ivan.

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Last night, my dear brother passed away in his sleep.

Oh, how he so suffered for 22 years! Lament after lament, battling for every additional day past the first time he stuck a needle in his arm. He was a fire of a man; his voice rang hoarse through his throat when he sang, and he only sang of sadness. He sang of loss, and being alone, and traveling to see if there was anything out there that looked like him, or somebody out there that felt the burning and anxiety that he did. He was staunch and rebellious and – deep down – only wanted home. But home for him was returning to the dust he came from, before his time should have been up.

Oh little brother! How you were a cup in my cupboard, whose value was known and appreciated! What can I do now but say goodbye in the same way I would say goodbye were a cup in my cupboard to break? You will be missed as any loss is missed – your life was loved and needed by more than you know.

I will mourn you for a time, and then like all things, I will forget. Then I will pass as well, like everyone today who grieves your death. All things will eventually be like you, stiff and still, ready to give back to the earth.

Did you know this was going to happen? Did you fall asleep last night knowing that you wouldn’t wake? Did you suffer for a time or did your dreams just become more and more vivid as you lost your breath in our world? Wouldn’t you have said goodbye if you knew? Why didn’t you say goodbye?

You no longer feel anything. For a life of feeling too much, this must come as a relief to you. Your body went back and forth from the edge of Hades too many times for us to count. You leave behind a family that doesn’t believe that you are nowhere. You didn’t get to live to hear that you’re going to be an uncle again. You’ll never meet another soul.

Wishing you could come back would do no good, nor would that wish be fulfilled, so I will not do that. Instead I will try to use the rest of my life to be honorable and true, which is what I wanted for you.

Farewell, Ivan. 07/21/2018.

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This Will Not Last

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Your birth was a miracle.
Your lungs came from nothing, your body struggled through your mother’s fluid, and you burst forth all those years ago, helpless and pink. Those lungs, once unfilled, opened and caused you to scream. The elements you encountered then for the very first time began to shape you instantly to be a creature that survives. That you made it that far is a mystery that has happened a billion times without explanation.
You will someday fade away, without fanfare or remembrance. This body that holds you will begin to deteriorate as quickly as it was formed, and your consciousness will return to where it began. You will no longer be alive someday. But life is all you’ve known. Are you able to handle that? Are you able to handle that time will march onward forever, without ceasing, and that someday there will be no life with the ability to witness that time?
There will be matter, and rocks, sitting silently a trillion lightyears away from this place, that will bear witness to the passing of the ages. But that matter is unable to lay claim to the same life you do now. For all the accomplishments the universe has, it hangs in a fragile balance to keep it all going. With one surge of unimaginable power, it can all be snuffed out.
So why do anything? Why let this life conquer you so? Why must you let your circumstances eat away at your mind, wondering what if? Or thinking about some day? Some day might never come. If you resolve to do something, you must do that thing with a terrifying urgency, because that opportunity will not be there for eternity.
Imagine, if you will, the billions upon billions of lives that are just like yours, that sprang also from their mothers with the same trepidation and cries that you did, that have now withered and are no more. The trillions of thoughts, just like the one you’re having, that were never acted upon, that are now only the regrets of a dead man. Do you wish to suffer the same fate? Do you wish you exit this life wishing you had done what you set out to do, never to get it back? So the answer is this; do what you say you will do, be honorable and brave, reflect upon thyself constantly, and do not let that which is not in your control affect that which is in your control. Remember that you will die. Remember what a coincidence it is that you are even here in the first place.
Your life depends on it.

To The Lady Living Across The Street

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Two car garage, two story house, nine windows in the front.

A lawn cut by others; I see you pull into the driveway, run in, then leave again.

What’s in your house? I don’t see anyone else there. Why do you need nine windows? The shutters are drawn; do you even realize that two of them are broken?

When was the last time you were in the room to the right of the door? What is that room filled with? Expensive furniture? Boxes? Nothing? What is your house to you?

Have you ever made it a home? Are the boxes that fill the second garage full of good memories? Or just of stuff that you can’t let go? Will those items ever make it out of those boxes?

Do you have a family? I’ve never seen visitors. Are you waiting for somebody to knock, somebody from your past that you miss, to reintroduce themselves so you can show them how far you’ve come? To show them the house that’s been waiting for them to make it a home? Do you still miss them, after all these years?

When you trot upstairs to go to bed, do you stare at the same wall I do, thinking about how you’d like it to be a different color but putting it off until things get better? Can you fall asleep with all that silence?

When you find yourself with nothing to do in the morning, do you go into your fenced yard? What in there do you admire? Have your hands ever been calloused from tending to a garden that I cannot see from across the street?

Do you take pride in your house, well-maintained and in a good location, or do you use those walls as a prison, boxing yourself in like all of your stuff in the garage?

Will you ever unpack those boxes? Will you ever fill each room of that house with the warmth of a home? Will that day ever come?

Or is it all too late? Is your true home elsewhere?

Are you as lonely as the rest of us?

A Road, Overgrown

We walk down one of many paths, snaked out in front of us in infinite branches. We choose at random; there is not a path that is preferred when you cannot see what the end of the path brings.

You and I wear the same shoes. Your steps are not much different than mine. You only started at a different place, and pointed your toes in a different angle than mine. The time in which we intersected were the most enjoyable steps I have ever taken.

When you diverged from the same path as I, I was torn into pieces. My weary feet tread along the path that I must take. I wonder, if we turn our feet, a bit at a time, if our paths will ever intersect again. Or if that road is overgrown.

The Decay

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It’s hard to love you.

I feel the decay creeping in. Can you feel it? The slow rot of the years eating away at us. The sun, once our source of warmth, has burned away everything that was hidden until all is revealed. The weeds have overrun the garden – the tree we planted has been stripped of its bark and has wilted. The old picket fence that surrounded the yard, once painted white by us together, has returned to its original wood grain. Termites has burrowed into the posts and rotted away the foundation.

Things have changed.

Our love, never truly declared (since that’s impossible to do with love), will not attempt to do so again. Our hidden secret will stay hidden, as it should be. You turned your shoulders away when I hesitated to touch them; your lips, once honeyed, have chapped with my hesitation. You were a mighty crown atop my head, that I placed proudly there in secret. But when I left the throne as I encountered life and couldn’t stand to show my pride, you could not bear it.

I was home, but despised the hotel I committed to. So now the home is overgrown.

Can you feel the decay? Can you feel your posts chewed by the termites that I left? Can you feel the twist of your bones in their joints as we both slowly begin to crouch with age, beaten by the sun?

Can you hear me saying goodbye?

Can you see me standing there, on the side of the path, as you walk forward without me?

The Great Outdoors Beckon

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Photo by Levi Dawson – New Zealand

We live, for most of our lives, indoors. Whether we are in a car, our house, a friend’s house, or work, we are confined to the space that we are currently in. I’d imagine that many a man has spent almost every penny of his life shielded from the world he lived in, battered safely against the elements.

To most, being outside of that box, outside of the doors that serve as entry into that box, to be “out of doors” is something that is done on purpose. To be outdoors is an intentional act. Most of us here are not accidentally being outdoors.

To that end, is there a greater act of intentionality than camping and hiking? As does not that intentionality breed great rewards? To deliberately go outside, to plan on being outside for a period of time, to force your comforts to reject you and to set your sails to the tune of nature might be the last thing we truly have in common with generations past.

When was the last time you walked to that remote location, that you took a clearing in some distant woods and made it home? When was the last time you were somewhere that you’ve never been before? Some imagine that they can only get this through travel to a foreign country: I argue that you can be in a foreign place in an hour’s time.

So pack up your gear, do some research, and be intentional. Take a break from your life so that you can live more fully. Fish in the streams and be not afraid of the stars that have replaced that same, dull ceiling that you stare at every night before you go to sleep. Chop some firewood, make a meal on a fire, look at some trees, find a ridge and dwell on it.

Nature is calling, the great outdoors beckon you. I typically do not write advice, but I will now: you will not regret camping.

Ours Is A Hidden Love

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This post makes no sense, but was a good idea at the time

There is something within all man, tucked away deep beneath the veneer of societal pressures, that is vicious with selfish intent. This something, this “other self”, stealthily guides all motive and action – altruistic or harmful, kind or harsh, misunderstood or connected. The great hope of all man is that love can tame this devil, or at least have a discussion on the merits of its intentions. When that moment comes, where love rages within you with yourself – not because you asked it, but because that’s what it is – I’ve found a calm and comfort that no other drug or chemical can provide. It might be science, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that science that tames the soul could have been guided by some skilled, caring Hand.

It’s where this feeling – and many other feelings – intersect with the man molded by circumstance that art happens, that song is sung, and that poetry and other worlds are imagined. It is surely what God intended that this be our reaction to something so personal that any description of what it is can only describe what it seems like. A concept such as love is shrouded in metaphor precisely because it cannot be adequately defined. Even the classic Pauline prose on love is merely a description of its qualities.

So all love, by this definition, is a secret love.

But our love is a secret love! Hidden deep away from all other loves, a blind comfort and companionship that only you and I will ever discover. There have been many eons of existence; neither Moses nor Napoleon felt what only we can feel. Nobody knows but us, nobody will ever know but us, this lives and dies through only your breath and mine.

So while I have you, let me hold you. Watch my face contort as my body tries to show what that great and mysterious Love is doing to my inner soul.  Watch me try and fail to write anything that can come close to showing you the Great Work that you have brought within me. Watch as I die before unlocking that door. Watch our love go unsatisfied and prowling into the night while we are here. Because in the end, I am convinced that whatever it is that has jarred that selfishness within, the hidden self, will not defeat it in this life.

But that Great Work is reason enough to continue to try and make you feel my love.

The Things You Think Are Holding You Back Are Actually The Things You Were Meant to Do

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I recently watched the animated movie It’s Such a Beautiful Day, by Don Hertzfeldt. It chronicles the unfortunate events surrounding the protagonist Bill, and I found it deeply profound and moving.

Everything in your life is an intentional thing – we spend our days doing stuff that we don’t want to do. I find, much like you do, a comfortable space in my head where I’m not doing any of these things I must do to survive in a world that will not sustain me (at least not before it’s sustained perfectly once again).

I dream of spending a day not looking for and preparing food; scrubbing the product of the earth, cutting it with a purchased knife, in a rented house, cooking it on a stove with power set up long before me, under the standards of men that I will never know. I imagine not doing laundry; to clean the clothes I use to cover my timid, shameful form, to fold them and to put them away, only to take them out the next day and repeat my soil. I go on faraway adventures in my head; traveling the world, being waited on, venerable and invincible, somehow becoming closer to fulfilling my purpose while away from the things that the rest of the world does.

What I suppose has been the shift, then, lies in the fulfillment of my purpose. It’s Such a Beautiful Day proposes that your purpose is, in fact, wholly fulfilled within the monotony of your daily bread. I was instantly driven crazy by the idea that this is why I’m here. Could it be that I’m merely a self-sustaining, self-actualizing being, meant to tend to my earth, soil and clean, rinse and repeat until united once again with That Which Made Me?

All things are experienced, and best experienced then and now. I do myself no favors by wasting the experience of everyday dreaming of that which could be, or which should be. Complete focus on that which is in front of you is the fulfillment of your purpose.

I Wept

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Photo courtesy of Brad Gross

I looked out today,

past my car dashboard, past the car in front of me, and the car in front of them, and so on.

But I did not look at anything; instead I felt that which I will never once experience, and wept.

The boy, once loved, now a man, alone, painfully and dutifully living life without a spark or vigor for the passing days. Driving into work, working, driving home, sitting, pacifying with mindless nothings. Alive today, dead eventually, not missed, not known. With just as much potential as either of us, yet never realized.

The large swaths of humanity that will be misunderstood their entire lives, fighting towards a goal they will never see fulfilled, or arguing a point long ago settled by a remembered man. Never knowing the feeling I know now, never willing to experience existence as I currently am; not of superiority, of knowledge, or of power, but a feeling of perfectly dreadful peace. Nothing between what I call myself and The Maker but a thick fog, like a stolid inability to see eye to eye with that which claims Godhood over both the known and forgotten, ignorant and wizened, poor and rich alike.

Perhaps I wept out of pity; but I feel more like I wept out of jealousy.

 

 

 

Nothing to Write About

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Ah, the point in every blog where the initial luster fades, leaving you, your computer, and the realization that you didn’t actually have anything to say!

But is writing truly about having something to say?

I have always had a hard time writing with something to say because I look back upon what I wrote and can’t help but feel redundant. I gain passion and momentum enough to sit down and write about what’s on my mind, something that’s really bugging me, and as I finish what I wanted to write I can’t get away from the feeling that my writing has somehow made the issue… smaller. I find myself saying “did I really care about this enough to write about it?”

In fact, aren’t most classic novels written for the joy of writing; perhaps to make some money, perhaps for the exercise of putting pen to paper, finger to typewriter… and isn’t the meaning then ascribed by the populace upon reading, the deep details and metaphor being given posthumously to the text by critics, by others?

To write is to write. Tell a story, say some words that are beautiful, be vague, be explicit; but through it all discover that sometimes you don’t have anything to say, that the purpose for your writing comes after you begin writing, not before. It brings to mind the idea behind the age old question “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” in that – especially in the blogging world – we want to put the cart before the horse. We want to move forward with an idea in a moment of inspiration – perhaps I’ll write about this topic or that – but when the road gets hard and we become stuck we leave the idea by the wayside: Left to die, never having fully lived.

I originally set out with this blog to be a “current trend” “lifestyle” blog – a way to practice my SEO skills on a real site, and to try and get ranked on search engines. But these inspirations last only so long in a world where the “current trend” today might not be the current trend tomorrow, and so I’ve become determined to accept this and let my mind wander. There is both a beauty and a tragedy to losing your path, and instead of using this blog to discipline myself into staying on track, dwelling on the tragedy of a lost cause, I want to find the beauty in it. Like the Elliot Smith song.