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Archive for the tag “life”

Reader

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I’m not a reader.

Now let me explain.

I’m a damn good reader.  No disorders that I know of, comprehension through the roof, the ability to cold read, out loud, in public, strong as it gets.  I’ve been reading since I was a little over a year old, or so they said when I was growing up.

No, I’m just not a reader.

I grew up reading every day.  Prose, mostly, and that, contained in the sports section of the LA Times.  I never read comics, except for the papers on Sunday, and I was never encouraged to pick up a book during my childhood, except by command of teachers, and then, not until high school.  Along the way, I read some things, mostly by accident.  Some Peter Benchley… sharks fascinated me… and some pulp journalism style stuff you could find on the book rack at the grocery store while my mom stood in line to pay.  Besides that, the only two things I read like they meant something were Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the World Book Encyclopedia, and the 1973 Baseball Encyclopedia.

But none of that is reading.

In the years that I should have been indulging my creative consciousness on everything from Swift to Burroughs and Dickens to Baum, I was memorizing batting averages, the etymology of 19th century English words, and the names the crew gave the mechanical shark in the movie Jaws.  I wasn’t reading, I was collecting… nonsense, mostly.  I read quickly.  I read to absorb, to obtain, and to satisfy curiosity, not for the love of the words themselves.

At least that’s the way reading was explained to me.  That it was a love affair with words, and with the stories that the words would unfold for me, if I would only let it be so.  As you might imagine, school was a nightmare for me.  I got by, barely.  Not by reading, but by listening.  I listened to every word the teachers said, and made copious notes.  Page after page of classroom notes, writing down every meaningless detail of these frustrated storytellers, never once looking inside the textbooks they ordered us to read.  Because of this, obviously, math was a killer.  English was hard because all the questions on tests were neatly tucked away inside the books I didn’t read.  History worked for me, because teachers of history fancy themselves “historians”, and would rather act out the full contents of the books themselves, than leave the interpretation of history to the transcribers of history.  I took notes, and answered the questions from them. 

That didn’t work out so well, in high school, or in college, after.

I gave reading one more shot in my 20s.

The girl I was seeing was a reader of book club selections, and I would read books over her shoulder, at night.  For a while, I became a reader like she was a reader.  Picking novels that sounded interesting based on my already-cultivated curiosities.  Bad sports stories, the occasional adventure, and spooky stuff.  Spooky stuff that would have caused childhood me to keep both hands and both feet inside the covers at night.  Blatty’s Exorcist.  King’s Stand.  A bunch of other crap I barely remember.

In this time, I realized that I read the way a cow eats, deliberately, and not in any hurry.  Not the way a predator hurriedly consumes its prey, but slowly, chewing on words and phrases, taking them all in, and then barfing them back up in the form of re-reading without actually finishing the book first.  It took me forever to read a book this way, but when I was done, I maybe knew the stories better than the authors.  

Then the girl became wife.  The wife stopped reading.  I stopped reading.

Because I’m not a reader.

At this point in this story, I’ll save you the exposition of the next 30-something years.  I’ll just tell you that, while I am not a reader, I am reading again.  I have to.  Something I discovered about the silence that only reading brings.  The silence that, I didn’t know until now, brings healing to a soul that fed on only noise, and a mind that, for most of a lifetime, knew only confusion and pain.  Words and stories that should bring healing, and a minimum of confusion and pain.  From Murakami to Bradbury, Goldman to Gibran.  I will read these, soon.

I’m not a reader, yet.

But I’m going to be.      

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Asphalt Sky Asphalt

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December 22, 1975… A little before sunset.  I rode my bike, a green, Schwinn Ram’s Horn Fastback, to the Rexall to buy a roll of Scotch Tape to wrap Christmas presents with.  I took the back alley on the south side of Artesia to the light at Casimir Avenue, and saw that it was green for me to cross.  I sped through the intersection on a yellow, and as my light went red, I heard a sound… like metal, pounding into metal. 

That was the sound of the ’63 Studebaker hitting my bike as I crossed in front of it. 

I no longer knew where I was.  All I saw in the next moment was dark, then light, then dark again.  My mind picked up the story again with me wobbling to my feet about 20 yards away from the intersection where my bike now lay, twisted and useless.  Someone, I don’t remember who, led me to the curb to sit as I heard the police siren in the distance.  What felt like seconds must’ve been minutes.  Adults were everywhere.  A woman, the driver of the car that turned my bike into scrap, came over to where I was sitting.  Confused as I was, I could still tell she was scared shitless.  I mean, she did almost kill a kid, on a bike in a crosswalk, trying to beat a line of cars into traffic before her light turned green.  She could have tried to make a break for it, but westbound Artesia at 5 o’clock was bumper-to-bumper, even in 1975.

The cop who showed up a minute later drove me, and my green wreck, the few blocks from there, home, and waited with me… in the days before cell phones… for my dad to come home from work.  As I sat in our living room, it came to me what it was I saw right after the BOOM of the car and my bike. 

Dark, light, dark.

Asphalt, sky, asphalt.

A front somersault from the pedals of my bike, end over end, landing on my head more than 50 feet away.

Landing, and walking away, without a scratch on me.

Every time I watch the M. Night Shyamalan film, “Unbreakable”, and see the train wreck scene at the beginning of the movie… the one where Bruce Willis Is the only survivor, and walks away without a scratch on him, I remember that day.  Today, forty-two years to the day from when it happened to me, the movie was on TV.  And I watched.

Then I wrote this.

And after, in my journal, I wrote,

“…anyway, forty-two years ago today, I almost died.  And forty-two years later, it’s time for me to live.

Let’s close out the remains of ’17, and take ’18 like it’s a Giftwrapped Best Present EVER.  Tear the wrapping paper clean off, rip open the box, and GO!  Shouting all the way,

‘It’s exactly what I WANTED!!!’.”

2017 was a whole lot of dark, light, dark.  Asphalt, sky, asphalt.  And that makes 2018 a present. 

Giftwrapped. 

For me.

And it’s exactly what I wanted.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Nothing Ever Spoken

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I offended someone today. 

Not you,

because you weren’t there. 

And not the person who,

gently,

let me know of my offense. 

The person who told me that I had offended someone. 

Sometimes,

I’m insensitive. 

Okay,

more than sometimes,

I just cover it well with most people. 

Sometimes,

I let it slip. 

And this time,

I almost let it slip to cause someone to fall. 

I didn’t want to. 

I spoke,

randomly,

or so I thought. 

But nothing ever spoken is truly random,

is it?

I offended someone today. 

They just didn’t know it,

but I do,

now. 

Not you,

because they weren’t there. 

But someone was,

who cared.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Please May I Have a Coma?

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“Please, may I have a coma?”

 I said that in a conversation with a friend the other day.  There was no correlation to any one thing I remember talking about.  It was just a stand-alone thought.  This sort of thing happens often with me, seeming, usually, completely disconnected from whatever train of thought or flow of conversation I’m having in that moment.  Most people, even those closest to me, miss it.  That instant when my consciousness gets invaded by my subconscious, and my Freudian Slip starts to show.

I used to miss it, too.

But a lot has happened over the last year that, on this day, I didn’t miss it at all.

I, and most of my nearest and dearest, have had a hard year.  I can’t explain why.  I mean, maybe?  The same way people try and explain how a half-a-dozen women in regular near-proximity to each other seemingly sync their periods, or how, when you buy a make and model of car you never really gave much thought to, then it seems like that same car is on every street and in every parking lot everywhere you go. 

The collective unconscious, manifested.

And no, I don’t believe for one minute that, like periods or late-model cars, any of my friends and I wanted our collective shits to happen, but maybe there’s something equally invisible going on that drew us all together before, so that we could be here for each other in the during, and rejoice with each other in the after.  Because that’s why human beings have friends. 

“Please, may I have a coma?”

Now that the end of another November is here, and with it, the end of another National Blog Posting Month, I think it’s time for a re-examination.  Priorities that held this priory together last month, last year, last life, no longer belong in my life.  Things that once felt important, no longer feel that way.  And I’m educated guessing that the same is being said by many of my friends.  But human beings are nothing if not creatures of habit.  One of those habits is holding onto to things we’ve outgrown, or that have outgrown us.  I don’t know what you’ve outgrown but, like a closet full of last decade’s fashion disasters and fat pants, for me, it’s time to make room for something new, or maybe for nothing new at all, but only for what’s most important. 

Because a closet full of winter coats does you no good if you live the rest of your life in the sunshine.

“Please, may I have a coma?”

Okay, but only for a little while.  It’s time to empty out my storage, give away what I won’t be needing, and decide where the sun shines brightest for me.  But don’t worry.  You’re ALL my friends.  And I’ll leave breadcrumbs on the trail, wherever it is I go. 

Thank you for reading my words these last 30 days.  And thank you for allowing me to spend it reading yours.

Till then. 

 

Always,

Bill

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

With My Heart

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I saw things with my heart once,

years ago. 

Before the bad decisions. 

Before the good decisions gone bad. 

Before there were no more decisions left to make. 

 

And then my heart went dark.

 

Until,

years later. 

After the bad decisions. 

After the bad decisions gone worse. 

After there were no more decisions left to make.

 

And then you turned the light back on.

 

I saw things with my heart once,

years ago. 

Before my heart went dark. 

And now,

I see them with my heart once more.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

I’m Guessing

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This much I know. 

You’re not that into me. 

I think I’d know it if you were. 

Here’s what I don’t know. 

Why it is you keep me around. 

Maybe you’re just undecided. 

This is all brand new to me. 

And so are you. 

I’m a lousy guesser. 

I’m guessing you are too.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

How I Accept the Unacceptable

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When they say that we can

leave it all behind,

we still

take it with us when we go.   

 

And nothing is forgotten

that’s forgiven in my mind, 

until

creation and us with it cease to know.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

When an Empath has no Empathy

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I undergo profound changes every November. 

Cataclysmic, visions-of-a-personal-apocalypse life changes.  It’s happened three Novembers in a row now.  Sure, it’s only a blog challenge, but I’m generally blog-challenged, being a poet and not really a blogger at all.  So when November rolls around, it seems like I’m just not allowed to ignore all the seismic emotional upheaval that something of this creative magnitude rips open for 30 days straight.

See, here’s the thing, because you knew there’d be a thing, right?  The thing is, I’m kind of an empath.  Not the ‘I shake your hand and know where you’ve buried the bodies’ kind of empath.  Just the ‘I feel things deeper than most people’ kind. 

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Did you ever see the movie “Species”?  The original, where the government assembled a team of previous strangers with varied skill-sets to capture and/or kill the Escaped Sexy Female Alien Hybrid, on the loose and looking to mate?  Then you remember the soft-spoken empath, played by Academy Award™ winning actor Forest Whitaker.  This version of the B-movie empath wasn’t a psychic, or in touch with the spirit world, or whatever other way B-movies portray the empath.  This version could simply feel what others around him were feeling, and tell you what those feeling meant

I liked that interpretation. 

Because at the roots, it’s the closet I’ve ever come to being introduced to mine. 

And then there’s the downside. 

The thing is, I’m kind of an empath.  Not the ‘I shake your hand and know where you’ve buried the bodies’ kind of empath.  Just the ‘I feel things deeper than most people’ kind. 

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Especially my feelings.

Which in the past, I could ignore for my own sanity’s sake.  But last November, after writing a super-concentrated month’s-worth of feelings, I lost the ability to bury mine.  No more clearly-marked boxes for emotions.  No more handy compartments for feelings to go.  No more mindless default ways to ignore them.  They were, for the first time, all on the same great big plate like a 64-box of crayons melted together in a microwave oven, and it was a fucking mess. 

My fucking mess. 

And I had to choose my path before it killed me.

The title of this post is, “When an Empath has no Empathy”.  It comes from a random thought that popped into my empath head a couple of days ago, about someone from my past, equally gifted with the ability to ‘feel all the feels’ like I do.  A random thought that goes, “What if you were an empath with no empathy?  Wouldn’t that just make you a sociopath?” 

And after reading everything… okay, a few things on Reddit… my non-clinical, non-scientific answer is, “Yeah… I think it would.”

But is that how I want to live the rest of my life?  Just surviving like a spiritual grifter, living off the feelings of others instead of feeling all the feels and helping those who need whatever it is I can do with all the messed up feelings.

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Especially my feelings.

So this November, I was left with a choice.  Do I want to spend the rest of my life finding new ways to shut off all the feelings and face the consequences of knowing and not caring?  Or do I stay on the path, as I suppose was originally intended, and learn how to be who I am?  Feeling, and dealing with my choices.

Like I said, I undergo profound changes every November.

And I can’t wait until December.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Until Forever Will I

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Never have I ever taken in

more than

one breath at a time,

like all of the rest

of breathing creation. 

One breath

at a time,

for a lifetime.  

Never more,

and seldom less.

 

Always have I ever taken in

more than

one worry at a time,

like most of the rest

of breathing creation.

Every breath

all the time,

for a lifetime.

Always more,

and never less.

 

And now until forever will I take in

no more than

one worry at a time,

like the bless’ed best

of breathing creation. 

My next breath

and for all time,

in this lifetime. 

Forevermore,

until my rest. 

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

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