Thought Umbrellas

Happiness can be a decision.  I used to think negatively, constantly.  I used to have horrible thoughts rip through my mind like barbed-wire pulled through veal or lace or loaves of bread and the only reason why they stopped was because I decided to stop them.  I started at one street corner with an idea, "I will not think a negative thought until I reach the end of this block."  And I didn't.  I demanded that peace for myself, from myself.  Then over time, that short walk grew into a longer one.  Then it became, "I will not think a negative thought until 9 o'clock tonight."  Minds, oddly enough, can respond to these requests and through this type of exercise, eventually, I conditioned myself to believe that negative thoughts were no longer welcome at all, at any time, so when they arrived, they weren't absorbed and thought-over.  They were treated like passing clouds, or storms, not belonging to me, just passing through.  Everyone has these storms.  Everyone has these thoughts.  Some people hang on to them with pride, a Stockholm Syndrome of the mind, but others don't.  They instead develop tools within themselves - alarms, reminders, defenses: thought umbrellas.  People don't succeed by sitting back and cursing the clouds.  The clouds will always come.  A storm is always lurking 'round the bend.  There will always exist bad days.  You decide how you'll deal with them.  You decide how they'll affect you.   You choose happiness when you choose to defend it.

Photo by Dylan Kitchener

The Hippopotamus

You work at a job you don't like with people you don't care about doing things that affect no one.  You don't feel fulfilled, contrarily, you feel dead inside.  You are a toothpaste tube, empty and coiled and waiting for the trash bin.  You obsessively log onto your favorite social networks and you scroll and you scroll and you see other peoples' lives and you imagine that they are happy and content, but many of them are just like you.  It seems as though most people are bored and envious of each others' falsified, projected online lives, myths sewn with status updates and posed photos, and they are melting just as you are melting just as everyone else is melting.  You are on the bus again and it is early.  In fifteen minutes you will be behind that same desk, dealing with the same problems that you dealt with yesterday.  You want to cry because that repetition, that tedium, is anti-human and you feel you can do nothing about it like a bird stuck in a cage, in a steel box, in a fishbowl on the bottom of the ocean.  You look at the other people on the bus and their eyes are wet, dead and red as they stare off into space or into glowing, hypnotizing devices that have fused with their skin in their palms and you imagine them turning to you with luminous, mechanically fluorescent white eyes and speaking in robotic beeps and electronic shrieks like dial-up motems are lodged in their throats.  The next stop is yours and your heart drops because you are finished.  You know the sound that your feet will make when they meet the bus stop cement.  You know that your morning bagel with cream cheese will taste dull and predictable as if to mock you.  You know that your coworkers will ask about your weekend and you can hear their voices and questions, already, as if they are an echo, week to week and morning to morning.  And even though you slept enough, you know you will feel tired as you work.  The bus doors open.  You stare, from inside, at the street bustling with other hippopotami.  And you don't move.  You don't move at all.  You let the doors close and then the bus continues and as you realize the weight of your rebellion your adrenal gland secretes heroin and the bus pulls itself beyond your ritualistic prison and into somewhere unknown and frightening but it is worth it because you can taste freedom on the back of your tongue.  You are now traveling into an unknown that most people will fear and never confront as they choose instead to be lulled into a constant state of uncomfortable safety, of okays and next-times and good-enoughs.  I wish for you the best and for all of your tomorrows to hold only the extraordinary.  And if they do not, I wish you the courage to change them.  

What separates the human from the beast is the human's ability to view its life objectively, to reject instincts, and to choose its course.  The hippopotamus walks the same route to and from the watering hole and throughout its life carves a deep scar, a trench, into the earth.  Are you the hippopotamus or are you something more?  Are you a cause or a limb for someone else's?  Are you the falling branch or are you gravity?

Photo by Posterboy


Transsexuals Are Abnormal

"Use the term cisgender when refering [sic] to non-trans* individuals, rather than transphobic words like 'normal', which imply trans* individuals are abnormal.."

This comes from an infographic I saw recently posted on Facebook, one of many in a collection of rules for how to respectfully interact with people who are transgender, and though its author's intentions were likely right and good, its ideology is wrong.  Regardless of opinion, those who are transgender are scientifically abnormal, much like a blue apple birthed on a tree that holds only green, it is unique and wonderful and it is exciting and it is interesting and beautiful, but, of course, beyond those qualities, it is incredibly, indubitably and fantastically abnormal.  I have spent my life being called weird and different, and that is because I am weird and different.  I am a blue apple.  I am a polka-dotted tiger.  I accept this and so should anyone else who falls under the umbrella of abnormalcy and bizarrehood.  The quest for the odd and eccentric should never be toward that wonderfully innocuous term - normal.  The quest should not be to have your polkadots ignored.  It should be for recognition and acceptance.  We, as a social species, are attempting to ignore our differences in the guise of equality when we are not at all equal.  We are undeniably different.  We are rainbows, all of us, and this plague of colorblindness is stripping our species of its vibrance.  Blue apples, the odd, the strange, are like comets that appear only once every five years over Arkansas.  You are rare.  You are fascinating.  You are having a life experience that most people can only imagine, forced to be an explorer of the most abstract human condition, you are a Columbus or Magellan of the mind and body and you should fully embrace the new world you are discovering.  If people claim that you are normal, you should vehemently oppose them because you are a tiger and their description strips you of your polkadots.  I think of the first creature to have wings and it trying to hide them in order to be accepted instead of taking flight.  For the strange, wishing for normality is equivalent to self-loathing; it is anti-progress.  

Outcasts have been ostracized and executed.  They have been publicly crushed by stones.  They have been made slaves or become victims of genocide and through these horrors a select few have stood proud in the violent hail of misunderstanding to claim their lot of oxygen and declare themselves as different and dying but at least their deaths would prove to progress human acceptance.  It's hip to be square in a room full of circles but when it comes down to it, all of them will jeer at the hexagon just as all of the circles used to jeer at the square.  Progress is painful, but is necessary, and it is caused by the most abnormal, the most bizarre, the unique, the different, those so obviously hanging from a tree of green - the blue apples.

Photo by Gaptone


Round Holes / Square Pegs

I woke up this morning and I felt tired.  I’ve been feeling tired.  My feet drag slowly across the pavement.  My eyelids have grown dumbbells.  My bed screams for my attention as if it is the womb and I am the fetus yearning for my return to the warm cocoon from which I slid from; I have been wandering the desert and beneath my comforter is Jerusalem.  This is America and I suppose these things are side effects of mine living and participating in America.  I am that embodiment of ambition, that grey-eyed, sleep-deprived, dream-chasing shadow that slaves through the night on projects that will be heard by few and appreciated by fewer but I continue, guzzling hope as my sustenance as if to say, “Perhaps this next one will break me into the public eye.”  While, all the while, I am berated by the artist within me who says, “I can’t believe that you yearn for public attention and monetary success; you should be ashamed.”  And I am, but I keep going.  I often wonder if I am the sucker in a long con, a victim of the towering, aging behemoth that so many have grown stereotypically disgusted by: America.  America is a game and I wonder if that game is rigged yet I continue.  I smell freshly cut grass and the ocean; I hear the waves crashing just beyond the bend.  They pull me, having roped my soul; these smells are manifestations of success and they loom so near that I feel they are almost realized, and I can’t help but wonder if that is, too, a part of the con.  It reminds me of my first and only experience with ecstasy.  “I feel like if I had one more, I would feel perfect.”  I said.  “That’s what it always feels like.”  He replied.  Is my pursuit of success a drug that never fully satisfies just as those small, pink pills never fully satisfied?  Is my soul like Swiss cheese, peppered with pits and holes?  I, now, declare that it is.  I venture to say that all souls have holes and we all want desperately to fill them.  Religion would not exist without these vacant spaces and neither would addiction.  I wonder what truly belongs there.  I wonder if we’re all cramming square pegs into round holes.  I wonder if we’re all wandering through the dark and the only ones who see the light are those who imagine it.  

Artwork by irving Penn.