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.

 

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.

Poem: There was one

Each day you see them pass by,

the crowd, the people, the beings, the strangers,

not a single thought is spent on those you share the bus or train rides with, those who you see stuck in traffic with you, those you walk beside on the concrete sidewalks,

all just strangers, when you look from the outside,

thinking of how dull and uninteresting the fellow man is,

how common the common man is,

puppets, shells, heartless, soulless,

such judgments,

judging those who you don’t know.

 

Reality is far different,

the only reason you put such harsh judgment on others is so you can feel special,

so you can point the finger at them, the others, those who you believe to be dying slow deaths and breath a sigh of relief,

but that’s just a coping mechanism, coping with the disregard that life has as you come to terms that your no different from them, understanding that they all are battling something and not just you,

you think you’re the only one living? your the only one trying to fight? you’re the only one holding on for dear life? you’re the only one struggling? you’re the only one with hopes for a better future?

 

You’re easily fooled,

taken in by the pasted-on smiles,

the practiced eyes,

the calm breathing,

the pleasant speech,

manipulated,

you don’t hear the mute screams of desperation in your fellow man.

 

I do.

 

I knew one who gave up his love, moving to a strange land, yearning at night for what he left behind,

There was one who had no choice, ever, everything decided for them, shackled life, shackled existence, trying to smile,

There was one with three children, working all night, working, supporting, still making lunches, would you recognize her on the bus sitting beside you?

There was one who drank too much, trying to forget, trying to erase the pain, wearing brand new shoes, shaking your hand firmly,

There was one who worked all day, a demon in his mind, reminding him of his failures, telling him he isn’t worth it, grinding to quiet that voice down, headphone turned up, foot nervously tapping the dirty train floor, knowing that the second the music stops, that voice will begin,

There was one who stayed up all night thinking of the unborn child that was on the way, a child himself, wrestling with his fingers inside his pockets, you glance by him without notice,

There was one who found his path in life yet the poor habits are hard to break which makes him tragic for he knows his path and still is lost,

There was one who walked down a made path and is still sitting beside the lost one,

There was one who dreamed, dreamed, dreamed aging with time, that dream keeping the dwindling flame alive inside of him, one more day it echoes,

There was one who smiled at the strangers, wishing he could talk to his dad one last time,

There was one who had everything given to him and yet his heart was filled with resentment, his head filled with the voice of privilege, his actions stained with the label of ease,

There was one who was always moving, traveling, one place to the next, for now beside you, tomorrow on the other side of the world, seeking, seeking, seeking, himself,

There was one who worked to please his love,

There was one who wanted to repay his love,

There was one who wished to be loved,

There was one who was tired of love,

There was one trapped in love,

There was one on the verge of suicide, you see him?

There was one who you no longer saw,

There was one who walked through life wanted a purpose, watching the time go, thinking that he’s a failure, he stands up for the pregnant lady, what a gentleman, gently dying without anyone noticing,

There was one who was enamored by the new, hoping the new watch, new shoes, new glasses, new posture, a new smile would get complimented and for that moment he’d know he’s alive, he mattered, he’s real,

There was one filled with hate and negativity, disgusted by his circumstances, your fault, your fault, theres, others, the echoes sinking him deeper into his negative life, you brushed by him, did it get on you? That evil, that hate for man?

There was one who stared in the mirror each morning hating the reflection, poking at the flaws, wishing for change, checking the phone for what he should be,

There was one starving, hoping it’d be worth it,

There was one who read all day and didn’t live, experiencing nothing, even now the nose in the book while life goes by, are you much different?

There was one who had to force himself to be happy, to be uncomfortable, to grow, to get out and is filled with pride, can you spot him? But tomorrow he’ll have to fight again, that resistance never dies, he knows it, you can see it on his face, can you see him now?

There was one praying for it all to work out, telling himself it’ll be okay, one day, trying to control his breathing,

There was one who joked all day, his laughter rises above the crowd but his thoughts would make you cry,

There was one who hoped to be useful, to be acknowledged, to be considered good,

There was one stuck in a cycle, mistake after mistake,

There was one who was progressing slowly but didn’t know when it’ll be all worth it, the struggle, the grind, trying to stay composed, trying to remember the mantra to keep him grounded,

There was one who couldn’t do anything without first swallowing a handful of pills,

There was one who tried to forget the abuse but each sound, each movement, each touch reminded them of it,

There was one who thought of the good old days, stuck in the memories of happiness, can you blame them as you move your feet to let them walk by,

There was one who was hopeless, everything touched by them tuned to failure, yet, they smiled, one step, two-step, three-step, keep going, keep going,

There was one who lived for the two night of the week, the rest of their life wasn’t their own,

There was one who saw their passion all around them, heard the music, felt the art, craved the brush, the guitar string, the pen, and yet those fingers punched keys over and over and over just like the way you see them unconsciously moving with the rhythm of the tram,

There was one getting over heartbreak, holding the tears in,

There was one getting over a past humiliation, holding the tears in,

There was one getting over the disappointment of their life, no more tears left,

There was one breathing and living for their children the same ones who never called,

There was one breathing and living for their parents, waiting to call when they make it in life, when will that be? They think, the hourglass empties, how much longer before they can declare their appreciation?

There was one dreading the past,

There was one dreading the present,

There was one dreading the future,

There was one who didn’t know where the next meal will come from but looking at them you could never tell for the pride put on a face which yells that they are fine and happy,

There was one whose ego made them pass judgment one everyone they saw, deep down thinking what everyone said about them, not realizing that all these people are too busy trying to deal with their own selves, that one is you.

 

Everywhere are people like this,

battling internally,

quiet types, lonely types,

trying to stay afloat,

as the cesspool of life which is filled with disappointment, negativity, hate, pain, failures, crushed dreams, rises, not quick enough to kill right away, that’d be too easy, but rather, slowly, inch by inch, neck high, letting you know the inevitable and with this understanding, they carry on,

the common, the dull, the uninteresting, as you think them to be,

they carry on,

brothers and sisters,

mothers and fathers,

loyal friends who all share life,

at the heart, united,

at the soul, one,

with patience, tolerance, and love,

the neighbor must be approached,

for they are just like you,

trying to figure out this life which ends in an instance,

that one second we breath,

make it a good one,

ease the burden of another,

don’t add to it,

don’t be blind and deaf to it,

don’t be selfish,

don’t let the ego fool you,

you’re not special,

but you can still do special things for your fellow human being.