Attention

Tonight, I sit down at my desk and pull out a pen. I pull out a piece of paper. And then I begin writing. One word, then another, and another. Now a sentence, then another… And finally, a paragraph. I look down upon the words I write hoping they make sense. Hoping they bare even a scintilla of meaning. Yet, I never really know—do i…

Tomorrow, I will climb into my car and drive somewhere. Tonight, I do not know where.

The next day, I could plant a flower. Yes, a flower would be nice. I would water it, hoping it wouldn’t die. Hoping if I pay a bit of attention, it will be enough.

I suppose that’s what this is really all about: attention. How can anything ever hold meaning for me if I don’t pay attention? The words I write will remain lifeless. My driving excursion, fatal. And a lonely flower will remain without a vase.

I shall pay attention for just one more minute.

For just one more minute: the i will remain lowercase (the way it ought to be). My breathing will be deep. Birds chirping. The list can go on and on, but only for my attention span.

The span of my attention: defined by distractions, warranted by meaning.

That leaves me diagonal, perpendicular, just an observer. (I’m fine with that.)

Everyday can unravel, unnoticed. (or) Everyday can manifest with thoughtful, attention.

You know, none of this really means anything: I just strung a bunch of words together so I could leave you with this vignette.

I lie in bed with a soft focus glazed upon my mind’s inner walls. Night has fallen outside. The world sleeps—it must. And I, though dreamy in my consciousness, feel the soft whisper of my pillow caress my neck like wind blowing upon snow. I’m not yet asleep, though close. I can feel my body growing heavier, but a hollow heavy—like air has been blown into my tomb. My heart beats—thu, thump—my blood pumps, and then, only then, do I fall asleep.
Sometimes, thoughtful attention is as easy as casual Fridays. 

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Glass Jar

The lights went out and I awoke just as suddenly. I looked over, only to see my alarm clock’s neon digits screaming 12 am. I pulled my covers back, put my feet on the floor, and said, “not again.”

This was the third night in a row that I heard the woman’s voice calling to me in my dreams. And the third night I got up and followed her distant tone.

After I walked out onto the porch, I climbed down the wooden stairs and continued down toward the lake. The lake was all black, a glassy sheen. But across the way was a faint glow that seemed to land at my feet.

I followed the trail of light with my eyes, then back to my feet, then back across the water. I could see letters forming in the glow, like a long stretch of message. Come to me. Hurry. I have something to show you.

I didn’t hesitate, well, maybe a little, but not too much. I climbed into the water and began swimming, following the light to the other side. When I got to the shore line, I got out and looked around: only darkness, trees, and a house.

“Come to me. Come into the house, but don’t forget to lock the door,” the voice said.

I walked into the house locked the door behind me.

“Upstairs.”

Where are the stairs? What is this really all about? I thought.

I made my way around the downstairs, looking for a way to the second floor. Finally, I an old oak flight of stairs that weaved and turned in a spiral motion. I began climbing, each step, the voice grew deeper. It felt as though I was ascending past my mind, past everything sane, and into the darkness.

I reached the top stair and then she spoke, “I’m right here.” “No, over here.” I looked around and saw a jar siting in the middle of the floor. It radiated with a sharp glow of blue light; enclosed in the middle was a butterfly baring iridescent colors.

“What is this? Who are you?” I said.

“I am your guardian,” she said.

“Well, what do you want?”

“Open the book beside me,” she said.

I walked over and knelt beside the jar. I opened the dusty book and began reading.

Day 1…Day 2…Day 3… It was a catalogue of all my days, actions, and thoughts. It was my Akashi records.

“I don’t understand; what do you want from me?”

“I want you to fill in the last page. I want you to decide how you’re going to die.”

“What the hell are you talking about? What kind of sick joke is this?”

“Seriously, you must fill in the last page,” she said.

“But that’s not how it works…”

“Do it and you will understand.”

With the last page staring at me, with the blank page screaming at me, I picked up the pen lying next to the jar and began writing:

People call me Jake, but my name is really Jacob. I have lived a very peculiar life, and now I am here, visiting this page, to spell out my death. I will die writing. That’s it. I refuse to write any more details than that.

“Ok, I’m done, I did it; now will you please explain…”

“There is no need: walk down stairs and open the cupboard on the wall,” she said.

Begrudgingly, I went down stairs and opened the cupboard.  Inside laid a silver egg. I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. What the heck is this? I thought. I tapped on the shell, and nothing. Three second went by and then it began cracking open. A little phoenix peaked its head out and stared into my eyes. Startled, I dropped it.

The phoenix stood on the floor with its shells lying to the side. It jumped up and down on the floor, excited to see me. And then everything went quite for a few minutes, as though it was waiting for me to truly acknowledge it.

I could feel my whole body vibrating—like I was separating at a molecular level. I looked down at the bird; it was making the most beautiful noise I have ever heard. What is it doing? The vibrations got stronger, more intense. And then my body, my frail shell, fell to the floor; the phoenix consumed my soul.

I was scared. I couldn’t see anything, but I was aware of everything around me. A few moments later I could see the butterfly flying toward me, toward the mouth of the phoenix. She landed on its wing, flapped her wings twice, and then flew away. The phoenix, then, flew over to my crumpled body, to my lifeless mouth, and blew a breath of life into me.

I sat up, confused, and looked around. Where is the butterfly? Where is the phoenix? The book!! I walked back up stairs and found the book lying on the floor, just as I had left it: the last page open, but different:

I am the butterfly in your life; I am your guardian. The phoenix is the Holy Spirit. And you, Jacob, are eternal. Your death doesn’t matter: it’s simply the beginning of your eternity. Your life does matter, though, every second of it—not to dictate your death—but for the soul purpose of God’s will. Stop acting selfish. This life doesn’t belong to you; your eternal life does.  

I picked up the pen and began writing underneath my guardian’s message:

I have found that every time I write, I die a little bit more, but I become newer, more fresh, during the process. It’s like shedding skin: I shed an older me onto the page so that a newer me can manifest. I have found that vitamins and supplements can help me feel better—I have twenty different ones sitting on my night stand. I found that slamming speed balls made me feel really, really good. But I have not found anything that can replace my relationship with Christ.

I feel like shit. I look into the mirror and see a marionette enslaved by learned behaviors and social contexts chiseled into my grain. For years now this has been bothersome to me as much as these damn fleas that have taken home to my house. But I understand what the problem is: it’s a disruption in my values. I have a value system put in place by Christ, and when I don’t live up to it, well, I feel like shit. Someone once told me that I must change my values so that I can hit the mark and not feel defeated.

But that won’t work either, and that is my spiritual battle. I can change my values, but then I’m lying to myself. Awww, yes, the curse of the believer: knowing the right way to live. It doesn’t matter how I change my values; there is only one path Christ walked—the path of righteousness. I’m left with one choice, the one choice I keep skating around: complete surrender.

I put down the pen, closed the book, and fell flat on my back. I closed my eyes and went to sleep.

 

 

The Spectrum

Look into the window of my soul, into the eyes adulterated by darkness and sorrow. I will show you the spectrums. I will show you the web woven with coagulated blood that surrounds my soul, which holds me captive in my imagination. Watch as I die this slow and painful death by the hand of the words spoken to me. And watch as I am resurrected, more whole than before, by the meanings birthed into existence. Death and rebirth, a phoenix rises from its ashes.

A spectrum: two points lying on either end, connected by pieces of something. There are physical, perceptual, and emotional spectrums.

I shall start with the physical of light and dark. Consider a line: one end labeled point A and the other end labeled point B. Point A is darkness; point B is light. And in between lays everything that completes the spectrum—molecules of both light and dark, fighting for reign.

The perceptual spectrum is simply good and evil perceptions. This is the most dangerous; for it is within the realms of this idea that one decides what is real and what is not.

Let me share a brief anecdote with you. Several months ago, I was riding the bus home from school when the bus came to a stop. A few people climbed on, one of which was a woman—probably 80 or so. The seat next to me was open, open for her to take, but she was hesitant. When she finally reconciled with herself that there were no other seats available, she sat down next to me. Moments went by and then she began talking. Small talk at first, then she asked me what I was going to do with my life. I explained that I was a writer and that I intend to continue drowning in the dark waters. She told me she was once a writing professor at a university and that I must be careful. I was confused. What did she mean? She explained that if I dwell in the darkness for too long, I won’t be able to come back. I told her I don’t have a choice. And she said, “I know.”

The perceptual spectrum is based upon perceptions. But what’s more, these feelings and ideas will become too real if one doesn’t have something to hold on to. They will over power one’s sense of reality and one will succumb to the depths of the underworld: the place where the soul dwells.

I am just a listener, listening to the voice of my soul. I have no choice but to travel within and have faith that my silver cord will remain attached to reality. Good and evil is what it deals with. Ideas. Perceptions. Clues. A labyrinth of chaos.

Come with me. I sit on the front stoop in the mornings and drink my coffee. Our house cat sits across, staring into my eyes. What will she do? I get a morbid image in my mind of her pouncing up and sinking her fangs into my neck, sucking me dry. And then the image goes away, and she remains just a sweet little cat sitting across from me.
Evil and good.

She is, simply, different holograms of my reality.

But why? Why must she be the anchor of my perceptions, what I compare every natural event to? Perhaps because she has the ability to shift into either point A or point B—she can be either good or bad. Or perhaps it’s because she examines me with the same attentiveness that I examine my soul with.

I know this: she remains my friend, even if she kills me. And what’s deeper, she remains the link to the emotional spectrum—our anchors remain the link.

Hot and cold.

Within this spectrum lies a duality of every emotion imaginable. Hate, sorrow, loneliness, love…

This is the arena directly linked to one’s moral. And it seems a constant battle.
Consider the man with everything in the world he could possibly want and need. He is happy with his happy little smile plastered upon his deranged face. The face he holds, underneath, just a demon looking back. He runs into the kitchen, grabs a knife, stabs it into his gut, and rips his insides out. No more than a second later, reality flashes before him. He lies on the couch, alive, and aware that it was only a day dream of death. But he can’t get it out of his mind. It haunts him. Disturbs him. Screams to him—during the waking and the sleeping. The next day, he lives it again and again and again. He realizes he doesn’t even exist, but that this violent horror scene is simply someone else’s thought: a thought, a scene, being used as an anchor for someone else’s emotions and clarity.

He is just a feeling in the spectrum of emotion.

He is lonely. He is hateful. He is loving. He is joyous. But he can’t be more than one feeling at a time, even if for a split second. He writes his poetry upon the walls of his deepest caves—he has nothing else to do but to exist for the wellbeing of someone else.

I shall leave you with this: all three spectrums are as real as the stars are to the moon. But they’re only as dangerous as a knife is to its sheath—the spectrum of danger remains in the hands of the owner.

Falling and Reaching

He was just a man. He fell through heaven’s veil, landing upon the soft, dew soaked grass. An explosion. Dust falling. Sparkling. I giant canvas holding stars for him: his treasures. Frazzled by what had just happened, he slipped into a trance and remained just an object in the field. (Perhaps it’s our state of mind, our conscious mind that separates objects from living organisms, not a pumping heart or breathing lungs.)

Morning came early the next day. The sun’s colors shined down upon his bare body as translucent molecules of colorless heat. Yet, he could see the colors of the world. Why can’t I see the sun’s colors shining, but its colorless rays allow me to see the colors of this field, of these trees, and rocks? He thought.

He wandered over to the outskirts, near the trees and away from the pond, to a small hole in the ground. It only appeared to be about a foot deep. He stepped in it, the dirt crumbling beneath. A much larger hole than I had presumed. He thought. Perhaps my depth perception is the product of a chain of assumptions: If I had not assumed that hole was only a foot deep, would I have reasoned it to be much deeper? This can’t be.

How far is that sky? It seemed hours before I hit ground last night; it must be far. But what if it’s close? What if that space contained pockets of low gravity, varying the inertia pulling me to the ground?

He picked up a small stone and threw it into the air. Watching the rock fall at the same speed throughout its course, he decided if there were low gravity pockets, they would have to be much closer to the sky, much further from him.

I just don’t get this… Wait! My depth perception is defined by learned measures from past experiences. Yes, I got it!

He ran across the field to where he had landed last night. The grass, pressed down in the shape of his body, was a bit darker. He slowly traced his hand around the silhouette as to gain impressions from where he had fallen from. Cold…dark…lonely, but I’m not happy hear. So happiness is a measure relative to unhappiness. And above is heaven. And below is hell. But I couldn’t have fallen from heaven, so how did I fall up.

He closed his eyes, trying to gain insight into where he had fallen from. Heaven and hell must be a parallel time continuum: maybe I fell down from hell, into heaven, and down from heaven to hear. God, I hope I’m right.

He ran back over to the hole and began stomping his feet inside, making the sides and bottom bigger and deeper. Then, he jumped in.

He began falling, deeper, further, until he hit bottom. Now what? This did not go as planned.

 

On his right hand side were three holes cutting through the dirt, leading away from him. I’m not going to take that chance again, regardless of anything.

So he remained just a germ for the earth to consume.

 

The question I pose to you is this: what is of our existence? We are born into a world unfamiliar. We grow up, constantly seeking answers along the way. We gain small insights. Some are worthwhile, some not. And the ones who are addicts, seek to escape. We enter into the world of drugs with the misconception that we are invincible, that we are different, that we can handle life on our own. And we fall. Deeper, further, until we hit bottom.

The problem is not hitting bottom; the problem is not having the courage to find a way out.

Whispers

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.

Objects from Inside

I shall start with the cat. Her beady eyes, precious and bold. Her soft golden fur. And erect ears. Yes, she is the cat that sits upon our porch for hours on end—not a care in the world, only sleep and dried star shaped food (hardly food). Her name is Vail, but it should be Marmalade; she’s orange with swirls of white whipped cream, an amalgamation of orange Jell-O and stardust from the Milky Way.

I shall start with this clock sitting upon my night stand. Its bright neon digits watch me from a distance. The digits change in cadence with my moving life. And at night, it still watches over me, letting me know it’s ticking my time away, yet, I am oblivious as I escape into the dream world.

 

When I wake up I am merely know different than the cat or the clock: I am simply an object enslaved by something greater, my soul. My fleshly tomb, pale epidermis secreting toxins at millisecond wavelengths, houses this soul. But what are these toxins? Are they thoughts and feelings my soul rejects as I misinterpret the other objects in my life? Or are they simply ideals and morals that leave as a result of a breakage in my mind, body, and soul?

These things I do not know. I cannot know, only speculate about.

 

And yet, I remain an object. I remain the canvas of my poetry:

A rose

in the setting sun

shadows my existence

with fragments of emotions

shed from my soul.

I am but an object

tainted and darkened

by the past perfect tense

of my journey through recovery.

 

Why can’t I see

or be or feel?

Why can’t I love

or hate or mourn?

I feel so numb—

like an ice cube

dwelling in the freezer of life.

 

I am only

atoms of a preexisting smile.

I am only

footprints in the sand,

already walked,

already felt

by the lips of nature.

 

So in front of this mirror I stand;

I fog the glass with hot air

from my molten mouth;

I take my finger and write this

upon its glassy face:

I do not exist;

I am not me.

I’m merely

Energy actualized

By a brain.

 

This cat, seemingly a front for something more grandeur, could be a guardian, watching over me, protecting me from myself. Her fur, fake. Her ears, limp. Her eyes, telescopes (no, wait, kaleidoscopes sifting the colors and shapes of my life). She may just be a digital program sent to run in the dreamscape of my wake. She may just be a result of a need rooted deep in my heart: a watchful eye helping me discern my life from my life—reality, from actuality.

This clock and flaming digits could just be fictional: just numbers branded upon the retina of my mind. Time may have already stopped, continuing only by my will. Would I want it to stop? Nay! It can’t. It mustn’t. And so it continues its artificial revolutions upon my skull, ever reminding me of my will for a greater vision, for a greater truth: time is of the essence.

And so, it remains that I must not be me. I must just be energy actualized by a brain and enslaved by a soul.

Him and I

I’m in this room. It’s white with four walls—a box. When I turn and look, writing appears, hieroglyphics I cannot understand.

So I turn my back and look toward another. This one holds poetry written in cursive—I cannot read cursive, but I do recognize my name.

What is this? What is this room? I look down. My shoes appear to be fluid, intangible. I begin melting into the floor, a part of the floor.

Though I no longer exist in a body, I have become my thoughts, floating through the veins that make up these walls—this box.

What is happening to me! I am just a thought, but I cannot comprehend. I travel through these veins and finally up a wall, melding into the cursive lines of my name.

Hot, searing is the feeling. The ink burns, sizzling to ash. I am nonexistent.

 

He opens the doors. Looking around the box, he focuses in on the charcoal marks where my name burned into the wall. He steps over, and writes his name upon the wall.

He is me; I am him. We do not exist; we are simply masks our souls decide to wear.