On Purity and Innocence

WARNING: This might make you uncomfortable.

I recently, in the last month, began working with primary students at the school that I volunteer at. The first couple days terrified me; I had trouble even making eye contact with the kids. I often just assume I don’t know how to interact with children, but that’s not really the case. It’s that every time I look into their faces – all innocence and pure love, all joy for life and unknowing; I feel this overwhelming sense of sadness, anger, and protectiveness. This is not the sort of “it’s my late 20’s, baby crazy” kind of protectiveness. This is the kind of “please, don’t let anybody fuck this up” kind of protectiveness.

The first time I was ever forced into sexual acts beyond my will I was 6 years old. I do not write about this often, and I never write about it publicly, because the experience has never really stopped hurting. It never stopped humiliating me. It never stopped tainting the way I look at every day life. It never stopped defining a piece of me. Because I wouldn’t let it stop. Because ever since those weekday afternoons throughout kindergarten, life was different for me. I was different then. I understood things about people, about adults, that other people my age didn’t understand, that I wasn’t supposed to understand. My purpose had shifted. This followed me as I grew into the world. I developed a very distinct disconnect between my body, my mind, my soul, and the world. Suddenly my body was an offering that was given up to the world and my mind was mine to reconcile the purpose of this. And my soul, well, my soul was lost somewhere in the process along with my innocence.

I have spent 21 years of my life attempting to reconcile the purpose of this.

In my early 20’s, a small series of events occurred; awakening in the middle of the night to a man uninvited in my room, one of my roommates laughing from the doorway; a night that I have absolutely no memory of,  just blood and a burn on my left thigh. It was as though life saw me putting myself together and decided that that was not how it needed me. The disconnect I thought I had been overcoming returned. It was clear that something within me was sacrificial, and that the outside world recognized this. And I was okay with it. The world could have my innocence as long as it gave me something I needed in return – profundity. At times I was even happy, in a sick sense, that these things happened to me; I felt a responsibility for it, righteously warped thoughts that – had any of this happened to somebody else, they would not have had the strength, not the sense to accept. But I did. I do. I can understand all of the terrible bits about this world and still love it. I can experience the worst aspects of humanity and still be absolutely enamored by its possibilities. I can still find beauty in the dirt and ash of bones.

Thoughts of sacrifice took seed in my young mind; I began to go as far as seeking out the corrupt. I obsessed over destruction. I mirrored the world’s chaos. I lost myself in the pit of humanity. It seemed at points that I was never meant to live a pretty life, had even given up on it. My delusion was that, perhaps if I accepted all of the bad in the world, took it all upon myself with purpose, that perhaps nobody else would ever have to experience suffering again. I was constantly testing myself – mentally, emotionally, morally, physically – I tested the limits of my soul and came out in pieces and I came out bleeding and I came out haunted, but I came out, none-the-less, intact. I came out with profound perspective on the state of humanity.

I think I was afraid to be around small children for a long time after that period of my life; afraid that something about my very being might corrupt them, might ruin them. That maybe all of that shit stuck to me like something that wipes off on other people. But the first day I walked into a first grade classroom, half of the class stood up and hugged me. They hugged wherever they could reach me, grasping a leg, my waist, a foot. They did it unprompted. They did it unknowingly. They did it purposelessly. They were just full of such undirected and all encompassing love. I cried. I couldn’t help it. I felt something that was so foreign to me at first that I couldn’t pinpoint it; it appeared as a very personal sadness with unknown origin, but then I realized that it wasn’t that, it wasn’t about me. I cared about these children – without even knowing them, I wanted everything wonderful in life for them. They were beautiful, their innocence was beautiful, and I wanted them to stay that way always. I was terrified, or perhaps enraged at the possibility, that somebody might ruin that; determined that that could not happen. To simply be in such close contact with pure tenderness. This is where the beauty of humanity lay. This is what needed to be nurtured in every soul in the world; a return to innocence.

I no longer hate the exposure that I was presented with too early in life, nor that born upon me later. I haven’t for a while. I do not regret anywhere I have taken myself into the depths of humanity either. Rather, I feel as a born pioneer, who throws themselves into the wild, alone into the perilous world, in order to bring back perspective and lay down profound foundations; to preserve the clarity and distinctions between the morbid and the spirited. Because I know that I can encompass this. These events have shaped me into an interesting specimen of humankind. I can face a horrifying world at will and tell you exactly why this is the most wonderful existence that has ever been and may well ever be.  I can show that life doesn’t have to break you. I am not corrupted, I am not broken, and I am still capable of being a source of love – of pure love. And if I am capable of this, then surely everybody is capable of this. And surely, to show people this is not such a bad reason to exist.

Saying Goodbye Again

I’m sitting here as my roommate packs up all of her worldly possessions. It’s a familiar feeling, except I’m on the wrong side. This is a heavy lesson in the permanence of relationships in a foreign country. Over the past couple months, my roommate, she’d hate me using her name so let’s call her Scrubs, has sort of  defined my life, my patterns, my social sphere. There’s something about meeting somebody who speaks your native tongue in a country where you are passing days not understanding most of what is happening around you. Much of the first six months of my life in Colombia I had the feeling of floating through a sort of half life. I would often realize that I had gone days without speaking outside of my classrooms. I spent much of my time reading, sometimes writing, having so little to convey that what came out was vague dribble on the theory of existence. Was it even important? My existence felt unnecessary and forgotten. In which case, what was I doing? I wanted to leave Colombia. I wanted to go back to a space where I was comfortable, if unsatisfied and likely destructive. I had felt important in my old life. Since those hazy months early in the year, so many things have changed. One was my move from the far north of the city into more of a downtown area. I thrive on the movement of people. Hearing the bar play music across the street every night was calming. The yells on the street staved off loneliness. The horns honking reminded me that life was still going on. Through my new space I was exposed to a far more inclusive environment of roommates. My new roommates were expats from Europe. They introduced me to a new style of life in Bogota. We went out and I met new people;  met one in particular that completely turned my experience on its head. That person showed me spaces that felt like home, introduced me to people that felt like old friends, and listened to me like nobody had listened to me in months. This story is not about that person, though. That person had to leave, but left me with a taste of how I could fall in love with Bogota. Soon after that person left, Scrubs moved in. She was from Portland, I was from Boulder, we spoke English, it was an easy friendship. Living in the same house, we soon fell into a routine. I would come home from work, we would smoke a cigarette together in my room. We would break to go do our own things and come back together later to make dinner together or decide where we were going out. We liked the same sort of places, the same sort of events, the same sorts of foods. We were quickly inseparable. In two months, she knew nearly everything about my life and I knew most everything about hers. When people messaged us, they messaged us together. These are the sorts of friendships that I build with people I expect to keep around. These are rare friendships, particularly so far from what was once home. So as I sit here watching Scrubs pack, I am coping with the fact that another person whose friendship has shaped a piece of my life is leaving, as everybody leaves, as I have left so many times; with a vague promise that we’ll see each other again, but the constant feel of unease that that may not be the case. Not only am I sad to lose a good friend, but I am caught in the nostalgia of the act of leaving. I am remembering packing a U-haul in the Minnesota summer. I am remembering the last tearful hugs of friends and family in my parents’ kitchen. I am remembering saying goodbye to a shared bedroom and looking into the eyes of somebody I loved for the last time as their lover. I am remembering donating most of my worldly possessions and jumping into a stranger’s car headed for the northwest. I am remembering seeing my best friend off before she hopped a plane to Alaska. I am remembering my last party in Boulder, how we did it right. I am remembering the tears that came the last time I pet my cat, having stopped to do so on the way to the airport. I am remembering the last Ozo coffee I drank. I am remembering all of the lovely faces I’ve known in my life and realizing that I’m always saying goodbye to them, and it is always to the exact same uneasiness that sits in my chest now. Will I ever see you again? And it is so easy to say yes, but sometimes it’s a lie. And sometimes you even know that and don’t want to admit it. I’m sure I’ll see Scrubs again. We’ll be in the same part of the world come January. But then there’s all of those other people I kept saying goodbye to, and not meaning to say goodbye forever to. All of  the people I will still find myself saying goodbye to. My heart is heavy and it is all encompassing and it resides all over the world these days. And I don’t know how to reconcile my physical presence with this.

Humanity is an Art of Design

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I woke up this morning and felt a sudden responsibility for my own life – to stop drifting, to stop relying on the external to dictate my state of being, to stop making excuses in order to justify waste. I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror and the person staring back was not the same person she was ten years ago. She was not the same person that looked back five years ago, she was not the same person who looked back one year ago, and she was not the same person who looked back yesterday. Every new moment of every new day creates a minute shift in self. As conscious creatures, we are constructions – personal creations. We surround ourselves with different circumstances, with different environments, with different people, with different ideas, with different options; popularly mistaken for an act of “finding oneself”. So far from “finding oneself”, we are rather building upon a foundation; constructing skyscrapers of identity. Never lost, always building. Humanity is an art of design. In this respect, the greatest favor you can do for yourself is to seek materials that strengthen this construction.

Art Is

Earlier this year I posted a piece about what my idea of art was, and it is that thing that evokes humanity. Our ability of expression, in all realms, is purely a human ability, what sets us apart. We are the only creatures on Earth with the ability to wonder at our existence. Art is the manifestation of this. My idea was that the more “nude” your art could become, the truer it was, the more impact it would make, the more lives it would touch, the more accurate of a form it could take, the more we can use it as a tool to grow. Though confession is a wonderful avenue that this form of exposure can take, it is not the all of art, because sometimes what we do and what happens to us is not what we are, is not what embodies our humanity, is not important even. Rather, what manifests after these actions, after these happenings, after these events is what accurately represents why it is different to be human. The everlasting effects, the stored feeling, the development, the building, the growing, the creation. This is what we translate through art. We are creators and we are communal creatures. We grow as we share.  I want to share. I want to be shared with. Art is communication. The communication of what it means to us to be alive. The more we understand that, the larger life’s possibilities grow. In this realm, we are limitless – stunted only by what our minds cannot yet imagine.

Skin

Sometimes my own skin feels so uncomfortable – unbearable. I am covered in it. I can’t stand to sit in it. I can’t stand to wade through life in this ill-fitting vessel.

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It has not equipped me with the proper accouterments to enjoy the spectrum of life. I am limited.

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I cannot fly above the water, nor live beneath it. Even though everything in my self tells me               I AM IT.

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Fluid motions roll through my mind, over my heart in deep currents that move me from one act to another, on the crest and ebb of feeling.

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We should be the same. I am separated, you see.

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Because all I want to do is become – a part of. I want these boundaries fluid; to melt into.

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I don’t just want to touch the world; a flat meeting of charges that push away from each other – no. I want to meld.

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Skin is a restriction – a harm when it finally gives, and then only the outside can reach in and you cannot reach out. I stretch and expect to stretch forever.                                                                                                               My skin shakes in restraint.

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There is a constant upset, a nausea, a tensing – I drift. My mind is so far away from this.

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I cannot stand these limitations.

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Aches to grow outward – seeking. It is dissipating and disappointed in the body’s inability to follow suit.

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What use.

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- Jaime Dyna La Mondain

State of

I killed it with kindness. Murdered it with kisses. Criminal words tripped over each other in my throat and came out tangled and woozy. Then I got tired of politeness and her pearly white condescension. While a real person sat inside in the cavernous dark of my chest and wrote grisly scriptures. She walked upstairs and pasted them to the walls of my skull, used them to bandage together all of the broken grey matter connection. She made new made good on all of the deals I’d once made for myself. So I let her stay. I find I’m not so singular as I may have once been. I share these eyes with more levels of perception than I often perceive – and none of them seem to really have it right. None of them seem to ever agree. When it’s too quiet I can hear them argue; like a tired memory of mom and dad in the kitchen. I slip headphones in and seek a state of ignorance as momentary relief. I wipe tears with no explanation; just clear and rolling. I look out windows as the world passes by. I watch the sun slide from horizon to horizon. I sit on park benches in silence. I am slowly decaying.

How To Be Happy in the 21st Century

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Photo by Sam Rizzo. See more here.

Sometimes I wonder if everybody’s as lost as I am. Or, if they aren’t, how they managed to pull it together. In this world full of options and exploitation;  corruption, atrocities, abuse, affliction and pestilential humanity. How they wake up every morning and accomplish things. And I wonder, am I crippled? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just wake up and go to work with a smile on my face? There are people that will tell you that the only reason you’re unhappy is because of yourself. That you have the ability to make yourself happy. Wake up and smile – even if you don’t feel like smiling. Apparently it triggers some sort of psychological response purely through the act and effort of the facial muscles. Mirror affirmations to build self confidence. Listing things that you’re grateful for. You can’t be sad when you’re grateful, they’ve said.  Sit up straight. If you improve your posture, you improve your mood. Do what you love – if you don’t love what you’re doing, do something else. Don’t worry about that rent check. And really, what all of this tells me – all of this information out there trying to hack happiness – is that there are a lot of really fucking unhappy people in the world who don’t know why they’re bummed out either. Because if you knew why, you would fix it, right? If you could do it yourself, you would have. Nobody likes wandering through life miserable – that’s not fun. Nobody likes to be sad. But it’s not really sad, is it? No. It’s beyond that. It’s purposelessness. It’s realism. It’s boredom. It’s defeat. It’s awareness. It’s overwhelm. It’s life. It’s bigger than you. If you’re going to wake up in the morning and bear down on life with a smile, you’ve got to be ignoring a lot of what’s really happening in the world. Because, honestly, if you’re watching the news with a smile these days, you’ve got to have a couple screws loose. If you’re not angry, you’re ignorant. If you’re not sad, you’re not human. And that’s just the goddamn draw of it.

So what do we do? We begin to compartmentalize. Part of you wakes up and glances at the newspaper and decides – I’ll read that later. Part of you sits down to communicate something meaningful and decides – maybe I’ll go out for a drink. Part of you thinks about the small hands that bled to make that jacket from Forever 21 and thinks – damn, it just fits so well. Part of you looks into the eyes of a homeless man with two withered legs that he drags behind him on the dirty sidewalk and thinks – I need my change for my morning coffee. Because that’s how the world works. If you’re not partially separated, you can’t achieve your modicum of happiness in this  dismal and isolating system we’re stuck in. So you try to balance. Today I will read the news. I will feel all of the deaths in the world. I will cry for strangers and I will tell people how fucked up we’ve made everything. Tomorrow I will get drunk and dance until my legs hurt. Sunday I will read books on political theory and radicalism in history. I will get angry. I will rant at my friends about exactly how we need to change everything. Monday I will go out for coffee and talk about the last time I got laid. I’ll complain that I’m lonely. I’ll talk about my new workout plan and I’ll make plans to go shopping. Tuesday I will have a mental break down and cry in bed because I am not contributing anything useful to the world. Wednesday I will decide that I care for nothing and am, in fact, emotionless. Thursday I will watch Planet Earth and wonder at the beauty of life, I will feel endless amounts of love for everybody in my emotional register. I will appreciate being alive. On Friday I will start reading the news again. Switching between these different affectations that interact differently with the world; using them to justify the existence of each other. You need them all. They are all you. Wishing I could just wake up whole someday. Exhausted from constant mitosis. And this never makes you happy either, but it gives you momentary relief.

How to be happy in the 21st century? The answer is – if you’re really here, you can’t. You can find things that bring you joy, but it will never be lasting. You can find people that light you up, but they cannot restore the dignity of our entire species. You can find yourself surrounded by utter beauty, but eventually the you’ll be trudging through the dregs again. I wanted to end this in a comfortable place for you, reader. I wanted to talk about these feelings and then tell you it’s going to be okay. That everything has a way of working out. Unfortunately, I decided to read the news today. But hey, tomorrow let’s go dancing.

Synthetic Sociopathy

(This is partial and not meant to be considered a full piece of writing, but rather a musing towards a larger construction. Comments are more than welcome.)

 

She sought to wake up new, an inhabitant of anything unfamiliar. Suppressing the world’s suffering day by day by synthetic sociopathy. A successful disconnection from humanity – was it farther from or was it closer to? Without the constant reminder that we are all hurtling death-bound through life, removing this fear, removing feeling, opening up the ability to make concise and unmuddled decisions, poor or not; everything becomes a learning experience. Everything becomes more precise in its chaos. Everything becomes  nothing.

Life is unique. To amalgamate the correct amount of molecules and make this.  How many misfired neuron sparks did it take to make consciousness(/conscience)? So we can stumble along on cracked city sidewalks, hunting. The pursuant of – not sure if it’s the wild or the calculated. Heel stride wide and targeted. To her, everything feels both entirely unimportant and at once ultimately crucial. At her bones a meeting place for the primal and the methodological. Separation has become necessary for integration. Synthetic sociopathy; an impairment, or a transcendence?

What is human?

To realize that every interaction is a conduit to some greater understanding, and also entirely inconsequential leading to a superficial yet definite end. This meaning that we throw behind everything, significance – an afterthought, hindsight. We feel better about the superfluous decisions we wander through the world making. We feel better about existence, about being here, so we’re not just wasting space; so we’re not just an embodiment of exploitation and destruction. No, it’s purpose.

Synthetic sociopathy; an escape or a necessary abstraction? She is afraid that her humanity is wavering. She sits down to meals and can’t nourish her body in the correct forms. Nothing sits well in her stomach; she has been feeding off of determined apathy. The world has become shifting grey matter; everything is acceptable and everything is tainted. Nobody knows what love is – a messy wash of hormones, thought-controlled by a phantom formulist. She seeks control in the most chaotic ways.

What is human?

She has become obsessed with her synthetic sociopathy – in its purpose. She researches why she does the things she does, why feeling has become objectified, why acceptance is so easy, why nothing is everything and everything is nothing to her. She places her hand on the stovetop, the burner set on medium. She feels it, smells it more than anything, hears the sizzle. It is sudden realization that she is simply an object in an objectified world. This means nothing. Any meaning is a creation. Creation is divine. When she chooses to remove her hand, it is an act of deity. Choice is decision is creation is godly.

Waking up is not an act of fate, it’s an act of will.

Every morning we wake up and create something new; either for ourselves or for the rest of humanity -be it physical, fundamental, or in meaning only. We have been creators since consciousness. We are creators now. Why so many fear the open field of freedom forever troubles her. Why paths are our main mode of transportation, of mobility. Why we trust in the external rather than the internal. It’s not that the answers lie within us, it’s that the answers are superfluous. We are limitless, only contained by our own definitions. What happens when we stop defining?

Mirrors

I keep looking in the mirror, trying – to recognize those eyes looking back. A mirror as a window. A window as a lens – colored with spots of rust and aged watermarks. This is not the right face – you think – warped in a reflection of time. You’ve been staring at the same face for so long – one day it just wasn’t yours anymore.

We don’t know where we’re going.

Building on a vague recollection of where we’ve been. Collections of moments. Broken narratives. Conflicting and paradoxical plot twists. And have you always – you wonder in a vacuum – been too selfish to live beyond a present moment long enough to figure out how to stack up the life you meant to live. Instead, the only sound in your ears is the slap of pavement as you run, the feeling of the pulse of your blood in veins thick with every experience ever. If I sit quietly, I can hear it. I can hear my blood moving. Cell by cell. I can feel my throat pulse. I can feel my wrists. I can feel the back of my knees.

As I lay in the dark, I try to find ways to suppress every thought in my head without a lens of glorification and remove the taste of contempt. When I lay down at the end of the day, I am everything. I can feel absolutely every decision I’ve ever made. More, I can feel absolutely every decision everyone has ever made around me. I can taste every acrid memory – I crave. Thinking of every person ever who made my heart beat faster. Feeling every collection of memories that made them who they were – to me. Realizing that you will never really know who they are – to you. But never forgetting the feeling of skin. Never disconnecting the recognizable and comforting synapse spark. Lying in the ghost of a touch.

Alone.

Sometimes it just feels so much – hysteria. I am laughing and I am crying and I am screaming and I am babbling and I am constant torrential hurricane, trying to stave off regular tsunamis of overwhelm, quaking at a core I’ve never been able to settle, waiting for even a brief eye of calm. Hoping they’ll look at you like that – but you are the embodiment of chaos. Trying to give this to the world, trying to translate what it feels like to be everything ever. Words are never sufficient. They can’t make you feel. You make you feel. Nobody makes you feel besides yourself. You choose this.  I chose this.

And yet is(/am) uncontrollable.

I can feel eternity in my bones, in the bond of molecules, at the center of every atom. I can feel the electricity emanating from the active tears that roll down flushed cheeks. I can feel the dispersal of every death in the universe. The recycle of energy. I can feel that. I can feel the family that hurts – in the confused state of survival. I can feel the friends that question mortality for the first time. I can taste death on the tip of my tongue as a presence, as somebody I’ve loved and somebody I’ve lost and as a disconnect from the face that continues peering back through the cracked mirror. I can feel. A flood; dammed. Damned. Everything. And it just hurts. Always.

Inescapable. But what good would it do to remain unaffected? I am not, I cannot – be. I am a receptor; that magnetic moment. A battleground and a safe space. A collection of existence. An agglomeration of humanity – as an extremity of its bests and worsts. I am a sponge, soaking up every lived experience, an integration of immortal nuclei. Expansive. Empathic. Destructive. Demiurgic. Delusional and yet entirely representative.

It never stops, there’s just ways to dull it.

And sometimes I just wish this house would stop burning.

But then I don’t want to lose everything that makes us human.

I just need to be reminded where the ground is.

Opacity

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Photograph “Black Bag” by Kudret Cayiroglu.

I can feel it in my blood. An unfurling, like tongues yawning in ecstasy. Boiling with anticipation and the rush of a quickened arterial beat. I’m a scatter trying to fill voids that I didn’t realize I had. Trying to match fingerprints with stale ink and moist fingertips. Masking feelings in thoughts and putting the rational into jumbled erotic descriptions of – it’s a mechanism for hiding. As fear-based creatures, we’re all stumbling along trying to sabotage anything that feels too good before it rejects, like a poorly performed heart transplant. When really we just want to be consumed; knowing that submission to consumption is terminal. Seeking freedom in a lack of self preservation. Held back by the pollution of self-contempt; the verisimilitude of excessive analysis. In the age of indifference, trying to display the minimum amount of vulnerability while setting clear but distant intentions. I don’t even know how to be honest anymore. Emotion is foreign currency. Now I’m tied down to the obscurity of expression, esoteric articulation. Wondering if it’s really as opaque as I think it is. Wondering why emotions are so disconnected from marionette lips. Wondering what there is to say to stretch possibility and maintain connection.

And what I really want to say is that you set me on fire. And I’ve been left burning.