Fathers

This is my seventh Father’s day. Yesterday driving along the lakes in Tellico, my two young boys next to me, it felt warm and home like. The inner dialogue, which I tried to silence couldn’t help but rattle off thoughts about love, and family – a narrative still fumbling and working hard to stick with me.

When my oldest son was born I remember promising myself I wouldn’t allow my family to split. Three years after its break up, I’m still very much asking the universe to guide me to myself without the foundations of my kids, and the idea of family, or what I assumed my experience would be like. And its ok…I’m not an unhappy person, quite the contrary, I’M ALIVE.

Not seeing my sons every morning is crushing. The little things, a mannerism, the soft smiles of innocence, the skipping, and tripping over invisible lines – I miss a lot of it. And it hurts. But it’s also an opportunity for my own life as an individual. Even when we have families and become parents deciding to take care of other humans, it doesn’t mean we give up on ourselves. We have to develop our own dreams and follow our paths to be good parents. Society will trap you into thinking what being a “good” parent means, but I’m looking to be there for my kids as a friend, and a father when they need that too. For me to do that I have to welcome them into my world by not subtracting from what makes it different. They want to know who we are as people.

The other day my oldest son said to me “its because you’re like a kid Dad, you’re like us” in response to my excitement over a character we were discussing or something. That made me so proud as a Father.

Being a parent is hard y’all. This isn’t a movie with an editing room. We mess up, we blow it big time, and in the aftermath we have a choice. The teaching moments come when we too make mistakes, and those are the chances for us to teach our children, to allow them the respect to be human by inviting them to our personalities so they can see being human has nothing to do with perfection, and everything to do with learning from being flawed.

For me, that’s what I’m enjoying – having the awareness to see our friendship beginning.

Blockbuster Persona

There, waiting for a break in deep stasis William wondered to himself,  “will this ever let go of me?” He had many conversations that angled and stabbed his insecurity. Growing tired of certain energies in his surrounding, William pictured one day he would lose it and smash everything around him, especially the mechanisms that he defined himself by. There wasn’t an escape from present cultural evolution – William had to let go in it, which was the very thing that scared the shit out of him. His ability to feel a sense of inner voice, in those he met, made the quietest occurrences so loud he couldn’t breathe – and he wanted out of this awareness. Often he fantasized about being an ignoramus, how freeing he thought to just take a shit and watch Nascar while the women cooked the delicacies of a spam burger. These things gave him extreme guilt but they were his thoughts, and he would own them with an odd hope each crevice of his aging face would reveal a vulnerable layer, he already felt raw enough to croke. William wanted to experience the calling all the way, even if it shortened his life, or made him seem too far-gone for the normal types. He developed too much pride around weirdness vs. normalcy. The very things that made him different enough to stand out haunted him. Yet, he couldn’t let go of them, it was too late so there he was, out to sea in a boat he believed would take him to shore – an island all his own wrapped in the self induced lonerisms he perfected. 

To be a lone wolf in a period frought with over indulgence was confusing for him. Was he not participating because he’s afraid of failure, afraid that his deficiencies would be exposed for what they are – a narcissistic pretension so bold and beautiful it would kill him? The irony, and one that he knew too well, was no matter how much work he did, the silence would creep over the wondrous possibility of human experience. Maybe he’s just a fool, or an asshole? Those that knew him didn’t see what he saw, and he fed off their encouraging tone like a savage.

Williams cell rang, he assumed it was either his Mom, or some automated call telling him there was a job he was qualified for, he had applied to so many jobs he could barely remember when they called to chat. William rarely answered his phone but knew if he did he could get his steps in for the day. William paced a lot, he clocked 10 miles one day talking with his Aunt while on the verge of a panic attack.

It was Sam….

“Whaatahhp”

“How’d you sleep last night duder?”

“Ah, once I got there it all seemed solid, but the lead up was heavy”

“Jesus man, do you ever have a good night?”

“What does that mean???”

“You seem to be tortured enough at this point, you’re so hard on yourself bro”

“I’m just being honest man, I mean, if you ask me I’m gonna tell you, shit, this whole optimist movement is enough to kill anyone. When did things get this way, its fucked”

“So it’s a bad thing that people are happy, come on man, let them enjoy it”

“People are full of shit, and pretending to be these joyous travelers who eat life like Anthony Bourdain. I’m happy, but its not gonna keep me from understanding moments when I’m not. Faking that shit isn’t an answer. I want to be strong enough to know the reasons, so I can heal them, hard to do that if I’m posting a picture and bragging about my Sunday morning walk as if it was life changing. I’ve walked a million miles, its nice, but come on, gimmie a fucking break already.”

“You’re a dick”

“I know, believe me”

“Whatcha doing tonight?”

“Oh, you wanna hang out still, haha, I thought I left an impression? “

“You did hermano, always do, but nothing I can’t handle”

“Prolly going to write about things, or record a bit, not sure, might try and link up with a gal or two”

“There you go, that’s the spirit, sounds like fun to me”

“Of course its fun, I didn’t say I hate to have fun, I get plenty of highs most of the time, can’t help my addiction to pussy and cheap wine”

“That could be a movie, “Pussy and Cheap Wine”

“We’re all little movies Sam, putting out a blockbuster persona”

“Right, need to fake it, what else can you do?”

“I don’t know, how about while you’re ordering a coffee turn to the person next to you and say, “are you alive, how the fuck is this happening, oh and lets make it out”

“You should”

“Alright man, gonna hop on this roof and patch some shit, I’ll text ya in a bit”

“cool cool”

William got off the phone, his head began to flow ideas and thoughts so fast he had to sit down. This often happened to him, plenty to do, plenty he wanted to do, but the amount of pressure was big enough to create a plain of nothing. Even if he made a to do list, looked at it constantly, his worry drove him to a place where he couldn’t get shit done. Even worse was his awareness around the reaction – It felt like a foggy beach during sunrise, all the beauty he knew was there, he just couldn’t see it. This is the place his addiction to expensive cigarettes found a feeding ground after the divorce. The day he knew his family would split up, he drove to the gas station on his way to stare at trees at a near by hiking spot, in that moment he declared, “I’m going to start smoking for real”. Three years later so much life had happened, but little had changed, he still stared at trees and still smoked expensive cigarettes while not having a solid paycheck. William tried hard not to see his life as some new incarnation of the Twilight Zone, but oddly he found himself listening to the old episodes on Netflix. The current tenor of modern television didn’t appeal to him much. Somehow vulgarity in T.V. or music triggered him. Knowing too well, acceptance was where he needed to put his mind, he just hadn’t yet. His sensitivity to all things was reaching a boiling point.

Originally written Feb 20, 2020.

I-N-D-I VIDUAL

Writing to this…

So there it is, up in the air, movements for the currency. I’m just a dude with mad problems or no problem at all, the why and the how – a fixated thing commingling with strength – a new face with armor for amour and what not. You see, I’m just a dude raised by that which makes me individual. I – N – D – I – vidual.

“Did you think too much today?”

“Yeah man, I did, shed a few tears as my car rolled through to see ya”

“What’s it mean?”

“Don’t know… I asked God in my note app for help, felt things pouring off me”

“You believe in God?!”

“I want to, I cry for God, I yearn to feel its universe take me over and set me free”

You see, we just people, without much true definable balances. We just people, fractions and experiences giving us the bumps and gold that we are ourselves asking for.

‘What do you want?”

“Want? Hmmm,..to feel this weight in something other than anger, to accept everything I cannot change, to punch a city block with my fist and watch it explode…to hug my cat outside for the first time. To stand up in a crowded space and yell “what are you really thinking?” I want a lot of things, but I already have so much of what I wanted the last time we spoke”

“Yeah its been a minute. What’s next if you don’t really want anything? You should def stand up and yell that sometime”

“I might…No clue really, maybe just some clearing for my head, for a day, maybe,… I need some new shoes fella, maybe a rich older women who will let me be a house cat”

You see, no matter what the differing languages or narratives that are fiction…Its all just a game. Others around us feed off our contemplation, life being life, an excitable risk but a hurtful immediacy for the ones living it. Although the very art of living it, means you are experiencing the major gift afforded to a human being – to know you’re alive means to feel being alive. To know you feel means you are being yourself…the rest is the rest, and the low frequencies of communications don’t stick, hell, they don’t even register a wave of any kind. So forget’m

“Are you down?”

“Yeah man, I’m down, exposed, and raw, ready to be vulnerable and tough, so I guess I’m not all the way as you said, down”

“Whatcha gonna do about it?”

“I’m going to put one foot in front of the other, and keep walking through doors dude, one day at a time”

“Ha, that sounds like a self help mantra”

“Right…I mean, everything out here is some form of “Self Help”, even the shit we do that doesn’t help, it all goes back to that place,  either way you swing it.”

“Good point”

You see, I’m a man who is still, but inside me is a current that gives, and loves, and works. Its the ocean, its the animal vibrations, the camp fire rumination, and the words I stutter when they make me nervous. And I get nervous, and I’m still here. Thats effort, that who is me, and me who is him – a complicated pulsing body of energy just waiting for the next story, in this book that has absolutely no dust on it, because its used, a favorite, A “I can’t put it down” top ten, favorite – existence, full bodied expression, a sun a moon, and the damn dirt to burry the bullshit. Don’t forget your shovel.

“You believe in Flow?”

“Like what…if it flows, then it goes?… yeah man, thats how I’m out here now, flow, or bye in all directions, but nervous, def nervous, or i was taught to be”

“How do you know though?”

“You don’t, its about listening to the awareness you’ve worked for up until now, and testing it, learning, failing, creating a remedy to improve”

“That seems like it could get too passive, or hell, even lonely”

“Well, as applied to being with girls or friends in gerneral, yeah man, it can be tricky, but you just feel it, you know, a sense of it, if its too hard, or nerve racking, then its just not happening…ha, I say that but its complicated, I’m open to all suggestions, I have no clue what you do once you step out of the philistine cage”

You see, the faces are planted in time I cannot reach anymore, no reasons, no rhymes, just bankrupt old news that fuels the epiphany curriculums for these new pathways. Give me an edge and I’ll  put it on a sword, place it into a stone, then watch it shoot out colors of imagination. Your storms are not negotiable. I am I-N-D-I VIDUAL, all the  thrills, highly original. Turn the page please.

“You ever regret things, surely you regret something, right?”

“Regret?, yeah man, I regret talking to you right now, no but for real…yeah, I regret things. I mean, I’m alive and thats gonna come with a lot of regret, a lot of contemplations, so much wonder about the “what if,” and the “should not”, but its too late for any of that. The regrets aren’t real, they don’t exist. I can be anyone I want to be, at any moment. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t feel for those situations I could regret. When we regret it means a part of ourselves is out in the world and that narrative we fear belongs to the mind of someone else, we fear those versions of ourselves that no longer belong to us, and will never be us again.”

“I think I know what you mean, like…opinion, or reputation?”

“Sure, or anything really, that moments you regret is frozen, and frankly they are gifts to others who need them to feel better about their regrets, we have to be the villain as much as we have to be the victim, or the hero, we owe debts for each”

“Now I’m lost”

“Good, because you’re too young not to be lost”

You see, its all moving and changing and circling back to a different you in this point in time. Nothing matters anymore but the next step forward, the ego is dead, so redundant in its exposure, its lack of care, its general sense of black hole dispositions, just dead. The prancing taps of your feet can pull you up from the grown swirl, then you can shoulder that shit, let it dip, push it with the hip, then brush it off with your newest versions, tighten up your fancy for the next episode in what is sure to be a regret or a win, or the story you feed yourself for your future. We just change, nothing more. We just are now, nothing more. Next phase please.

“Good seeing you man”

Yeah, it was, thanks for letting me express things, I needed it today buddy”

“Don’t thank me, Its fun to see you passionate about something” 

“I love ya”

“Love you too”

“No matter what”

 

 

Temple

The two drink hangover is a new phenomenon in my experience. For once I opted to leave early, take the exit to ensure a quality nights sleep before my early morning class the next day. In the past I would allow the moment to pass by me, knowing I should leave  but opting for curiosity – a continuation to explore what the night might bring.

The evening was relaxed –  I needed the drink and chat to come down from a five hour round trip car ride through the mountains of North Carolina, then back home to Tennessee – a perfect day for a drive. I met a couple of friends I haven’t seen in over a year at Public House. I bonded with her last summer, and felt our time together could bring more than it had  – energy not living up to its full potential – deeper friends. They are both good people, working tirelessly to figure out there love dynamic – what they are, want, or need. We chewed on relationships, I gave my verbal dance of opinion, felt a bit over cooked after the exchange but a text today made me realize I was over thinking it. When I get around people in public spaces my hands and arms get active – I begin to feel like a magician whose trying too hard to sound smart. And I’m trying to figure out my own head space for love. The times shared felt good though  – a safe space with untamed energy bubbling underneath potent honesty.

Earlier in the day I took my sons to a Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) where we sat with friends listening to music, and a sermon. I sat next to an elder, not sure if thats what to call him. He translated the sermon in my right ear, and the lyrical themes from the two musicians who came in from Chattanooga. He is a kind man, gracious in his delivery – understanding I had no real clue what was taking place. Other than a few political science and religious courses in college, I didn’t have much to latch onto for what was taking place – I was disarmed in my pride around ignorance. I asked him where he was from, he had a puzzled look on his face. He said “I am from here, came here in 95” “But I was born in India”. Being the person I am, for a moment I felt bad, like I had offended him – but once I reminded myself that it was ok to ask that question, it was ok to not know anything about the Temple. In this mind set I was able to see it from unfettered eyes.  Everyone treated us like family, hugging my children as their own.

When you enter the Gurdwara (residence of the guru)  you take off your shoes and cover your head to show respect. My sons never questioned it, just followed my lead. After the sermon, large bowels with prasad (similar to cookie dough) were passed around – a blessed food received with cupped hands as a gift from God. We had three helpings, and others shared more with us – my kids loved it. After the sermon we all walked downstairs to eat together. The food was dynamic, enriching, and whole, not vegan but vegetarian – potatoes, rice, garbanzo beans, and other things.

All together we were at the Temple for five hours. In the past three months I have been to three different kinds of Sunday worship – Universalist, Christian, and Sikhism. I’m looking for it, ready to engage in a self that has deeper meaning, one that will vacate the notions of singularity – the hope that through God, or the universe, my intent as a human being will find a true sense of the word love. Going inward toward discipline feels better than continuing the wild notions of nothing.

One Shake To Go

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It was Black Friday – there we were in a sea of locals getting ready to watch the annual lighting of the Christmas tree ceremony. In all the years I’ve lived in Knoxville this was my first time. Not sure why in the 14 years I’ve  lived here I’ve never made it – Especially since the house is a short drive away.  We parked at my folx new condo just outside the central downtown area. Taking the short walk up the hill it felt really good to be in the mild air, faint raindrops started coming down as we took our stroll though the holiday festivities. Since it was raining we hopped in The Pharmacy for one chocolate/vanilla shake to go, we share’d it. My sons are very well behaved, you can take them anywhere and they just hang out – no fuss, no problems. A new friend met up with us just before the lights went on. We stood behind the tree on Gay st – the main show was in Krutch Park, in front of the tree, but I knew getting in the crowded mix with my little dudes wouldn’t be worth it for us. We just wanted to be close and have room to breathe. As soon as the lights went on the fireworks started raging. We all jumped out of our shoes. I had no clue they did fireworks and we were directly underneath them. The volume of each ricochet reverberated between the buildings, bouncing like a metal ball with military rhythm – Valley was scared. I held my hands over his ears for the show, pulling him close to me so he knew we were ok. At one point both of my sons clung onto me like  a gift that needed to be wrapped, it wasn’t scary but the tension was enough to bring our love together. I felt larger than life being their Father, hip even, solid like a rock. They are my guys, we are a family and I’m grateful I belong with them. Kids aren’t for everyone,  and I get that, but I can’t imagine being able to feel what I feel with them if I wasn’t a parent.

After the ceremony we strolled to the old city for east coast style pizza pie at Davincis – super clutch food for the moment. The four of us split a large pepperoni, laughing and replaying how loud the fireworks sounded. Truth be told, I’m not much for the loud banging noises. Not sure when it started, there’s something odd about a bunch of people gathering for this type of stimulus. I’m glad we went though, it gave us a reason to be in the center of the holiday spirit – People everywhere, families in the south doing what they do.

Living in a small town has always been on my old guy to do list. I picture a small loft above a hardware store, next to the local diner where everyone knows your name. I sit in my space writing, recording music, then popping around the block to catch up on the daily hellos, maybe walking my pup, or catching a coffee with my person. I never thought of Knoxville this way until last night. It’s a small city with support so it feels bigger. While it has a real vibrancy to it, you’ll see familiar faces every time you navigate an event. Its cool, feels tight knit and communal.

Our Thanksgiving found us starting a new tradition with our family friends. We’ve known them for years, but have yet to really get into the center of each other’s lives for the holiday spirit – that all changed this year. The atmosphere was comfortable, effortless, without forcing the issue. It helps when the people you’re bonding with are interesting, bringing an equal half of the conversation coin. You can feel love-growing, friendships that go beyond the small time chatter – A genuine care for each other’s welfare, freed from any one person trying to be the center of everyone’s attention. They had never met my sons, so it was nice to finally bring such a big part of my life into the circle.

There’s a security that comes with being a parent. Yes it’s hard and can be complicated, especially as a single parent. But when I’m with them I feel the strongest aspects of my individual self. I genuinely feel strength, pride, and love. My sons give me courage to walk freely, understanding who I am, while not being afraid of anything. They make me feel human on the biggest scale. They’re so kind and loving, curious, and willing. It reminds me of the attributes I seek to master – you just live when you’re with them, no thinking, no worry, just being. Maybe its just my head coming out of the scarring that has been my last couple years – like that stabbing pain in your side while laughing, months after having pneumonia- one day its just gone. Maybe I’ve finally learned how to sit up right for the big wave – existence with balance? Doubtful.  I’m not sure why I feel this way these past couple days.  Its as if the long walk through the woods finally let up and I see a clearing, a next level (if you will) in all the previous work of “self” that’s been done. I have no answers, but I feel it. The last year in my life dealt so much with patience, being still, observing, and trying to figure out which instinct to run toward. I think one day you realize you can’t always take care of other people, or try to save them. At some point you have to be the center so when you turn toward others you’re a whole person – strong, ready, capable. In this moment there’s a centering, some kind of release from the mental prison I was nestled in for almost two years, a black hole the last 12 months. There is less of a  weight on my chest, and my soul finally smiled for the first real time in a long time.  If I didn’t believe in something greater than myself I’d say at a certain point you’re just done with worrying.  Done wondering, done looking for whatever it is you think you are looking for. Thankfully, I do believe in energy greater than my own – Love on the grandest scale, God, Art – how infused as one are all powerful.

Part of me sees that my failures have been putting too much emphasis on how much I can feel from anyone else, when the whole time the context is larger – a wider lens that requires you to find the proper focus before looking. No experience is a bad one. I’m weathered from my lessons, silent still, even more laid back. Impossible to imagine the person I was before now, arriving here, and maybe it’s fleeting like so much of life can be if you narrowly see your own experience. Regardless, in this moment the presence I have prayed for, the existence I have chain smoked while starring into the dark distance of parking lots, backyards and open plains for, has shown a still shot of peace.

“Shuttering, his eyes caught a glimpse of the one he was waiting for, himself”

Of course, having my sons with me is the most obvious answer why I feel different. When they are home (with me) I can rest from wondering, rest from shame or guilt. I made myself a promise when my oldest was born, that no matter what I did in my life I wouldn’t stray from my kids – as my father did to me. The hard part is accepting that I can still keep that promise… it just won’t look the way I pictured it. The past is the past.

“We are the lab rats of our own experience”