In Which the Point is not Arrival

I think I can talk about tattoos all day. All day, everyday. Tattoos are awesome to me. Some tell stories, some don’t. Some look like an one-eyed inmate with cataracts did them and other’s look like they cost thousands of dollars for a celebrity artist to complete.  But ultimately, regardless of meaning or appearance, all tattoos go through the stages of itching and swelling.  Which is one reason why you probably want to make sure it looks the way and means what you want it to because you’ve got to do some suffering in the process of it retaining it’s permanency. I’ve currently just got two tattoos, a fact I’ve stated before so I apologize for my insistent redundancy. I want more, but I’m trying to save money right now so ink is currently at the bottom of my list of necessities.  Since mine are visible, as they are on my forearm and wrist, I get a couple of ink admirers who will compliment them. And most often I hear, “I want one! But I don’t want to go through the pain.” I usually try to calm their nerves and assure them that if their pain tolerance is high that they should be okay, but most often I think, “if you can’t endure the process, you can’t get the results.”And that’s true for most things in life.

We are a very destination oriented people. My pastor calls us the microwave generation. We’re in a hurry to get what we want, with less work. So instead of throwing those frozen chicken pot pies in the oven to cook, we’ll put them in the microwave though we acknowledge that they taste better fresh from the oven.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing because our generation is continuously creating systems and inventing technology which does things faster and more efficiently. I remember dial-up internet with AOL. God, that was a dark period in history….Ma used to fuss at us everyday during the summer because she would be calling the house to check on us and couldn’t get through because we were on the internet. Doing what? God only knows. I can’t even think of any useful or entertaining things that we had on the computer back then. But other times, faster and easier isn’t always better. Yet and still, no one likes a journey. NO ONE. You. Yea, you right there. NOT EVEN YOU! I can think of a thousand things I would like to do which require patience and practice, and it’s the patience and practice part that gets me every time. I’m currently trying to learn to play guitar and chord transitioning is eating me alive. My fingers start fumbling, my chords are distorted, I can’t move fast enough. It’s even more frustrating than when I took piano.  But I also realize that if I want to play guitar like Lianne La Havas then I need to continue to practice. God didn’t see fit that I should be a musical prodigy (thanks for nothing 4-C Jesus!) thus I have to hang in there and keep practicing.

Maybe our issue is that we can easily see the success of our peers on social media. We look at their Mercedes or their budding careers and can only see their achievement or their “arrival.” But rarely do they allow us to see their journey.  Some of them struggled in school and failed a class two or three times.  Some worked low-rung jobs to pay for school. Some may have dropped out and then re-enrolled without anyone knowing.  These are things that we often do not witness. And quite honestly, we ensure that no one knows that we might be scraping along in our journey, too.  I’ve never posted a job update or school update on Facebook. I rarely talk about my personal struggles on other outlets because you always have someone who comes along with a shady post saying that people should stop crying on Facebook about their problems. Or worse, once they hear about someone’s struggle they use it to demean or berate them. So we internalize the feeling that not arriving is shameful. While I’m not advising anyone go out there and start stripping to pay for college, I tip my hat off to women who do.  I don’t have the stamina, flexibility, or upper body strength for that so I probably wouldn’t make enough money to buy a 6-piece nugget from McDonalds. But they work a legal job, save their money, and use it for their books, rent, daycare funds, tuition, whatever it is they have to pay for. And I can’t look down on their arrival because their journey did not fit my idea of what I thought a journey should look like. I very much look at common illegal activities such as drug dealing the same way. Yes it’s illegal and no I wouldn’t advise it. But some people are doing what they can to get what they need. They just want to keep their lights on or help their parents with the mortgage, and they don’t have access to a job for whatever reason (because note that the largest portion of drug dealers who are busted come from lower income neighborhoods with poor school districts) But sidenote: if you deal with drugs and you get a certain amount of money, take a portion and invest in stocks or a business. This way you can let your money make money without you being involved in a dangerous illegal activity.  So there’s that. But the issue also stems from our society being so focused on the goal. We see all sorts of wealth and riches flashing before our eyes on television or on the internet. Yet, the same society that exposes us to the “American Dream” doesn’t provide everyone with the proper, legal avenues (journeys) to possibly attain it. So you end up with crime for survival. That’s my sociology tidbit for the day.

All in all, we all have to start somewhere to end somewhere. It would be nice to start at the finish line, but it’s impossible. And yes, some people are fortunate to start closer to the finish line than you, but it doesn’t make them better than you. And if they arrive earlier it doesn’t mean you’re inadequate.  We should accept that much of life is a process. Very little in life doesn’t require waiting. So instead of yelling at the cashier working the register or the CSR who picks up after you’ve been on hold for thirty minutes (mostly because it’s not their faults. And if it is, still be kind. Don’t make people’s life hard just because you’ve got your panties in a knot) understand not everything is immediate. And don’t judge someone else’s story or journey. If they’re still working their way through the muck and mire that is adulthood, then strap on your rubber boots and help dig them out. Or encourage them. Pray for them. Share your journey with them. Let people know they are not alone and that they have nothing to be ashamed of.  And don’t be shady about it either. Don’t get on social media talking about your new car and how you worked harder than everybody and they’re still struggling and “hahaha look at me now!” Don’t be flashy about your arrival. As much as I think Black Youngsta is the funniest person on the planet, I think he needs to watch himself carefully. It’s okay to relish in your success, or even reveal the extent of your achievement so that your peers who had similar struggles will know they can make it too. But don’t use it to down others (especially women. I dislike when they use “bitches and hos” so much. We understand you don’t mean all women. But this misogynistic culture has got to stop). And please…PLEASE….if someone shares their journey with you, intentionally or unintentionally, don’t be the nosy neighbor who has to find out every detail. If you see scars on someone’s arm which probably means they used to self-harm don’t ask them a thousand questions or stare at them. It makes people self conscious. And don’t think you’re entitled to every detail in their lives if they do share a bit with you. It’s weird. Stop it.

So that’s all for today.  I’m off to do literature and algebra before I watch my cartoons.



In Which I am Lukewarm

First name Luke; Last name Warm.  Middle Name…me. Actually that really wouldn’t make very much sense.  Scratch that.  When you want something in life and you try to get it only to fail, you probably will make another attempt.  If you fail three times you may just give up.  If you’re persistent, unlike myself, you’ll keep pushing regardless of the past failures.  You could be like Abraham Lincoln and his numerous presidency attempts. Or like Steve Jobs who got fired from his own company.  You could be like those people, but this post is about someone who isn’t like those people. This post is about me. That’s right; everything is about me. ME ME ME ME! Scratch that as well. Very little in this world is about me, but due to this blog being an extension of my conscious thoughts then this post is about…well, me.

I wish that I could say that I am not an one hitter quitter. To some degree I can truthfully say that.  I’m more like a two hitter quitter; I don’t even make it to fully being out before I toss down my bat and trot off the field. But oddly enough I’m the person who commits this same act for a good twelve to twenty times and it annoys me to no end.  I hate to be stuck in the middle of a feeling.  If I fail I want to give up, but I also want to try again and it creates a revenue of internal tension.  I tend to chastise myself for not succeeding, but then I’ll chastise myself for thinking that I was going to succeed in the first place.  I most often wish that I could happily succeed or remain content with failure instead of teetering back and forth.  Some days I’ll have these extreme episodes of mania in which everyone is great, I’m hopeful for the future, and things are looking up.  Other days everyone is trash, the future is trash, and things are looking trashy. It’s predictably tiring being inconsistent. Imagine hopping a fence every few minutes.  At some point you just want to stick to one side instead of constantly climbing, jumping, landing, and repeating.  I relate this analogy with failure/success, but what I really mean is happiness/unhappiness. These four factors intertwine so it’s a pick and choose sorta thing. I either want to be completely content with not being happy or just be happy.  I hate being so up and down because it makes me feel unstable.  Am I pessimistic or optimistic?  Am I hopeful or not?  I’ve learned the best way to describe myself is an optimist with depression because that best explains my ability to see the silver lining in a cloud or the rain in the rainbow.

You’re never going to meet someone who is full of sunshine 100% of the time.  You’re guaranteed to meet someone who sees darkness in everything, though.  Why is this?  Because we all face disappointments. Whether we meet disappointing people or end up with disappointing results. People who never see the good in anything are people who have looked for the good only to have the bad poke their eyes out.  If you get let down too many times you’re not even going to get your hopes up about the next time because disappointment in an inexplicable feeling.  It’s almost worse than anger or fear.  Remember those television shows where the teenage son/daughter sneaks out of the house to go to a rave?  When they end up getting caught their actor/actress parent shakes his/her head in disbelief and with puppy dog eyes says, “I’m just so disappointed in you.”  And that just breaks little Susie’s heart. Frankly, my mother did not believe in disappointment. She believed in the rod. But there are times when I know that I have disappointed her because I can read it in her eyes when she’s lecturing me.  It’s not anger, which I would honestly prefer.  It’s a sadness that goes beyond her ability to just say she’s sad.  She’s disappointed.  Disappointment hurts because it means that we had expectations. You’re already investing your emotions into a situation or a person.  When things go sour it stings a little less when you weren’t hopeful about the outcome, but disappointment means you were really shooting for the best.  I dislike disappointment; who doesn’t?  But when I get disappointed I blame myself because I almost feel like I could have saved myself by not even getting my hopes up in the first place.  As a result, I just don’t even want to get my hopes up. I look at every possible opportunity as likely to fall through because thoughts of what could have been will bury you alive. When I received a call back from a job that I applied for I was elated. It paid more. It was at home which meant that I could travel a bit more as long as I had my laptop.  And it wouldn’t involve the drama that accompanies an office/location setting.  I had already gotten to the drug test part of the prerequisites when I received another call letting me know the position had been rescinded.  To say that I was heartbroken would be an understatement.  I think I sat in the tub until the water got cold and my skin got wrinkly just wondering what went wrong.  I was…..DISAPPOINTED. In that same way I hate days of mania because it feels great to be overly excited and bubbly about today, tomorrow, and Tuesday.  But I know that this feeling will pass, and at some point I will have a day of overwhelming darkness that I can barely crawl out of.

I’m doing this thing now where I’m just ignoring virtually every text message that comes to my phone.  Mostly because for the past couple of years I’ve been telling my family members that I don’t celebrate birthdays and just forget about sending me any birthday messages.  And yet no one listened to me. NO ONE. Like come on guys. It’s not that difficult to treat this as a regular day at my request. Some people literally did it just because I specifically asked them not to. Which I would say frustrated me, but it did more than frustrated me. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to use profanity more.  And as surprising as it may be I don’t curse aloud or at people. I tend to use profanity strictly in my writing. Oh the hypocrisy.  Then when I told them how much I think my birthday is garbage I get these essay long messages about God and being special and I just really don’t care. I don’t want your sugar coated messages and your sympathy because I question all sympathy to a certain degree.  Are you truly listening to and understanding what I am saying prior to sympathizing or are you just sympathizing because that’s what you know to do? If it’s the latter, which a predominate amount of it is, then just leave me alone. Simple as that. My temperament is one that calms as I am left on my own.  If you’ve upset me then it’s best just to let me take time by myself to forgive/forget. If you’re constantly in my face about whatever the situation is then you’re serving as a reminder of what has upset me and I just get more annoyed. I literally just need a nap to calm down. I’m worse than the little kids who get grouchy so you force them to go to sleep, which is all they ever needed.  And I am aware that as a Christian I should care about what God says about me, but right now I don’t. That sounds terrible, I know.  I’ll do a separate post on that at a later time.  Right now I just want everyone to leave me be because if you tell me all these great things about myself, regardless of whether you mean it or not, when the world shows/tells me differently I get…..DISAPPOINTED. (I promise that’s my last time doing that). And I get sick of being disappointed.

There are a couple of great phrases that teachers hang in their classrooms and hipsters use in their description boxes.  One of these is one we’re all familiar with: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  I’d be lying if I said that this phrase holds absolutely no grain of truth, but I believe it depends on what didn’t kill you. Some things don’t kill you, but make you regret that they didn’t.  Others maim, bruise, and break you.  A few will leave you in a comatose state.  It’s true that disappointment and trials build character, but it is also true that these things can break character as well.  One of the things about going to school, public or private, is that is universalizes the world for you.  To your mother you’re the best thing since indoor plumbing and for years she will tell you so. But when you get to grade school you’ll realize that everyone’s mother thinks they’re the most special human to breathe air so now you’re stuck in a bit of a rut.  You can break free from this by finding what makes you individually special. You can settle into in by going with the crowd and getting lost in the shuffle of things. Or you can have someone throw some dirt over you in the rut because now you’re feeling like you’re not special at all.  We’re all built differently so we will all respond differently.  If something like this fractures a bone as you are pelted with more and more similar situations then you’ll have a full blown break.  And not a clean break either.  True, you must apply pressure to coal to make a diamond, but as has been seen by the influx of coal sales at Lowes in this barbecue season not all coals turn to diamonds.  And some coal won’t even make it to the grill. It’ll be fine dust blowing in the wind somewhere.  People glorify tribulations and disappointments to a certain degree, but we all wish that we could achieve and receive without those things.  No one likes to be disappointed.

I’m really hoping I didn’t make too many errors in this post.  I looked at my last post and almost flipped my computer over. I’ve really got to start proofreading more.  With that being said, I’m off to watch ID and do my songwriting course.


High Horses

Who has time to cast cares for the little man
The man on the lower peg
The one closest to the ground floor
Working his way up when he is pushed back down
Who has the heart to consider his strife
To assist in his needs
To sympathize with his faults
To understand a mistake is made by any one
By everyone
And that forgiveness is a need of any one
Of everyone
Who has the audacity to maintain a compassion for a situation that they themselves have struggled through
To remember that it was once them
And if it was not them, it easily could have been them
I will let you in on an obvious secret
The highest man up does not

Who has the gall to free themselves for pleasures
To give away the pennies earned by those a level beneath
But can somehow still manage to recall the days
Another has missed on behalf of self care
Who stands in midst of the peers and proclaims all the works of their hands and the sweat of their brow
Always giving reminders on how the rewards they earn they have worked diligently for
While those who worked alongside stand in silence
Sow in silence
Reap in silence
Who can vent on the toil they bend under
Hand their labors away to another
Yet and still they maintain that their yoke remains heavier than all
It is said that to whom much is given much is required
I will let you in on an obvious secret
For the highest man up it isn’t

Who has the time to cast cares for the little man
The man on the lower peg
The one closest to the ground floor
Who has the heart to consider his strife
The goal is to line a pocket
Striving for plush living and higher count linens
It creates blinders which block all else out but a personal prosper
It is easy to win the race when you cannot see your fellow riders much less envision their own battles for a victory
This is the story we are made to play apart of
But life was never meant to be a race
Who stands a chance to win without the sympathy and sacrifice of another
Who has the strength to stand with the weight of the medal around their necks
And turn to see their companions have fallen away
That no one remains to celebrate or congratulate
Solitude in success becomes loneliness
And that, unfortunately, is a much less obvious secret
That the higher man up is not aware of