So many books. So many words. So many signs. So many breaths. So many voices. And yet, only one speaker. Only one heart. Only one birth. Only one death.

There are many things in life. Yet, many things happen only once. Not twice: twice would be its opposite, and that would be a whole other thing.


I am born. I can breathe. I can see, hear, feel, touch, and smell, yet, I cannot walk. I am confined to a set of programming algorithms. Yes, this is what the world wants me to be. To be constrained to learning to crawl, to walk, to eat, all at a certain age. And when one does not satisfy those expectations, one is considered an outlier, a freak anomaly.

“Jake, you cannot color with pencils, you have to use colors,” my teacher had said to me.

I don’t remember what my response was; I was too young. But I probably did not say, “Now, lookit hear, bitch, my life is simply shades of gray, so I’ll color with whatever I damn well please!”

I never liked the social norm, though I paid great attention to the standards set forth.

Later on in life, I would learn of the darkness. I would come to understand that unless I travel into those darkened waters where my soul dwells, I would not be able to satisfy my dream: being a writer. I would have to come to terms with the pain the lifestyle would bring. But at that time, all I could think of was how much I hated mac and cheese.

There is only one birth; there is only one death.


The death of me happened as sudden as a pen dropping to the floor, succumbing to the grips of gravity. And that is how it happened for me. I could deny my gift no longer. I had to embrace the pen, the whispers, the paper, and the obligation to create, lest it create in me a sanctuary for my demise. Many will never understand this, they can’t. Just as I will never understand theoretical physics or finite math—naturally, that is.

It seemed as though my body fell limp just as naturally as the setting sun. Like my essence had been superseded by the needs of my soul: to create in a word a world of distance.

And so it was written upon my heart, engraved with my last life breath:

If there is one thing I am certain of, it’s this: the mark of a writer is the undeniable urge to create—and in doing so, the ability to withstand the despondency of the craft. I cannot more fully express the pain and then the joy, the need and then the death. But I do know if I turn my back, if I resist the compelling lust to write, it will be the death of me.


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