Addressing the Elephant In the Room

Everyone around me is wearing a plastic smile plastered on their face with perfect force, asking people how it’s going when we’re all going “Oh it’s just a test, just a jest, not the real thing.”

It’s hard when everyone around you is focused more on reality than letting people see the real-ness welling up inside: The night they spent crying, their families divided.

Everyone’s putting on a show, a front row seat to look at their perfect lives when really it’s just a patched-up lie. Just looking through a stained glass window at the counterfeit world and lifestyle that we know. Everything’s fast and snappy and no one’s an inconvenience, and no one has to look at it

Everything’s fast and snappy and no one’s an inconvenience, and no one has to look at it, no one has to talk about it because everyone’s mouths are glued shut in a fake, plastered on, perfect smile.

And no one sings.

And no one thinks about anything that isn’t theirs, nothing about the perpetual whirlwind of feeling and trust that no one pays attention to. And I’m sick of pretending like it’s not there. Like the elephant in the room is a perfectly normal substitute for life, like they’ve given it a name and made it a pet and now it just stands there. But I think it’s gonna die soon if no one addresses it, so I will.

Everyone has to be real. No more fake, please. I’m sick of hearing it, sick of listening to it, sick of staring at it and stuffing it down my throat–literally.

It’s sad when you realize that everyone knows how to accept reality but no one knows how to be real.

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The Epitome of Relaxation

Living in a state where you are not constantly trying mentally.

Not trying to fit, not trying to act, not trying to smile.

Just breathing and relaxing and walking normally.

Not trying. Not conscious every second of the day.

That kind of relaxation.

The kind where you can curl up in a ball in your closet and drink tea and close your eyes.

That kind.

And when it washes over you, you feel like you could stay that way for hours. But then knowing you can’t. And being okay with that.

You only need a few hours.

You only have a few hours, anyway.

Away from all the trying, away from all the confusion and worry and fear.

And just alone in your closet.

Moments like these are moments worth living for.

Apples and Dementia

After my father’s stroke, he started crying all the time. He cried about everything: sentimental commercials, pop songs on the radio, or the way mom would cut his apples for him width-wise instead of length-wise. She quickly changed to cutting them length-wise after the first time he cried over them. My father only eats apples now. It’s weird. He won’t eat anything else, insisting that apples take him back to his happy place and that nothing else agrees with him. And then he would go off into tales from his childhood where everything was “colder and harder and not as expensive,” and then he’d cry some more.

It sort of became normal after a while; him acting weird, only eating apples, and crying about everything, until one day we knew that it had gone too far.

We would normally wake up to the sound of Dad crying about the sun shining through his blinds. Or about the purple socks he was wearing, but that morning it was quiet. When we got to his room he was lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling, clutching the bed sheets, and murmuring. We tried to talk to him or even get him to sit up, but all he would say was:

“Jacob… the apple orchards… must go–”

I couldn’t make any sense of it except that I knew I had an uncle on Dad’s side named Jacob. Wondering if there was any connection, I told my mother. After a minute of deliberation with her hands on her hips, my mother announced that we were going on a car trip. When I asked where to she replied, “To Art’s childhood home, of course.” We managed to get Dad into the car–I don’t quite recall how, but we did it. As Mom and I got in the car, she insisted that we were doing the right thing. “I mean, think about it, Ryan,” she told me as she put the key into the ignition, “Talking about his childhood stories, his little brother Jacob, apples and apple orchards…” I simply nodded, not quite getting it but trusting my mom.

We arrived half an hour later at a farm house out in the middle of nowhere. There were apple trees as far as I could see. As soon as my dad saw them, he practically jumped out of the vehicle and started sprinting towards the orchard. My mom and I hastily parked the car and chased after him, yelling at him the whole while. We entered the orchard, my dad eagerly leading the way. He zigzagged across the paths, seeming to know what he was doing. It was as if he was searching for a particular tree. Eventually, Mom and I gave up on yelling at him to slow down and just started following him without questioning his sense of direction. Suddenly he stopped. We caught up our breath, a bit confused. I looked around. This place seemed identical to every other place in the orchard; there was nothing special about the tree that my father was staring intently at. No one said anything, and a few moments passed.

Then my father approached the apple tree and slowly started climbing it.

We protested. His doctor probably wouldn’t think it was a great idea for a man who had a stroke two months ago to be climbing a tree, we said. But he wouldn’t listen. In fact, he showed no sign that he had heard us at all. He didn’t stop until he had reached the top which actually wasn’t that high up. When he stopped climbing he carefully sat down on a branch. He just sat there.

He just sat there. We waited for something to happen, but nothing did. I glanced at my mom uneasily. Was he going to try to jump? This wasn’t safe for him–

Suddenly my father’s arm started moving up and plucked an apple from the branch beside him. Without moving his eyes or face or anything, he slowly bit into the fruit. From my position on the ground, I could see tears gliding down the side of his cheek.

We stood there and watched. And he just sat there, eating and crying.

 

Someone

I miss someone being there.

To hold my hand, to walk with me. I miss someone being there for me to talk with. For me to check in on. Someone being there to check in on me. I miss being surrounded by people. Good quality humans. People that I love. I miss the joy that all of these souls would give me. I miss all of the intricacies of the human life and mind coursing through my brain and into my veins until I forgot who I was.

I miss the smell of France.

I miss the temperature of the big white hall of the church.

I miss the times when we resorted to using humans to build ladders, tables, and to spell words.

I miss everyone’s voice. The different underlying textures; the rasps, the sweet high-pitched swallowing sound of the vocal chords. I miss my little brother and my older brother that I didn’t know I had until a month ago. I miss both of them. I miss the day when I discovered that I possessed more freedom than I thought I did. That day when I figured I could be myself; be my own person and no one could stop me. No one would know the difference.

Everything was new and felt like an excuse to feel the wind in my hair and the breath in my lungs.

I felt like I could paint my portrait anyway I wanted to.

I took care to apply all of the right colors in broad brushstrokes until my masterpiece was complete.

And then realizing that the hand holding the paintbrush wasn’t my own.

I miss someone being there and painting along with me.

Living Out of a Suitcase

Imagine leaving. Leaving home. With a suitcase clutched firmly in your hands.

The only cords you have attaching you to everything you feel comfortable with fit into a convenient box you haul around. Your past life has become quite personified into a three-dimensional shape. It’s frightening to hold everything that you’ve ever felt comfortable with in your hands. And yet it’s freeing as well. For then you have the ability to simply let go and let it all trickle through your fingers into the unknown.

Forcing your mental cage into something that you can see and touch makes you realize just how big the world is and how many people are living in it. The freedom that living out of a suitcase brings is hard to describe. It enhances an attitude of indifference towards the daily decisions of life and yet packs a pungent punch of reality in it’s cloth compartments.

Packing a suitcase is sometimes like packing your worries away; knowing that you will unfold all of these troubles later as you fold up your shirts is a way to remain sane in this confusing world.

The ability to zip up the tangible representation of your home and comfortable life and leave it zipped up somewhere where it won’t follow you around is extremely refreshing.

It makes you feel alone in the world, but it allows you to open up your view of what the world actually is.

Living out of a suitcase is practical, forces one to prioritize, and frees one from cluttering thoughts.

It bequeaths one with a feeling of invincibility and an eager excitement for the world ahead.

It forges a path of new experiences, friendships, and thoughts.

Living this way shifts the focus off of oneself and onto others. It changes the view from possessions to experiences. From things to memories. From your own house to new places.

Living out of a suitcase makes you realize that we’re all in the same boat. We’re all actually lost and don’t have complete control over our lives.

We’re all trying.

We’re all breathing.

We’re all living out of a suitcase.

I Emailed a Famous YouTuber

Okay guys, I watch this channel called “Jaiden Animations.” Don’t know if you’ve heard of her, but I absolutely LOVE watching her videos. I was inspired by her to make an animation video. (Which, if you haven’t watched yet, you could totally check it out below)

Well, I emailed Jaiden Animations the link to this video. (I honestly don’t know why, I guess I just wanted to show her how much I appreciate her work.) And it’s not even a great video!! I mean, I guess it’s not terrible, but it’s not outstanding either. I did not think that she would even watch the video, much less reply to my email…

But guess what happened.

A few days later, she RESPONDED!! Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 00.12.47.png I was so happy when I got this email. Jaiden actually said “great job” to me. That immediately made my day.

Jaiden is awesome, and you can visit her channel and all of her amazing content here.

 

To the Person Who’s Soul Has Died

I know that the world has ended for you.

And I know that you don’t want to talk to anybody, much less get out of your room.

I know that the only thing you want to do right now is fling yourself onto your bed, curl up in a ball, and squeeze yourself as tightly as you can.

You do that. Just do that.

I know what other people are saying, I know what the world says, I know what you’ve said and what you’ve thought.

Just forget all that for now and stop.

Breathe.

Sit and listen.

Cry or sleep or run a marathon if that’s what you want. This moment is for you and only you.

I know what you’re feeling.

Just stay silent.

Think.

Or don’t think.