is the one where everything is unfamiliar.
The air is cold and unforgiving,
the landscape mysterious and terrifying.
It feels like you’re drowning and flying at the same time.
Every stranger is a shadow that looms over you,
with threatening auras on all sides.
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It’s easy to forget about tragedy when it’s left in the past.
Soon enough, the gunshots fade from memory,
especially in those who were not first-person witnesses,
and the zeitgeist stabilizes.
It is only when pain becomes permanent in the minds of the majority
that change occurs.
Today, I am 20-years-old.
Though it is not the new year, it is my new year.
The world somehow feels different now,
like I have undergone a great transformation,
but not too different.
No, rather my life has felt much more like a pebble in a slingshot.
As a kid, I was gently put into the pouch.
Always cared for, life never felt stressful, even as the world around me went on in disaster.
As a teen, the hand of time pulled back on the bands would
eventually send me flying.
At that point, I only held a fraction of the knowledge I do now.
By the time I am 50 or so, I will be soaring through the air,
eventually landing into the ground that will be my final resting place.
Maybe it is presumptuous of me to assume I will make it that far,
but if I do I only hope my landing isn’t turbulent.
But I am twenty now.
The bands have just been released and I am beginning my flight through unknown airspace.
The worst thing about being a pebble is that during all of this,
It’s pretty hard not to feel small.
Even while in the air I still don’t know where I will end up.
For now, I will spend my days trying to be more like a rock:
Sturdy, not as easily moved by whatever wind is blowing that day,
comfortable in their position, mostly on the ground...stable.
I don’t know what it is that I want for my birthday, except for stability.
There have been many times I’ve felt useless, like the kind of useless you feel when a friend stops believing love is real, and you are both sitting together in her car, and she is crying.
I try and offer solace but it never quite makes it off the tip of my tongue.
She asked me how to make tears stop falling from her face.
I told her that the rain only stops once the storm is over,
When all that can be released has been.
At the moment it felt like telling a drug addict
to just stop taking pills. That was how useless I was.
And so, we rode through the night.
The bass in the car was enough to rattle our seats,
and the music drowned out any coherency.
The moon was full and beautiful.
I could not hear my friends,
but I knew they were there.
That night, I was not alone.
As a guy, it can be pretty hard to be vulnerable.
Your wants and desires get held captive by a fear of seeming weak,
and sometimes even molded by it.
However, it gets a lot easier to talk about the things you want out of life
when someone who cares about you is listening.
It becomes as if there is no one, except elevated by a warm, caring smile,
and a hug when the conversation is over.
I think, that, if I had to make a list of things that make life better, that would be number one.
The first time I traveled deep into my mind,
I was terrified.
It was a land where the sun was always gone,
and the moon had long since been removed.
In other words, there was no light, no hope.
This was a world that rumbled, that tremored.
The very ground I stood on was unstable.
The darkness laid thick over everything,
to the point where even my own hand remained invisible to me.
I knew it would be a long journey, but I thought I could handle it.
However, this world also made noises,
More than just rumbles and tremors.
It shrieked, it roared, it howled, it...cried.
Before I ventured further than the gates,
I remember thinking, “I’m gonna need a lot more
than war paint.”
It is hard to control yourself when
emotions have been bottled up,
and now they are spilling out onto the floor.
The right response is hard to describe,
and yet probably involves some combination of
crying, yelling, kicking, and a nap.
Mental health is not a container into which you pour your
problems. It is so much more fragile.
I had a dream last night,
one about an alternate reality.
It was a world in which I did not hate myself.
One in which happiness was not a natural resource
that was running out.
One in which the weight of the world was but a few small feathers
I forgot were even on my back.
One in which being alive meant more than just surviving,
it was a world in which getting out of bed was a good thing.
Then, I woke up. I remembered that gravity affects us all the same,
and that depression is always weighing me down.
I checked for the scars of my past, and they were still there.
the car I built to leave this place is out of gas,
except the car is actually just my legs.
I am tired because I have been walking for a while.
The night sky looks like a starry soup,
with each star lighting up the trees above me.
I am alone, and I am relaxed.