Some of us frequently reminisce through photographs, writing, and videos trying to hold it all together in a way that stays coherent, but as we observe our past selves, we fill in the gaps with what could just as easily be fiction. These captured moments serve to solidify the continuity of our stories, they serve to protect us from our own fictions and ensure that it all makes sense. Somehow my own fragments of memory bleed together in a recurring dream, a pattern that I call my life.
There are musicians who will avoid listening to any music for weeks or months prior to going into a studio in an attempt to minimize outside influence when writing new material. They try to clear their creative space in order to create something entirely new, or something entirely representative of who they are and what they are feeling at that given time. The main purpose of an art studio is to create a comfortable environment in which to manifest ideas, a way of facilitating a means of maximized creativity and focus and of eliminating as much distraction and unwanted influence as possible. What if we were to create ourselves under similar circumstances?
As children, we develop as "individuals" in the context of a world that we have very little say in. Plagued by the sins of our ancestors and under the command of angry gods, we are sculpted by influences around us long before we have any say in the matter. When we finally are encouraged to go out into the world and live our own lives, nature and nurture have become so muddled that without a serious amount of self study and introspection, they are indistinguishable.
Then there are fences that ensure we live properly within the realm of whats been deemed appropriate. Danger signs and guards attempt to prevent us from straying too far. If we wander far enough, we will promptly be escorted back to the designated safe zone.
The existence of a these fences is understandable, noble even; the world might be a much uglier place if there was no guiding tradition in place. Strangely though, when certain individuals manage to evade the systems in place, escape "safe" territory and explore beyond, they speak of what they have seen on the other side and through roundabout means, and often at the cost of their own persecution, it usually results in an expansion of the safe zone to include more territory.
We want to explore beyond, and not simply because it's new and different and cutting edge, but because for many of us, the self that we long to be is out there, not in here. Still we are encouraged to stay inside and we rarely imagine a world where the gates only exist to create a safe space where we can learn how to live in harmony with others regardless of who and where choose to be.
It's with this in mind that I have rarely taken the time to observe the glue that holds my life together into one narrative. I was raised inside these walls, as were you. I never expected that I could erase the past or the influence it has had over me, but perhaps I could put this influence off to the side long enough to piece myself together into a version of myself that I could be more or less satisfied with at any given moment. Perhaps after becoming the "me" of my own will, I could review those past narratives, and whether fiction or nonfiction, define exactly what meaning they had and how they could influence future narratives.
Whether or not you choose to see it as such, life is a work of art. The most important decision one can make is to decide that life is not just something that happens, but something that they can and should be actively participating in. This participation goes far beyond deciding whether to study physics or advertising, which hairstyles or tattoos fit, what to do on the weekends, or what philosophies or gods to believe in.
We have more choices than whether to be strawberry or banana flavored, we can do more than just follow recipes, we can adjust recipes to create something better or create our own recipes entirely. This choice requires an individual to own up to the truth that every action and every thought leading up to that action has a direct influence on the life of that individual as well as an indirect influence on everything it borders on. The choice requires us to face the fear that we will make the wrong decisions.
Often, paralyzed by fear, we forget that the inaction is also a decision.
I have been trying to create my life in the likeness of an excavation of certain ideals and an exploration in how to harmonize these ideals. I explore the line that we draw to separate "realistic" from "idealistic", often jumping back and forth, and whenever possible blurring those lines. I believe there is no reason for these two concepts to contradict and if there is any purpose to anything that I do, it's proving that. Whether you have met them or not, there are many others like myself. Perhaps even You, reading these words, are much like myself.
I have faced many of my demons. For the most part, my days seem to be filled with more and more joy despite whatever new struggles may appear as I approach "mid-life". Though I hope it's not the case, I am also willing to face the possibility that perhaps my true mid-life has long since past. I am in the process of slowly learning to accept what is, and attempting to make the best of it, but there are still shadowy corridors inside me that have long since seen any light.
All of us are tangled up in knots.
We are tangled up with every cruel word we ever took to heart. We are tangled up from generations of oppression, from stereotypes and misunderstandings, from betrayal, from heartbreak and disappointment, from hurtful words that roll off the tongue of a person we love, from debilitating beliefs that have been instilled upon us. We are tangled because we are never taught to untangle, we are not even given a clear understanding of what it means to be tangled.
I am putting these thoughts and feelings into words in hopes of documenting some of my own process, identifying and untying some of the last big knots, finally becoming that Me that exists of my own will. In the process of my own untangling, I hope that some of these ideas might be of use to others. We are all connected and all we need to do to have a profound impact on others is to be just the right temperature in their presence. We do it naturally if everything is flowing properly, and even given an environment which is far from ideal, we are always subconsciously seeking that equilibrium.
I don't know exactly what these words will mean to another or even how they will change by the time I am first writing this and the time they reach your eyes but I do know it's not just me who wants to write, it's the words who want to be written, the ideas who want to be shared and have been coming to me and asking me to do something about it for some time. I would like to apologize in advance for any kind of distortion I bring to them, for the signal is not always perfect, sometimes there is static and we mishear what the universe is trying to tell us. I will try to do them justice.
I am not claiming to have all the answers though I do presume to have some scattered pieces of common and uncommon insight and this is an attempt to make sense of it all. This writing is for me as much as it is for you so at times it may seem a bit unpolished but I am more concerned with representing myself accurately than impressing anyone else. If I manage to do both, I guess that will be just fine. More than anything, I hope that writing down and sharing these ideas can lead to some exciting and positive conversations and collaborations.
If nothing else, take this as an invitation to untangle together. Use whatever warmth you can find here in these words and light up those cold dark corridors inside you. Add your own flavors and pass it on in whatever way you can.
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