like a cactus

What matters? Oh, what a difference a week makes! Or, as some would tell me, a few months.

What matters to me… God matters, but the way and amount in which He does changes and decreases less and less, affecting me less. Family used to matter. A lot. Family was paramount to everything. But tragedy, misfortune, and many years of apathy have worn down the sharp edges, leaving things soft and porous. Leaving me wonder how so much could go wrong without me even… caring.

Friends. Career. Personal well-being.

I can’t pretend someone stole away my regard for the important things. I made choices, though my understanding of the results of those choices came very late. Love, of course, must be nurtured or it withers. Friendships can fade or even turn sour, misunderstandings widening the rift. Working relationships falter, even fail to take root. Trust turns into disappointment and, finally, resentment.

The restoration of the lost, precious things is like losing weight. It is so easy to add on pounds but takes sweat, dedication, and not a small amount of humility at realizing the necessity of it all. You let it get this way. You let yourself go. Now you need to put in the time to gain back what you lost–assuming you can gain it back at all.

buck the trend

It’s been a while. I know. I’m really awesome at putting things off, but I’ve gotten a lot better at not doing that lately.

In fact… I have some ridiculous news. I am starting a production company. Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’ve started it… or I will be starting it shortly? Not sure how that works. I have not yet registered it as an LLC, but I believe I have found a lawyer who is going to take me through that process as well as some other legal necessities. But I have bought equipment. I’ve assembled a slate of projects.

It’s all been part of the process of the… the new me. Or maybe the old me coming out from a decades-long hibernation. But I’ve been fighting my fears, and I’ve been pushing through a lot of them. I feel more confident. A lot of things have taken a turn for the better.

It’s strange, for a cynic like myself, to feel hopeful and positive.

It’s even stranger to feel excited about something. To feel sociable—though still not all the time—a lot more than before.

There’s a lot of work to do still. I have to learn Twitter. Or find someone to handle my company’s social media. I need to finish my demo reel. (I think I’m about 80% there.) I need… to either hold a casting call or find an alternate first project. And I need to figured out a schedule and budget.

And somehow, I can’t wait to dive into it.

facts aren’t truth

Tomorrow is my birthday. (Although WordPress has seen fit to date this post for tomorrow instead of today…?)

There. I said it. I never admit it when the time of year comes around, though. The whole… revelation feels awkward and like it’s fishing for compliments or something. It comes off as some form of bragging to me. I understand not everyone feels that way. It’s cool. I don’t begrudge you that. (Oddly, I have little trouble confessing to others how good of a writer I think I am, but that’s another story.)

Some people find birthdays celebratory. Others, depressing. I usually oscillate between the two, ending with some mix of both. This year, though, my birthday brings to the fore my subconscious sense of failure. Things unaccomplished that easily could’ve been if I’d tried harder. Or if I’d tried at all. Mistakes I shouldn’t have made if I’d used better judgment. Opportunities lost because I hesitated or was afraid. Emotions I lost control of and still struggle to figure out.

Just a few days ago, I was feeling good. Maybe even happy. Better than I’ve felt all year, and that’s no exaggeration. Then it all came crashing down for a reason I’d rather not get into, but suffice to say was not supposed to be terrible at all. My world tilted, and I’ve been flailing about since. To compound the problem, life at home has taken an abrupt, ugly turn and I find myself wishing I could be anywhere else but home.

I’ve struggled for weeks, for months to find the words. The words of a writer, of the writer I know I am and the writer I really really need to be. I’ve wrestled with the ever-growing fear that maybe I have nothing to say, and there’s nothing worse than a writer who writes nothing. I’m not really talking about writer’s block, either. No, this is a different creature. This is a matter of “who cares?” When I say a writer who writes nothing, I mean a writer who writes vacuousness. And I don’t mean bad writing, either. By and large, the idea of good and bad writing rests with the reader, not the writer. Only the writer can judge if what was written was worthwhile or without purpose.

I’ve struggled for weeks, for months to find or even manufacture the will to care. About myself–my health and my future. About the people who… who matter to me. I’ve fought to take hold of my life and not simply drift aimless in the deeps, to care about consequences and about rewards too, choices made and missed and decisions still to come. I’ve fractured every friendship I ever made. Through callousness, through insult and insensitivity, through simple neglect. Worse, I’ve lacked the fortitude to even try making amends. But also, I haven’t really… cared. And to care requires passion and energy and awareness and even self-love. Things I’ve only had passing contact with since before the year began.

I make no excuses. I ask for no pity or sympathy. Hell, I’m not even trying to explain anything. I’m just battling to find my words. But please, forgive my rampant use of cliché. I imagine it may cheapen the things I’m saying or cast doubt on what I’m trying to convey. Sometimes, though, we can only fall back on the words that come quickest–if no others come forward. I wanted to say something. I needed to, and it didn’t really matter how the words spilled out.

I always knew where each bad choice would lead. I wasn’t blind or ignorant. I knew I was driving myself toward solitude and alienation, toward stagnancy. I knew. And I never lost sight of the promises I made and failed to carry through–or even actively steered away from. I can offer no reasonable defense except that I didn’t care.

But I was blind to one thing.

There is no going back. There’s no return to yesteryear, to the days When Life Was Better. I can’t recapture my youth. I can never be the boy I used to be. I can’t even mourn him, because I can’t even reminisce him. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. The past is gone, and all the promise it held. What’s left is what stands here right now. And… it’s something, too. I’m someone. I can be more. It’s… it’s not too late. Is it? So much wasted. So many bridges burning. Relationships left for dead. I can’t outrun the life I’ve created, not even for a day. But I think I can still run toward the creation of something new, something I know was supposed to be. I think. Tomorrow is my birthday. That’s unavoidable. But what will it bring?

bit my tongue

Overheard today…

“I don’t need a piece of paper to say how much I love someone.”

I didn’t say anything. I could’ve, but I didn’t see the point. Someone who says that has already made up her mind. And it’s not the first time I’ve heard marriage described thus. To those who would utter this to others, though, I would say two things.

One, clearly marriage isn’t for you. And that’s okay. Marriage isn’t for everyone. That’s the thing about life choices. There are lot of valid ones out there.

Two, marriage is much more than a piece of paper. It’s one of the most powerful expressions of love. Or, at least, it can be. It means you’re willing to jump through the legal hurdles and accept the legal consequences and declare (legally) in front of whoever you invite that this love is going to stick for life (ideally).

Oh, and three. People don’t usually get married because they need to. They usually do it because they want to.

Anyway. Like I said, it’s okay if you don’t feel like the marrying type. That’s cool. Just don’t compare it to a piece of paper. That just makes you sound silly.

shut up. i’m talking now

I understand that sometimes depressed people can be a major drag. Trust me. I’ve been there. They’re not real fun to be around. They’re a buzzkill. I get that sometimes you’d rather remove your own fingernails than hang out with a friend in the midst of depression. I get it.

Excuse me for saying, though, and pardon my language but sometimes–especially in those moments–we depressed folk need our friends to fucking be there.

There is nothing worse than feeling alone–except realizing you actually are alone.

Do we expect you to spit out some magic bullet that’ll make us feel better? No. But in a manner of speaking, your presence makes the difference. By sheer virtue of demonstrating (not just saying) that you give a shit, by making yourself available, you become a balm in an otherwise unbearable circumstance.

Do we expect you to put your life on hold? No, and don’t you dare ever suggest that. We feel shitty enough reaching out in the first place. We know you’d probably prefer to catch up on House of Cards. But if you’re a friend–if you say you’re a friend–then act like it and stop making us feel like the bad guy for practically begging you for a little bit of time.

If I seem upset, it’s because I’m not speaking rhetorically. This isn’t a hypothetical exercise. And no, I’m not too dependent on others, and no, my happiness doesn’t count on other people. When you need a friend, you need a friend. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And if you don’t have a friend and you need a friend… well, then you know what it’s like.

what to say? where to go?

What is happiness? No, not a definition. No, not the “key” or secret to it. Well, maybe the secret. Is it an equation? Job + family + house = happiness? Or maybe money + health + friends? Here’s a more likely one, I think. Purpose + love (even self-love) + belief (in anything). Maybe I’ve made it too complicated. Maybe, you say, it’s not math. Fine, but I think there are elements that add up to it, concepts and experiences that merge to make for a sense of happiness. Without some of these… well. I won’t say you can’t be happy. But it can happen.

It’s so bizarre how one person can throw so many things out of order, so many lives spun into confusion. Sometimes families go through a fragmentation process, a change from which things may never be what they once were. I’m not really speaking to the family’s most recent loss. I don’t really know what’s going on there. But I think more about my own. When my father died… actually, let me back up a little.

When my father lived, life was sensationally awesome. We weren’t rich. My dad didn’t have a super job. (He’d retired, in fact.) My mom didn’t, either. We didn’t live in a great neighborhood. And yet, things were so great. I was not a lazy kid. I was pretty active–sports, extracurricular clubs, church even. I was really really happy. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Everything was coming up sunny.

Today… it’s not so sunny. And yes, that’s an understatement, but I don’t have the heart to spill out exactly the degree to which things are not sunny.

I pride myself on being able to express myself through writing, much better than through speaking. I can describe my feelings with pinpoint accuracy, except that to be that honest here would require a willingness to vulnerability I just cannot do.

I’m not happy. I’m not even content anymore. Nothing is okay, not on the inside. And I don’t even know who to tell except people who I don’t know, those of you who read my blog. I have come to you with this, and I’m not even sure why, but these words leak from me like a bad faucet and I’ve decided to just go with it. It’s much better than the alternative of leaking all over everything else, somewhere I’d rather not leak.

And here my writing fails me. What more can I say? How else can I put things without bleeding into sentimentality? An unforgivable act, in my opinion, as it smacks of disingenuousness. So here I leave it.

Thanks for reading.

where’s my damn soapbox?

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in quite a while. It’s been a strange couple of weeks. Strange, strained, emotional, quiet, harried. Grief still runs through the family, and I’m still not sure where I stand amidst it.

Death can call things into question, things you once held as true, things you took for granted, things that… maybe you were wrong about. Faith is shaken, if it was ever really there to begin with. Answers are sought–demanded, in fact. Blame may well be placed.

For the average Christian (family), death is not considered the end. And if the one who died was Christian, death really ought not be so tragic. But we are only human, aren’t we? We only see a very small part of the picture. We cannot conceive the good that may come out of the loss of a loved one, cannot imagine how a loving God could countenance such an act. “Why didn’t God save him or her?” is the one question our mind can handle.

The average Christian possesses many misconceptions about life, God, sin, and faithfulness. As a former church-goer, I heard them all the time and I also swallowed each mistruth whole. Shall I share them all? Well, I don’t know. I’d rather not turn my blogpost into a theological landmine. You can ask, though, and I’ll try to answer. But for now, I’d just say that no, I don’t think God will give us everything we want just because we pray, or tithe, or read the Bible, or give to the poor. And if you think God owes you a solid because you’ve been a good little soldier, you’re in for a terrible surprise.

Ugh, now I’ve gone and gotten passionate about something. But listen, friend–you who have lost someone–a miracle is only a miracle because it’s unexpected. Otherwise, you should call it an expectation and go on and create your own rules and your own religion.

You know, screw it. Let’s not pull any punches here.

Being a Christian sucks. It’s hard, and it’s unfair, and it doesn’t compromise and whisper sweet lies in your ear. But a lot of things suck that are worthwhile and good. Exercise. Eating healthy. Childbirth. You think faith in the face of adversity is stupid? You think heaven’s a copout? You think belief in a higher power is easy?

Let me tell you, believing in nothing is the easy route. Because with belief comes hope, and with hope comes the possibility that your hope will be dashed on the rocks of tragedy. That is not easy, nor is it really altogether foolish. Those of you who say that we are sufficient, that we need no one and nothing other than ourselves… we are not gods. We are not all-powerful and all-seeing. The world does not answer to our whims. We are not sufficient, because the world is completely out of our control. Our own lives are out of our control. My step-sister did not control the cancer that struck, nor did she control the devastation it wrought upon her, and she certainly didn’t control the end it led her and us toward. She controlled a few things, yes. I won’t say different. She controlled how she responded. But that was all. Is that enough, you say? Perhaps for you. And more power to you if that’s where you stand.

Believing in God is hard. Trusting that there is a reason for everything is damn near impossible.

Now maybe one day I’ll be proven wrong, that I was deluded to ever put stock in all this malarkey. Fine. I’m okay with that possibility. Maybe I’ve pissed some of you off. That’s fine too. Sometimes it’s best to offend somebody, so long as you’re honest. Sometimes I’m just too tired to be polite.