Reflections On Productivity

Laziness and procrastination often come in my way of having a productive day. Having spent years honing these two terrible habits, now I’ve become good at the things I don’t want to be good at. The worst thing is that when I am being lazy or procrastinating, I am well aware of what I should be doing and so, these habits just produce feelings of guilt and shame after having failed to do the right thing. The next day, those feelings of guilt may rule my action and make me stay on the proper path but then the day after, it is back again, fighting these habits, it seems to be an endless struggle if one agrees with Steven Pressfield and his thoughts on Resistance. Which I do and so, this understanding makes the feeling of guilt even worse, for I knowingly give into resistance.

However, there are good days, many of them and those good days are a product of two things. Scheduling the day and following my routine. I work best when I am less “free”. By that I mean, if I know exactly what I need to do at each hour of the day from waking to when I go to sleep, this includes resting, then, I am more likely to follow through with my schedule. In his book, Can’t Hurt Me, David Goggins issues ten challenges to improve one’s own life through your own actions. One of the challenges is to start scheduling your entire day so you can realize how much time you really have, how much time you actually waste and how you can always find time to do the things you want to do. This has been incredibly helpful. Goggins suggests starting this process by taking small steps. This is true with most things. First, simply block out the time that is dedicated to priority items, such as work or school. Once that is scheduled in, one can see what time periods are “empty”. Pockets of time prior to or after the priority items. The second step is then to fill out these “empty” spots with things that you want to do. Goggins says to start simply by scheduling a 20-minute block of time dedicated to a specific want, where you are completely focused on that want for that period of time. Over time, that block can grow and change and each night, you schedule your next day in several blocks of time and one comes to an understanding of how much time they really have and how best to use it.

Scheduling has helped with my procrastination. If I was “free”, meaning I simply had a checklist of things I wanted to do today, I often found myself wasting the day and then trying to cram in my checklist in the evening when I’m tired and lazy. Such a combination often resulted in failure. However, by starting early in the morning and making use of my day, evenings can be more relaxing and I can be at ease, having done the things I wanted to do.

Laziness is still an issue. Which is why a routine is so important. Laziness can be countered by being almost in a robotic state, where one can dial in and focus on their daily routine and start to act without allowing the mind to interfere. Of course, this doesn’t work every day. Resistance wins every now and then but most of the days, I am able to overcome my impulse to do nothing and follow my routine.

Routine and schedule also have an additional benefit. Simply, you can see what you were supposed to do today. If you fail, you can see what you failed at and you can pinpoint the exact part of your routine or schedule where you got off the path. You can also remember the train of thought that made you get off. Reflecting on such things, you can do better next time, see the warning signs coming, know the moment of weakness is approaching and that resistance is fighting back. Here, by saying disciplined, tuning out the mind, and following your routine, you can win the day.

The Archetype Of The Lover

The Lover is the fourth archetype discussed in the book King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover. When speaking about The Lover, it is not simply just sexual love but a general appetite for life. A lover of life. The Lover energy is exhibited in the vividness, aliveness and the passion with which one lives life. There is a sense of joy that The Lover feels, delight in all sensory experiences.

The Lover is one who is able to be in the world and in one’s own body without shame. They have accepted themselves and are comfortable with who they are. In doing so, The Lover is also empathetic towards others and is open to the collective unconscious. The Lover is open to the aesthetic consciousness which allows him to read others, understand how they feel but this openness comes with a cost, namely, by being so open, The Lover also feels pain and feels it deeply.

The two shadow forms of The Lover are Addicted Lover and the Impotent Lover. The Addicted Lover is someone who is a victim of his own sensitivity. He is lost in addiction and this stops the individual from detaching and assessing their own behavior. This lack of detachment can also result in having boundary issues. The individual lacks boundaries and principles that allow The Lover energy to be used for its proper purpose.

The Impotent Lover, on the other hand, suffers from a flattened affect. This affect is one that causes a lack of enthusiasm, vividness, aliveness towards life. The individual is unable to be passionate and open himself to the sensory experiences which life provides. One consequence of The Impotent Lover can be a chronically depressive state.

The Lover is last of the archetypes. The other three are The King, The Warrior, and The Magician. All of which I have attempted covered previously. The archetypes can be useful in assessing one’s own behavior. The archetypes can act as reminders for what one is missing or lacking. The King can remind one to be in service for others and try to help someone else be a better version of themselves. The Warrior may remind one to act and not wait for life to come to you, rather, through action, one should create the life they wish to have. The Magician can be a reminder of how much growth is possible and how one can gain knowledge to aid their growth. The Lover can remind you to live life in its fullest capacity and not be afraid to experience both the good and the bad sensualities that life can provide you.

The Archetype Of The Magician

The archetype of the King brings order and creativity. The Warrior brings action and clarity. The Magician also has a twofold role: The Magician is the knower and he is the master of technology. By knowing, it is meant that the Magician has an understanding of knowledge that requires special training. He initiates this knowledge through ritual processes, so, like a master and apprentice relationship where the apprentice learns from the master, who has the understanding which the apprentice requires and in doing so, he comes to follow certain patterns and adopt behaviors that will aid that apprentice in gaining special knowledge.

Also, the fact that the Magician has secret knowledge or understanding, he comes to play an important role in society. He can deflate the ego of the King by questioning his decisions and actions. Additionally, in doing so, he can awaken the King’s conscience.

This knowing aspect of the Magician’s energy is theoretical science. While the applied science is the technological mastery. Technological understanding being the practical knowledge that can be imparted onto another which would include how a certain thing works, what are it’s parts, how to fix it if it breaks and so on.

Understanding and applying the Magician’s energy has three main benefits. Firstly, by having knowledge, it can allow an individual to detach and reflect prior to making an important life decision. Secondly, by pursuing knowledge you also come to terms with what you don’t know and what you need to know and thus, this understanding can help you focus in order to improve. Lastly, the Magician energy can bring clarity of thinking which can be combined with the Warrior energy and one can act with clarity.

Like the previous archetypes, The Magician also has shadow forms. His shadow forms are the Manipulator and the Denying “Innocent” One. The Manipulator can withhold information and knowledge which can then allow the individual to maneuver others to his own benefit. For greed or status or other vices, such Manipulator’s can be anyone from teachers to doctors to psychiatrists. While the “Innocent” One is someone who does not take responsibility that comes with the Magician’s energy but wishes to have its rewards. This individual is often lifeless and envious of others for he does not wish to act but just wants the knowledge.

The Archetype Of The Warrior

The Warrior archetype relates to a total way of life. A Warrior is aggressive for it is an aggressive approach toward life that needs to be adopted in order to access the Warrior energy. A passive living will not do but rather one must take the offensive, face life frontally and pursue the things you want in life instead of waiting around for them to come to you. In this manner, a Warrior does not sleep through life, rather, he is someone who is aware and focused and this is aided by a sense of clarity. He is clear in his desires and wants and hence, knows how to act in order to get them. Clarity is also helped by the fact that life is short. The Warrior understands how fragile life can be and how quickly it can end and so, he is clear in his thought and action as he attempts to decisively achieve his aims.

However, with knowing what he wants, the Warrior must also know his own limitations which might act as barriers in his own life. In doing so, the Warrior is then prepared for the moments of weakness that might come and has planned for them. Plan of action for the worst possible outcome so the setbacks are not as troublesome.

Most importantly, a Warrior does not hesitate. He takes decisive action and hence, he comes to engage life. While at the same time, the Warrior does not overthink because overthinking leads to doubt which can lead to hesitation.

The Warrior is trained, he is disciplined and he is committed. Through training, the Warrior becomes all that he can be in his thoughts, actions, feelings, and speech. With discipline, he comes to control his mind and also learns to suffer in the present in order to gain in the future. The commitment is to something greater than oneself, some ideal that allows detachment from the ego and hence, avoiding the pettiness of everyday life. Such commitment can come in the form of religion, country or an ideal like freedom.

However, the Warrior, just like the King energy, also has a shadow form. The Warrior’s shadow is the Sadist and the Masochist. A Sadist being someone who doesn’t have his mind or feeling under control and uses physical violence and is unable to connect with others. The My Lai massacre is an example of this energy or someone who has a compulsive personality disorder.

While the Masochist is the passive role of the Warrior. He is someone who is a pushover, has cowardly tendencies, has a tough time keeping other’s opinion out of his thoughts and easily gives up.

Personally, archetypes can be a tricky concept to accept. It is not clear if such things are real or not or if they play a significant role in one’s life. However, by adopting certain principles or actions that are associated with these archetypes, one can bring improvement in their life. The Warrior archetype urges movement and decisive action, two things that I know I need to get better at. Far too many times I have been passive and unengaging with life. The existence of such archetypes may be questionable, however, by organizing certain qualities and traits in a manner of archetypes, it can be easier to understand and to apply these qualities and traits in everyday life. By actively thinking about the Warrior archetype and wanting to adopt its mannerisms, one is constantly reminded to engage life and not to hesitate. The Warrior seeks out his life and does not wait for it.

So, when you to reflect on your past and you notice all the times when you could have used the Warrior energy to your benefit but failed, you are reminded then of the necessity of the archetype and through it, the necessity of action.

The Archetype Of The King

Archetypes are understood as universal patterns that are embedded in the unconscious of all individuals, hence, the collective unconscious of mankind. These archetypes are considered to be inherited potentials which can be actualized when we “discover” the archetype within us. When one speaks of the archetype of the King, it is the ideal King that is being discussed and not the individual on the throne. How an ideal King should act and think, how an ideal King behaves and how it is the King’s energy that is important for organizing and creating one’s life.

In the book, King, Warrior, Magician and Lover, authors Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette speak upon the different archetypes and the function of each archetype. Additionally, they mention the shadow form of the archetypes as well, the unfulfilled potential or misguided use of the archetypical energy and how such a thing can lead to immaturity in an individual.

Firstly, it is believed that the King has two main functions. The first is that the King energy is ordering, it brings balance, it is the lawmaking energy. The second function of the King energy is that it provides fertility.

Order starts with the King himself. In order for the society to be good, the King must be good. In order for the civilians to respect the law, the King must respect the law. There is a rippling effect from the King to his subjects. So, if the King lives properly, according to good principles then, his subjects will also feel the effect of this order. There is a sense of ownership with this function. The King must own up to his actions, behaviors, and habits and erase those which bring about negative events and consequences and by doing so, his subjects will follow his lead.

In a household, a father must live the way he wishes his children to live. If the father works hard, he is disciplined, he is able to sacrifice immediate pleasure for something greater in the future, then the children benefit as well. They see and they observe and in doing so, they come to view how to act in life through the proper example of the King energy that their father possessed.

Fertility, on the other hand, is associated with the creative ordering of things. The King energy being fertile means that it is positive, it is creative, it wishes for others to grow and become better. This energy nurtures the talents of others, it guides them and recognizes it. It is not destructive or envious or jealous of what others can accomplish.

With this fertile energy, the husband would support his wives decision if she chose to take a break from work and went back to school. The husband would willingly take on the increased burden of providing financially for the household for in the long term, his wife would be happier and the burden will be lifted. In the same way, if the father decides to take time off from work, the son should willingly take on more responsibility for this is what the King energy would have us do.

However, as mentioned before, each archetype is accompanied by a shadow form. A shadow King is one who sometimes possesses the King energy and acts as a proper King but other times he either acts as a Tyrant or the Weakling.

A tyrant is active while the weakling is passive. A tyrant is essentially a narcissist. He envies creative force for it can create new life which can threaten his position. He cares more about himself and his own accomplishments rather than what is good for the community. Think about the worker who only cares about his own paycheck instead of making the company better. These selfish interests create a selfish individual who cannot stand criticism. Even as a father he may envy his own son. He may not give proper praise to his son for his accomplishments or even take credit for what his son has done.

While on the other side of the spectrum, is the weakling. He is someone who is always overcompensating. The reason being that this individual is not secure within himself so he has a need to be noticed because he feels he is nothing. He needs to be adored and worshipped, always drawing attention to himself because he is not satisfied promoting others. Essentially, the weakling lacks centeredness, meaning there is no order or organization which the King energy is supposed to bring.

Perhaps the best way to access the King’s energy without falling into the Shadow King’s influence is by disidentifying the ego from the King. One has to see themselves as a servant to this energy. This can help deflate one’s own ego by associating one’s accomplishments with the King’s energy rather than your own actions. Also, similar to roleplay, before acting, one should perhaps think what would the King do? How would the King act? By doing so, you may come to a decision that doesn’t just benefit you. It may cause you to rethink and change certain behaviors or reshape aspects of your life where you have allowed laziness to seep in and have become undisciplined. The King’s energy may focus your sight onto the things that are in your control which you have not improved and once you take care of that it may have a positive effect on those around you. Also, by keeping the King’s energy in your mind, you can have a shift in how you view others. You may actively seek out ways to help nurture the talents of other people, hence making your life partially less about yourself and more about the wellness of others.

Truth & Storytelling In The Things They Carried

The importance of storytelling is explored throughout The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. In doing so, the author raises many questions about the aspect of storytelling. Can a story be truer than the happening true? Why do we tell stories? Does it matter how a story is told?

The storytelling technique the author, Tim O’Brien, uses blurs the line between what really happened and what is simply a story. This is achieved by naming the narrator of the story after himself. With this, the text can be read almost as a memoir instead of a fictional piece. For instance, the narrator, Tim O’Brien, considered his participation in the war to be cowardly because he did not want to be shamed by his parents and neighbors and other people in his town for avoiding the war. This notion is expressed in the story called “On the Rainy River”.

This raises the question if the author, Tim O’Brien, felt the same way and if not, then does that take away from the narrator’s feelings or does one simply accept the fact that similar notions of cowardice must have circulated the minds of other soldiers who ultimately accepted their enrollment in the army.

The narrator also goes through a transformation, from being an anti-war student with the hopes of going to Harvard, to wanting revenge on a medic who he felt wronged him in the story “The Ghost Soldiers”. When the narrator points out this transformation, one cannot help but think of how war changes the individual. No matter who you were prior to the war, you were going to be someone else afterward. To me, this transformation is made more real because of the author’s choice to blur the line between fact or fiction. Having read other war novels where the main character is changed due to the war, the effect does not seem as concrete as potentially having the author himself be changed. The novel does a good job at eliciting emotions that perhaps only a memoir can do.

However, what if all of it is just fictional? An exaggeration of what really happened. After all, the text is still a novel. The idea of truth is brought up in the novel and how the different ways of telling a story can have an impact on the truth. Can a story be truer than what really happened? If it didn’t really happen does that mean it isn’t true?

The feelings elicited by the stories seem to be real. When the narrator Tim O’Brien describes his first kill and the disfiguration of the Vietnamese soldier in the story “The Man I Killed”, one cannot help but feel sorry for not only the individual who has died but also O’Brien himself for by killing the soldier, he kills a part of himself. However, it is then revealed that the narrator never killed the man but rather he walks up to a corpse of the disfigured individual but to him, it was the same thing. He had played a role in the killing by participating in the war. However, by having described the scene as if he was the one who had killed the Vietnamese soldier, it adds an extra layer to the storytelling, a realistic coat and although we have two accounts of what happened, they both still feel real and both are believable. A soldier did kill that Vietnamese soldier and a soldier did wake up to find the disfigured body and have feelings of guilt and sadness.

The narrator suggests a true war story cannot be written, which calls into question the point of this war novel. Perhaps this is why certain passages are exaggerated, stories that come into the realm of fictional, that cannot be believed, maybe that is the only way to actually tell a true war story. One such story being the “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” where a soldier flies in his girlfriend from America and in the course of a few weeks, the girlfriend transforms from an innocent girl from the Midwest to a savage soldier who disappears in the Vietnamese forest. Such a thing may have never happened however, there were countless soldiers, innocent themselves, who fought and got lost in Vietnam. In that sense, the story about the girl is as true as anything else.

Or perhaps the only way to tell a war story is by shouldering the responsibility of the war and with it, the death of the soldiers. This can be seen with the death of Kiowa in the story “In the Field”. Several soldiers believe that it was their fault that Kiowa died. In the same way, the narrator believed that it was his fault that the disfigured Vietnamese soldier died. By assuming responsibility, one may be able to explain what happened, why it happened, how it happened, even though that individual was not at fault. In this way, the truth is different than the story however, the story could still be true.

Furthermore, the narrator explains why he is writing this story. To me, the narrator’s explanation seems to be the explanation of the author, Tim O’Brien for the reason behind the novel is that through storytelling, one is able to capture the soul of the individual who is not there anymore. In the story, that individual gets to live. This notion is expressed fully in the text “The Lives of the Dead”. The story keeps the soul alive. Which may be the reason why the author decided to name all the characters after people he knew. The soldiers that had passed away were still alive in this text. The girl that he loved when he was a kid is still alive in this text for in the story, she is dancing and laughing and the two of them can talk to each other. Perhaps the reason why the narrator is named Tim O’Brien is so that after the author has passed, his soul still lives on through this story.

Short Story: Remeber To Run

I run a lot. A younger me would never have believed I would be a runner one day. It’s funny how things work out. When I was younger in P.E. class we had to run around the soccer field every Monday morning. I hated those Mondays because I hated the cold but even more, I hated to run. Ten steps into the run my lungs would start to burn and with each breath I would feel a sharp pain in my chest and with each step my mind would tell me how awful this was and that I should simply stop running. I would think that I was breathing too loudly and the kids around me will look at me like I was weird. I also thought that my strides were too short and I looked awkward running and the girl I liked would see me or I would think that if I stopped everyone will know I’m a loser, so it’s best I kept going. Those were simple days when nothing really mattered.

But now, a quick lap around a field doesn’t seem enough. I could go round and round till my legs begin to shake and still, it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. It’s not until I am mindless that I find running to be worth it. Although that can take a long time and some days I never reach that point where there is a void in my thinking. Those days I feel like a P.O.W. my mind acting like a prison and my thoughts as torture devices, depriving me of rest. Those are tough runs but I know I’ll have another shot at escaping next morning and that keeps me sane.

A younger me would have never believed that I would kill a man one day either. Of course that me didn’t know anything about the world or how it worked. He was too busy thinking about if Jemmy had seen him looking at her in class or if he’d get that red bicycle he wanted for his birthday so he can show off to his friends. He had just seen war on movie screens and in his mind. The younger me loved killing in his mind. That me always imagined himself as a soldier, as he played with his toys, and when the toys fought, in his mind he was fighting too, he killed and the toy soldiers fell down, easy and bloodless death but real death was never that pretty. Those were fun times, especially when my brothers and I played together. If only that younger self knew that one day his hands would know the grip of a real gun, the familiarity of the handles, the understanding of the trigger, the sight of men falling as their consciousness leaves them, the sound of men crying as they claw at the dirt trying to stay alive, trying to stop their dreams from leaving them, that younger me wouldn’t know anything of that and he will never know. That younger me still lives a peaceful life, playing with his toys.

I am a runner now. I wake up early, before the sun most of the time. I make sure not to disturb my wife as I get changed into my running clothes that I had laid out the previous day. A pair of black shorts that I had worn for years now which my wife got for me for my birthday when we first started dating. She had got me a shirt to go with it but that had been used and discarded by now, yet, the shirt I did wear looked years old. Along with that, I had my socks, my gloves, my cap and my cd player with the cd already inside it. I changed quickly and went downstairs to the lobby where my running shoes were waiting for me at the front door.

Most days I put them on without a thought and then I was gone. Somedays I stared at the shoes thinking why I am not in my bed with my wife, hearing her snore peacefully as the warmth took me back to some dream that I once had. Those days are rare but they do come and every time they come I stare at my shoes, distracting my thought by forcing myself to remember how long ago I had bought these particular pair of shoes. I would even imagine myself walking into the running store and purchasing them and I would recall how snug they felt the first day I wore them for a run. I had worn these particular pairs of shoes for sixty-two days and the threading had started to come undone in the front and the shoelace was beginning to lose its tightness. The ones I had previous to this pair had lasted me eighty-two days before the sole of the shoes broke. Sometimes these little tricks is all you need to overcome that initial weakness, tricks to occupy the mind, after which, I put on those shoes and leave my house.

I know the exact day when I became a runner. I had come home from work and my wife sat me down. I knew it was something serious by the way she spoke to me. She usually spoke in a soft and quiet manner, something the doctors had told her to do but that time, she could not hide the anxiousness which she was feeling, she wasn’t able to cover up the possible effect her words could have on me. She told me my mother had passed away. A letter came in that morning while I was away and it said that she had died peacefully in her sleep and the funeral will be held in three days time. I thought how could they decide when to bury my mother?

My wife was pregnant at the time and she could not travel so I went alone. She kept on asking me how I was feeling and I found that to be odd. My mother had just passed away and I felt nothing, nothing good, nothing bad and the more my wife brought it, the worse I felt about my nothingness.

At the time I used to go running every now and then, whenever I felt like it, which was not often. The doctors had told me that strenuous exercise might trigger bad memories. So that was a comfortable excuse to stay in my bed or on my couch. But, for some reason, I brought along a pair of running shoes when I went to go see my mother. They were old, just a random pair that I had bought from the store one day, I couldn’t even recall how old they were.

Mother spent her last few years living in a home with her friends and others like her. My wife and I had tried to accommodate her with us but it was difficult when you took into consideration her condition. She had never been the same since my brothers passed away. After that, she would often look at me and call me by my brother’s name. First my older brother and then my younger brother and then a blend of both of them and finally she’ll remember who I was. She’d smile and say how much I looked like them and how I reminded her of them. At the time father was around and he could take care of mother but then he passed too and his name got added to the mix of names. Soon she started to forget more things than just my name. One time we found her walking down the side of the road near our home, still in her morning robe and slippers. She said she was just going to go see my brother off at his school. It was after that we decided to put her in a home where she could get proper care.

I took a bus which left the city at midnight. My wife came to see me off. I figured it’d be easy to just sleep the night and wake up in a different town but that wasn’t the case. The cool air that leaked in from the windows kept me awake. It was as if a fan was blowing cold wind right above my head. Instead, I tried to remember the last time I went to go see her and nothing came to my mind. I remembered riding the bus down another time but I couldn’t remember meeting my mother or talking to her. I remembered the small field outside of the home where the rose petals were and I could see the gardener watering the plants in his green overalls but I couldn’t see her there, nor hear her, I couldn’t even remember her.

There was a man waiting for me at the bus stop. He worked at the home and he tried to carry my one small suitcase for me but I told him I could manage and I placed it in the trunk of his old Volvo. The brown leather seats were cracked and the air conditioning didn’t work. We rolled down the windows. The man offered his condolences and that was kind of him. He asked me if my brothers were coming too. I couldn’t blame my mother for wishing they were still here. I just shook my head and told the man that they won’t be able to join us.

At the home, they settled me into a nice room. I could tell it had been cleaned that morning. The bedsheets were perfectly laid out and the pillows arranged in order, I felt as if I would be doing a disservice by sleeping here, by ruining their constructed image. A man came up and ushered me down to the hall where my mother was. Everyone was dressed in white, those were the mourning colors here, not black but white because they believed death to be pure, a part of a process, something one shouldn’t be sad about. For them, death was cleanliness and order because it completed one’s life, without death life would be incomplete, a singular wrinkle on a bedsheet that is otherwise perfect, that single wrinkle drawing everyone’s attention to the incompletion of the task, or something like that I guess. I suppose that is the attitude you have to have when all your residents are waiting for completion.

My mother lay on a white bed at one end of the room. White cloth covered the floor and the metal chairs, there was a narrow path in between the set of chairs so one could walk directly up to my mother. Few people sat on the chairs silently and I thought that to be odd. Couple of the women sat at the front row, crying without making a sound. I took a seat at the back and watched the side of my mothers face. The bed bent due to her weight in a manner that I could only see the tip of her nose and her forehead which was partially covered with her greying hair. I figured her hair would be greying, my own was but for some reason, I felt as if that was wrong. She shouldn’t be this old. I was but she should be younger like she was when she was waving us goodbye at the train station.

One of the women from the front turned around and saw me. She was old too. She came and sat down beside me.

“You look just like your mother.” She said.

I just smiled.

“I’m sorry for you and your family. She really was a great woman, always making us laugh. You can see how loved she was with all these people here. Not everyone gets the same attention.”

“That’s nice.”

“Would you like to go see her?” She asked.

“No, thank you.”

My answer seemed to surprise her.

“In a little bit,” I added.

She pretended to understand, “okay, take your time honey.”

She went and joined the other women at the front.

I waited for a while and a few more people drifted in, all wearing white. They said their condolences to me, some asked where my wife was and I told that she couldn’t travel, many asked where my brothers were and I told them they couldn’t travel either. After some time I decided to go for a run. People didn’t notice me leave and I went to my room and put on my shoes. The home was a gated lot but the watchman at the gate let me out for I didn’t look like I belonged there just yet.

The run was simple and easy. I kept the pace light, there was no need to rush, I had nowhere to be and the path was simple as well. Flat and straight with the occasional little dip or small incline, nothing that I couldn’t handle. It took me a little while to get my legs loosened up and once they were loose I felt my strides lengthen and my lungs stopped to burn and rather, they took pleasure in inhaling the cold fresh air. I tried to think of nothing when I was running but I didn’t know how to do that at the time. I didn’t know how to get to the edge of the cliff and carefully run alongside it and wait for the perfect moment to step off and fall into the void. Now I had a better hold at getting to the void. The void was emptiness, it was without thought and without feelings. It was just alive and it took pain to get there.

At the time, I was just trying to be thoughtless. Whenever a thought came to my head I let it pass through like one of the cars on the road that seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere. There were no lights or stop signs for thoughts in my mind, it was an open highway for them to keep on going. It was the void that I was trying to reach but at the time I didn’t know that. Now, when I run I don’t think of anything and with it, I don’t remember anything either.

Like Bean, I don’t remember him either. Bean, that boy who I fought with, who was still a boy. His life already completed. He would tell me stories about his mother all the time. He would tell me how she had him young, too young and how she didn’t know anything about raising kids and she would slap him when he did something wrong and then she would give him sweets to make up for it. Bean would tell me how his mother shouldn’t have been a mother yet, she couldn’t handle the responsibility, she was a kid herself. Just like us, he would add. Bean would tell me how his mother was his best friend. How the two of them would tell each other everything. They would watch movies together, they would go on walks together, she would do his homework for him, he would do the dishes for her and the two of them were one. Bean talked about his mother until he was killed. Then, I remembered his mother. I remembered his mother when I saw my own. When I saw my own mother, I saw Bean’s mother and when I saw Bean’s mother, I remembered Bean and with it I remembered that look of surprise he had on his face when his life was completed. What I remembered afterward doesn’t let me dream anymore.

I kept running that day. Easy, comfortable pace and soon all I thought about was the sky or the tree that I passed by or the crack on the pavement.