Tag: written

Aokigahara (Suicide Forest), the Tumor of a Cancer-Stricken World

Header image from: http://lookingforalosea.blogspot.com/2010/11/aokigahara-forest-suicide-forest-japan.html


***WARNING*** THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS CONTENT RELATING TO DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE.


The forest called Aokigahara feels almost too dark to be real, like a suspended bubble of fiction that our brains try to refuse a place with truth and light.

Just like any other forest, Aokigahara feels the breeze rustle through its leaves, and it whispers to the passersby. The shadows that loom over the earth are cold and protected, and the earth is moist, the soil alive and thriving with decay and rebirth. The forest is not a made up nightmare, suicide forest is as real as any other forest on Earth, but it is tainted with the stain of death and horror.

The forest lays at the feet of the wondrous Mt. Fuji, one of the most beautiful and iconic mountains in the world. This mountain is like the flag on the Earth’s surface that declares its ownership, its stewardship of the land. Aokigahara is, indisputably a distillation of beauty so intense that one’s mind boggles at the hint of despair that is now running as deep as the forest roots through the land.

Masahiko Kitahara and Maki Watanabe studied the forest and surrounding lands, putting a lens to the life that thrives in the area. In their study, they were able to identify the edge of Aokigahara as an ecological “hotspot” for butterfly diversity. The surrounding edge of the forest thrived with rare and threatened species, likely because they were searching for a spot to avoid dangerous environmental change (Diversity and rarity hotspots and conservation of butterfly communities in and around the Aokigahara woodland of Mount Fuji, central Japan).

I know the writers of the study would be horrified at my conclusions of this study, but I do find poignant poetic indications about the endangered butterflies thriving at the edge of this place, a beautiful herald surrounding the locus of death, a place they dare not enter.

Imagine the man who sets out for the forest, determined to end his life. He has lost his job, his honor, and his family, and he finds that the world doesn’t need him, just another blight of disease on the Earth. So, he begins his journey into the heart of the forest. The forests edge is decorated with signs from the police:

Meditate on your parents, siblings, and children once more. Do not be troubled alone.

Another reads

Your life is something precious that was given to you by your parents.

If the walker ignores these pleas that he reconsider, he will find several more opportunities inside the forest to change his mind. The paths are decorated with ribbons that show the way out.

Unfortunately, many who enter the forest never make it out again.

How is it that such a majestic part of the world came to be so haunted and heavy with desperation?

Much of the history of the forest is drenched with speculation and legend, but the speculation still paints the appropriate picture. It is said that ancient Japanese families used to take unwanted family members to the forest in times of famine, freeing up remaining resources for the other members of the family. Such a depressing history of murder, loneliness, and death is rumored to linger in the soil of the forest, paranormal activity being a common occurrence between the moss-laden trees and jutting trunks.

The forest has been a lost-and-found for poor souls for hundreds of years, but the publication of a 1960s novel that ends in the co-suicide of two lovers in the forest has become the named reason for the soar in suicides in the forest, numbers reported in the hundreds of dead.

The topography, beauty, and supposed supernatural phenomenon create a new face for an otherwise peaceful area of the world, and one can’t help but wonder why so many turn to such a sad, otherworldly place for their final moments, alone, sometimes accompanied by a suicide manual published by Wataru Tsurumui. They leave behind wallets, packages of food, egg-carton bedding, or nothing but the noose.

Aokigahara is mysterious and beautiful, despite its morbid associations, and one can’t help but extrapolate to the world as a whole when contemplating the disease of Depression that has seeped into the deepest, most vulnerable parts of human existence. The suicide forest is like the tumor that the world begins to notice, gets checked out by a doctor, and gets the prognosis of a cancer that pervades the entire body.

Before recent media attention put the limelight on Aokigahara, I was unaware that such a place existed, not that suicide was remotely new to me, or to anyone else in this world for that matter. Suicide and Depression have become something that everyone has experienced in themselves or in those they love. Suicide takes pure hearts from the world with the help of these menacing whispers from Depression, the pressure of performing as a perfect, successful, or likable human being too much for any normal person to bear.

The forest is but a symptom. It is not actually a localized disease that has seeped into the soil of a beautiful world, it has spread to every horizon and darkened brilliant minds to the butterflies at the forest’s edge, the rarity that lies in wait for them if they follow the ribbons out.

Of all people, I’m aware that Depression isn’t a choice. It’s not something you can conquer by will of the mind alone. It requires support, sometimes medication, and it requires a heart that is willing to follow the ribbons.

This article is but one of a million like it that pretends to understand what this world experiences that lead them to the forest, but the message is the same, and it’s one that can’t be understated.

Your life is a gift, a miracle by all definitions of science and spiritualism. Your presence is important to the functioning of this broken society, and it can make a difference. It’s never too late for you, and nothing you’ve done has ever brought you past the point of love and redemption.

Remember the butterflies. You may have to gets scrapes and bruises on your way past the trees, and you may have a mountain to climb once you’re in the clear, but you are in a beautiful place. This world is pure, and you are a part of it.

Remember the butterflies.


America, We’ve Got a Problem

I know things are sensitive. People are sensitive. I know that lines, that boundaries, that territorial disputes in the political realm are sensitive. But, I’d say what’s even more sensitive is premature and violent death of family and friends.

I know that it’s good to be proud of your nation, to sing your anthem and think upon the centuries through which great heroes and common ideals have brought it into the new age. But, now is not a time to be proud. Now is not a time to fake patriotism. Our system is broken, and that does not make me proud. It makes me angry. I feel the injustice, greed, and power-hungry lies and placating, brown-nosing and cowardice like a slow, drowning anger.

I don’t hate America while having some beef with it. I’m not Anti-American for saying that there are some problems that need to be addressed that many are refusing to address. Let me tell you one thing, if I hear one more person say, “the left” or “the right” I will light all my clothes on fire and streak naked through the streets until I rot in jail. This isn’t a political issue. This is a human issue and people are playing party lines for tweet likes and continued power. That’s evil. That is evil.

Let me just walk you all through a scenario. Imagine that Jimmy has forty two life-sized teddy bears with mechanical arms, he only ever uses his teddy bears for hugs and for holding things. But, Jimmy’s next door neighbor uses his teddy bear to get food, and that’s okay, too. The strong arms of the teddy bear are great for picking cans up off of shelves. What really blows Jimmy’s mind is that someone would use something as strong and dangerous as a teddy bear to hurt people. Jimmy’s never hurt anyone with the teddy bear, so what would compel someone to hurt other people with the teddy bear?

Just think about this. I heard the argument that no one ever makes restrictions on fertilizers when bombs start going off (that’s not true), but even still, that’s not the best analogy. Fertilizer has a non-lethal purpose. Fertilizer is meant for the earth. Teddy bears are built for hugs and holding things. If someone went into a supermarket and beat someone to death with a hammer, you wouldn’t see outrage about the accessibility of hammers because hammers have a non-lethal purpose.

Tell me, what is the inherent purpose of a gun? It’s not to hug it. I will let you know right now that I won’t support guns being taken away from people. Guns are for hunting and recreation, but their core purpose, the reason they were made was to hurt and kill. Aristotle had this way of thinking about things where he would refer to a thing’s virtue, it’s telos. Telos refers to what something’s ultimate goal or purpose is. Aristotle questioned this because he wondered what the telos was for human beings, but in demonstrating this he would use objects and say things like, “What is the telos of a knife?” Well, what do you do with knives? You cut with them, so what is it’s purpose? What should it be? Sharp. The knife, should be sharp. What is the telos of a gun?

I don’t want to take anyone’s legally-obtained guns away. If anyone hears that as an item on the agenda from the news, then the anchors and writers are playing into the problem and they deserve to be fired.

You know what else? I understand that making things illegal would only mean that people would get more from Mexico and the wrong people would find ways to get guns illegally. The point is not to make guns illegal. The point is to make them very hard to get for psychos. If you’re a normal person who doesn’t have murderous tendencies, that shouldn’t be a problem, now should it? Already have fifteen guns in the gun closet? That’s great. Keep a close eye on those suckers. Your life won’t change except for that it should be so illegal for you to sell your guns in a back parking lot to some nobody that the penalties aren’t worth the risk. That doesn’t sound like too much of a request, now does it?

We want the good guys to have guns to defend their families. As much as I personally hate guns, I understand the need some people feel to have that safety blanket. Regardless of statistics that more people die in homes with guns, regardless of the studies that show aggression increases with the mere sight and presence of a gun. Guns are aggressive, violent creations no matter what anyone says about it. But still, I don’t want to take those away. Stop making this a party issue, world. It’s not. This is an American issue because hundreds, no…THOUSANDS of people are dying.

Like during any epidemic, the leadership must figure out a way to nip it in the bud. And we must be there to think about it reasonably, to discuss it without regard to party lines, to find a solution to the problem alongside the people who run our government.

 

 


Gunmen and Reality More Cruel than Fiction

The tossing hum of the laundromat and its faint, mechanic heat lulled me as I waited for my clothes to wash. In and out, people carried their tubs of clothes, their tired faces and the mid-afternoon breeze pulling through the open door made me feel like a contented spot on the floor. An unnoticed piece observing the greater workings of human life.

I like to sit on the outside and observe. I like to empty my brain and feel like a spot on the tile, an ornament. But, as I enjoyed my anonymity, my recession into my thoughts, the droning of the television caught my attention. Headlines of massacre pulled me up and sat me firmly on my feet. “Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History,” the television read.

A man, peeking through a hotel window with a heavily powered gun watched concert goers through his scope and waited until the time was ripe.

I am breathless as I stand, several others near me as riveted to the screen as I. I wonder, I stumble, I wheeze in consternation. Only moments before, I was anonymous, but as I singled my vision on the number of dead, all of the sudden, I felt like I was standing on the edge of the world, watching as the people next to me, one who was holding my hand, another who I had shared coffee with were leaping off into the chasm.

Some like to think that the world is a more dangerous place now than it has ever been. I’m not an expert, but of course, I don’t think that’s true. Humans have been annihilating each other since they could find sharp enough sticks or rocks to accomplish the task. Ambition, greed, jealousy, power…instinct? These deep seated, easily overlooked pieces of the character of mankind rear their ugly heads and take down the innocent in droves.

When I first started studying Psychology, I was introduce to something called The Stanford Prison Experiment. I won’t attempt to go into it here, if my reader is unfamiliar, but I will say that it sent me into such a disgusted depression, that I accomplished nothing but writing an angst-filled song at the end of the night. Are we animals? Are human beings incapable of controlling their violent temperaments? Are we going to keep murdering each other senselessly for the rest of time?

Am I going to have to cling so tightly to my loved ones that they can’t attend concerts, can’t board planes, can’t take the trains, can’t leave the gosh darned living room? For Pete’s sake, will I have to wear a bullet proof vest to leave the house?

Of course, the idealist in me screams at the injustice. We all wonder why in times like these. We wonder why the man shot all those people, and newscasters were ignorant as to his motive at the time of the broadcast. They saw no motive, no connection, nothing but the unstable mind of the murderer, son of a man on the most wanted list. Well, I thought about it. I puzzled and puzzled, as I often do when things go horribly wrong in the harmony of life, and I began to think that I had some semblance of an answer. It’s an answer I’ve had for many things in the past years, but I will nonetheless apply it here, too.

Why do people kill? How can someone turn a gun at a crowd of innocent people, none of which he has ever met before?

The answer? Humans have trouble seeing other people as human, too. I mean, really human, not by definition, not by association, not by comparison. Really, really human. They have trouble looking past a face that looks like their own, a title, a name that they go by, a package carrying a personality with its own perceptions and desires.

We label, we categorize, we disassociate. We lump.

Personally, I have a difficult time leaping out of my own head and seeing people. My husband is probably the first person that I truly saw. And by golly, I sure loved what I saw.

I don’t have a solution to accompany this answer, necessarily. I’m no less troubled, no less heartbroken at the existence of evil, murder, self-consumption. However, I can hope upon hope that humanity will one day learn to stop lumping and start talking, reading, and seeing.


We’ve All Got to Anchor Somewhere

Sometimes, I feel like a bobbing buoy, detached from its lifeline, flailing about in the waves of a grumpy storm. I’m not drowning, but I’m definitely unhappy out here.

A buoy belongs on its tether, and sometimes it should be allowed to sway here and sway there, piddle along with one ripple or another, hop free of the water for a brief moment, taken with the momentum, but it must always return to its tethered center. It must be centered, or it is lost.

—-0—–0—–0—–0—-0—–0—-0—-\(. _ .)/—-0—-0—-0—-0—-0—-0—-0—-0——-

It’s taken me a while to know myself, and in a way, it’s beautiful that I’m still figuring out my own brain, but it’s also disorienting, sometimes painful. It was only in the last year or two that I figured out that other introverts, like me, have to have a “base.” This might be common to all people, but particularly for introverts, this base is a place that they have as their own. It is their place to defrag and sort out the mess of their consciousness.

For me, while I was in college, this place was a coffee shop near campus. I liked it best when there were a few other people there, chatting quietly to cut the quiet, no music, just car noise from the window, a slight breeze giving it a good shake. I like to find my corner, put pen to paper, and let latte lips and fingertips drive me back to sanity. I know, that probably sounds so “hipster.” But it was my place, my anchor. I became so dependent on this routine that every time I went to the coffee shop, I knew I’d be able to come back to my dorm with a poem. I knew that I’d leave with something I’d created.

I cried many times in my corner of the coffee shop, disregarding the throngs of people, in-and-out, laughing maniacally, sometimes singing and asking for a highlighter to be thrown at their face. I would go when my frazzled brain tips were wigging out inside my brain, flinging themselves like tantruming toddlers all over my thoughts. I would be on the verge of a breakdown, tears brimming, heart empty, and more than once, the barista behind the counter would fake ring-up a coffee. Their kindness and the relief of being in that place would center me, would push me over the edge so I could get that cry out and put myself back on track. I used to eat stress three meals a day, but at least I always had that.

Right now, I’m adrift. I try to always find my center, my anchoring place, though I haven’t had a true “home” since before I graduated high school. At my in-law’s house, I found a home at my father in-law’s hand-made table at the far end, surrounded by windows, my back supported by a soft cushion. I’d cross my legs and thousands of words would fly out me to find their home in my fiction. It wasn’t ideal, maybe, but it was my center. Their home wasn’t my home, but it was a good enough stand-in, a beautiful stand-in.

Here, we make our stand-in home at a hotel. There’s nowhere to sit, and sometimes I don’t see another human face for eleven hours. I find myself bereft of inspiration, energy, or determination. I feel emptied without having gone through the effort of emptying myself. I feel drained, as a matter of fact, and often, I blame the fact that I don’t have a tether. There is no place to which I can relocate to physically and mentally distance myself from whatever issues are associated with the space I live in. There is no place I can go to where people in a similar state of mind gather to work out their tangled inner coils.

I feel like I’m a flailing buoy, head upside down in the ocean, legs kicking skyward like mad.

Don’t get me wrong, there are joys here. I have three constant blessings, all of them living things that renew my spirit and hopes. But, renewing emotional strength isn’t just a matter of my loved ones being near, it is about an enriching environment, a welcoming space where welcoming minds make tremors in the world, silently, on paper, in their thoughts, in whispers by the window.

Introverts, find your centers. Humans, get your tethers together. Everyone needs a room of one’s own. We all need our anchors. Heaven help the flailing buoys.


An Update and Life Confusion

Since my last update, I’ve traveled about 1300 miles with one car, two rabbits, and my husband to Albany, New York.

Albany is gorgeous, though Google Maps seems to be confused about whether we actually live in Buffalo or Albany. The rural areas around us are far different from what I’m used to.

Where I grew up in Texas, the skies are so large, it almost detracts from the long, flat plains of yellow grasses and shrubs so sharp and dry they could probably tear your skin off with the encouragement of a slight breeze. In Arkansas, you can hardly see the sky due to the hills and the trees. Rural New York is a beautiful amalgamation of long, open spaces, hills, trees, farmlands, and clean air. I can’t tell you how many gorgeous cornfields I’ve seen like a half-rippled quilted blanket, squares of the greenest grass on either side paired with the towering stalks of corn, feathered golden head wobbling on top.

Though I’m happy to be here, grateful to my husband for working hard here, it’s not exactly ideal for my creative mind, and it is for this reason that I’m writing this post.

The hotel we are staying at is, I’m fairly sure, the only one within 40-60 miles of Parker’s work that is both affordable and allows pets. Unfortunately, we have to pay for internet nightly if we wish to utilize it. This does not bode well for posting updates on the website, uploading podcasts or any of that. Not to mention, we had no room in the car for my recording equipment or any books.

I have very little to accomplish most days, petting rabbits and writing when I feel capable being the two foremost activities, but it’s been a surprisingly difficult transition to be alone all day and attempt to find motivation to create. I’m a very introverted person, truly. I cherish alone time, but too much alone time does tend to muffle up your creative juices.

Anyway, we are about 30 minutes to an hour away from Niagara Falls, and we’ve had the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in my life since we’ve been here, and I have so very much to be thankful for and inspired by. With all that said, I’d like to promise that I’ll post updates when I can, putting off regular podcast updates for the moment, and continuing to work on the second draft of my novel. I will make good use of my time, and hopefully we can work something out with the internet. When I don’t absolutely need it, it is hard to justify the payment.

Thanks for your continuing support. Much love.


the 4th of July

I laid in bed, my husband’s arm hugged to my chest as fireworks popped off outside our window, and I felt a vivid realization of time as fluid. Centuries past seemed to collide on me as I imagined the millions of others who had laid in bed listening to fireworks as July the 4th burned into July the 5th. I don’t consider myself a patriotic person, and I’ve tried to call myself a-political, but it seems I can’t lack an opinion no matter how hard I try. Still, the bursts of colored fire, tightly packaged in these combustible popsicle wrappers, the booming echo of their explosions radiating across the sky…there’s nothing in me that can fight the bits of poesy in the starbursts.

As I sat on the porch, my love in front of me, mosquitos biting my wrists and ankles, we could barely see these cannon-fire magic shows above the tops of neighboring trees. Faintly, lightning crackled its superiority in the clouds surrounding us. The stars were covered by weary storm fodder; the gray skies had been present all day for their heavy rains. But, it was clear now, and all the darker was the sheet of sky for the fireworks to balance themselves against.

In between bursts of expensive, gunpowder parades we watched the empty space and our eyes caught a single floating flame. My heart, my heart…a paper lantern. Dear me, do I love paper lanterns. If I can see poesy in the ostentatious shows of colored explosions, then how much more so can I see it in the small glinting flame, puffing up the balloon which carried across the sky and into the distance. It was alone, there. And as it carried itself gently, never drooping, never showing signs of weakness, the fireworks did not go off. All eyes were on this tiny balloon, a humble “Here I am.”

Parker said, as the popping off continued, “I don’t think many people think about fireworks like they’re meant to. It’s supposed to represent cannons and gunshots. It’s supposed to represent war.”

I thought on that for a little while afterwards. In fact, I never had realized that. Of course, I knew it was supposed to represent many other concepts like freedom, victory, and independence. I knew that it was supposed to blaze in colors of red, white, and blue as if we were branding a giant American flag on the stars. Yet, I don’t think I had ever quite seen them with so complicated a lens. The red, rivers of blood from desperate men, jamming their own rifles so they wouldn’t have to shoot. Rivers of blood from men who were screaming out their last, heavy groaning calls of identity.

War is not beautiful, no matter what many people think. Perhaps, if I try, I can see that valor, patriotism, and sacrifice are some of the most beautiful things in the world, but I can hardly see blood, broken families, and murdered surrogates in the face of mixed up ideals as beautiful. But, here I am writing about the poesy of colored explosions.

I used to be enamored by military, and in many ways, I still am. I am enamored with military persons and the bravery that they have that I simply don’t. I am enamored with their minds and bodies, honed for protecting strangers here, and strangers abroad. I am enamored with women fighting alongside men, proving that every kind of heart and every kind of face seeks justice. But, I don’t know that I’ll ever get over the glimpses of dying fathers, brothers, and uncles, mothers, sisters, and aunts, sacrificed for a disagreement that apparently couldn’t have been solved by communion, by peaceful negotiation. I suppose what I’m saying is that I wish mankind were different than they are. In some ways, at least.

This is why I sometimes feel like politics are a game. For me, life itself is precious. Not each breath that I take, though I do honor and gladly receive those, life in the utter implausible existence of beings that go about their existences with a purpose. I wonder what our purpose is.

It’s impossible to sit at a fireworks show and not think back on every other fireworks show that you’ve visited. For me, sometimes these flashes of time gone by only come back to visit with a surge of tears and heartache. Fields, itchy grass and picnic blankets, cokes and lawn chairs, pomegranate chocolate in the cool air of the elevated city of Denver, photo shutters clicking and shlacking, cousins and grandparents. My fourth of July of the past was never really thinking about war or fireworks, not about being grateful, or about creating a ruckus, because none of those things were a part of it. Our chaste celebrations of the past didn’t mean much to me at the time, but each passing year further glues them, further jams them deeper into my mind because my 4ths were about family.

Family has come to mean a great deal to me. And of course, fireworks, war, and family…these are all matters of great poesy.

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=160978&picture=4th-of-july-fireworks

 


The Humanity of Our Elderly

In the carefully-equalized biome of the retirement center I work at, there live a great diversity of people who refuse categorization:

A man with dementia who sometimes recognizes me, smiles, and may say some sort of hello–who sometimes doesn’t recognize anyone and is shuffled to a table by his unspeaking aide.

A woman who has been rude to me more than any other resident combined as she is chatting with a friend at a table. I overhear her say she won’t leave the cafeteria just yet, “I’ve been alone all morning.”

One of my favorite residents with a sense of humor so dry, you could use it as a pumice stone dates another of the favorites who cannot wait to hail me to the table to tell me about their date last night. He laughs as he explains that the date would not end because neither of them could get up from the couch.

Right next door to the laughing couple who joke blushingly about stealing “sugars” at the table, is the circle full of mourners who have just been told that a good friend’s daughter, a long-time friend of them all, has passed away unexpectedly. They cry and talk with heads close together; they hug each other and apologize to me for staying so late past close.

Sometimes I feel utterly filled up by the humanity of the residents. They seem so human, so unrecognizable inside the stereotypes that society wants to smother them with.

They infantilize each other; they joke about being in the way at every turn, at being useless, at being messy or incapable of something or another. They get sick, and I don’t see them for a while. They start off walking to the table, but they graduate soon to a walker or a wheelchair.

Many of them remember my name, though the chances are slim I’ll remember theirs.

I remember, “Jersey accent, coffee with his meal, sits at the table on the far right facing the room.”

I remember, “Two coke zeros to-go, always up to the husband who is never well enough to come down.”

I remember, “A tall glass of ice, red walker, her doctor says she can’t have caffeine.”

I wonder sometimes what I’ll be like in my old age and whether I’ll live joyfully, flirting with my husband at the table with me, getting knocked down by the aches and pains, but laughing through it. Or, perhaps, I’ll be scowling and distrustful of the young help, but I’ll be so lonely, no husband to greet me in my apartment, no children to visit me on Sundays.

I love these people, and they astonish me. What stories I will write, taking a piece here and a piece there, a funny smile, a quirk, a name, and I will make them immortal. I will not let their years pass into oblivion, because they have crossed the path of a writer.

Yes, the residents are mostly Trump-supporters and they occasionally get pretty crotchety when things aren’t cooked the way they’d like and the rolls aren’t their favorite kind and “what do you mean, the coke machine isn’t working?”

But, they are so beautifully human, so unadorned with stereotype. I can categorize them no more.

 


Parents, Love Your Children

Tiny child, hungry for a small voice of assurance, looks into bewildered eyes. These eyes can’t seem to adjust, they blink and blink and try to find themselves in reality. Miracle of life, perfect and in-need, parents feed the child with soft words and hug her close to their chests. These adults, fully-formed in brain and in body do try to conceive of a greater love than this as they smell the rosy cheeks, pinch the chubby folds of kicking legs, peel radioactive diapers from the rashy butt.

But these parents, these humans braced for a life time of unshakable devotion–they forget. As this child grows a brain capable of thought, a mouth capable of speech that stings, a heart full of compulsions that lead her in directions that are firmly at opposite poles of their vision for her, they find no more chubby body to cling to, to smell and kiss, so they grab their dreams and ideals and clutch them fiercely to themselves. They sew protective garments for this new, living doll, stuffed full of expectations and fears. They don’t want to lose, too, these carefully nurtured visions.

But what of the child, once coddled, once adored, once spoken so softly to? She does still feel the phantom arms around her and dream of those words reaching her ears again. A simple, “I love you,” and trembling, tear-soaked hug bulging with hopes for her. This grown-up child still finds those bewildered eyes, but sees in her parent’s arms that eery doll; she feels the incongruity; she desires that they would leave this phantom of her created in their fear and invite her back. Her age has not changed her desire for acceptance, and her age has made her no less deserving of it. Her mind, her heart with lonely, searching calls, they are scared and isolated for fear of the doll, of the clutching, wide-eyed parents, and of herself.

There is no age at which a child feels ready to disappoint their parents. There is no age at which she needs those soft words less than before. But she does grow used to that odd, incongruous doll, and at some point, fears that they love it more than her. She won’t ask them to get rid of it, then. She knows it would hurt them to have to let it go.


Silence

Silence is sacred.

She is a ready patience, waiting for the opportunity to be allowed in; She is healing that permeates every clogged, porous cell, stamped dark with the noise of fruitlessness; She is cooling breath on the back of a hot neck, pulsing with angry blood, emotional blood which runs through the brain and into impetuousness. She acts like a cool rag, dampening the heat, healing the visceral wound. She settles over you like calm, blots away impurities like peace. She is sacred. She is ignored.

Though she vies for entry into the collective mind, it buzzes too loudly to sense her outside. It plays its music over the loud speakers in an attempt to numb the perpetual turnings of the sharp cogs, rusted and wretched for revolving too hard and too fast for too long.

She waits, still, outside of bookstores when even the monologue of a well-written page isn’t loud enough to overcome the music. She waits, where grocery carts and milk cartons need distracting from: music is the new silent. She waits, replaced, as desperately churning brains pump music in, trying to focus harder, trying to focus better, while she wishes so fervently that they would know she could do better. She would do better than the noise.

For those that sit, for those that find her in her readiness, they find her inextricable other face. They find that they can listen, that they hear themselves clearer than they ever have, and that they are smarter and more creative than they thought. She reminds them that they are worth listening to, as are the people around them. She reminds them that they don’t need to be afraid of her, for she is not ominous. Silence is accompanied by many noises which make up the panoply of life.

While one shuts off her own voice long enough to listen to the crooning of the world, Silence delights in her tearful acknowledgement of Nature’s music. Silence watches her breathe deeper and steadier, and to the girl, all worldly noises seem louder, seem unnecessary after their brief, but poignant encounter. It is sacred; it is claimed and protected; it is not to be brutalized.

Those that commune with Silence find the world raucous and disrespectful. To find one’s voice so pleasing that it can’t cease is an egregious crime. To find music so necessary to comfort in a quiet room is an expression of fear.

Silence does not blame the wounded for being fearful of the quiet, but she does wish them to give it a try and rediscover their own genius in the stillness.


Experience and the Sponge

Sometimes, when the thick gray air of winter sits on brick towns with painted windows, when old courthouses with cylinder blocks for foundation and the smell of restaurant food and newly paved roads tickles my nose and forces me to imagine worlds into existence, I think:

How wonderful it is to be an artist.

Small things…

-the way the leaves twirl around moving cars in wind shapes like the faery world’s gentle collision with reality

-the way the clouds project the moon from out of the black carpet behind it, concealing, revealing, concealing, so dark they look like midnight dragons on a run through the heavens

-the way caterpillars float, transcendent, I imagine, ecstatic through the air on their silky strings, totally carried by their ingenious invention…and their weightlessness

They make me proud to be an artist. It is these things which fill me up like a thirsty sponge, squeezed dry from the harshness of the atmosphere, from the constricting agenda of hate, smothering, smothering. I eagerly fill myself up on this holy water of this world’s majesty. I drink and drink until I am contentedly wet, ready to purge these beauties out onto other things that are dry.

Yet, sometimes, as I am a sponge, and I absorb, I find that even the filthy water gets in, and I’m already too soaking wet with filthy water to take on anything else.

Yesterday, I printed pictures of a dead woman. Her car was like a flash-frozen, half-melted conglomerate of metal with blood spatter on the ceiling. Children’s toys stretched out over the car, through the air, nestling near the railroad tracks and lying down to rest in the dead, winter grass, broken, wet with mud, dislodged.

I printed pictures of little girls and boys, of big girls and boys, of mothers, of fathers, of friends. Little girl in a blue dress with frills down the front, clippies in her hair as numerous as the twirling braids which stuck off her head like antenna.

I ached. I ached. I ached.

Drunk driver. Too fast. Satin coffin. Orphan family. Orphan friends.

I ached, and I ached.

I found that when I tried to draw breath, my chest was shallow. There was no more room in the cavity which held my non-compliant lungs. I found tears with no logical explanation breaking through my resisting eyes, I felt that the toxic water was so deep in my tissue that I was about to rip myself open to get it all out. I wanted to scream, to scream so loud that it would all come spraying out of me and I would be dry again.

Unfortunately the toxic water didn’t come out. It did, some, purify for a brief moment in the company of friends and laughing and story-telling, but when more toxic water lay itself down on top, urging itself into my widened pores, settling in with the rest, I decided to shut off the tap completely. Nothing will try to fill me up again. Not today and not for now.

So today I am empty. I covered my face with pure bath water so hot it scalded the infection off. I watched videos of things which normally fill me up with healthy water from the world, hoping it could sit on the surface and not move in just yet. I need to be empty for now.

Just let me be empty for now.