No matter where I had gone and no matter what I had done, I always ended up feeling inadequate. Maybe it was because LA was such a small big city, like someone had already done most of the things that were to be done by me; and even the stories that I was sure were unique to me and my experiences – had already lost its value by clichés. How was I supposed to be a good enough writer if all the things I wanted to say were boring stories about dysfunctional families, distant boys, and a selfish ethos. It didn’t feel good enough, ever – so most of my days were spent in a daze of beating self-doubt and moving sluggishly towards a nonexistent aim. All I kept writing over and over again was the same story, about the same city, about the same people, about the same feeling. How many times can my keyboard stand the pressure from my fingers beating upon it stories of insignificant friendships or courtships or sinking ships. Screw them – they’re not good enough to be part of your inspiration, how lucky they must be to be a part of your creative overdose.
“ Inadequate clichés, you’re full of inadequate clichés” – the voice inside me yells
I know I know, none of it matters. I should go find little boys who sit outside of churches; praying, hiding, lying – fearing another’s god, never going inside. But I still fall back into those little boys who might grow up to become big boys, and most of them would freeze up and feel nothing, ever; and the others will become so broken and lonely, the ones who never ever fully recover from their heartaches, so they’ll build skyscrapers of devotion through the burden in their world- they will construct their entire world on the foundation of an infatuated homicide. What a beautiful architect of heartache you must be. Like those little boys outside who fear an invisible god, (an invincible god?)
‘Call 911, there are words and feelings running through me!’
I write over and over about the same people because they’re all I know. Who must I write about if not the ones who love me unconditionally, the ones who go out of town and I leave them voicemails about how I definitely don’t think I can go on. Who else must the stories be about? Of course the ones who break our hearts, the hearts we break, knowingly (or unknowingly) the ones who push us off the tightrope the ones who push us forward, or push us aside.
Little boys praying outside to an angry god might be the same boys who break our hearts. The same ones who play on the train tracks feeding off the thrill of the approaching train. Every time the train gets close a part of him wishes he could stay still — & see what comes next.
“I should have packed warmer clothes,’ I say to myself as I sit on a too cold bench watching a too old game, a soccer game? a football game? a basket ball game? - all the same. I’m freezing underneath these covers for they cannot cover my ability to fake the shattered dignity beneath my clothes. I should have packed warmer clothes to cover the cracks. I should have packed warmer clothes because the weather isn’t the only freezing wind that blows this way. All that is, and all that should have been, all that I should have seen – drowns in the local ocean now. I should have packed better armor to withstand this.
“You have lost control, all control,” the voice yells
I know I know, how can I not? The thrill is exhilarating I can hardly breathe without it. Don’t blame me – you see it’s all the fault of another, had I only told you when the time was right. No, no; the time was never right, our timelines were not meant to cross, only to stop & in a vacuum have us share our breathes underneath a street lamp. This ride I’m on is because I wish for you to see me breaking & save me, soon after realizing being saved is pathetic I run faster towards the sight of destruction, when the bomb finally goes off my body parts will scatter on this planet and maybe a flower will bloom from its disastrous tragedy.
I am neither asleep nor awake – always in between wishing to articulate the words I have been too afraid to say. In another lifetime, on another timeline – I could have been braver. And as I clutch onto my black leather jacket and fight against the cold air, I only wish to disappear into the air, I only wish to rest my head on the concrete and wish I brought warmer clothes and a colder heart.
The little boys playing outside of churches are the lonely boys outside of nightclubs; with terrified eyes seeing stars, always wondering if the choices they make are the right ones. Wondering between the ones they cherish and the ones that perish.
“An emptiness is in you,” it yells
An emptiness I can’t control for it comes from within me. I wish I had learned that before, maybe I would have packed warmer clothes. Though when the clock strikes demise, I pray for warmer clothes anyway- every time.
I had someone once tell me “you don’t always tell the truth”. He was listing all the things he “knows” about me and that was one of them. At first I was astounded, scared almost. What had he found out? Which lie did he catch? Was he smarter than I thought he was? Wait, no that can’t be it – or maybe that was it – I mean by articulating the idea that I don’t always tell the truth, meant that he could express an idea without being specific. He could give me such a bold statement with an empty denotation. Of course, I don’t always tell the truth – nobody always tells the truth, that’s the absolute truth. I think that was the day I realized his laziness with people, he didn’t try at it- he never had to. If he wasn’t given certain realities about people, then he did not have to try. In fact, this was what was wrong with so many of us- we didn’t care enough. We didn’t care enough about others.
David Foster Wallace once discussed the illness of depression as being a narcissistic illness. He argued that it was one essentially created by the human mind – for the human mind, I mean at least that’s what I got from it. Is it even an illness? I mean, cancer is an illness. You can see it, you can even touch it sometimes and feel your skin crawl with the idea of death – but depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies… were they illnesses? If so, how did you know if you had it? Weren’t we all ill, then? I mean every being of this world aches for something, is saddened by an idea – and sure the argument would be that depression isn’t necessarily being sad, but being hopeless, helpless, … careless? Some would argue that the “treatment” with individuals like this was not the extermination of “sadness” but the gift of hope. The idea that it’s okay to wake up every morning and try to be the best you can be. But wouldn’t the depressed person have hope already? I mean, isn’t that the thing that causes us to be thrust into melancholy anyway? The idea that things can get better but don’t.
The “illness” of depression is intriguing and controversial because there is essentially no cure to it, therapy can help you walk out of the doors of depression and feel the weather outside but the door remains ajar and every time it gets too cold we run inside. Any other medication for the elimination of depression only causes more depression. Anti-depressants don’t make you happy, they just make you “not sad” – but the “not sad” doesn’t necessarily translate into happy, not really. The idea of “not sad” that anti-depressants provide is essentially the numbing of any pain, but also the numbing of any feeling in general – consequently making us “not sad” but also “not happy” – neutral, nothing.
Depression is a narcissistic illness because it gives us the excuse we’re looking for to not try. There is no cure for depression, the way there is no cure for sadness – but only more sadness until sadness is not enough – so we either end the pain altogether or choose to see if there’s anything else.
I don’t always tell the truth just as you don’t always tell the truth. I am capable of all the sad and hopeless emotion that you are capable of. You are not better than me, no matter how many times you attempt to kill yourself to prove it.
I’m sorry. Among the many things that I have learned from the time I have spent apart from you, I have learned a great deal about myself. I have learned that I can’t change, no matter how much I want to change for you. I beg of you to please not expect any more of me, I cannot bare the thought of failing you again. I’m sorry about my inflexible selfishness and my disastrous unpredictability. I’m sorry that my heart is so out of tune so permanently broken. I’m sorry that my thoughts reach distances you can’t see and my words don’t sound as beautiful as they look. I’m so so so terribly sorry for constantly bringing you back into battle, like a tired soldier on the front-lines – you keep coming back, as if waiting for death- almost welcoming it. Why do you make it so easy for me?
It’s a mistake to believe that missing people means we wish for their presence – sometimes it’s just the pain we cling to.
How to Properly Miss Someone
Hope this helps.
Some people think that the whole ‘if you’re happy, then I’m happy’ thing is bullshit. Mostly referring to two people who have different opinions about how their lives should be. For example, ‘if you love something let it go’ they say. I used to think this was bullshit too, because I used to be convinced that when you love people you fight to have them in your life, there is nothing else you want but to selfishly keep them caged in your heart and in your life. That’s what I used to think for a long time; I used to believe that if people truly loved each other they wouldn’t be able to leave even if they wanted to. As if somehow the force that was keeping them together would resist the urge of one of them (or both of them) to break apart. That’s because I used to believe that love, no matter what, no matter how, prevailed in the end; as if love will keep us together even through all the heartache, pain, and betrayal. But I think I’m starting to realize that love isn’t an excuse and it’s not a force that keeps things from falling apart. The storm is here and it’s the end.
Real love is the ability to say “wherever you go, whatever you decide to do, and with whom you decide to do it with it’s okay, because you are a human being that I value, a human being that I care about, and if you’re happy, I’m happy.” It’s one of the hardest things to do because as human beings we want to surround ourselves with the things and the people we love. We sort of want to create a pool of lovely people to drown in- maybe not literally drown in but to be able to say ‘this is me and these are my people- no one more wonderful than them has ever existed as far as I’m concerned and they’re all mine, all of them.’ But from time to time people get tired of being yours, and that’s when you have to let them go.
Sometimes we care about people so much we forget about the fact that they are…people. They’re changing, they’re growing, and keeping them selfishly for you is almost like betraying them. You have to let them go out into the world because they need to be able to find themselves and find happiness. Now, if this is a significant other or a best friend, it doesn’t really matter because in the end it’s the same – if you love something, you let it go – you let it go out into the world to search for their soul, maybe they’ll come back or maybe they’ll decide not to. This might sound a bit depressing but it’s not because while they’re looking for their soul and you think all you’re doing is waiting for their return, you’ll find that you too have decorated your garden with new flowers. You start meeting lovely people, (maybe even lovelier), and you realize that life is not about having a soul mate bla bla bla, it’s about the moments of stumbling from stone to stone. It’s about meeting wonderful people who teach you things, people who might walk away eventually too. Who knows what life has in store, but the important thing is not to be afraid to love freely and love often. True love isn’t about your relationship status on Facebook, no no - true love is wanting nothing but the best for the person who broke your heart.
Michael Cunningham once said, “I feel like I’m always on the brink of something that never arrives. I want to either have it or be free of it.” I think what he meant was that we constantly live on the shore of a beautiful blue sea – waiting for a ship…a ship we can’t describe. As if the thought of staying ashore forever is terrifying beyond belief. How can we not see the rest of the sea? There are so many islands and shores we haven’t seen, so many winds we haven’t chased, and so much sand we haven’t walked upon- how can we be content with just this view of the sun?
This feeling, whether fulfilled or not, never goes away. We are constantly threatened with good enough, as if the mere idea of being perfectly okay with where we are scares us. I think Mr. Cunningham is trying to articulate the stability of change—as if it’s really the only thing that does not actually change. We are ‘here’ but we wish to be ‘there’ and when ‘there’ becomes ‘here’ it is no longer sufficiently aiding to our needs – it is now a cage trapping our being. We slowly but surely start to suffocate – and soon enough we are not happy, our lives have betrayed us. We were deceived and held under life’s sharp claws and we must now gracefully find a new garden to call home. Darkness will come over us from time to time and as Stephen King so intrepidly writes, “Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again.”
We all deserve to love and be loved. Not like the way people settle for one another and call it “love”—no no I mean real love. The love that consumes you and there’s really nothing else in this world that matters. The kind you secretly rejoice drowning in- even if it may lead to death and destruction. Settling for anything less than the beautiful melancholy of love is sad- it’s the kind of sadness that will never change, because unless you can lean over and kiss the top of your lover’s head – you are not really living.
Melly Anne Dawson was smart and sometimes she even thought she was the smartest person in the world, and she always made the dumbest choices. One day, she found herself sober enough to write a letter – a letter she might never send, but a letter she needed to write.
I don’t know if I will have the strength to articulate what I want to say to you in person. You always tell me I don’t call, dad always tells me how I should call more, because you and grandpa are old – and with old age comes the constant fear of death. Would it be so bad? Death, I mean. Sometimes I wonder if pure bliss is the last moment of your life – I imagine it to be poetic. I imagine a lot of words running through my mind, like the final realization of my existence, my meaning. Death is not scary, living is. I am so afraid of living that it baffles me of where these feelings come from, and something tells me you might be the only one who will understand. What is this constant feeling inside of me that is so unhappy? Why am I so unhappy? I am so truly blessed, what is it that makes me fear the night and dread the morning? There is a feeling in my chest as if there was a balloon in there that has been filled with too much helium and its outsides are stretching so thin that they will burst at any moment, I wonder what would happen to me if the balloon burst. I wish you were here, how come I’ve never felt the need for your presence before? You should have been here from the start, because I fear you are the only one who knows me, and has known me even before I had known myself. There is nothing in this world; there is no one in this world – that will be able to really make me happy, until I make myself happy. I know that now, I also know that no matter how much I go shopping or how many of my friends I call – I won’t be able to fill that void in me – the one that’s always been empty. You know that feeling where you’re in a room full of people, but there’s really no one around? I feel like that all the time, and now I understand you did too. I’m sorry I wasn’t old enough to be your friend, but I hope it’s not too late.
With eternal love,
Neil Gaiman wrote, “I really don’t know what ‘I love you’ means. I think it means ‘don’t leave me here alone.” Even for people who have never experienced the kind of love that books are written about, we can still all agree on the fact that love helps us be a little less lonely, even the kind of love that hurts you more than it helps you, love is still powerfully courageous. As in, it still stands beside you through all the bullshit, even if the bullshit is caused, mainly, by it. That’s the weird thing about love, being in love, loving people – it all becomes one big blur of emotions. You’re not quiet sure if it’s hate, pity, despair, or desperation that’s keeping you so attached to people, but you just call it love because you can’t find any other words for it. You say you love someone because they keep you warm, not physically warm – or maybe that too, but internally warm – as if their sudden disappearance will bring a wave of icy air into your lungs and into your heart. Maybe that’s why we’re constantly trying to be around one another, because our basic instincts like to wander into warmer places – like standing under a constant sunshine. But if that’s the case, if love is just a selfish act of keeping warm, then here are a few other things I love you can mean;
Maybe things don’t end the way we would want them to, and that’s where the heartache is. Maybe it’s not really what happened but the fact that we didn’t see it coming, the way we couldn’t say the last things we wanted to say. It’s like we had it all planned out, even the end – but it didn’t work out our way, it never does. The shock of the unexpected is far more of a burden on our hearts than the reality of the occurrence. If only we were prepared for it, if only someone taught us how to keep graceful under situations of doubt and confusion. I think we would have been okay if we were prepared, yes..that’s what I think. All I needed was a prep course and I would have been okay. You would have been okay. We would have been okay.
No, but I guess we are okay. I’m sorry, yes we’re perfectly okay. All of us. The bullet of the unexpected was dangerous and deadly, but of course it was! How else would we know life if it weren’t so close to death? That’s what keeps us going, and yes we go on job interviews we don’t get, we fail at friendships, we love, we lose, and we sometimes forget to say ‘I’m sorry.” – but we somehow fall back into place.
Please please please don’t be afraid to run after the unimaginable, conquer the unconquerable, love the unlovable, and forgive the unforgivable.