Re-tuned

 

How I got here, I do not know. Maybe somewhere deep down I knew I needed to be here. Among the aging objects, I glide through them like I’ve been here before. Maybe I have in some way. Thick in the air is a scent that feels so familiar, like what I imagine a soul left out to long in the heat would smell like, after it’s been beat by everyone with their matching, opinion-sized bats. An odor of under-appreciation and I can’t help but breathe it in. It’s comforting as I inhale, exhale until I find the source. It’s the old knobs I notice first. The way their faded white has turned to a worn gray from so many years of being subjected to other’s wills. Somehow as a whole it holds its dignity, fighting back awareness of the inevitability that it could always be vulnerable to the touch of others. The scarred wood paneling holds a slight optimistic glow despite being in the know. Two round speakers like imploring eyes prompt me to question. Why do we love to find the lies that social norms and shameful people tell us? More than that, why do we love to abide in them?  We have an ear tuned to the static of negativity in an always broadcasting world of so many beautiful tunes and lively music all beating to the stomp of possibility. We let our own melodies slip away in the black and white flickering anomalies, folds between space, the blank place where we are everything everyone else tells us we are. Here we sit on a table top, left to gather grime and rot based off the discernments of everything outside us. Looked upon by judging eyes, they staple a price tag to our head, and hope anyone but ourselves will consider the cost. How funny it is we still wear that tag. Why is it the small things that remind us how we can sing and hold the notes, like accumulating Os or more like zeros, to define our own number of digits? It’s the cast asides, the forgottens, with their piling dust and growing rust and their perfect brokenness that remind us who we are.

~

This is a poem I wrote after I stumbled upon a fascinating pawn shop in London. I got very lost and happened to find it hidden away in a side alley. Coming through the doors, the smell of dust was strong, and everything looked dim. It was a small shop and everything inside was very old and looked very much antique. But what blew me away was the beauty I saw in every item. Among the faded gray of tossed out things stood a bright yellow Lily sitting in a simple and clear tiny vase upon the counter. An old cube T.V with flimsy looking dials and a big glass hump for a screen sat off in the corner, tucked away on the bottom half of a shelf. But what stood out to me the most was an old radio sitting on a little table all to itself. A cool washed down mint green made up most off it along with medium roasted brown paneling. Two dusty gray speakers sat beside the middle tuner and a few faded white dials spotted the front. It was gorgeous! However, an old flimsy tag with a red scribble hung off the top and it was in that moment I felt the inspiration to write this poem. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of the place or the radio. Like I said, how I got there was kind of mysterious, which I think made the moment even more special for me. This poem was meant to be a reminder that our value, our worth, and our beauty are as good or bad as we decide, not what others decide. I hope you found the poem fun to read and are encouraged to remember that you are amazing.

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Thoughts on the Heart Part 2

 

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, delicate and messy when you get into it, but when you take a step back and view it as a whole, it’s perfect and beautiful. Each piece is unique and holds its own value. We share pieces of our heart to others, so they can stitch us in to theirs. We’re hurt when we can’t find ourselves in their work. We accept pieces of other’s hearts and add it to our own project, growing it slowly over time, some people’s material dominating the work of art. The collage is a reminder. Sometimes pleasant, and sometimes of things we want to forget. You rip at the thread and dig your nails into the stitching and leave a gapping hole. You find more material, but it never fits right. Sometimes you lock away your work because your disappointed with how your project has turned out. Disgusted in fact. You wanted it done and complete a long time ago so for now it will sit up on the highest shelf collecting dust. Maybe that’s you right now. An artist scrounging for more material, even if it’s cheap and dirty. Maybe you’ve given up looking. Maybe you’re discouraged because of all the great collages out there. Who knows how long it’ll be before you feel the needle and thread between your fingers again. One day maybe, you build up the courage and pull the collage down. The uneven stitching and faded colors a globe in your hands, but you keep working at it. You see someone else just starting their collage and cut out a big chunk of your material for them. You become more open to sharing what you have and accepting what others offer. You find strong, inspiring cloth in your faith, your family, your friends, the small things. You work day in and day out sharing and growing your collage, and fall in love with the process, not the end product. When you step back and look at your work, the uneven stitching and faded material are still there in the mix of new fabric. This time, however, it warms your heart. You look at the beautiful mess and see everyone that has impacted you, loved you, encouraged you, supported you. You reflect on the things that hurt you and are thankful. You can see where you were and how far you’ve come. Most importantly, you see the endless room for more: More material, more cloth, more fabric, more loss, more growth, more people, more love. You understand there will always be more to give and take. With a new-found courage and excitement, you get back to work on your project.

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, perfect and beautiful.

The Other Side of Silence

grayscale photo of tree and grass field

I wrote this essay this last year in college. It is my first attempt at a collage essay. For those of you who may not know, a collage essay is formed by bits and pieces of information in a poetic form that answer tough, deep questions. This prompt asked the question who I am and why I write. It is a daunting task trying to put into words who you are. I feel you can never really fully explain who you are. What makes you, you, is always changing and evolving. All the memories and experiences that shape you aren’t always the big events in your live. Sometimes, it is the small ones that impact us the most. In this essay I try to touch on the big things, and the little things.

 

The Other Side of Silence

 

Silence.

I’m afraid of letting people down.

I’m afraid being alone. That’s what I tell myself but I’m actually afraid of losing people.

The emptiness left in people by tragedy.

The depression hidden behind smiles.

The world became hollow and eerie.

The shell of a perfect world formed through youthful and innocent eyes started to crack and reveal all the evil and loss that were scratching at the surface. I found out that everybody, even the people I suspected the least, had horrible things happen to them or had done horrible things themselves.

Growing up.

“He wanted to see his son, but it scared him to think that Charlie would no longer be a boy but had become a man without a father in his life.” ̴ B. Harrison

I want to tell stories about that moment when you realize your parents are just people. They make mistakes too.

I want to tell stories about what it means to be a man.

I remember drinking beer, tattoos, facial hair, fighting, and sex.

What are we not talking about?

Heritage.

I am a white male. I have privileges that I don’t deserve and power I can’t control. I don’t know the extent of my power. I didn’t ask for this. I try to exercise caution with my responsibility.

My relationship to power tastes like cake, like free sweets.

Brothers. Three boys in one room. Depression and anxiety and sexual ambition are out of control. I am the oldest. I must lead and guide. Perfection is my aim; Academically, physically, and more discreetly, emotionally.

I remember sex made you cool.

Family reunions in San Antonio. The sun made my shoulders brown and the humidity made my dad and step mom upset. As kids, my brothers, cousins and I would all play games, swim, talk to distant relatives we didn’t remember, and eat. There was always so much food, and the food was huge. Everything was bigger in Texas. Spanish words mixed with guitar strums, laughter, checker pieces clicking on wood, and forks scraping plates. Everyone was always hungry for more, they just didn’t know what.

Tall fir trees enclosed my grandparents’ house in Littlerock, Washington. Inside their house dusty knick-knacks and family pictures were everywhere. I loved the old smell and how everything was worn-in. I loved the fireplace, the warmth. All along the driveway, the bushes had conquered junk cars my grandpa had scrapped for parts, and the shrubs had taken over the old trails that used to wind through the trunks of trees. A small creek trickled off to the side. I could always faintly hear birds chirping some where high up in the branches and I loved the sweet melody the wind played through the dancing trees. It was a quiet hum that let me know I was home.

Love.

My father wasn’t there but I still learned to love.

I’m afraid of becoming my father.

“A Father to the Fatherless” ̴ Psalm 68:5

My grandma showed me how around campfires in the middle of nowhere, and through jokes at all the wrong times.

My grandpa taught me how to love through greasy fingers working in his shop and playing catch until the mosquitoes became unbearable.

My cousins taught me down by the river in Texas. They showed me how to love through smiles with our toes in the water when the sun sank low and made the whole world orange.

My first girlfriend taught me how to love. She showed me a world I didn’t know existed outside of movies and novels. She also showed me how imperfect and messy it all is.

And when things fell apart with her my friends showed me how to love by getting me out of bed and taking me on adventures.

But my mom, she taught me the most. She showed me how to love simply by being there when no one else was. By caring and loving me when it seemed like no one else did.

It is a strong word if you choose to let it be. Hate is just another four-letter word like love. They only have value when we give them value, and I can’t help myself.

I fell into some bad habits and the wrong crowd for a part of my life. I developed my own silence. But I was rescued by Jesus.

This is me.

The Other Side.

There is value in listening. Whether you’re listening to a family member for the hundredth time, or a stranger for the first, the fact that you are listening and engaged with another person is important. It’s important for learning and growing.

I want to tell stories that change people’s perspective and way of thinking. I want them to know they aren’t alone in their struggles.

Above all else I want to tell stories that get people to find their voice and break their silence.

I remember how it used to be, and I envision how it could be.

My aesthetic is messy and complicated.

My aesthetic is voice.

The path is through listening and revealing our own unique and ugly stories.

The tragedies and loses bloom inside those that keep them in and slowly squeeze out their life and restrict their voice. So, the silence grows. I believe that things could be different.