anhedonia

the gaze of a white lamb confronts me. its softened edges lure me to it. to touch and feel what it might be like if i were a lamb. what it might be like if i could graze the meadows, only to return once my coat’s become matted with weeds or once my trough has been given its daily fill of milky oatmeal. perhaps, then, i’d be happy.

hefting wouldn’t be too much for me, as long as i might be independent. in fact, id be better suited lounging for a time, in a place where the hand of the wind might gently rest me among moss. id be happy being occasionally gazed upon by a fortuitous passerby, and id be especially happy for a small pat from some feathery, old woman who’s been utterly charmed by some quality of mine, merely habitual for me. and she could go off, nonetheless wiser or dejected, to pursue that silly bucolic daydream she once had as a little girl. and it’d be because of me. because of my existence and not something special i did.

do i ever worry about the troubles that confront the lamb? do i anticipate the sharp abuse of a farmer’s rusty shear? or the canines of a peckish wolf?

i couldn’t, even if i tried. i am the lamb and lambs know not the better of what hides its face in the plain’s shadow. and perhaps, even then, this is worth a minute of sleep-filled serenity.

so go on, bring your shears and slate me clean, but let me rest my eyes.

the small gift that is

we happen at night

when we’ve come home and remembered that the other one of us exists.

we happen incidentally

when small children remind us that we’re like them, gullible.

we happen despite flowering branches

whose apples have still soured to sway us astray

we happen with blissful ignorance

when our mothers watched us fail time and time again, and showed nothing close to disappointment

so still, we happen as the shore falls to its footing

while we wait expectantly on the other to come home and do nothing with us

solitude: reflections on reflections

I was recently reading an article titled, How to Be Alone: An Anecdote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Timeon the blog BrainPickings.org.

In this article, Maria Popova (founder of, and sole writer for BrainPickings) reflects on the societal stigmas surrounding solitude and the act of being alone. She does so by citing quotes from the book, How to be Alone, written by Sara Maitland. I found this article to be interesting and helpful in realizing a couple of things that I didn’t fully recognize before.

*(The following quotes are from the book, ‘How to be Alone‘, by Sara Maitland. These are the ones that I found to be of particular interest.)*


According to Maitland (and Popova), the main question of our time is one of paradoxical confusion:

How have we arrived, in the relatively prosperous developed world, at least, at a cultural moment which values autonomy, personal freedom, fulfillment and human rights, and above all individualism, more highly than they have ever been valued before in human history, but at the same time these autonomous, free, self-fulfilling individuals are terrified of being alone with themselves?

[…]

We live in a society which sees high self-esteem as a proof of well-being, but we do not want to be intimate with this admirable and desirable person.  

My immediate reaction to this was one of guilt. It was as if I had been wasting my alone time by filling the silence with negativity– not so much recently, but in the past– I found myself concerned with the amount of time I spent daydreaming– this was creative, but not creative at the right time. I was concerned with the moments I spent alone; I wondered if, perhaps, I was spending too much time alone. I worried that maybe my alone time was really me just attempting to dilute loneliness with the thought that there was some purpose to it. There were often times where I’d sit in deep thought. I’d sit alone for hours, sometimes for the entire day, analyzing myself and existence. But at the end of all of my realizations, the guilt would creep in, am I alone because I chose to be or because I have to be? Is this my choice or is this what society has decided for me because I’m not a typical extrovert? 

It was an odd feeling– to feel recharged from the silence of solitude, and yet, to feel unsettled by my acceptance of it. I accepted that maybe I was destined to crave what may– or may not– have been my choice in the first place.

But this is where the very paradox lies in the issue– everyone spends time alone, and yet this isn’t seen as something productive or beneficial. I think there is a lot of truth to what Maitland states in the above quote, but I think she fails to account for the way in which the technological advances of society have contributed to the presence of this paradoxical existence we live.

While yes, society, more than ever, encourages autonomy, freedom of expression, creativity, etc., the way in which people have been led to do this is via living in congruence with the cultural trends. The way in which we stand out in the crowd is not by being different, per say, but by being the best as being a member of society. The idea that I am an individual is held by myself, and myself alone, and yet, others in society see me as a sheep in the flock. I am no different than anyone else (for the most part). Individuality is only acknowledged by the idea that there is some majority, or some mass trend that’s followed. To be an individual one must resist against the riptide of idealistic conformity– but one must also answer to this conformity with a consciousness that is repelled by it. Thus, it must, at first, repel it in return.

The stigma surrounding the act of being alone –active solitude– is the idea that these people are somehow peculiar and unwell. I think with this thought, there is a subconscious expectation that people are only as good as those things that others witness them doing– and being alone is not only an impossible act to share with others, it’s a testament to just how much people don’t want to see what you’re doing in the first place.

It doesn’t matter if you actually saw Mount Everest if you don’t have a picture with it. You have a story about your trip to Guatemala to work with orphan children? Well, let me tell you about my future endeavors; let me tell you about that one documentary I read; did I ever tell you about that time I applied to go to Spain to work with orphans? I’ll probably end up doing something of the sort next year. Anyways, let’s go get some Frappuccinos.

People nowadays, and maybe this has always been the case, they listen so that they can then be heard. They let you speak so that they can respond. With an egocentric perception of the world, people aren’t able to understand any need for solitude. No one can experience them experiencing life. What’s the fun in that?

I think it’s safe to say a majority of people spend that time avoiding what they perceive as boredom. And I can’t say I blame them… but I guess my question is really about the actual experience of boredom itself. Boredom seems to be the experience that results when one perceives that he/she has an absence of activity of interest.

But it seems that boredom is a symptom of unrest and overstimulation. Boredom is a result of a perception, but this perception is not an accurate one. There are always things to do– unless you’ve died, or something. But here’s the issue: boredom is uncomfortable in many senses. If you’re bored then you are forced to sit– to ruminate– with yourself. And quite frankly, very few of us can brag that we make good company without some sort of stimulus to play off of. Without the computer, TV, car, phone, etc., very few of us are actually able to produce an original thought about a variety of subjects.

Nothing is more destructive of warm relations than the person who endlessly “doesn’t mind.” They do not seem to be a full individual if they have nothing of their own to “bring to the table,” so to speak. This suggests that even those who know that they are best and most fully themselves in relationships (of whatever kind) need a capacity to be alone, and probably at least some occasions to use that ability. If you know who you are and know that you are relating to others because you want to, rather than because you are trapped (unfree), in desperate need and greed, because you fear you will not exist without someone to affirm that fact, then you are free. Some solitude can in fact create better relationships, because they will be freer ones.

And so, I think people who’ve made peace with being alone, don’t necessarily have an aversion to being seen and perceived by others, rather they understand the positive effects of fulfilling the need to reflect and recharge. They allow themselves a time of invisibility because it allows for greater gains in self-awareness, contemplation and emotional intelligence. Those who make use of their time alone are those who are best able to understand their mental dialogues and their sense of self– and in turn, they are best able to interact and understand those things that are most important.

Looking at this fact, I really value the oddly large amounts of alone time that I’ve had. During those moments, where I’ve had to face myself, I’ve thought through and analyzed a lot about life and people… and myself, of course. This is the sense of freedom that I think most results from being true to oneself and/or having the capacity to develop a sense of self in the first place. You understand the ways in which others think, you can analyze their thought patterns, and you can tell a lot about them by watching them. But first, you need to understand these processes of your own mind.

Could I be happy living alone for my entire life? I don’t think so. But, I don’t necessarily think that this is what the act of being in solitude implicates. Solitude is useful in the sense that it allows a recharge of the mind, it allows a furtherance of understanding and insight, but it also allows you to become an individual. And in a sense of separation from the coagulated whole, one is able to be the catalyst for great change.

No man is an island. Well, a permanent one, that is.

how i knew

how could i have known that you’d be so perfect for me? how could i have let myself scream at you, to curse you into the dull and the dark, if i had known that you’d become so precious to me? like a pearl, omni and ever, opaque in a way only i could imagine, superior to any notion of value, for you are of me, and i am happily of you.

though reluctant i was before, i have found myself utterly dazzled by your canvas, which you have so clearly shown me all this time, the apparent meagerness of its image, only hid something splendid and vibrant, an enchanting pull towards what i could no longer argue against.

in the lateness of the gibbous moon, waxing more than her own identity, i waited for a moment to understand where these two woods led, and i saw that it was neither here nor there where she directed me, but inwards, backwards, beyond, and above.

she told me that i’d go to the riverside and waddle along the creek, picking up stones as i saw fit, and their smoothness would lure me to them, as they were eroded from years of ebb and force; she told me of the one who might pull me to him, that he had been molded especially, with me in mind, and that my nature might suit him in ways i could not yet understand.

yet, i was not weary of her call, instead i found myself running in circles waiting for her voice to instruct me yet again, and though this i did not know, that the wind move behind me, paving curds into my past, the canary was not fooled by the cowbird, and the waking hours did not pass a life well spent.

in the quietness of a splattered soul, i met her there again, where she gave me, premonitions of pure nothingness, which would be found without you.

for some time, she sat silent, seeing in me an unkempt bitterness at the thought, that i’d find myself trapped amongst poppyseeds, which though beautiful, would stain my clothes or confiscate my energy, but when i found myself in that field, i instantly rested against my better intuition, and i had realized that i was wrong.

and so she waited with me until this very time when i would realize the genius of what she had suggested to me, until i’d realize the indescribable art that we had created in the songs of our laughter, and i did not once more argue the soundness of her tongue.

rest

the window before me tells me to stop looking out of it with my weary gaze, and i laugh, knowing it’s right, knowing i probably look ridiculous with this gaping mouth of mine, drooling from the eyes, searching for a mystical realm that doesn’t want me there, but did it leave without me? or am i just that pugnacious that i destroyed it before it ever existed?

soft notes of redemption surround me, hurting for attention in this urban room i found, rustic nostalgia holds my arms back, and i rest.

thank god, for this rest.

i didn’t create this

get lost, run…
I beg you,
do this for me.
ignore your own desires,
help me.

take these feelings with you
and escape.
so that i never find them
and so i cannot go looking for them.

leave me in the empty hallways
let me search in circles for you
for nights
and at dawn i will be finished

i will accept the heartless earth,
and i will find myself again
i will hide myself again
in crowds and corners.

i will raise myself to the mountains
and i will curse your name
knowing i sent you away
yet asserting that it was you who left, really…

don’t make me face this
because i will not be able to stop
myself, from creating out of you
a canvas so pure
that i’ll be unable to forget

when i starved you

it disgusted me,
the way you looked.
the way you just crawled around.
head down, as if stuck to the floor.
grabbing at the hand holding bread purposed to the birds.
tears dried into sticky tar on your face.
salted skin molded like raisin against the light.

you were so weak and miserable, I couldn’t bear the sight of it. Your gaunt face really disturbed me. To sense your slinking around, in my space, invited in me, an inhumane suffering. And the way you shrieked…
night after night…

well, it did nothing but severely alter my sleep. I really had no choice but to do something.

So I starved you.
and I have been doing so for quite some time now.

At first, I watched you moan a little less each day, pleased that your yellow paleness had gradually subdued into a darker grey.
much nicer for the floorboards.

I did keep you comfortable, didn’t I?
I never denied you rest, and I made sure not to speak ill words to your face. I merely thought them of you, and you cannot read minds, of course. You were not harmed by me.

You know that, right?

It was not me who produced a bloat so terminal that you fell asleep.
You would have ruined me if I had let you continue on the way that you were.

The acts that you loved were hurting me.
They fed you. They created you.
But they inhibited me.

So, here I am speaking and making things known.

Your voice, it was harsh. prosaic.
No one liked it.
You danced. You cackled. You lost yourself in the woods.
You never rested.
Some days I’d come home and find you climbing the narrow walls in the bathroom. Often, I’d catch you contorting your spine, touching your head to your toes. You were mocking me. plotting my disappearance!

Any growth of yours only announced a new period of waning for me.
So I withdrew from you slowly.

I stood in the hallways while you weren’t home.
I whispered into the walls, and you fled from them.
I let spirits loose in your spaces and watched your eyes widen in the night, searching for an escape.
I surrounded you with petrified bodies
and you dissociated from yourself.

but now that you are silent, I have found myself searching for your voice.
I think I lost a totem of mine.
but where is it? what was it? was it in you?

when I see you now, I only see parts.
your heart blackened. your veins melted, imperceivable in your skin.
and my wrists are hurting from trying to lift you up into the bath.
and when I wash you, you do not move. you do not become clean.
your arms do not reach for me any more.
but where am i to go?

i left something with you. and I cannot figure out what it is.
so i must carry your weight with mine.
and i must wonder these woods
in search of what you left here.

when you’re feeling depressed and lonely, the universe winks

Image courtesy of AquaSixio.

I’m a crisis counselor. My job is, quite literally, to convince people not to kill themselves, but I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts ever since I can remember. In the past 6–8 months, though, I hadn’t quite noticed the feeling because I became busy with some other things going on in my life. Nonetheless, recently still, I have found it gradually slinking back into the picture, except this time around it felt like an old, perhaps unwelcomed, friend stopping by for a visit. Because I have a history with thoughts of death and the like, I didn’t feel the same yearning for meaning I once had. In fact, I’ve been facing a lingering apathy or quite some time now, and yet every day, 50 hours per week, I convince people to live, to find their meaning, their hope… in this vast unknown universe, we call home.

Well, yesterday after work, I had a dog I promised to walk: Jasper. Jasper is a pit bull mix, he’s strong as hell, and he will pull me incessantly for the entire half-hour walk. However, twice a week for the past two years I’ve walked this damn dog because his owner has always asked me to and has been ready to schedule walks on my time. Broke as I am, depressed as I am, it’s hard to pass on easy coffee + gas money. So I committed to walking Jasper after work. Sometimes I suspect she thinks I need it more than she does. She often gives me food and little “holiday tips”. She’d often chuckle at me when looking at some of the outfits I wore. I still remember one summer, I had shown up in snow boots and a winter coat, 20 minutes late “, because I had just rolled out bed. She had Jasper ready to go in his leash and made not a single comment of disgust at how bad I looked. To this day, she still hasn’t asked me why I don’t bring a poo bag with me. Sometimes, I really do remember; other times, I’m not so lucky. Jasper shat on the sidewalk once. I didn’t remember that day, so I just ran.

On my 75-minute commute home that day, I dreaded walking that dog, but I continued to remind myself that I had committed and it was extra money. I thought about how I was ready to die, that there isn’t much I feel is worth experiencing, as so many people have the same experiences as me. I’m no individual. There’s nothing left for me to do that someone else hasn’t already accomplished in a bigger and brighter way. I know little to nothing that there is to possibly know in this universe. I thought about how I’m sort of isolated with myself. It’s like looking at life through a small room, never able to truly get out of my own head and participate with others in our little fraudulent community.

I hated every minute of that “walk”. In reality, we got half a mile away from the house (5 minutes in) and he started pulling back home. He really knows how to piss me off, that dog. He pulls so hard, and I’m paid for a half-hour to endure this nonsense. It’s not always like this, though. Sometimes our walks are tolerable, with minimal pulling. Last night, this was not the case. It was dark and cold. We both were probably thinking the same thing about one another. Eventually, after killing 10 more minutes leaning my entire body weight in the opposite direction against his pulling, I sat down on the sidewalk and decided to sit there for the rest of our time and pet him. He was anxiously staring in the direction of his house, and I noticed he was way to chubby for his harness. I don’t know why, but it kind of annoyed me. Eventually, after distracting myself, I noticed the time was up. I let him drag me back to his home.

When we got back I unhooked his leash, unstrapped his harness, and quickly opened the front door. I was ready to get the hell home. I wanted to drink. His owner appeared at the same time I was about to let him in, and she giggled, “You scared me.” She smiled. I faked a smile and wished her a good evening.

For some reason, when she responded: “You too!!” It warmed my heart a little bit. She almost sang it the way she said it. It reminded me of the quirky texts she’d sometimes send me when asking me to walk her dog. You know, those little Bitmoji pictures? She’d sometimes send me the funniest ones, and I wondered if she realized how silly they looked. I could see that she really meant it, and she really enjoyed that I came to walk her dog. For some reason it made me feel needed, like my life mattered just for a moment — to her and Jasper — in a way that maybe another person couldn’t easily replace or surpass because it relied on me existing. At the very least, twice a week for two years, I mattered.

If we look only at the overall picture of our lives without seeing the lightness that our being brings to people who we maybe haven’t considered, it becomes easy and quite inevitable to feel hopeless, meaningless, and devoid of value. However, realizations grow and we change our perception. We see that, yes, this life is holistically terrifying and perhaps, pointless, but it’s a game we must play. It’s a game that relies on our existence and our participation. You can do this.

the unknown story of you

Some weave lies wrapped in dogma. They are those who infect

They say we should wake up at 5AM, run 2 miles, and schedule our day by the hour. They say we just need to work hard and we’ll make it. They say all it takes is determination. They’re either misinformed or dishonest. Does it matter which if the same garbage advice disseminates? Does it matter if the effect remains that people believe these truisms much to their own detriment? 

I’d like to say it does matter, but this leaves me wondering: are some words more valuable than others? Are there some words, which in spreading misinformation and hatred as they do, that are not actually worthy of the coveted status to be filed “under free speech”? Are these words representative of bondage of mind and soul, as they crush curiosity, safety, and progress? 

Hatred warps minds. It destroys. 

“Stay in your place.” 

“Shut the fuck up.” 

“Kill yourself.”

Am I free to say these when I know they drive the already promulgating force of destruction? 

Somewhere a child is losing out on a meal because a “parent” either can’t or won’t give her one. Somewhere a child is living on the street begging for spare change from white foreigners who have just left a local bar because their currency is seventy times that of hers, and because they can damn well afford to drink now that they’ve taken this fun job abroad. Somewhere there is a man standing on a bridge, staring over the edge, as he’s decided that no future in this world is worth living through what he deals with in the present. There are words behind actions. There are words behind complacency. I’m sure you all have heard the common phrase, “Not saying something, is saying something.”

Perhaps one wonders how we can rise to the challenge of living in such a world, where words have the force of driving someone to death, and where the mere existence of an idea can be lethal in all the wrong ways.

My friends, words are ideas, and they’re more than that. They are screams for change. They are catalysts for peace… and destruction. They are the vehicles, which travel the road to our subconscious. What forms of speech affected the way in which you currently exist in this world? Somewhere, at some point, someone destroyed a piece of you. You will have to fight to reclaim it, and part of that is speaking kind words not only to yourself, but to others and for others.

Let this be a call-of-duty to be moral in a world with an ambiguous meaning of life. Let the possibility of conjuring change in a big way, motivate you to stride forward and navigate a world of hate with profound love, truth and the call for peace.


this writing was commissioned via minds.com, if you found it insightful or thought-provoking feel free to share!