The Desiderata: Part 1

Part One: My Disease

Hey Gang!

I must be honest. I suppose what follows in the proceeding posts is really my catharsis. My fall and redemption. I bare myself. In my core I have felt hollow for quite a while. I think it came through my writing when it came to fruition. There was a disjointed feeling when it came to writing this blog. It just wasn’t fun for me any more. I felt as if I had run out of things to say, which my friends know is an extremely hard thing for me to achieve. I was angry with myself. I could not point my finger towards one dastardly reason or another. It was just there. Shut in a room where I actively hide the key. I ignored my craft.

Once, I considered myself a writer before being a human. That was me, first and foremost. I was writing feverishly. I loved that and then came some winter in the life of my writing. It became baron. A wasteland of creative output. I didn’t have writer’s block (which in my opinion doesn’t exists), I had something else. The monster in the room was out and held me prisoner. I was unable to write. I would have great thoughts to bring about and when I sat down, I thought to myself, “This is shit. Complete shit.” I would then walk away. I kept saying that loathsome mantra until it became an infection. My disease that corroded me. I was used and done.

Weeks passed and I began to develop some stories. However, my submissions were rejected and I took it very personally as it was the most personal thing i had ever written. It felt like they were saying that not only was the piece not good enough but that I was not good enough. I crawled into a shell. I was trying so hard to get published. I had ambition out the wazoo yet it wasn’t enough. My disease began to spread with a vengeance. I became fearful of my own laptop. It mocked me.

“You aren’t good enough”

“You’re wasting your time”

“You should give up”

“No one will ever read your work”

“You have failed”

These poisonous mantras continued. That was until a series of events built up to become my antidote.

(continued)

Electric Bodies

(Photo Source: Google Images)

Hey Gang!

A BRIEF THANK YOU: It has been a while! I have been insanely busy with all of my duties as a psuedoprofessor. In that time, I was freshly pressed again! Such an amazing honor and I want to say thank you to all of you that have been on this wild ride over the past year with me. You guys inspire me to be a better writer!

“I have perceived that to be with those I like is enough.

To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,

To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,

To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly ’round his or her neck for a moment– what is this, then?

I do not ask any more delight– I swim in it as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women, looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well;

All things pleas the soul–but these please the soul well.”

—-Walt Whitman, section 4, “I Sing The Body Electric”

This is an excerpt from one of the most amazing pieces of literature ever put to paper or stone. I read this a week or so ago and it stuck with me. It resonated with me in a way that is hard to communicate. Have you ever read something that made you have goosebumps?  That one thing that causes your arrector pili to contract. How can something like that happen? How can a piece of writing make me have a physical response?

This state of beauty intrigues me as it whispers truths.

In American culture, we talk about the “beautiful people”. Those who are seen as modern gods, really, because, to many, being “beautiful” is a key to a door that opens up and reveals a world that is only accessed by those with that key. No one else can enter; just look through the keyhole.

I can’t help but shake my head at that. In his poem, Walt describes so much inherent beauty in people. He talks about how we should be proud to have strong and able bodies but I also see something in this passage above that makes me think about “people.”

I wonder quite often what other people see in me. Is it me that they see or the actor? Make no mistake, the Bard was quite right. The world is a stage and we are but actors. So, when people look at you  and I, when they look at us, do they see the actor or the individual? Is this me or my representation?

I walk a certain way and talk a certain way in different situations. I act and only around a few am I truly myself. For better or worse. This stage upon which I stand is so vast and so many roles are present that it is hard to perceive an instance where I could meet someone who is not an actor. That beautiful moment when our masks fall during this great masquerade. This beautiful dance of life which we all learn steps to. We interpret our own moves and once in a while change partners; people whom we take our masks down for.

Sometimes I stop dancing and look around. I see so many masks. I took mine down recently and it is then that you can see the tragedy of what a mask is.

Being you behind you behind you behind you.

Your paradox.

Once in a while you are able to meet a person who has shed their mask and dances on their own. They too embrace a reality where your mask is no longer viable. No mystique hidden. She dances wildly and spins as the masked take a step back. She dances an unfamiliar and unique dance. haunting others while being haunted by that which made her take the mask down.

She spins.

She does a plie’.

She does a tandu.

She does a frappe’.

She spins to some sweet song sounding through a calliope that only she hears. People look at her in awe.

She is beautiful. She laughs in joy as her hair swirls. She is electric.

How can we not see this? That which Walt saw so long ago. It is not about the beautiful people; it is that people are beautiful. We need to see this as we look at those around us. That quote above. It sings to me some sweet lullaby. In his contention he says that being with people is enough. He is satisfied by being close to people. To bodies. They are works of art. We are works of art. The beauty of a woman’s gently sloping neck or of a man’s muscular arm. We see people who are aesthetically pleasing all around us.

These creatures all around us that evoke something primal. When you click with that person, their humor or their intelligence, anything; when you find that connection, it awakens something in you. This creature that is pieced in such a way as to make you have a physical reaction. You laugh, you look in awe, you wonder about them and their background. You seek more. People are beautiful drugs that stimulate the senses.

Just as our body reacts to the elements, how our hair raises when around static electricity, so, too, is how the body and mind connect and respond when we encounter these glowing creatures. These embodied phenomenons.

These electric bodies.

When in their presence, we are most aware of our masks and how they define us. These beautiful creatures dance around us, showing us what beauty truly is.

The acceptance of body and self. When masks are torn down and we are who we mean to be.

We dance a joyous, unique celebration.

We sing our bodies electric.

-Chris

What Are You?

Hey Gang!

 

I keep wondering how to begin this. I thought about having some sort of diatribe about when I was young or something along those lines but i think it should start with what has prompted this post, usurping one that shall be written soon. This inciting incident occurred a few weeks ago.

I was out with some friends at our local watering hole. I must admit, it was somewhat uncomfortable. I am used to being up and around. People being as loud and funny as I am. I will say I am a rather boisterous fellow. I remember a while back I was telling a story about how I shouted and a girl turns to me an says, “Wow, it must have been loud because you already speak so loud.” My first thought was something like , “Da Fuq?!” but then I realized she was just stating her opinion and there was no malice there. But that’s just me. So, I surround people as loud as me and who are as care free as I try to be. Those who love to dance to know music and freestyle rap about cleaning the house. We sometimes just yell for no reason incoherently. Would you be my neighbor? (kudos if you get the slight reference)

 

So, I am sitting in this dimly lit bar with wooden walls and wooden boards that creaked from aged use. A deer head hangs just above the big screen that plays my college’s baseball team, losing by the way. I had gone out with my friend Nic and she was meeting with some of her friends. So, there I was amongst a few people whom I didn’t know in this bar that looked like there may be a speak easy in the next room but upon my snooping I found that it only held an old jukebox. These people were very quiet, almost eerily quiet. I love awkward, revel in it. I think it is one of the funnier things that can happen in interpersonal communication but this was more of that silence and awkward conversation where everyone just wants to pretend they got a call and run away.

I tried to make idle conversation but it was just a sea of light laughs and bobbing heads. Then, a man in a leather vest came in and sat down next to me. I enjoy everyone and I will always be nice to individuals…well almost always. So, he sits down and begins talking about extremely conservative views. Gun Control, Homosexual Marriage and he spoke extensively of the ineptitude of “Jews and Orientals”. I don’t think I have ever been offended by someone that much in one sitting. Clenched jaw and bitten tongue.

So, I am talking to a young man who went to the same school as I did and I was telling him my epic “Interstate” story.

“Hold on, man, I don’t mean to interrupt,” the leather clad opinionated man interjected. In my head I thought, ‘yeah you did but go on.’

“I just can’t wait to hear you impression of Bryant Gumble,” He slaps me on my shoulder and begins laughing.

“I’m sorry man I had to,” he continues.

“Nice,” I say. Nice. I said nice in replace of the terrible things I wanted to say to him and ignored him for the rest of the night. He could tell I was upset because I never acknowledged him and he would tell a racist joke that just wasn’t funny and I wouldn’t laugh. Everyone else would because it was extremely uncomfortable and awkward when he said it but I was just fine being passive.

His comment was in regards to my voice not fitting in to his stereotypical colloquialisms that come along with his views. I guess everyone has their opinions but I have dealt with this before. Not this blatant, more subtle of course, but I have dealt with it my whole life.

As most of you know I am multi-racial, never say mixed; dogs are mixed. This aspect has always made me the odd man out. I always say that growing up, I was “almost black to white individuals and almost white to black individuals”. I always fit in the grey area. White individuals always accepted me but I was always that multi-racial friend. Black individuals felt that I wasn’t relateable.

Everywhere I would go, I was asked the same question: What Are You? It was offensive to me. These individuals couldn’t place me. They couldn’t use snap judgment on me in the way they were used to and it caused some sort of dissonance. I have always been a kind person, especially on that question, and so I answered them. Most of the time they would say, “You look Hawaiian or something”. I went to Hawaii and they said I looked Hawaiian. I am not Hawaiian. It would be great to have Polynesian slash Samoan roots but I don’t have them.

What Are You?

Now that I am older, I answer them honestly. All the races I am. I answer it but in my head I think, “this means nothing.” Race, the way they look at it, is categorical but to me it is a trait. I am right handed, multi-racial, and it takes me forever to grow facial hair. It follows in that line. I can’t tell you how many times I wish someone would ask more. Know me. No more ‘what are you’ but ‘who are you’.

I am pretty much a giant. 3 feet from shoulder to shoulder and 6’6″ and some change. So, I have never been shy about anything when it comes to a ‘what are you’ question but still, something just doesn’t sit well with me. Because of all of these things, I no longer care about what is on the person’s outside. I ask about the deeper questions and you would be surprised how open people are when you get real with them. When you ask them their honest thoughts and feelings you can connect on a level that is unbeatable. I do this with strangers because it is a chance to hear a new story. People are books; if you just read the title, you miss out on the chapters that lay within.

What Am I?

I am the fifth generation that came from a slave, to which we have copies of the sale papers when she was bought.

I am an older brother.

I am a journalist.

I am a lover of life.

I am a man with the blood of generations of laborers and farmers running through his veins.

I am more than my body can hold.

When I go back and think about all of the things that people have asked of me that were superficial, ie how tall am I, what race am I, how big of shoes I wear etc, I feel more and more distant from them. I get that I am not exactly the person who blends in but I guess the outside matches the inside. I have never been the type of person to sit by and let life go by. I want to embody life. My body may be big but my personality is bigger and I wouldn’t have it, or the friends whose claims are the same, any other way.

-Chris