short stories · thoughts

~ Back in the Fog ~

fog
~ Back In The Fog ~

Sometimes it just comes out of nowhere. One day you’ll be strolling down the streets of life, completely content with how things are, then suddenly the light starts to dwindle and you find yourself back in the fog. It is a state of being which is mostly referred to as depression. For me, depression for me was never about feeling down or sad. Rather it was a sort of void where just to feel something would have been welcome; even feelings of sadness, nostalgia, and melancholy were desirable when you were depressed, because that was at least feeling, and I felt that true depression is an overwhelming emptiness inside – a complete sense of nothingness – and this was the most soul-destroying thing a human could experience. A life without light, or feeling, or hope, or desire. Just a senseless, barren wilderness where you lingered like a ghost in the fog without any light to lead you home. And even if you were to speak to someone about it, you couldn’t even put your finger on what exactly the problem was. Your life may have appeared to be fine based on external appearances; but, of course, as we knew from the rich and famous were commiting suicide, depression did not discriminate based on aesthetic factors, and appearances could be dangerously deceiving. 

For me, my first period of depression began for me sometime around thirteen. Out of nowhere life became empty, and the only thing I looked forward to was sleeping. And even when I was smiling and laughing, I was broken inside, a drifter of life, not really there at all – not really anywhere. Just existing in some hollow and automatic way. And of course you can’t tell anyone how you feel, because you feel ashamed to feel that way, and all teenagers are depressed they say, but I wasn’t sure how true that was when the energy to go on living just wasn’t there anymore. And I looked back at old photos and lamented on my childhood, thinking that I had died in some way; that this brain inside me was beyond repair and I would never return to the days when the smiles were genuine and the skies truly blue. 

The depression returned when I was twenty. What I assumed was just a comedown after the best summer of my life, turned out to be another lengthy two-year spell in the void. After a few months of adventure and music festivals, the autumn came and I was thrown back into the emptiness I had experienced a few years previously. Even though I had moved out of it before, I still couldn’t imagine what it would be like to feel normal again. The fog surrounded and suffocated me, and again what was left to do but to just try to keep on living, even when there was no connection to anything I was doing. Even when my brain would not allow any joy to register. Even when I didn’t want to wake up and get out of bed in the morning.

Other spells of depression came and went through the years, and that fog was an environment that I became familiar with. Returning home from an eighteen month adventure one year was probably the time when the fog got the thickest and I truly thought about ending it all. But even though I walked blindly, I carried on with whatever fire was left in my heart, seeking to slowly light up my way to some sort of clearing. What I was thankful for when the times were hard was this deep kind of stubbornness in my soul. I had felt it since I was a small child; the unshakeable urge to march against the storm and ‘rage against the dying of the light’, as a great poet had once said. It kept me marching through the greyness. It kept moving towards some sort of distant salvation. And as the periods went on, my brain began to shift through a series of awakenings where I felt I was able to light up the world around me whenever that fog came back out of nowhere. I brought my own light to the darkness and kept a quiet courage in my heart as the light dwindled and the demons surrounded me.

I can imagine people I know close to me reading this now in a state of surprise. I guess I never spoke about it, and in a way I didn’t even really want to. People had their own problems to deal with, and when you are in a state of depression, you kind of just keep it to yourself and let it have its way with you. Naturally this made my problems invisible to the outside eye. This is something that is all-too common for sufferers of the condition. So often we hear the eulogies of shocked and surprised people who ‘had no idea’ that the person they thought they knew so well was contemplating how they were going to end their life. It’s a form of suffering that is mostly silent, and consequently it’s usually very difficult to tell who is wandering in that fog. It could be the person serving you coffee. It could be the lover in your bed. It could be your mother, your postman, your doctor, your therapist.    

Depression does not discriminate and everyone you walk past on the street is potentially a sufferer. I recalled one night out over the Christmas holidays where me and two of my closest friends got speaking to two sisters in a bar. What followed was a fun evening of drinking and dancing. One of the sisters was an energetic red-haired girl who was in full spirits. She was full of smiles, making out with one of my friends, excitedly telling us how she was going to attend a fox hunting protest the next day. You would have never have thought that she was someone lost in the fog, but just a couple of months later she committed suicide. Her sister spoke about it on social media and shared the last photo of them two together. Again, the wide smiles could be seen and everything seemed fine on the surface, but that point she had already written her suicide letter and made her decision to leave this world behind.

Sometimes people lost in the fog of depression do actually make it known. I travelled once with a Brazilian girl who regularly told me about how her ex was suicidal and threatening to kill himself. After a couple of failed attempts and a few more warnings, he went ahead and finally did it. By this point the girl didn’t even seem too upset about the thing, like she had already grieved his loss in the preceding years. To her, he was a man who had already died – just a shell of a person existing in flesh and bone without any spiritual attachment to his life. Truly this was the greatest tragedy of depression, creating people who were essentially dead already inside, and although I don’t compare what I felt to the scale of any of these people, I can understand why there are people out there who choose to check out rather than stay lost in that lifeless fog where life is just an desolate existence of nothingness. 

These days I still have my troubles and periods in the darkness.  However, through some strange series of events, I believed I have rewired my brain in a way that will not allow me to succumb to that state of total emptiness. But this is only a theory for now, and it would not surprise me to one day be walking down the streets of life and find my world suddenly shrouded in that sinister fog once more, having to dive into myself to find some more light to lead me into the clearing again. For many, depression is “a battle that lasts a lifetime; a fight that never ends.” So remember that when you stare into the eyes of those strangers passing you on the street. You never know who is searching for a reason to keep breathing the air of this troubled world.

short stories · thoughts

~ Falling Again ~

falling
~ Falling Again ~

“I think you need to just relax and take a step back,” she said. “You run into things too easily.”

“I can’t help it, it just takes hold of me. It’s like I don’t have a choice.”

“Honestly, you remind me of my dog – just running around wildly, chasing everything that attracts you. It must be exhausting to constantly be that way.”

“That’s funny; I’ve been told that before. But hey, at least we all like dogs, right?”

“We do but dogs are animals ruled by instinct; you have deeper feelings, you just need to make sure you don’t get hurt.” 

“I don’t mind getting hurt. I’d rather that than to not follow my heart.”

“You’re crazy.”

“Probably,” I said.

The sentiments of my friend were nothing new to me. It seems I had that classic problem: falling in love with things too easily, and throwing my heart into them with reckless abandon. I was doomed to get hurt, and I was told to be more careful, but holding back my love was even more painful than the inevitable heartbreak that would naturally ensue. I just couldn’t help myself. I fell in love with anything that stirred my soul. At first, I fell in love with the world around me. With the rivers and the woods and the fields and sunsets. I then fell in love with travelling: the sight of new people and places, grabbing my backpack from the airport conveyor-belt, staring out of the bus window and knowing that I was soon to step off into a new town. Like a flower in my heart, I poured adventure onto it and let it grow wildly. I saved up all my money and obsessed over my next trip, neglecting things like clothes and food just to get there. And when I was back in those foreign lands with a world of possibility at my feet, I felt that flower blooming in my heart with a total love for what I was doing.

I fell in love with the art of writing. The act of expressing yourself and bringing people into your world; to share your things from the deepest recesses of your heart. That feeling of relief when you got out the things you had always wanted to say, and knowing they could actually mean something to someone out there. How it could give them strength and remind them that they aren’t alone in this world. And all it took was having the courage to type your truth out onto a blank page. It made my fingertips twitch with a fervent energy. It made me stay up ’til the early hours of the morning strumming away on those keyboard keys.

I fell in love with people. With the artists and adventurers; with the sight of a soul who was radiating pure joy and passion. I remember feeling blue one day, then going for a walk in the city and watching this guy busking with his guitar. He told his story about how he had gotten laughed out of his office when he told them he was quitting his job to become a street performer. He also told how he had just been diagnosed with autism, and had all these other revelations in his life, but there he was: travelling around Europe in his van, living life on his own terms, entertaining a captivated crowd with some of the most beautiful playing I had ever heard. I looked at his smile as he strummed those strings and saw the light of the entire cosmos shining through him. That was someone I aspired to be; that was someone I loved.

Rather predictability, I fell in love with girls. With the way they walked and talked and played with their hair. With their smiles and little imperfections. With the looks in their eyes which made you wonder what their story was and what secrets were locked away in their hearts. Sometimes I could get hung up for weeks on a girl I had passed on the street, and the little romances in my life took me years to get over. And probably people thought I was crazy, but I just couldn’t help but throw myself completely into the wilderness of another human-being even if I knew it wasn’t going to work out. For me, the pain was worth it, just because the act of falling in love was like feeling a great universal truth flowing through me. It just made sense; like the rivers running into the ocean, the feeling of loving was like going home to some ineffable divine life source.

Yeah, I guess that I am a bit of a starry-eyed dreamer, a hopeless romantic as they say, but I believe most human-beings are secretly this way, only most have learnt to hold themselves back. The natural state of a person was to love; and when you look at a person when they were in love with someone or something, you could see the entire cosmos shining in their eyes. That divine light was inside us all, but the human condition makes it such a challenge to let it shine. As our lives go on, we get worn down and made cautious by the world. We build walls and barriers. We get turned bitter and resentful by the lovers who did not return our love, by the people who belittled our dreams, and by the struggles of everyday life which slowly made us jaded and deflated. Indeed, it can be a great test to keep your heart truly open to the world when the daggers have pierced you and the days tired you and the lovers betrayed you.

Sometimes it is so far buried that it didn’t appear to exist in a person at all. But I believed even the most closed and bitter individual had that love somewhere inside of them, ready to burst out when under the right circumstances. It was just a matter of getting them into the right space to let it come. I remembered one middle-aged man I met travelling. He told me how he had been depressed and angry with life for a few years following a bad divorce, but he had finally moved on by selling his house and moving abroad. He was now travelling in Spain with his new girlfriend, back to pursuing his passions of writing and playing the guitar. Only a couple of years ago he had been a depressed, bitter individual with a contempt for his existence, but now the light was back and beaming bright in his eyes. And ultimately, it was because he had allowed himself to dust off the hinges and open his heart once again to the world.

Yes, in a world where it was easy to close yourself off, it can be a test to constantly love without fear and filter, but this was always what I sought to do in every aspect of my life; to let my love be poured into whatever it was I was passionate about. And maybe I needed to believe it, but I believed that love was the answer to everything. Because this was what I always felt, this deep ineffable feeling pulling me towards whatever was good and worthwhile in my life. It had taken me around the world; it had taken me to find my passions; it had taken me to find the people who inspired and changed me; it had taken me from the haunted woods of depression to the open fields of light and life. This passion for everything which was surely found in the hearts of stars and the breaking of waves and the roots of flowers. It was an intrinsic energy that was essential for a human-being to truly be alive, and though allowing yourself to love completely meant you would leave yourself open to feel more pain, it also meant you could also feel a greater amount of joy and connection to the universe.

As time goes on, there are times when the world tests me to close myself to it, but ultimately I know I’ll never shake this overwhelming desire to run towards what my heart aches for. Right now, writing these words and dreaming up my next adventure, I am still letting that flower grow wildly in my heart, and by now I know will always be that starry-eyed dreamer, running towards what I love with wise arms and an open heart. Still a hopeless romantic; still that dog running around wildly after everything that attracts me; still writing these words and feeling the light of the cosmos flow through my fingertips. Yeah, I guess I’m still falling, I don’t ever intend to stop throwing myself into this beautiful pain.

thoughts

~ Once You’ve Made it Out of the Woods ~

“And once you’ve made it out of the woods, your soul will not be the same. Though you will be marked with internal scars, there will be a great strength inside of you, the strength of a person made tough by the crooked wilderness they knew and endured. Once you’ve made it out the woods, your eyes will look different; their innocence will be lost, but in place a great fire will burn, the fire of a warrior who forged their own path out of hell. Once you’ve made it out of the woods, you will not fear the darkness, for you’ve already stood in it with the demons encircling you, and you know what it was to slay them down and move on out into the light. Once you’ve made it out of the woods, life will not be such a terrible task, and the sight of the sun will allow you a smile, and blue skies will be magical, and the fact that you even exist at all will cause a great laughter in your heart. Once you’ve made it out of the woods, your words will be a light for those still stuck in it, and you will realise that you have the power to save lives and lead people back home and do everything that is good and worthwhile in this world. You will walk with a silent pride, and you will not be moved by everyday struggles, and when the peace and happiness comes, you will allow every part of your body to know it and feel it and delight in it – once you’ve made it out of the woods.”

woman sky

thoughts

~ Breaking the Barriers ~

“All I wanted to do was to live, but there were barriers and boundaries which prevented it from happening. It was the machine of the routine life. I could see it in the stuttering traffic jams, in the ticking clocks, in the computer loading screens. I could see it in the forced smiles and the predictable small talk. The repetitive nature of everything going round and round until you became some sort of machine yourself. Your days and weeks became as predictable as clockwork. It was like we were all creating and working toward something, but the act of finally enjoying what it was we had created never came. It was that perpetual loading screen. The stuttering traffic jam. The clock that never struck the time we waited for. The feeling of completeness which never arrived. It was a constant push and slog through life, and often my eyes would look to nature to remind myself of the true rhythm of the universe. Those birds swooping and soaring; those leaves fluttering in the wind; those clouds dancing in the sky. It seemed we had deviated so far from the natural order of things. We were out of sync with the physical universe, which was no doubt the reason why we were so destructive toward it. The reality of it was suffocating and at times I stared up at the sun and felt a great fire roar in my heart. All I wanted to do was to shake off the shackles of society, to smash the clock and emerge back into the untamed way of life. A way of life of nature and beauty. A way of life of peace and harmony. A way of life that allowed us all to flow free like the breeze, rather than trudge in the swamp of the system we had created.”

short stories · thoughts

~ Not A Man ~

man-studio-portrait-light-90764

The tears streamed down my face. I had just said goodbye to a friend I had made travelling and I walked back home through the busy city centre, trying to hide my feelings from people passing me on the street. Overwhelmed by my emotions, I wiped my eyes clean and once again felt ashamed of my sensitivity and sentimentality.

The shame for this side of myself came from the thought that this was not how I should have been. The advertisements and the movies said it all. To be a man in this world was to be something that I was not. I was not assertive, strong, or confident. I did not command authority or respect. I did not care much for football or cars or status. Instead, I was a meek daydreamer who cared for poetry and romance. I was someone who got affected by the little things: old men sitting in cafes alone, sad faces of strangers on the street, wilting flowers left on the side of the road. On top of this, I had social anxiety and, at times, depression. In desperation I tried to hide this side of my personality, but it always eventually came through whenever I was around people for a certain amount of time. There was just no way around it. I was a highly-sensitive person, and trying to hold in the emotions that were constantly flooding my heart was an exhausting task that left me even more overwhelmed than I already was.

The masculinity problems continued when it came to the world of employment. Making money and having a career was one of the key requirements of being a male, but it seemed I had absolutely no skills that could do so. I had no dexterity for any of the trades. I was too virtuous to play the game of the corporate world. I just about had no practical or pragmatic skills; couple this with a habit to daydream which made it almost impossible to focus on simple things, then it was sure that I was to be scraping by whatever way I could. I did have the gift of creativity, but as we all knew that being able to write a nice poem or story didn’t get you very far in this world – the classic image of the tortured artist washing dishes while working on their art being annoyingly applicable. All in all, I was a complete disaster – the sort of thing most fathers secretly hoped their sons wouldn’t grow up to be. A sensitive, deep-thinking male. An idealist not a pragmatist. A dreamer not a logician. A feeler not a thinker. 

Naturally this way of being was bad when it came to girls. Girls typically looked for strapping, butch, confident guys – guys who were able to be self-assured and take the lead and do all the things that I could not. The funny thing was I was blessed with good looks which lured girls in, but once they saw what was under the surface, they sprinted for the hills like scared deer. The circumstance of being tall, dark and handsome didn’t mean much when they saw how anxious and unsure of yourself you were. I recalled things girls had said to me. “You look good but you need to own it.” “You annoy me; why can’t you just be normal?” It was a recurring conversation and, after a while of continual rejection, I began to look in the mirror and see that ugliness start to manifest itself in my reflection.

Things didn’t get much better with the world of males. The camaraderie of ‘lad culture’ was always something I felt out of place with. I was able to be part of the group sometimes, but I could see that they sensed I was not one of them – little awkward moments in group conversation and my general strange demeanour giving my cover away. The frustrating thing was I knew there were other men like me out there. In fact, I believed that a large portion of men simply ignored their emotions because they erroneously believed they were unnatural. No doubt, this caused long-lasting internal damage. Toxic masculinity was a silent disease in our society that was making men feel ashamed to have feelings and be sensitive. The fact that two-thirds of suicides were from men was not surprising when you thought about it. Men had been taught to hide their emotions from the school playground to the dating scene to the world of employment. It was a dog-eat-dog world, and a man needed to be strong and ruthless to be a success in it. So there was simply nothing to do but to ‘man up’ and suffer in silence – something I had gotten to know all too well over the years.

Being drunk was sometimes a good way to coat my failures as a man. When I poured that liquor down my throat, I was able to numb my feelings and switch to this extroverted version of myself. My shyness and emotions were suppressed, and I felt a deluded sense of confidence. It only lasted for a while, of course, but it was good enough to fool people around me. One night stands were possible and – perhaps out of my own insecurity – I used my drunken alter ego to sleep around as often as I could. The success of hiding my true self with the use of alcohol reminded me of the words of my favourite poems:

“there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.”

Sometimes as an experiment, I let that bluebird out and revealed my sensitive side to the crowd. I spoke from my heart and shared my deepest emotions about life. As I did, I could feel the discomfort of some guys around me, but I could also feel like others felt it was a fresh breath of air for a guy not to give a fuck about masculine etiquette. Sometimes I even got brave enough to share my writing and poetry with those people. Some seemed to like it and even respect me, although many of them simply put me at distance after I did. I understood that, of course. 

All in all, it’s a strange situation and I don’t know exactly what my plan is to survive in this world as the man that I am. Perhaps one day the views of masculinity will change, but I feel that it’s unlikely in my lifetime. Despite what we like to think, we are all still just instinctive animals at our core, and I guess it does make sense why men are supposed to be strong and butch and assertive and confident. Maybe my role wasn’t to be that striding alpha male, but to be some other thing serving a purpose I have not yet come to realise. For now, I guess I will go suppressing that bluebird and trying to hide my sensitive side, only to let it out when I’m sitting alone at this keyboard away from the piercing eyes of this dog-eat-dog world.

thoughts

~ To See Things Become Sane ~

~ To See Things Become Sane ~

“Peace and happiness came to me at times; I knew it was always there, like the blue sky behind the clouds. No matter how bad the storm got and how much the rain drenched me, I felt that it was a passing thing; that underlying at the core of the universe was this eternal state of bliss. And often I looked at the rivers flowing, and the birds singing, and the sunlight shimmering upon the water’s surface. I could feel it in my bones that I was a part of something magical and beautiful, and I didn’t need to stuff it into a box and label it as a god; I could walk the paths and the woods and know that I was connected to everything at a fundamental level. No words or concepts were necessary. I was walking divinity, and the people who passed me also were. Their eyes gleamed like diamonds; their skin shone like sunlight. Each and every one of us was a work of the whole cosmos, a piece of poetry in motion. And yet it made me sad how few realised this. So many out there were marginalised and disempowered by their cultures. They were constantly made to feel they weren’t good enough. They compared themselves to others; they numbed themselves with pills; they missed the beauty of life while stressing about trivial things. These mental bubbles we lived in clouded our vision from the obvious reality that was unfolding. And maybe it was the shamanic side of me, but I couldn’t help but want to stop people and remind them that they are the entire universe in motion. To shake them awake and see their eyes light up like dawn skies and their minds become as clear as fresh mountain snow. To see things become normal. To see things become sane.”

pexels-photo-2445656

short stories · thoughts

~ It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding ~

back-view-black-and-white-boy-827993
~ It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding ~

I pulled the photos from the family album. I held them up in the light and studied each of them closely. There in the pictures I was: a young boy, curly-haired, bright eyes, and a beaming smile of joy and delight. It was a time from a family holiday when I was around eight years old, a time and place that seemed almost a lifetime ago now. In my eyes, I could see the childhood purity and innocence. I could see the hope and optimism for the life ahead of me. I could see the simple joy of playing on a beach in the sand. It was a striking sight and I couldn’t help but feel sadness when studying those images. I knew over the next couple of decades that young boy in the photo would undergo a path that would lead him through crooked and haunted lands. First would come the bullying and social isolation. Then would come the anxiety and self-hatred. Finally would come the emptiness and total disillusionment with the world around him. Specifically the sight of my smile brought about a pain in my heart; these days that smile was never to be seen, at least not with the same purity it had in the photos. The claws of life had ravaged it away. It was gone, disfigured – taken from me somewhere along a turbulent path of pain and heartache.

I guess it was a reality that was not just true to me, but to most people out there. As children we dream that life will be as magical as those fairy tales. Chase your dreams, they say. Go after the world with your arms wide open. Build those rockets and fly to the moon. Become presidents and footballers and movie stars. Fall in love and live happily ever after. In reality, most people after childhood quickly lose those expectations for life. First came the adolescent angst and depression. Then came the realisation that no one really gives a fuck about your dreams, or even you in general, and that you aren’t as special as they said you were. All that matters is you get a job, make money, and fit into some sort of acceptable place. You then realise that the world isn’t full of good people with good intentions, but instead full of users and liars; of people who want to use and abuse you and throw you to the wolves. The optimism continues to fade as you begin to accept that life isn’t going to be some fairy tale, and the world isn’t full of the happy people living happy lives, but of secretly scared and lost adults doing their best to get by and survive.

It’s a reality which envelops us all and I can’t help but look at children and feel sadness in their sight. There they run and play around with their minds full of delight and imagination – their wide eyes awake and alive to the world around them. Yet walk down the street of a busy city centre and stare at the faces of the adults. The contrast is stark. For many their eyes look not to the skies but to the floor, and the delight for the world around them had all but faded. It had been eroded away by the relentless barrage of everyday life. The mindless work. The morning commutes. The hateful faces. The failed romances. The suppression of dreams and desires while drifting through unfulfilling lives. For many came the alcoholism, the drugs, and constant attempts to alleviate the existential emptiness. To grow up was a trap, as they said, and to see the adult with that magic gleam in their eye was a rare sight – the sight of the child that had survived the storm of growing up and retained that all-too precious magic.

Looking at my childhood photos and the defeated faces of strangers in the street made me sad, but it was always worse when thinking about the people I cared about. There was a girl close to me, she showed me her childhood photos and I couldn’t help but feel a great pain in my heart again. There she was: in her little t-shirt with the animals on the front, her blonde hair flowing down her shoulders, her eyes so full of light and love and life. Nowadays those eyes had a greyness to them. She was surviving on therapy and antidepressant medication. She had labelled herself ‘a fuck-up’ and had admittedly abandoned her dreams. “Maybe in another lifetime,” she would say. Then there was the time I looked at the photos of my uncle as a child at his funeral. That bright-eyed child had ended up living alone in a small apartment while drinking himself to death. Not even fifty years old and his story had ended in a dark room of isolation. I felt angry that the world did this to so many of us, and a part of me wanted to do something that would save the child in people; to make them enriched and enchanted with their existence like they once were. Of course, to do this I needed to let go of my anger and find it again within myself.

Although the sight of my old family photos showed me that my inner child had gone, there were times when I rediscovered it again. I noticed that these times were usually when I was out in nature. Trekking through the mountains; swimming in lakes; running through the woods. I recalled moments from my travels: in particular, one time hiking alone in the Himalayas, standing on a ridge and watching a flock of birds dance in the sky above me. High in those mountains, I breathed in the air and looked out at that majestic sight. The world shone with a mystery and magic like it did to a new-born baby, and a feeling of ecstasy flowed through my veins. I was not a religious man, but I do think I know what Jesus meant when he said, ‘to enter the kingdom of heaven you have to become again as a child’. In reality, the kingdom of heaven was all around us. We just had to see the world again through a child’s eyes. To stay curious and wide-eyed to our surroundings. To not slump our shoulders and look down to the floor, but to allow ourselves to be in a constant state of learning and exploring and becoming. ‘He not busy being born, is busy dying’ as Bob Dylan had sung.

Thinking about that memory and a few others, I realised that the child inside of me hadn’t been totally killed. Yes, my soul bore scars that could not be erased. My innocence was long gone. My smile would perhaps never be as pure as it was in those childhood photos. But I did believe that the child was still there inside in some way, waiting to reawaken whenever in the right time and place. And the more I lived with this idea, the more I was able to let it come out and play. From day to day, I began to let go of my pains and feel the joy of being alive. I walked out the front door and saw the world glisten with magic. Things that had been clouded over during periods of depression, now looked wondrous and marvelous. I looked at the rivers flowing, and the birds singing, and the leaves fluttering in the wind, and the sunlight shimmering upon the water’s surface. I could feel it in my bones that I was a part of something magical and beautiful, and that childlike delight in my heart began to return. And then, when the bad times came (as they inevitably did), I took a step back and protected my inner child. I protected it from the hateful souls and hurtful words. I protected it from the feelings of emptiness and self-hatred. I protected it from the toils and troubles of everyday life which took the light from a person’s eye. Those things would still come at me, I knew, but I was learning to see it for what it was and not lose myself in it once the world had started to drag me down again.

These days I would be lying to say that everything is sunshine and rainbows. I regularly have breakdowns and get consumed by despair, but no matter how dark the rain clouds gather and how much shit is thrown my way, there is something deep inside of me that knows life is but a game that is here to be explored and enjoyed. This, I believe, is the wisdom of the child that we lose as the trials of adulthood come our way. Ultimately too many of us have gone to the grave with our true deaths having already happened years before. By the end, so many are people who have forgotten what life is all about – bitter and broken individuals whose imagination, curiosity and lust for life had all but faded; people who have gotten so consumed by the misery and monotony that they could not see the beauty of the world around them. It is my hope to see all those people be able to keep that same wisdom alive and reconnect with their inner child too. To see those streets full of people once again enchanted by their existence. To see that girl’s eyes rid of the greyness and return with the light and the love and life that should have been there. And for everyone’s eyes to light up again, this whole world of broken children coming back home to their true selves. Back from the pains and the heartaches and the emptiness. Back from the feelings of defeat and depression. Back from being those secretly scared and lost adults, but to return to those wide-eyed children that long to play on the beaches and run through the fields and sail to the stars.

 

 

 

short stories · thoughts

~ Scream ~

scream
~ Scream ~

“So what constitutes good writing?” he asked me.

“Good writing is something that happens because it has to happen,” I said. “It’s like an eruption of some kind, and if it’s not bursting out of you – if it’s not flowing from your fingertips with a sort of explosive energy – then it probably isn’t true.”

“What do you mean by true?”

“Something that is elemental to who you are. Something that comes from the core of your heart.”

“And how exactly do you write from the heart?” he asked.

“You’ve got to find the position from which you can express yourself without filter. All artists have to find that special spot from where they can scream – that special spot where you channel your suppressed emotions and let them pour out of you. You pour it out through your fingertips or your voice or your paintbrush. If you’re a ballet dancer you pour out through your feet. If you’re a violinist you pour it out through your violin. You’ve just got to find that spot where you can let go and erupt. You’ve just got to find that spot where you can scream.”

My fellow writer looked somewhat surprised by my answer, but seemed to understand the nature of what I was saying. Perhaps he expected something more about the process of writing, some specific skills and practices and techniques, but in my opinion you could have all of that and not write a single word worth reading. To me, it didn’t matter how fluid the writing was; if it didn’t reveal the soul of the writer, then it was like sex without an orgasm. I knew this from my past experiences with the artform. When I looked back at my first writings, I could see that the sentences were smoothly written and the prose well-constructed, but underneath at the core there was just no real substance. It came from the mind rather than the heart, and it was evident that the words lacked the blood and guts that I believed was fundamental to good writing. But now, through continued persistence to scratch an unwavering itch, I felt I had now found a way to let my deepest emotions surge out of me whenever I started putting words down onto that blank page. 

Ultimately it was something I had been searching for for a long time. As I said, good writing happens because it has to happen, and the sheer relief of getting out things that were killing me inside was enormous. In a way it was closer to an act of therapy than it was any sort of literary process. It was something that I felt could benefit many people out there. So many have a lot of shit inside of them that is tearing them up, and the act of creation was a vice that was sorely needed, even though they often didn’t realise it. To create was a primal thing, and if a person was denied a healthy way to howl out their pain, then it often twisted them up from the inside. That suppression of the scream could lead people to bitterness and violence; to depression and desperation; to hateful hearts and scowling faces. Indeed, it was a great energy that had the potential to become destructive, but if one could learn to channel that energy inside of them into a form of expression, then it could be turned into painting and poetry; into dance and song; into rhythm and blues.

Those things could not only provide great relief to the artist, but they also had tremendous value to others out there. I thought of some of the people who had inspired me by allowing themselves to scream. Thom Yorke screaming through his falsetto. Van Gogh screaming from his paintbrush. Charlie Parker screaming through his saxophone. Franz Kafka screaming through his stories. Charles Bukowski screaming through his poems. This animalistic howling from the wilderness of another’s heart was a shamanic thing, and to me its healing power was what made art the greatest form of medicine available to the human soul. It was a medicine that had enough power and force to save lives, to inspire dreams, to awaken minds and bring others back from the darkest depths of hell. It was a medicine that even had enough power to turn you into a creator yourself.

Of course, not everyone has such emotions brewing inside of them. Some people went through life simply didn’t feel the need to scream. But undoubtedly there are many out there who did. The person I told my view of writing to, I never got round to reading his writing, and I wondered if he was also one of them. From what I had heard I didn’t believe so. Usually the people looking to write because they wanted to – and not because they had to – were not the ones touched by the muse. Indeed, the true writer doesn’t need advice, because the pain of holding it inside usually drives them to find their form eventually. This is why the true artist is consumed by a burning desire to constantly create. And I guess sitting here alone in this room writing all night for the thousandth time means that I am maybe one of them. The act of putting these words down on paper is something I am now dependent on, and in my heart I know I will be screaming for a long time yet. It is an inescapable nature of people like me. Some of us are born to live in peace and harmony. Some of us are born to watch television and sleep all night. Some of us are born to live stable lives and sit in cafes and read books.

And some of us are born to scream.

thoughts

~ 2am Thought ~

“And still I can’t help but let myself wonder about us. What our lives would have been like; what our mornings would have looked like as the sun came over that horizon once again. How we would have lay under those sheets and stared into each other’s eyes. How we would have walked through those parks knowing our lives were bound together on a shared path. It is true that lost love can bring any man to his knees; with a great weight in his heart, he staggers on alone knowing that it could have been so different. And just like so many people out there, the love-starved and the broken-hearted, his path leaves him haunted by many thoughts and questions. I am still not sure whether love is essential for life; indeed it is the great illusion that we all chase after, but I do know that most people have had it reciprocated in some way by the time their hairs start to grey and skin starts to wrinkle. Now I stare into that mirror, going into old age without ever having been the object of another’s affection. Indeed, maybe I wasn’t born for it. The world needs people like me, I guess. I am ‘the friend’. The ‘interesting one’. ‘The comedian’. I seem to cheer those around me up, and indeed people do enjoy my company, but it never goes beyond that. I see them stare into my eyes and dismiss me as a being not worthy of their affection. And in a way, I no longer dispute it. I understand why they see me as they do. There is something inside of me that will now allow me to be like everyone else. And now I know that love is not going to be given to me by others, I sit in silent rooms and know it is only with self-love that I can survive this life. Flames of romantic love flicker and fade out, but self-love is the eternal bonfire from which I warm my soul. I’m burning up in my own company; blazing up with my own words. And long may I be consumed in these flames.”

thoughts

~ An Awakening ~

woman field

~ An Awakening ~

“And there comes a time where you no longer need the acceptance of others. You do not look to fit in or to impress those around you. You toss aside the script and walk out into the world, no longer striving for any form of social validation. Instead, you watch the others run around on the hamster wheel, and you observe the strange way of things – the trivial pursuits and worries, the needless stress and anxiety caused by following the herd. You turn your back on that game and within you a private joy begins to blossom. You discover incredible beauty in the world around you. You find the gold in a sunset, in walking alone in the woods, in watching the rain drops snake their way down the window glass. Suddenly the world is a treasure chest of wonder, and all those things advertised to you on the billboards become meaningless, and opinions of you hold little weight, and money is just a means to an end. And for the first time since you were a child, your curiosity and imagination returns to its natural state. You are experiencing life how it’s meant to be experienced. And you realise it doesn’t matter how any external goals you chase, for as long as your brain is conditioned to constantly think of the future, you will never be happy and content in the present moment. Because peace and happiness is not something to be obtained or purchased or earned. It is not something hidden over the horizon under a rock. Rather, it is a state of being already pulsating inside of you. It is the universal bliss of being alive in the here and now. And it is only when you let the noise of society fade from your mind, when you stop trying to fit in and chase things, that your eyes truly open to what’s in front of you and you finally discover the joy that everyone is looking for.”