When I was 6, I was held at knifepoint. Without realizing, it took me almost 23 years to get over it. Came really close to being kidnapped 3 times over the next 2 years. Same deal. I told myself on my 29th birthday that I’d finally learn something before I turned 30. I’d stop being so damn naive about things; that I’d finally grow up. What I’ve learned, 5 months since that quiet promise, is that I’ve learned a shit ton. Not just about what kind of assholes I’ll face up against in this life, but what I’ve done to make sure they don’t pull me down with them—and what I can do to make sure they don’t pull anybody else down, either.
See, when I was little, I ran to somebody for help. Fortunately they were usually there; a teacher, a landlord. Or when they weren’t—they appeared unannounced, behind me just in time to stop a man and wife from pulling me into their car. Superheroes exist; they come when you’d least expect, in the forms you’d never think they’d take, and then disappear without knowing what, or who, they really are. Now maybe you could chalk it up to ‘right place, right time’. Maybe you could chalk it up to dumb luck. But I wouldn’t. I know that heroes come in many forms, shapes, and sizes. It’s not about the weights you lift, or the force you exert. It’s about the little things—always the little things. It’s about rising to occasions, and standing firm behind what you believe. It’s more powerful than you may think, and its caliber can’t be measured by how large’a bullets it holds. Because, I learned, where weapons end things, words can change them. Truly, it’s why I write. It’s why, despite the battles I’ve been in, I’ve never thrown a punch. If I can’t change it with words, it’s not worth ending with fists—the battle continues. And I live, and die, many lives by that sword.
I used to write to understand some of the things I’ve gone through. Whether that included dealing with my sister’s alcoholism and her many brushes with death, my own brush with death, childhood shit that cling to me like a Scientologist’s wet dream, or whatever—I wrote to spit out the demons when heroes weren’t there. And for the most part, I think it worked. Not to shift gears, but Bukowski’s got this one poem, “The Laughing Heart”. If you know about him, you know he was deep in his own muck. Bit of an abuser, lot of an alcoholic. Dude was hurtin’. Once he recited to an audience, and accidentally read from a poem he wasn’t supposed to, didn’t know he brought it along—it was a little too close to his own heart, and he started wailing right on stage. There’s strength in that. Anyway, in “Laughing Heart”, there’re particular lines that resonate with me to this day, well, really the whole thing does, but the beginning bit gets me the most, it goes:
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission
be on the watch
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
It’s become a mantra of mine, Buk’s words. Like I said, heroes come in strange forms, man. But it’s something I’ve held on to, and it’s far and away my most favorite poem of his, and maybe ever (I’m not counting The Odyssey.) From a guy who, on the outside, couldn’t seem to ever pull himself together, he had this one glimmer of beautifully tragic truth, realism intertwined with this enigma of growth and happiness. Really and truly, dunno where I’d be without that poem.
Back on track though, I guess I see that same similarity in spitting out my junk. Buk did constantly, he’s got volumes of his garbage and filth out there for anybody who wants to read it. Then there’s this. This one glimmer of happiness. And it kind of makes everything make sense, to me. I don’t know if I’m looking for it, maybe I’ve found it—I really couldn’t say. He was a strange guy. To those who know me; I am, too.
My life’s always been about heroes. About finding them and learning from them. Taking a bit of them with me in my life and trying to use it for good. Once they become part, they do other things. They help locate other bullshit to shit-can. At 29, still some way away from the big 3-0, I’ve found that steps are easier to take when I walk a little bit lighter. Get rid of the nonsense and I can sprint—not at all like the cellphone service, who is so awful I could probably walk my text to the person I’m sending it to and it’ll get there faster than if I hit “send” on the phone. Some things weigh a ton, some things weigh a little, but I’ve learned that I do love myself. And maybe I’m one of the heroes for myself, I must be, if I’m putting all this time into me—29 years and counting.
Find the next link in your chain, learn through it, and on to the next. Keep going. Get it b.s. out of your system. Share it with the world without regret. Let ’em know and give ’em the finger if they joke. They got their ills—or maybe they don’t know any. But you gotta make what you can with what you will. At 29, I’ve learned this. Maybe it’s late in that game, in that thought. Maybe I’ve wasted time mucking around in my own quicksand. But I’ve learned that you don’t get out by thrashing all over the damn place—you just gotta chill.
Til’ next time, this rum and coke is wearin’ off. So I’m over and out.