Poem: Man, The Creator

Before the self-hate, self-love, self-care,

before the self-awareness,

before the self-consciousness,

man was part of nature,

an animal without dread or hope.

 

The initial drop of awareness sent ripples throughout the mind,

ripples that colored the world,

vibrant with pain and suffering,

magnetic with death and destruction,

dynamic with love and care.

 

Simple realities of life now labeled,

now dreaded, now hopeful,

now feared, now craved,

detached from nature.

 

Man stands head and shoulders above the other beings,

the head constantly looking over the shoulder,

look for death,

his creation,

man is God.

Poem: My Heart Beats

Someday I’ll quit the race and listen to my heart,

someday my heart’s beat will silence my desires,

someday I’ll commit to myself,

someday I’ll move to the woods.

 

The patient rhythm of nature,

matches my own beating heart,

the warm blood, the warm rays,

the deep inhales of cool wind,

the red roses, the violet petals, the deep green grass blades,

no concrete gray,

the stars above, fresh dirt underneath, me in between,

a man, an animal, a combination of the two halves.

 

For now, amongst the honking sounds,

amongst the curses, amongst the hustle,

amongst the smoke, amongst the drunk,

amongst the paper, amongst the ego,

my heart beats softly, pleasantly,

knowing that its counterpart is out there,

like a lost lover,

knowing that someday it’ll be reunited,

waiting for common sense to seep into my mind and limbs,

until then, with patience, my heart beats.

 

Poem: Burning Bridges

In between chaos and order hangs a bridge made of old wood and old rope,

the planks creak and moan under the pressure of footsteps,

back-and-forth man walks,

hovering between the two possibilities.

 

Tipped towards the dark by forces outside of him,

the chaotic unfolds the center and he falls apart,

his world, his mind, his heart consumed by anarchy,

which turns to arson,

burning away the innocence,

burning away the old bridge,

its charred remains fall into the abyss,

the whites of mans eyes look out through the darkness that shrouds him,

the heart is lost,

the limbs move in an erratic manner,

striking whatever is in its way,

transferring the pain, the hate, the chaos to whatever he touches,

he goes from a being to a man, to an animal and now to an It.

 

Behind the eyes the embers of order burn,

less so than before,

they search for the savior, thinking that the savior is out there,

somewhere,

for the disturber of the balance was external,

mistaken in this belief, the lost are never found.

 

The Spiritus Mundi aimlessly walks inside of man,

waiting to be held, waiting to be guided, waiting to become the guide,

in this disorder, what is required isn’t logic,

reason doesn’t build the bridge again,

the beast with the lions body must be tamed and upon it,

the mans head is placed,

and through such a harmony, a fusion of man and beast, the bridge is remade,

through such surrender, balance is restored.

 

But it’s easier said than done, like all things,

no one wants to let go of chaos,

it serves as an out,

a way to let go of responsibility,

a way to blame,

a way to survive,

no one wants to admit that the darkness is comforting,

that those thoughts are pleasing,

happy in the emptiness,

lost in the chaos,

happy in the chaos,

why be born again?

why restore the order?

why go through the pain?

 

Senseless beasts roam around,

intelligent fetus’ crawl around,

erratic and thoughtful,

misery and miserable,

only see a few who are beings,

those few are constantly struggling to stay whole,

as all around them is fire,

burning bridges,

and the flame is so alluring.

 

 

I’m A Son Of A Bitch If I’ll Be Defeated By The Everydayness

I have felt hours go by without knowing what happened to them. Hours that turned into days which became months and looking back, there have even been years which I cannot recall with any significance apart from perhaps a single event or two.

I recognize the illness that plagues my mind after reading the Moviegoer by Walker Percy. I had recognized it before too when I came across Proust and I’m sure I recognized it prior to that but I cannot remember now. This makes this illness particularly tricky to deal with because the mind aids the sickness.

This illness is the everydayness of life. The mundane moments that go unremembered as my mind and my thoughts dwell in a hopeful future where I will find myself amidst the ruins of Ancient Rome or traveling the bullet train in Japan along with some friends or seeing the great art pieces of Michelangelo with my own eyes for these moments can cure the everydayness and leave lasting memories of being alive which I can fondly recall later on. Or so I imagine them to be.

But as Proust said, the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new sights but in looking with new eyes. Similarly, Walker Percy puts forth the idea of The Search. It is not new worlds you should seek but rather see the beauty in the everyday that can and should leave a mark on your life.

To search is to be in wonderment of life, all of life.

The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life.

To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.

Walker Percy further explains the idea with regard to movies.

The movies are onto the search but they screw it up. The search always ends in despair. They like to show a fellow coming to himself in a strange place — but what does he do? He takes up with the local librarian, sets about proving to the local children what a nice fellow he is, and settles down with a vengeance. In two weeks time he is sunk in everydayness that he might just as well be dead.

Walker Percy warns one not to fall into a pattern of known motion. The daily, weekly and monthly routine that makes you feel like just a piece of metal on a conveyor belt, being moved from one spot to another. Instead, he urges you to be observant, to see the changing world around you through which you have been unconsciously drifting. So, to observe is to search. 

People have a different way of sticking themselves into the world. It is a small thing to him but not to me. It is nothing to him to close his eyes in New Orleans and wake up in San Francisco and think the same thoughts on Telegraph Hill that he thought on Carondelet street. Me, it is my fortune and misfortune to know how the spirit-presence of a strange place can enrich a man or rob a man but never leave him alone, how, if a man travels lightly to a hundred strange cities and cares nothing for the risk he takes, he may find himself no one and nowhere.

Without the active struggle to see your own surroundings as something worth seeing and exploring, you might find yourself blind and unaware regardless if you are standing in front of an old library or the Colosseum. If you don’t know how to see properly, moments will simply drift in and out of you and leave behind just the faintest recollections of themselves. Life will be just a dull light instead of the blinding brilliance that it can be. 

For he is no more aware of the mystery that surrounds him than a fish is aware of the water it swims in.

The search is there for one to enrich their own life. It’s a selfish ambition, to make your own life one of awe and beauty.

No, I do it for my own selfish reasons. If I did not talk to the theatre owner or the ticket seller, I should be lost, cut loose metaphysically speaking. I should be seeing one copy of a film which might be shown anywhere and at any time. There is a danger of slipping clean out of space and time. It is possible to become a ghost and not know whether one is in downtown Lowes in Denver or suburb Bijou in Jacksonville. So it was with me.

This is an active effort to find unique experiences in everyday life. To go out of your way to talk to the theatre owner or the ticket seller as Percy said. Or to give conscious thought to the movie seat or the aroma of the theater. The little things like that matter otherwise life is a blur. Think about all the time you spend in traffic just going from one place to the next. If you can find some kind of beauty or uniqueness in those mundane moments, then you can enrich your life.

Yet it was here in the Tivoli that I first discovered place and time, tasted it like okra. It was during a rerelease of Red River a couple of years ago that I became aware of the first faint strings of curiosity about the particular seat I sat in, the lady in the ticket booth…as Montgomery Clift was whipping John Wayne in a fistfight, an absurd scene, I made a mark on my seat arm with my thumbnail. Where, I wondered will this particular piece of wood be twenty years from now, 543 years from now? Once as I was traveling through the midwest ten years ago I had a layover of three hours in Cincinnati. There was time to go see Joseph Cotten in Holiday at neighborhood theatre called the Altamont — but not before I had struck up an acquaintance with the ticket seller, a lady named Mrs. Clara James, and learned that she had seven grandchildren all living in Cincinnati. We still exchange Christmas cards. Mrs. James is the only person I know in the entire state of Ohio.

To walk through life blind and deaf seems like an awful waste of potential. Knowing that I have been blind and deaf at different points in my life is a painful reminder of wasted opportunity. However, in between that time, in between that space where I can remember to search, where I can actively observe and find the beauty in the mundane and know that everything in nature has its own value if I were to remove my own prejudices and biases at least for those moments I can fight the everydayness that drowns so many and keep the search alive and with it my curiosity and imagination. Thanks to Percy’s novel I am reminded again of the life around me and thanks to him I will be reminded of the fact that sometime in the future I may be momentarily defeated by the everydayness but it will never be a permanent defeat for the search is always there, waiting for you, ready to enlighten your world. 

But for now, I make the same vow as Percy:

Nevertheless, I vow: I’m a son of a bitch if I’ll be defeated by the everydayness.

Poem: Out of Sight

The flowers bloom out of sight,

the sun rises out of sight,

the sun sets out of sight,

the gathering clouds, the soft rain, the waving grass blades,

nature’s call,

out of sight, out of sight.

 

She sits by herself, her

shawl wrapped around her, comforting

cotton material, what

she needs is the comforting touch of her fellow being, but

pride is damming, also

the lack of awareness is prevalent, as

man goes about their day.

 

Men with diamonds around on their wrists,

women with diamonds around their necks,

her eyes avoiding her own reflection,

as people double click the pictures on injustice on their phones,

sipping on their drinks,

while she thirsts for aid.

 

Too many animals walking around, not

enough humans, too

many concerned about themselves, their

own looks, their own bank account, their own desires, not

enough who can empathize with the desperate others, even

though everyone knows the desperation, and

in their own time of desperation craved another’s compassion.

 

“How are you?”

“Are you okay?”

She talks to herself,

answering herself,

practicing a smile,

to match that of the surrounding people,

so she feels part of the crowd,

and not alone,

as she sits alone,

out of notice,

out of care,

out of sight,

wandering animals around her.

 

Poem: The Passage of Permanence

The passage of time,

The passage of worries,

The passage of sadness,

The passage of happiness,

The passage of love.

 

Nothing is permanent,

desires change, hopes change, I change,

some changes come with a hope of permanence,

this new me will stick around, hopefully,

other changes come with the hope of immediate change,

finding myself in lows of life,

hoping like the flip of a coin it can turn around,

thinking if I will even remember what I hold dear now.

 

The days go by and it’s the next year,

older I get the more desperate it seems,

desperate to become someone,

this never used to be a concern of mine but is now,

even this desperation will pass, when

I either succeed (even that will pass),

or when I fail (even that will pass),

either way, something new will take over for the time and that too shall pass.

 

Just like the good times with hearty laughs,

just like the bad times with teary eyes,

the passage is permanent,

I am not,

So, smile some, try some, love some, cry some, fail some,

and in the end, I know I’ll be alright,

for the next passage awaits.

 

Lessons From Stories: Unconditional Love Can Be A Bad Thing

Honore de Balzac wrote the novel Old Goriot in 1835, and he explored the social and cultural changes that were taking place in France at the time. There are several themes associated with this novel, but I’d like to focus on one in particular. The theme of parental love and family relationships, specifically the relationship between Goriot and his two daughters, Delphine and Anastasie. The lesson derived from this relationship is that there is such a thing as too much love. That, in fact, a parent’s unconditional love can have negative effects on their children.

(Obvious spoilers ahead)

To set the stage, at this time in France, one’s reputation was everything. This theme is largely explored through the lens of the character Rastignac. He is a young man with dreams of becoming rich and successful. In his story, he interacts with the elites of the Parisian society including both Delphine and Anastasie. The two daughters are married to successful men but the daughters constantly struggle with finances as they attempt to buy rich gowns and wear expensive jewelry in order to keep their high societal image.

It is in this struggle to stay relevant we see how unconditional parental love can be damaging.

But first, we must understand who Goriot is. Goriot is portrayed as the ideal father. He embodies the parenting view that it is the parent’s responsibility to sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of their children. We meet Goriot living in an old boarding house along with several other characters. Soon after that, we are given background information about how once upon a time Goriot was a rich merchant and the reason why he went from living comfortably to now having to spend his old age by himself in a small room was because he gave his wealth to his two daughters in order to maintain their image of wealthy Parisian women so they can keep getting invitations to dinner parties and get-togethers.

This idea of Keeping Up with the Joneses is as relevant today as it was in that time period. As people attain more wealth they upgrade their living situations trying to maintain a certain image that they believe is associated with their income level. Goriot’s two daughters are no different than the people we see walking around now. Both of them find themselves in this rich sphere of influence and both constantly struggle to stay in that sphere. When our self-worth and our identity comes to be tied with our reputation and image, we can fail to see what really matters. Such as the love and care of people around us.

The daughters fall into this trap as well. They care little of how their father has downgraded in his living conditions over the years and how he’s had to sell what is precious to him in order to raise enough money to keep a steady flow of income which the daughters can use for material possessions. The daughters are too self-absorbed and here is where too much love and care can be a bad thing.

The overwhelming love Goriot had for his daughters stopped him from thinking rationally. Instead of teaching his daughters about self-worth or raising them to make their own wealth, he kept on feeding their addiction. Love clouded his logic to the point he was essentially causing self-harm in order to keep his daughters happy. His love for his daughters stopped him from putting proper boundaries which would allow the daughters to take on responsibility for themselves. He wasn’t able to raise independent human beings. Instead, even as adults his daughters relied on him to help them and because his love was boundless, he kept on loving and sacrificing until his final breath. Worse of all, the tragedy of the story, the father dies without either one of his daughters there to comfort him and even at his funeral, the daughters don’t come.

Often we hear how moderation in all things is the key to a successful life. When I think of moderation my mind automatically goes to bad habits and vices that we can practice and how we must be aware of such things in order to keep ourselves from overindulging in the bad. Old Goriot opened my eyes to a new perspective. Overindulgence in the good can also be harmful. Too much love, comfort, and support can rob someone’s possibility of being their own individual. The daughters never had to stand on their own two feet because Goriot was there to support and guide them the whole time. It is easy to identify when we are imbalanced due to our bad actions but much harder to pinpoint the imbalance when we are acting out of love and care. This story is a good reminder of the latter. Even our love and care must be disciplined and moderated. Especially if we are to raise proper human beings.