I am Strong. I am Ready. I am ME

Shipley upperSometimes I just stand there, on the edge of a sheer cliff, afraid to fall. I look all around me, remembering everything that I fear, and it freezes me in a moment replayed in my life over and over again. I struggle to grasp at hand holds that don’t really exist, while looking all around me for the safety that was never truly mine to have.

Yes, I freeze. Yes, I panic. Yes, I thrash all about like a fucking fish caught in a net. I never seem to realize that the net is my own making, my own design, and my own failure.

Sometimes I just want to get all “giggity” with it. In those times I thumb my nose at society, causing what others call “a stirring of the pot”. I rail against the ideas of man that seem to bind him to a prison he’s chosen to live in. I lash out, pointing my finger in disdain and ideological superiority. I can’t help myself, I’ve lived so many things and felt so much in this life that I know better.

Yes, I know better. Or so I think. In the moments when society acts in disharmony I react. When ideas become more important that souls, I respond. When beliefs trump people I stand up, needing to be heard. I am the rescuer, the protector. It is who I am.

So I thrash around like a fish in a net reacting to all I see as injustice in the world, never realizing (again) that the net is of my own making, and of my own design. I battle its rusted cords, and it responds by binding me tighter to the very things I struggle against. I become those things simply by giving them my attention.

I don’t vilify myself for these sins. It is these moments when I miss the mark of joy, that I truly get to experience completeness. I realize their purpose, which is and always will be, to enhance my experience. I realize I struggle not because of what is, but because of the net I’ve created that tells me what should be. I don’t struggle because of the way others see me, I struggle because of the way I see myself in their judgment.

There is always little gaps in the joys of man. Rolling hills exist in the valleys, and the valleys exist upon the summits of our lives. Once, little gaps of consciousness filled my unconscious moments. Now, it is just the opposite, with those tiny valleys of fear providing me with the contrast I need to see the enormous summits of great promise all around me.

I don’t seek to be perfect because I realize I am already perfect. Yes, I hear you, that annoying little voice of Young Tommy singing in my ear. I know calling myself perfect is a travesty. It is narcissistic, it is egoic, and it is a painful reminder of how imperfect we are taught to be. Yes, I hear you, and I realize in my soul of Souls that you are just another voice I need to know in order to know myself, and I honor you in the passing. Enjoy the show, Young Man, you are about to be realized.

So I took a walk this morning. I wrestled with my fears and my anxiety, and the belief that I still have much to lose. I have nothing, and once I conquer the fear of losing nothing I can regain my composure enough to keep climbing. I will deal with judgments the way I deal with the voices in my life because, after all, they are nothing more than my own voice replayed to me by the walls of the canyons I now survey. Those echoes once drove me, and still do to a certain point, and perhaps now it is time to hear a different tune.

Perhaps the greatest gifts I have to give is the great love I have within me. That love won’t always show itself in the way we were taught. It won’t always smile, or gently caress, or offer words that appear to encourage. Sometimes that love shows itself in a frown, in a tear, in the sharpness of my tongue and the courage of my wit. Sometimes it looks harsh, and others it looks amazingly like something far from the paintings of love we like to pretend are truthful realities.

Sometimes love looks like an earthquake. Sometimes it looks like a volcanic eruption. Sometimes it is so destructive that we fear it, and run and hide from its non-judgmental eyes. Sometimes it sweeps us away in winds, or carries us to oblivion in floods, or burns us into ash by fire. Yet, it is love nonetheless, judged harshly as something far more sinister, created by the egos of man simply afraid of his own shadow.

So, sometimes I’ll shake you. Sometimes I will blow you away. Sometimes you will burn the bridge that binds us in the very thought of me. None of that changes the fact that I love you, even if the wind carries you far away from the space on which I sit. I may be rooted here, and the wind may carry you there, but you will always be a part of me. Where you go, a part of me goes with you, even if you see that part as something unworthy of the journey, and even if you have no recollection of the adventure we share.

My past allows me to see my present though the eyes of perspective. I get to see how much I’ve grown, how much I’ve blossomed in the past years. I now see a mighty Sequoia where a sapling once stood, and while that tree may get jostled in the wind from time-to-time, I know each breeze is but a result of my height. The weather changes near the summit, but you don’t feel it because each step prepares you for the next.

I am strong. I am ready. I am, ME.

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everything…nothing

60 minutes of Night SkyThere are times when I just want to let go, to say “fuck it all” and move on. The stress builds, the anxiety presses hard on my temples, and I can feel the pit of despair throb deeply in the pit of my Being.

I wonder what is there is store for me? Is it destitution? Is it poverty? Is it the loss of everything I once held dear?

The struggle is mighty, and it weighs on me. I’ve found so much love in my soul as I’ve struggled before, is there something I am yet missing? Have I not so completely embraced the path of love and surrender that I cannot surrender yet these paltry things?

What do you want from me? I scream to the empty sky. Who do I need to be? Where do I need to go? To what end will you find solace for this tired body, this weary mind, this tattered heart? What must I give just to find the peace I deserve? 

Nothing, whispers the morning wind. Everything, shouts the open sea.

I fall to my knees. Not in prayer, but in resignation. Maybe they are one in the same, maybe they are totally different. The clouds are born from that open sea, yet owe it nothing save the drops of rain that give my ocean life renewed. Those clouds owe it nothing, yet give it everything.

The mud embracing my softened knees remind me. Here is a place neither sand nor sea, yet a lot of both. The sand does not complain when it gives itself to the sea, and the sea offers no resistance as it settles in places it is not.

There is no place I am not, suggests the sea. I am everywhere, and I am everything. I am there because I don’t hold back, I don’t resist. I owe nothing, but I give everything.

Humans are different, or so we are taught. We need things in which to live. We dedicate our lives to such things, and we often sell our souls to maintain any part of this humanity. Fuck…which game do I play now?

I’ll leave it be. I’ll do what I can and watch things lay themselves out. I’ll meditate more to get rid of this shakiness. I work out to protect my body. I lose what I must and move where I will. It is the way…

 

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A Walk in the Schoolyard

Baby, please. Hold my hand.

Let’s walk around the schoolyard, and be teased by all the kids. Let’s move in our own world not fearing the mockery of those who only wish a finger would be held lovingly in their direction. Let’s smile tenderly at the moment regardless of a world set against our tide.

I’ll sneak a hug when they’re not looking, and then kiss you hard when they are. Such a kiss explodes with passion, so much so that they can only stutter in shock, left without the words to describe the passion they had witnessed.

We’ll avoid all of the dry places in the playground, choosing instead to jump joyfully in the puddles. We’ll slosh around in our soaked shoes making fun of the noises that follow every footfall. We’ll laugh at those who shake their heads in wonderful disbelief, and we’ll scoff at those who try to tell us how it is we should be walking. “Stay dry!” they’ll say. “Get out of the water!” they’ll demand. “Look at those fools!” they’ll say to one another to comfort their needy heart.

To them we’ll speak in our laughter. We’ll respond in the sounds of splashing as we leap. We’ll reassure their hearts that yes, this too is possible for you.

We’ll rarely see our differences. They will only serve to highlight where we stand together. Instead, we’ll share the laughter, the play, the effort, and the passion of a love shared without delay. Our footprints will look different but they will be side-by-side. Our hearts won’t always beat in synchronicity, but beat together they will. Our space is not one of humanness alone, but rather divine in its construction and faithful in its resolve.

There we stand, in our schoolyard, changing everything. Like great meteors, we ripple in the Sea. Like great quakes, we raise mountains from the flatlands. Like great lovers we create passion within the puddles, and bathe endlessly in the Sun.

Then, one day when times begins to end and all things cease to be, there will just be you, and there will just be me. What a journey that will be.

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Treasures from Medieval York - The Cawood SwordHow do I tell you the secrets of my heart? How do I tell you the indescribable truth? How do I describe the beauty of this moment?

This is how.

I plant my sword in the ground and stand firm against the tide. I hold your hand. I lessen the load when your day has been hard. I cook our meals when you are too tired to stand. I warm you when the cold has battered your mind.

I hold a torch when you want to explore the dark areas. I hold a rope when you want to climb. I catch you when you fall.

I live simply as to not distract us from our truth. I listen to your thoughts and hold them dear, even when we disagree. I see you as you are, and love you for the way you fly freely. I smile when I hear your laughter even if I can’t see you hidden among the clouds.

I shed tears with you, and become an oak for you to lean. I let you pick me up when I fall, dust me off when I am dirty, and bathe me when the mood suits you. I fold your clothes when you aren’t looking, wash the dishes while you rest, sweep the floor before you start looking for the broom.

I caress your skin when you can’t sleep, rub your shoulders when the aching starts, move the hair from your eyes when I need a shot of living. I never let you forget how beautiful you are, and I experience joy in the way you talk, the way you think, and the way you are.

I hold you tightly when the sadness comes, and help hold your head above water when the torrents rain down upon us. I clear the brush so you can see the Sun and let you rest you head upon my chest as we watch the Moon rise above the mountains. I stay silent so you can hear the bubbling of a crystal stream as we sit enjoying the simplicity of it all.

I find equal pride as I gaze upon our footprints in the sand, even in the times when it is you who have carried me. I love the hills that we climb, the trails we blaze together, and the puddles we jump into with reckless abandon.

Sometimes words are only words. They fail us. They don’t answer the question. They don’t tell the truth. They simply are not enough.

Sometimes words are just too wordy.

Sometimes you need to do the things you wish to say. Sometimes you need to be the sermon, preach by deed, and lead by example. Sometimes telling you how much I love you is not enough. Sometimes all I’ll have to do is touch you, and you’ll never need a word.

I want to be the love I wish you to see. I want to be the one who stands tall, love’s sword in hand, ready to do battle. Sometimes you find strength in the hand that holds the hilt, and sometimes you find strength in the hand that lets it go.

And I have. And you will. Until we meet again.

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From the Mouth of Babes

Death of a Light Bulb

Someone I knew just died. He died a horrific death, one that I would not have wished on anyone. I can only hope that his fear was comforted, his suffering brief, and his ending swift. I can also only hope that his family is able to find comfort in the lives they shared, and joy in the moments they remember.

I do not want condolences for me. I didn’t like the guy, issues stemming from high school bullshit that it seems I haven’t gotten over. Yet, as I read the story of his death, and saw the pictures of his loving family, the memory of anger began to be replaced by the experience of love. His young son will cry tears of great sorrow, tears that will effect him his entire life to come. His beautiful and devoted wife will miss her husband, her partner, and she will find an empty space beside her for some time to come as fate has dealt an ugly hand.

I don’t know his family, and I didn’t know the man, now.

He seemed to be an accomplished man in societal terms, having built a business doing what he seemed to love. There were mentions of his athletic prowess, his volunteering in working with kids develop their own athletic prowess. It appears his son has the same skills, and the same passions.

One can only hope that light is not dimmed, and that what inspired this young man continues. Yet, we know that loss can be a harsh teacher. A boy without his father is not the same boy at all.

The man seemed to have been a church-going man, and was described as a man comfortable in knowing his soul was prepared for whatever end that was coming. I think our souls are always prepared, it’s our minds, disconnected from the awareness of divine confidence, that aren’t. It seemed he had found some connection there, a connection I am sure served him well when the time came.

The reason I am sharing all of this is because the experience has offered me a vast realization. Regardless of how present we may normally be, or how enlightened we may feel, or how peaceful we may see ourselves as, there is always something to remind us of our humanity. There is always something that reminds us of this dream we call life, and our power within it.

I sat with my decades-old anger. I replayed scenes over and over again as the child in me raged with the wounds newly exposed. I could feel the salt rise, the passion replace the compassion, the fantasy overtook my reality.

I didn’t’ try to stop it. No, resistance is not only futile, but gives the beast great power. Instead, I allowed that river to flow, staying out of its way while compassionately observing it. I sat, firm, in the resolution that I needed this experience, and I would honor it for what it was going to teach me.

And teach me it did. Anger is now gratitude, chaos is now peace, and the rage of then has now been replaced by the love of Now.

I don’t seek accolades for this. Instead, I just wanted to show the great power of loving Awareness. We can heal ourselves, but first we must love ourselves without questions. We must stop vilifying ourselves for our thoughts, our reactions, our humanness.  We have to embrace who we are, lovingly observe who we are, and sometimes do nothing but allow the natural change that comes. A change that will come quite naturally if we just stop hating ourselves and trying to restrain who we are.

I don’t hate the child in me, so I let him have his turn. I marvel quite joyously and his anger, and give him due. He deserves his moments, for he’s lived enough to have them. I realize, though, that his influence on the Man I Am cannot be long. I hear his voice, and I feel his reactions, but ultimately the Man I Am decides what the present moment will bring. So, I figuratively love the boy I was as the Man I Am, and from that springs all things.

So, in this morning’s meditation I was able to hold the man I once knew in high regard, and forgive the boy he was. I realize neither of us truly exist anymore, so holding onto such a low standard is my fault, not his. I suffer at my own hand, no one else’s.

He who does not know himself cannot truly know others. In this moment I can hold the man’s family in such loving compassion and do whatever I’m called to do to comfort. I can freely move within a world not always friendly, but always loving in wisdom. I can love openly having loved despite myself.

Peace.

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A Glorious Sentiment by Amy Noble (Guest Writer)

entanglementWhen will I ever learn that I cannot write away someone who is a part of me?  I cannot do this any more than I could breathe without lungs.  I have lost count of the endless journals filled with memories of your eyes.  Page upon page lubricated with the flow of my heart.  Those eyes~ of which I will never gaze upon again but some nights they still haunt me in dreams.  I know with certainty that you still reside in my bones.  You formed layers around them making my flesh transparent.  You were the exposer of my hidden.  So much that surfaced to your hands.  The ones waiting to hold the depths of me.

You are and ever still my endless string of prose.  “You are the stillness, the fleeting.  You are the slow burn of a good word flow.”  The memories of us are my keepsakes.  The ones buried in my hope chest.  The ones I sift through on endless nights where nostalgia and I share the wine.  Although I will never again kick up my feet and collapse into the sofa that love,  I still feel you near me at times.  Entangled in the magic that only you and I exude.

You are a beautiful mess, so much my equal aren’t you?  You are in many ways my male reflection. You are a down home rhythm to my rhyme.  If only our melody had played on a bit longer.  At day’s break it is your form I sometimes reach for, sleepy-eyed, before I realize I am grasping for a ghost.  At day’s end it is you that finds a way into my poetic prayers.  I have found a cleansing through the wreckage that loss leaves in its wake.  You have become something I no longer wish to ignore.  We were a part of something grand if only for a while.  A cherished sequence of fate that will always define parts of my being.  I do not regret you.  You are a part of my story.

So I will continue to scatter parts of you, parts of what was what is and what is to become, into my prose.  I would be lying if I said the way you once looked at me will never find its way into the stories that I tell or the characters derived from our love.  The aftermath of you no longer swallows me with sorrow but brings me to the floors of thankfulness.  Thankful that I was given a taste of raw, a drink of real, a breath of kindred.  Maybe you will be reading, listening.  Maybe you will smile and be warmed, knowing you found your way out of the chasm of this heart and into a glorious sentiment.

 

From Amy’s blog. You can visit this post at http://www.amymarienoble.com/2015/04/29/a-glorious-sentiment/.

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He asked “Why are you a writer?”, what came next changed his life forever.

“Why are you a writer?” he asked across the table.

“I needed to find my lover,” came the reply.

“How?”

A sigh, a moment, and then the letting go.

She came to me in words, in the music that flowed from somewhere out there, into me, and out through my fingers. She’d whisper to me in songs that set my mind to dancing, and in music that set my body into motions I have never known. She’d wake me from my sleep with rays of light peeking above my life’s horizon. 

She blinded me with love so that I would always, always, see. I write to paint the pictures of her that my open eyes now see. I use words to beat a path through the underbrush, a path that leads to me. I share bits of me that I leave laying on the ground, hoping she’ll follow that trail into my open arms.

She came to me a million moments before I met her, and I’ve loved her from the first. There is no rhyme or reason, or words set to page that can tell you how I really feel. Yet my words are not for you, they’re for her. She knows, and one day she will be, and my story will be complete. 

“Wow,” said he, “that’s amazing. How do you know she’ll come?”

Because she has to. She can’t help herself. Be it in this life or some other, she will come. Until then, I set my pen to page, my heart to beating, my soul to searching, and I love her just the same. 

I’ll never need to let her go because I will never have ever trapped her. She is, as we speak, flying freely and bathing in the choices of her design. When she comes, we’ll be ready. Until then, there is a life to live and a space that needs preparing. Love is, or should be, like that. We don’t find each other suddenly, we’re in each other all along.

“I wish you well,” said he. “Sounds like a fairy tale to me.”

Perhaps it is. One that ends, “and they lived happily ever after.” We all live in stories, I wish mine to end like that.

“Me too,” said he. “I never thought of it like that. Thank you. I don’t feel so bad about being single.”

We laughed, we toasted, and set to waiting once again.

 

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