thoughts

~ A Secret Space ~

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“The words of mockery came at me and I realised at that point I had broken through a new realm. People’s thoughts and opinions of me no longer had any power over my emotions. I was my own man, and it struck me how blessed I was to be able to live life without striving for social validation. So many people secretly craved to live life not controlled by worries of what others thought of them. It was no easy thing to do after all. We are all social beings that thrive on others’ acceptance, and it truly takes a bit of insanity to overcome this aspect of human nature. And the bigger the crowd you have to fit into, the more of your own individuality you will have to sacrifice. This is why the true individual thrives on his or her solitude. It’s in that uncorrupted space where the noise of society fades away. It’s in that space where the inner voice is heard, art is created, and new perspectives realised. This space becomes more addictive the longer you spend in it, and when you return to the crowd and see the masks being worn and the social game being played, you will inevitably only crave to avoid it as much as you can. Solitude becomes a way of protecting your unique essence. And maybe people will think you’ve gone crazy, but most will never understand why being alone is one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

~ The Crazy Ones ~

“Always the crazy ones were discussed with hidden interest. Some were mocked outright, and others were affectionately referred to with lines like “she’s a bit different” or “he’s a bit out there”. Whatever the case, it seemed most people had a subconscious fascination for the alternative mind. People would stand back and observe them as if they were a rare species – some kind of exotic bird with pink feathers. Mostly they fascinated me because they were the creatures who had jumped the fences of normality; they were the ones who hadn’t subscribed to the current version of sanity which helped us all enjoy small-talk down the pub. To me that was a liberating quality I couldn’t help but envy. Without being shepherded on the farm of conventional thought, you were free to invent yourself and be whatever you wanted to be. And what was more desirable than that? In a world that said the winners were the rich people, or the famous people, or the good-looking people, to me it was the crazy ones – the people living life on their own terms – who were life’s greatest success stories.”

thoughts

~ Haunted ~

~ Haunted ~

“After another night of reckless behaviour, I went and faced that morning mirror. I looked into my eyes and saw a harsh truth staring back at me. It was one I had always tried to avoid. Something dark and sinister lingered inside of me. It was always there stirring in my soul, haunting the hallways of my mind, whispering into my ear in moments of peace and happiness. I didn’t think I was to ever get rid of this parasite inside of me. It patiently waited for its moment to lure me back into the darkness; to pull me back to the periods of self-destruction and madness. And even when I thought I was finally rid of it – that my life had finally become one of sanity and order – there it would appear once more in my reflection. A twisted smile, a sinister stare, reminding me that it would always be there inside. The thought hit me that perhaps this sickness is not something I am meant to be cleansed of, but only learn to live with. It was a fundamental part of my being and I had to embrace the fact that maybe I wasn’t the pure-hearted guy I believed I was. And when I looked back at my life and my behaviour over the years, I began to understand why things had been how they had been. Some of us struggle to let the light touch our souls, because deep inside we know the darkness is where we truly belong.”

thoughts

~ Another Happily Scarred Dreamer ~

“Still going crazy. Still running after whatever sets my heart on fire. Still answering the call of the soul, no matter where it takes me to. It’s a sickness I guess, but one that I am happy to suffer from. We are all sick with something. Sick with love; sick with regret; sick with fear. I have chosen to be sick with abandoning myself to whatever speaks to my soul. There’s no middle ground for me, and by now I am that there is something incredibly real inside of me. I have been asked to ignore or suppress it – even to kill it. But the blatant truth is that this thing inside has caused me all the good in my life. Each year I follow my heart, the happier I am facing that mirror. In that reflection stands a man who had the courage to give life a real shot. Who had the courage to allow himself to feel the pain so he could feel the joy. To know the lows so he could know the highs. To experience the horror so he could experience the ecstasy. Life is a crazy ride, and for me the only way to live it is to put the pedal to the metal and drive fast into its wilderness. To get lost in new lands. To get your heart broken into a million pieces. To dive deep into the darkness, thinking that you had finally met your end, only to emerge into the light and stand stronger than ever – the ruler of your own heart and the maker of your own destiny. It’s a path that is not straight-forward, and one that will leave you with marks, but I stand here now – another happily scarred dreamer – telling you that, yes, the journey of following the heart is undeniably the only way to truly live.”

poetry

~ A Hidden Wonderland ~

‘A Hidden Wonderland’

Somewhere deep inside your soul
there is an abandoned amusement park
waiting to be explored again

its entrance is taped off
its grounds sit shrouded in fog
but somewhere in there lies eternal bliss
the bliss the demons sweat in terror
at the thought of you finding

the rides await your screams of ecstasy
the candy floss awaits your taste-buds
the neon lights wait to shine bright
and the only admission cost
is that you are brave enough to venture in

in this life there is no tragedy greater than
allowing your inner joy to slowly decay
to allow the roller-coasters to rust in the rain
and let a heart creak hauntingly in the night

the reason this happens;
the reason your joy lies abandoned –
is because they made you forget
that you are the gatekeeper to your own wonderland
that the magic is found inside you, not outside

but if you would only remember who you really are
than the power will return within
the roller coasters will start up again
and the lights blaze bright once more

because somewhere deep inside your soul
there is an abandoned amusement park
waiting to come alive again

so go on in
through the mist
beyond the tape
and rediscover the joy
like a wide-eyed child
dazzled and delighted
curious and captivated
alive in the night once again

shining brighter and greater

than ever before.

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.”

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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.”

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.”

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short stories · thoughts

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

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~ 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 ~

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~ 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.”