poetry

~ Caught in Nowhere ~

~ Caught in Nowhere ~

And the people my age were not like me
And the people younger than me were not like me
And the people older than me were not like me

I am caught in nowhere
No place to be
Or job to work
Or woman to come home to

This is how it is:
Approaching the age of 30
Living in a small rented room
Losing my youth and mind
Alone in this shit show

It’s just me and the word
Same as its always been
Hoping that somehow this madness
Will save me from this world

The reality is that I’m just another self-obsessed writer
Who can’t write a good poem to save my life
All I can do is spit out this pain onto the page
To at least feel a little better

There’s not much more to it than that
And believe me, I wish there was
I wish my words were good enough
To be found by some hotshot editor
Who sought to turn me into something
Different from what I am.

But what I am is inescapable
And this I have to accept:

I am alone in this
No job to work
No place to be
Nothing to get out of bed for
Nothing interesting to even write about

Caught in nowhere.

man sitting alone

poetry

~ Leave It ~

~ Leave it ~

I wouldn’t bother with me
I’ve long walked off the track you are on
You will find nothing of any use in me
And my poetry will repulse you

My words will not be familiar to your script
My behaviour will confuse you
My thoughts will scare you at best
And my interests will have no place in your life

No, I wouldn’t bother with me
I’m damaged goods, beyond saving
And you will feel ashamed
To be seen in my company

This wilderness I roam – it’s not one you want to be in
Although I often fantasise
About dragging you into it
So you can see the pain and madness
I know and endure.

But that would be cruel, so please:
just listen to my advice
keep your distance
and don’t bother with me.

This is the kindest advice
I can give
you.

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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.

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

~ Words for the Darkness ~

~ Words for the Darkness ~

“Some days the world hits you a little harder when you walk out that front door. Some days you stand on those streets and don’t know which way to turn. Some days the sadness surrounds like a flock of ravens, the words of family and friends can’t help you, and you feel your whole world fade into greyness. We all go through times when the despair and desolation fill our hearts. One thing is certain in life is that we will all spend time in the shadows every now and again. But one thing that will keep us marching through that darkness is the knowledge that new dawns will come, worries will fade – our worlds will light up once again in vivid colour. The energy of the universe is perennial and all around us we witness the glory of things beating the darkness. The dawning sun, the spring flowers, the stars shimmering in the night sky. Your true state at all moments is one of infinite bliss, ready to burst back into life. So don’t be afraid of the dark; it’s merely the canvas upon which the light waits to leave its mark.”

words for the darkness

short stories

~ Clinging on ~

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~ Clinging on ~

I stood on the ledge of the building. I looked down at the concrete below. It would be instant if I made sure to land headfirst. Ten stories was enough to take me away on a final one-way ticket out of this place. Overdosing on pills would have been easier, but I was feeling a dramatic exit would be the right way to end this thing once and for all. I wanted the blood and guts of me staining those streets that had slowly pushed me to the brink over the years; I wanted my inner pain running into the sewers where it belonged. I shuffled my feet closer until the toes were over the edge. I had been totally ready for a few months now, and yes – I still felt ready. I shuffled closer. And closer. I stood on the precipice and looked straight ahead. My life did not flash before my eyes. There was no great symphony playing in my head. No angel came down to talk me out of it. There was no sound at all but the usual distant wailing of a siren and the sound of some seagulls squawking.

No, it was just me and the thoughts in my head like it had always been as I stood there reflecting on the inevitability of the moment. I thought of all the things that had led me to that ledge. The loneliness and separation that had sent me insane all my life. The homesickness for a place I’d never known. The relentless lack of connection to absolutely anybody else. It was true that the only people I related to were those who had either died by their own hand or drank themselves to death. Van Gogh, Hemingway, Hunter Thompson, Alan Watts, Cobain, Kerouac…  It was clear to me that some people were born strangers in this world, and a combination of being misunderstood, alienated and highly incompatible with society is ultimately what made them blow their brains out with shotguns and drink themselves to death. Those warriors of the word had evidently written themselves into history, but I thought of what would happen in my case. A few flowers here and there. Some people on social media making me out to be an angel of some sort. Sure enough, a few weeks later the flowers would wilt and die, and people would move on – my name only occasionally mentioned in circles of close friends. “Terrible what happened.” “He seemed so happy.” “I don’t know what happened.” “We never saw it coming.” The thought of it only got worse as I imagined the funeral with the black clothes and the reading of dogmatic religious texts – the final spit-in-the-face insult reserved for you before being buried six feet underground.

It sounds absurd but the thing in that moment that caused me to turn away from that ledge was the fact I hadn’t left anything behind yet. Those heroes of mine who had died by their own hand – they had shared their truth and provided some fuel for others looking to continue on through the wilderness. There was a great victory in that and a part of me also refused to let my truth fade into nothingness. I too wanted whatever was going on inside of me to be felt by another soul out there looking for some sort of salvation. Feeling something inside me begin to twitch, I took myself home where I sat once again before a keyboard with my fingertips fighting for survival – fighting to hold onto the ledge with whatever words and fight I could summon from inside myself.

Like so many others out there, my fight was a solitary one hidden from the view of people who laid their eyes on me. No one truly knew the extent of my madness but me. For some reason this is how it worked: these internal battles are often the greatest battles of all, and they are not fought in plain sight in boxing rings or battlefields, but instead inside the hearts of people trying to carry on in a world they didn’t understand. They are the battles never read about in history books or commemorated in museums, but only known inside the minds of the people fighting them. These wars are waged in secret every day and I can’t help but stare into the eyes of strangers and wonder how many of them are also fighting their way through the darkness. Who are also lingering on the precipice of suicide and madness? Who are also trying to find a reason to continue on in a world to which they don’t belong?

No doubt there are so many more than people would like to think – people who may appear very normal and content with their lives. I know many would find it shocking to know that their friends and family members have once stared into the abyss wishing to hurl themselves in; that they didn’t want to continue in the same world they lived in and were a part of. But it was undeniable they were out there in the hundreds of thousands, and that the majority of the time they were almost impossible to spot. This was the secret of the suicidal. True desolation was invisible. A look of sadness in someone’s eye meant there was still some fight and hope left, but when the light truly fades from all around you, one does not feel despair or agony. You simply stop feeling. There is an emptiness which can’t be explained, and nonexistence is not something that even feels like a big deal. It feels welcoming. All the reason and fight leaves your veins as you stumble sinisterly towards that precipice of death and darkness. In the meanwhile, fake smiles are easily cast and the sentence ‘fine thanks, you?’ is uttered to unsuspecting loved ones. I knew this because I had felt it myself, and also because I had stared into the eyes of suicide cases a couple of times in my life. Both times it was just a few weeks before they finally went through with it. And yes, I did not see it coming. I did not see the desire for death in their eyes. Their pain was masked; their secrets hidden deep within themselves like so many out there who dwell silently in the depths of the greatest darknesses.

Those darknesses are not easy to escape and no doubt they will continue to claim the souls of so many out there. This is a sickness that is far more prevalent and insidious than we suspect. All throughout the world tonight as I write these words there will be people overdosing on pills, putting the blade against the wrist, drinking themselves to death or throwing themselves off buildings just to escape this world. Some may save themselves from the abyss and others may succumb. I don’t know if I have any advice to offer them; I think maybe I’ve just gotten lucky to have this stubborn streak inside of me that pulls me back from those ledges and nooses and pills. I guess deep down I know I’ll always be a bit of a misunderstood loner – an isolated maniac writing words that no one will ever read – but embracing that and writing all this shit down keeps me from losing it totally. This is my personal cure and if someone ever asks me why I was so compelled to write, I told them it was out of desperation. Desperation to survive. To leave something behind. To make sure my story is heard and understood by others who never understood what was really happening inside of me. It is an act of redemption and when these fingertips touch these keys, I am clinging onto a ledge with words that – if they stayed inside of me – would cement my fate with so many out there who were slowly consumed from within. They are words of desperation and the words of someone hanging on to it all. The words of someone lingering on an edge. The words of another man who refused to let himself be murdered by the world without a fight.

 

 

short stories

~ Moving Forth ~

~ Moving Forth ~

A dreadful silence filled the room. The surrounding walls looked at me with suffocating stares. I lay flat and still on my bed as the weight of the entire world pulled me down into the mattress. The dream had abruptly ended and I was back in my old bedroom, living at home with my parents after travelling around the world for one and a half years. From Brazil to New Zealand, the grand adventures had come and gone – all those soul-stirring experiences lost in the mist of mind and memory, and now I was back to where I grew up: penniless, alone and depressed, with no one close by who truly understood or cared how I felt.

On top of this, I had returned to my old job in the local supermarket. It was not something I had planned to do, but having been reckless enough to come home with no money and a considerable amount of debt, I immediately returned to a place I could walk into work straight away. This created some sort of time warp in my brain, as if the last one and a half years had all been nothing but some sort of surreal dream. As I walked down those aisles and stacked those shelves, I felt my heart being crushed slowly and surely by the old familiarity of it all. It really was true that absolutely nothing had changed. The same customers came in at the same times; the same scripted conversations were endured; the same items were stacked in the same places. As I worked, I stared emptily into space and let my mind wander off into the distance. How could so much have changed within me while everything here remained exactly the same? How could I live this other lifetime while people had stayed set in the same mode of existence? How could I go around the world and now feel so lost in my hometown?

Inevitably, I felt as if everything I had done was for nothing; I felt that all the life I had gained had been stolen off me. A total pointless waste of time. What a foolish dreamer I was, thinking that my big, post-graduation journey actually meant something. It all suddenly felt meaningless. And not just for me, but those close to me. Besides the obligatory ‘how was it?’ question, no one really had an interest in what I had done.

“So, I guess it’s time you joined ‘the real world’ now hey.”

     “Welcome back to reality.”

     “Time to get a proper job.”

These were the comments people shared with me about my trip. Misunderstood and alienated, my heart soon raged against everything around me. Reverse culture shock set in and I began to feel more foreign than I had while on my trip. This just about peaked on a bank holiday Sunday evening where I stood in a pub listening to everyone talk about jobs, football and television shows. Suddenly, standing in silence at the bar, I was mocked for wearing casual clothing and working in a supermarket. It was right there and then that I realised I had become a stranger in my own town. This was supposed to be home, but now it was clear the bohemian madness had finally claimed me: I now had no home. I was an exiled alien, lost somewhere in the great cosmic ocean of existence, devoid of a place of any real human belonging.

As I experienced this conflicting state of affairs, I thought of my companions I had shared my adventure with. Where were they now? What were they doing? Were they also back home, beset by the same doom and gloom as me? I racked my brain and remembered the moments of getting drunk on Copacabana beach on New Year’s Eve with Ana. I remembered partying on a balcony overlooking a beautiful lake in New Zealand with my twenty housemates. Hiking to Machu Picchu with new friends. Climbing mountains in Bolivia. Cycling around wineries in Argentina. Yes, yes – all of those things! All those beautiful things swept away by the merciless waves of transience which eventually enveloped us all. The tides had turned, the fleeting friendships over and I now stood alone in what might as well have been another world altogether. Thinking about it all, I felt a strange feeling start to stir in my stomach. It was going to be a tough time, I knew.

The weeks and months continued to go by in tremendous solitude. I soon avoided going out as I couldn’t face the others. Consequently, those bedroom walls gradually suffocated me more and more. It wasn’t long until felt like a prisoner of some sort. In times of desperation, I let society’s influence set in; I went online and applied for those career jobs that I wasn’t interested in. This was the script I had told myself – that this big solo trip around the world after graduating university was my final blowout before retreating back to the world of normality to begin a steady career. It wasn’t until I went to an interview that I realised my delusion. As I sat there lying and pretending to be someone I wasn’t, I felt tremendous inner conflict burn inside my blood. Within me, a great fire roared and raged against it all. I quickly began to realise I was facing the music – that I was finally acknowledging that I wasn’t going to walk the straight path society wanted me to. I had been avoiding it for a long time it had seemed. From an early age, I knew in my gut that I didn’t belong to the world of careers and contracts – to sensibility and suburban sanity. I had suppressed the fact that I was incompatible with that world for many years and now it was time to accept that things in life weren’t going to be so straightforward for me. Acknowledging this, a personal crisis ensued. The dark clouds gathered inside my head and the rain poured down.

In the midst of this storm, I found myself visiting the nearby farm fields in the countryside daily. I guess it acted as a little bit of an escape from society. The allure of nature occasionally allowed some of the pain to momentarily reside, as if there was some whispering voice of wisdom in the wind and in the streams, trying to tell me something that would alleviate my suffering. Although it helped at times, it wasn’t enough to stop the terrible storm from raging inside my head. As the weeks and months went by, the thunderous noise increased in tune with my own despair and desolation. I gradually began to realise that these feelings were nothing new. It was true that I had felt out of place all of my life at home. From a young age, I knew deep down something inside of me was vastly different from the rest. Perhaps that was the source of past bouts of anxiety and depression, I considered. I had always known I didn’t fit into the world I grew up in, and it seemed I had subconsciously blocked out this fact to spare myself the pain of facing my isolation as the black sheep I undoubtedly was. But finally, at the age of twenty-four, the realisation had caught up with me. There was no denying it any longer: I was an abnormal outcast, a wretch not belonging to my place of birth.

Eventually one day I was walking in those fields and the weight of it all became too much. I couldn’t go on the way I was any longer. I stopped and stood alone in the middle of a field. I then looked up to the sky with tears of pain and rage, before collapsing down onto the ground. For a long time I just lay there motionless in the grass, feeling the wind whip against my skin and the pain and madness howl in my mind. I felt myself sinking deep into the earth beneath me, swallowed up whole by this world. It was true: I had been broken – the lowest I had ever sunk in my life. I was a destroyed man, shackled down by my demons, lying helpless and alone in the torture chamber, feeling myself disappearing into a state of non-existence.

Then something strange happened.

Somewhere deep inside of me, something changed – something was destroyed. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but at my lowest point I felt it implode on itself and dissipate into nothingness. In the wake of this, I then started to feel the pain gradually start to reside. I sat up and breathed in, wondering what the hell had just happened. Perhaps it was the sudden death of a demon within me that had been causing me all this pain? Perhaps it was the shackles of my mind which had finally split under the weight of all the pressure? Whatever it was, I felt its sudden destruction within me, followed by a feeling that was like coming up to the surface for a life-saving gasp of air. It was then that I realised a critical point had been reached; a peak of pain overcome. Feeling some strength start to return, I picked myself up from the hard ground. I then limped on home, knowing that something inside of me had changed forever.

In the months and years that followed that troubled time, I have still been limping on home. I wasn’t completely cured of my problems altogether. Something like that which brings you to the edge of destruction doesn’t just fade totally. But it was a moment that was pivotal for me – perhaps the most pivotal in my entire life. In that field that day was the moment I finally let go of a whole lifetime of suppressing my true self. In that field that day I allowed a persona I had been burdened with by society to be killed and faced up to the fact of who I really was. Since that turning point, I have gained mental clarity and been able to overcome my inner conflicts and struggles; I have been able to summon the courage to become the person I was born to be, and not the one society tried to mould me into. With a new profound faith in my own inner being, I have continued my adventures all over the world, I have summited the mountains, I have trekked the countries, I have written the words – I have stopped caring what other people think of me and come to terms with the fact that I am a born outsider. With myself adjusted to this new state of being, I have found my true calling and followed it fiercely with all my heart and might and passion. The tides have turned once again, and I now stare into those morning mirrors, proud to see my authentic self gazing back at me, ready for whatever’s next upon the great beautiful journey of life.

You know, it is true that many times in this life an individual suffers tremendously with coming to terms with who they really are. Human society and the cultures we exist in are enough to send any man or woman into isolated states of despair and depression and desolation. With everyone around you trying to mould and shape you from a young age, it’s easy to get confused and lose yourself in the madness of it all. It truly is a fight to be yourself in this world, especially if you are driven by a deep inner desire that leads you away from the herd. But if anything is worth fighting for, then it is the essence of yourself, and no good warrior ever won a great battle without having to go through some struggles. On the quest to your own destiny, you will undoubtedly face isolation. You will face discomfort and doubt. You will face the situation of being misunderstood by those around you. But please, if you feel that fire within you then have a little faith in your inner voice, don’t keel over to something which insults your soul, and don’t give up on yourself just because sometimes you may have to walk alone through haunted places. No, stand up tall and walk wide-eyed into the wilderness. Descend into the depths of yourself and meet your demons face to face. Fearlessly explore every ounce of your own being. After a certain amount of time exploring your inner self, you will go back out into the world as a warrior of the wild, and from that position on you will be stronger and more resilient than ever before. Your eyes will blaze with brightness. Your heart will ache with passion. Your gut will rumble with thunder. With a ferocious tenacity for life, you will live the life that sets your soul on fire – the life that your very heart screams out for. Your path will be thrilling and magical, and when you reach the end of your road, you will have no regrets about the life you lived. You will have a victory of personal authenticity. You will have a victory of individual courage. As you become the person you were born to be – and not the one they told you to be – you will have the greatest victory of all:

you will have the victory of yourself.

 

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thoughts

~ Silent Warrior ~

~ Silent Warrior ~

“Some of the greatest battles of humanity will never be studied in the textbooks or commemorated in the museums. Some of the greatest battles of humanity will never be known to the average man or woman. They weren’t fought in the trenches or castles, but instead inside the heads of people struggling to carry on in a world they didn’t understand or belong to. They were fought in the minds who dived into the darkness to find their light even when they were full of fear and doubt. They were fought by those rising up against the storms that no one else could see or hear or feel. Some of the greatest battles of humanity are taking place right now in the houses and streets of your own towns and cities.

Here’s to those warriors out there winning their silent wars. Here’s to those summoning their strength and courage – rescuing themselves from the swamps and storms without the help of another. Keep on fighting. Your efforts will not be in vain. Stand up and tall and show this world how a warrior walks after their demons have been slayed. Show this world the face of victory. 

Show this world the victory of you.”

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