won't fall down, I know that I have failed you too.   I see the you, who you really are and I admire that person and can't think of a more imaginative, clever, resourceful kid and on top of all of that I completely understand.  I do.  I guess that's what makes it harder but in the end, despite all of this I'm just another adult and just another person who will fail you in the end and it's killing me.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Love Letter To You

Here's my love letter to you.

Dear Girl,

You are not in my class anymore but you visit me daily and you give me a hug.  That hug is the only regular human contact I have.  It's the most amazing thing in my day.  It's the most incredible thing I have - this tangible piece of loveliness that comes with a beaming smile that is all for me.  It is my only Technicolor moment amongst the dull monochrome that is every other breathing moment at the moment.

Somehow you don't see what other people must see in me - which is a broken person or an unworthy person.  You see through into the soul of me and for that 10 seconds I feel almost whole.  It is by far the best thing in my day.  You are by far the only person in my life who seeks me out for the sole purpose of you finding delight in seeing me.  You walk in.  You say hello.  You grin your wide grin and you give me a hug.

You are 9 years old and you have no idea just how important you are but you are very important.

I'm humbled.

Thank you.

M.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Truth

The other day I was driving down one of our particularly busy stretches of ribbon in this fair city and saw an old comic book store I used to frequent a lot when I was just a mere child of 20.  I remember her, that girl.  I remember her wonder at the world.  I remember her optimism that life would somehow work out, even if it wasn't working out right then.  I remember her.  She was ready for things to happen.  She really thought they would.

Today I decided to go into the store.  It had changed since I had been there last, of course.  The face was the same but the internal layout was completely different.  Gone were the little nooks I used to hide and read comics in.  Gone was the dirty, musky smell.  Things felt new and strange and unfamiliar.  Things change, I know.  I'm not that girl anymore and that store isn't that store anymore.  I looked but they didn't have the range of comics I was hoping for. I could barely find anything.  I was disoriented and lost and craving knowing how to go about things without a map like I used to be able to do.

I can never go back to her; that girl; there is no map that can take me back there and there is no compass that will help me navigate my way back into her head.  She is so long gone that I can barely even touch her with my thoughts.  My link to her is tenuous and strained with longing to go back but you can never go back.  I'd love to get in the DeLorean and work things out but I can't.  I don't have her optimism that things will somehow be okay anymore, I miss that.  I don't have her wonder at the world and that is something I crave too.  I don't have her youth and vitality nor her ability to manifest.  I know too many depressing answers about how things work for me.  Not for everyone but yes, for me.  I know that there is nothing holding me up or believe that there is any kind of safety net I can access.  There is no "there-there, it'll be okay".  None of that exists.  I know that there is no one to help navigate my path.  I don't trust that I can do it alone and in fact I know I can't.  I don't even want to navigate.  Nothing seems to have a point, especially me and I hate this clarity with every sense of myself.  I don't even know where it came from but it feels like I just woke up one morning and realised an irreparable truth.  I had a stupid, fucking a-ha moment that I wish I could give back to the ether.

I don't hate the actual truth of it though. Truth, at least gives me a compass point from which to reference myself.  At the moment I'm pointing at royally fucked, aimless, loner, weirdo but at least I know.  It's my powerlessness in the face of truth that I hate.  I've fought too many battles in my day to day existence to be powerful enough to fight any more.   I'm exhausted.  I'm over fighting for normal human everyday things and there is such truth in that, it's scary.


I tried to meet that 20 year old child today in that store but I couldn't.  I looked for her in amongst the crisp trade paperbacks and Wrestlemania figurines but she was nowhere to be seen.  She's lost.  I'm lost.  I left the store feeling like I had severed a tie forever.  Another link gone.  I'm going through them at an alarming rate.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Unrequited

The last time my heart broke I put myself in bed whenever I wasn't at work.  I cried into my pillow and hugged myself, feeling every inch of that sucker punch in every single cell.  It took me a good year of feeling like a zombie and started a spiral downwards that I never quite recovered from.  I never fully came back.  I told myself that I could never do that to myself again.

This time, before it happened I reminded myself of what it felt like.  I came to the conclusion that I was above all that now that I was older and wiser.

I'm not above it.

I didn't know that it could feel worse.  I didn't know I would be sobbing on the floor unable to get up.  I didn't know being ignored could feel so terrible.  I didn't know I could physically feel like someone was clawing at my heart and tearing it to shreds.  I didn't know that my words would never be able to encompass the depth of pain I feel.

I didn't know that just because it was unrequited that it would hurt even more.  I don't understand how.

It does.
It hurts like a motherfucker.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The point is...

I'm going to level with you;  I'm not doing too well.
I feel like I'm on the precipice of a nervous breakdown though I'm too aware of how unable I am to have one to actually ever let it happen.  Who would be there to pick up the pieces exactly should that happen?  I don't have the luxury of letting myself completely break down and decompose like I want to.  I resent that too, by the way.

The past year has been excruciating.  I'm now at the stage where I don't even look forward to weekends.  I don't even look forward to the long night ahead after work finishes.  What do people do with those hours exactly?  How are they filled?  I see them all before me and just get exhausted by the daunting task of navigating their emptiness.  I drive home, late with my fingers gripping the wheel and my stomach churning with pain the closer I get to my house.  I often take the long way home - sometimes driving close to 2 hours to postpone the inevitable nothingness that follows when I am here.

"What is the point of me?" is a question I ask of myself daily.  More than daily; perhaps closer to hourly.  It's a valid question.  What is the point of me?  I can see that I get up every morning, I pay my taxes, I work in a job that is giving back to the community, I love those around me, I am kind and giving (well, mostly), I am a good friend and a human that aims not to harm others but there is nothing there that actually has a point.  There is nothing there that makes being me actually worthwhile.  I'm not saying that I'm going to disappear any time soon - remember, who would be there to pick up the pieces and all that?  No, it's just - what is the point of all this emptiness?  I'm sick of sailing these seas.  I'm sick of being me.  I'm sick of getting up and paying my taxes and being a productive member of society.  I don't have the things that basic humans need - connection, hugs and love and so what is the point of me?  I keep asking - like as if I expect a disembodied voice to boom back an answer that makes sense.

But there is no disembodied voice.  There is no answer.  There is only that emptiness, stretching out before me tauntingly.

MVOR thinks this is productive of me; to be feeling so raw.  This rawness is new.  It's the repressed me that is now surfacing, that has to surface in order for me to peel it away and expose the new, I suppose.  But maybe not.  Maybe it's just me winding down, coming to terms with my supreme insignificance and a dawning of many more years of chaos and myself spiraling in a downward direction.

I wish I could say that I was having a moment of feeling sorry for myself but I'm honestly not.  I'm grateful for every wretched breath I draw.  I'm amazed by my ability to imagine beautiful things, always.  I'm inspired by the beauty I am able to find in every chaotic moment.  I recognise my unique qualities in seeing things that others don't and in surviving what others couldn't even imagine.  There is nobody I know that could handle the daily circumstances that I do and I wouldn't wish it on anyone either.  I'm amazing and all that.  I know.

But it's not enough for me to see what the point of all that is.  What is the point of me?  It's a question I'll keep asking until my voice grows hoarse and every silent beat that follows after sends me hurtling further and further into space away from everything and everyone.

What is the fucking point of me?

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Monday, February 24, 2014

What I Saw When I Was Looking

It's not often I'm in church, but today was a special occasion and I found myself there, sitting somewhere in the back with a good vantage point to people-watch.  A woman comes in and sits in a church pew by herself.  In only a few moments she is flicking her way through the prayer book and looking around nervously.  Mass starts and a little while later a tall, distinguished looking man comes in herding his two young daughters right next to the woman.

They are sitting there together now; woman, eldest daughter, youngest daughter, man - like a row of perfect dolls all together on the shelf. Her face lights up in recognition as she greets her eldest daughter and lifts her onto her lap kissing her numerous times with enthusiasm.  Soon, the woman starts doting - she is petting her child's arm, she is fixing her hair clip, she is kissing her, she is stroking her cheek.  The woman; mother, is in love.  I can tell by her gentleness and her caring and the way she touches her daughter but the smile that comes from within says it all.  I can feel the love from three rows behind and 7 seats to the right.

I can only assume the tall, bespectacled man is her husband.  He is attentive only to the sermon and priest.  He watches the altar with seriousness and absolute absorption; occasionally scratching at his shirt or fiddling with his watch.  I continue watching the woman though as she is a much more interesting subject.  I keep noticing that every so often she will look up at her husband and smile.  It's the same smile she gives her daughter but even more powerful, if possible.  She is absolutely besotted with this man; that forwards-starer.  She looks at him sideways, then she fixes her daughter's hair, then she looks at him again and grins and then looks down and immediately back up again and beams at him.  It's a smile that lights up the room, to use a cliché.  She flutters her eyelashes but she is not trying to flirt.  She blinks at him.  She stares.  She sighs. But he stares straight ahead at the altar, oblivious to her and oblivious to everything except the priest's ramblings.

After a while I stop watching them, finding more interesting subjects elsewhere but about halfway through the mass I glance back and notice that the woman has shuffled over sideways and planted herself next to her husband.  The kids are now both to her left.  He is relaxed, I can tell by the way he sits and she is leaning slightly into him, almost draped over him; as draped as you can get in church on a Sunday anyway.  They are clearly together.  They are clearly comfortable and loving towards each other.

I wonder how long they have been together.  The eldest looks about 4 years old.  It must be years.  But for all the years they have behind them and those yet still to come he will never know just how longingly and lovingly she looks at him when he's not paying attention.  Rather, to qualify he will never know just how besotted she was with him on Sunday 23rd February 2014.  Never!  I wonder a lot about the things we never see in those around us and those we take for granted because of assumption.  I wonder about all those unsaid moments and those things we never notice because we're too enthralled with other rambling ideas.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Displaced Person

When summer break began so did my spiral into delinquency.   I've become a serial graffitist; I graffiti comics on the walls of public restrooms.  I've been posting my scribblings on my IG account and by all accounts it's the first time in a long while that I've felt truly excited and inspired by something I've created.

I told MVOR about my new project after reminiscing about an old book I read as a teenager.   The book; Displaced Person by Lee Harding is the story about a boy who slowly started losing grip with reality to the point where he completely disappears from view and ceases to exist to all the people that once knew him in his life.  At first he finds it hard to get people's attention, then his parents start ignoring him and soon he slips through a crack in reality to find himself in a grey world where he can't engage at all with the life he once knew and wondering whether he was going mad or if this was some cruel joke being played on him by God.

MVOR was interested in the tale I told and immediately drew parallels between by own life of feeling invisible, undervalued and insignificant and the life of this fictional boy who was going through a displacement.

Then I told her about the graffiti.

Surprisingly, MVOR applauded me on this.  I was expecting her to question my reasons for doing so and to caution me against defacing public property but she didn't.  She laughed; of course you are doing this!  You are putting your hand up in the only way you know how.  You are making your mark.  You are asking people to see you, to notice you, to understand you.  You are reaching out and leaving a legacy.  You are validating yourself as a person worthy of being noticed.

Oh... well.  In that case...


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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Everybody Hurts, Sometimes.

I didn't intend on the hiatus.  No, really I didn't.  All I can think of by way of explanation is that it became hard to breathe again.  Not that I need an explanation of course, except perhaps to myself.

The beginning of October saw the 19th anniversary of my father's death.  It was the hardest milestone to live through that I can remember. Some years go by with barely a thought but last year was different.  I felt his absence, almost as badly as I felt it 19 years ago. I felt it in every pore and every thought.  I felt it with a deep, intense sadness that sticks around even today. I wish I could let it go.  I feel that by hanging on to it, I'm hanging on to his ghost somehow and stopping him somehow from finding peace.  It makes me feel even worse as I try to extract myself and to loosen this grip that seems to be so strong around him.

The thing is, I don't remember much about him; I've lived more than half of my life without him and time only ever moves forwards, not backwards.  I will never know more than what I know now and what does a 16 year old know about her father anyway?  I have been thinking a lot about the things I missed out on though and the things I learnt too early but wished I hadn't.  Things like; men leave.  I know it's not a truth, but it is my truth and it's something I learnt the hard way.  That notion has shaped my adulthood.  I can't change it.  I can't take it back.  I can't bring back the lost years either.  Time is difficult to deal with and though I am conscious of the ridiculousness of some of the notions I have they are also not without basis and therefore all the more difficult to let go.

I'm not even sure why, but I've thought about my father every day for the past 3 months since the anniversary of this death.  I've thought about the funny things he would say, or his smile or his advice... none of it is real.  It's all nostalgia - memories changed and I'm sure some made up completely.  The dead take on a ripe glow; all the past mistakes forgotten.  You forget the things you hated and you revere the things you loved until they become an object of only love.  It's not real and it's unfair for those left behind but this is what happens. Meanwhile, I didn't know grief could still feel this bad but it does.  It feels awful.  I wish I could go back for one last hug.  A real one.  It feels like a long, long time since I had a real hug from someone who really loved me.

I suppose the other reason I've been absent is the perpetual elephant in the room An awakening of sorts for me.  But what an awakening - every piece of my heart sings or sinks at any given moment.  On the one hand it's lovely to wake up to it but on the other hand - tear my heart out why dontcha?  I'd forgotten about this part... I'm reminded of John Hughes' movie 16 Candles.  The dad gives a newly 16 year old Molly Ringwald some fatherly advice:

Sam: "I know, but it hurts..."
Sam's Dad: "Thats why they call them crushes, if they were easy they'd call 'em something else."

And so from someone who lost their father at 16 and who never had the chance to have a bit of fatherly advice; thanks John Hughes.  I get it.  It hurts.  Everything at the moment hurts.

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