Last night a thought crept into my mind: "At what point do I call it quits?"
At what point do I admit to myself that I was never destined to be a writer, that the stories I create in my head were never meant to be printed for anyone but me to read, that I should just keep my ramblings to myself?
At what point do I take off my childish shorts and pull up my adult pants, put on my adult shirt, tie the adult tie around my neck, and slide into that adult suit jacket gathering dust in my closet?
At what point do I wash these silly ideas out of my head, remove these dreams, stop recycling these five-year plans, and accept that my life is no different than the billions of other lives going on around me?
At what point do I finally let the advice of everyone around me soak in, advise that I need to get a real job with a real salary and real benefits, and finally become that real boy I was told about in my youth and college classrooms?
At what point do I grow the fuck up?
I don't know.
But I don't think I'm ready yet.
I wonder if I'll ever get where I want to go. I wonder if I'm just wasting my time chasing dreams that were never meant to be mine. I wonder if I have what it takes. I wonder when the time will come when I need to set the pen down, put the suit on, sit down in my cubicle, and grow the fuck up. I wonder if these visions in my head are prophesies or fantasies. I wonder how many books I'll need to write to get one right. I wonder how many books I need to write to realize that I was never meant to write, at all. I wonder who will leave me first: my delusional dreams or everyone I love. I wonder which one of my idols I will end up as: Van Gogh or David Foster Wallace. I wonder if I'll ever get these demons out of my head. I wonder if this insecurity will ever go away. I wonder how much longer I must wait. I wonder how much longer I can last.
I do not believe that opinions are stagnant. I do not believe that people are stagnant. I do not believe that the world around us is stagnant. Everything is constantly shifting, there is always wind blowing, the water is never still, the boat is forever rocking. And we rock with it.
Too often we hold people to the words they said in their past. When they were different people. When they held opinions that may no longer belong to them. New information comes, new life experiences, new understandings. We need to let people grow. We need to let the world evolve. We need to understand that nothing is stagnant, and everything can change.
I am not the same as I was ten years ago. I am not the same as I was five years ago. I am not the same as I was last year. My high school friends and college friends know different mes. If today me and twenty-one year old me met today, they would likely never be friends.
My girlfriend of 2 and a half years is not dating the same man she was when we first met. Hopefully, though, she is dating a better man. Hopefully, the current has shoved me in the right direction. And if not, if I have gone off course, the wind is still blowing and the boat is still rocking and there is still a chance yet that I can become better.
All of this to say: you are not who you were, you will not forever be who you currently are, you will constantly change, forever; so make sure you are changing in the right way.
And If not, if you look back and see you have made a wrong turn: you can always change course.
I feel like a fucking prostitute. Dancing around these goddamn social media pages with my nylon tights and fistfuls of poetry. Screaming out hashtags from my soapbox in hopes of getting a couple more glances in my direction. Trying to squeeze complex ideas into a tiny square box, my soul trapped on a timeline that doesn’t even hesitate in its scrolling. Then, in the end, still get blocked out by an algorithm that cares more about glamour and tits than it does about soul.
This is not art. Not anymore.
Can you see me? I am waving my hands and screaming, but the world is so crowded these days and from a distance it can seem like all these waving hands are screaming the same thing. I've been climbing for so long, or trying to climb, but the ground is quickly sinking beneath the weight of all these desperate dreamers and I'm not sure if I have made it very far at all. Maybe I've only sunk from all this aimless effort I've been putting in.
Other metaphors swirl through my head, but I don't expect you to understand the ramblings of a madman so close to giving up. How the fuck am I supposed to stand out when everyone around me wants to stand out? We all want our own stage, but that leaves no one to fill an audience. That's why I am left to scream at an empty auditorium as I stand on a stage so full I can hardly breathe.
I am waving my hands and screaming.
Can you see me?
too often i try to hide my pain. not only from the world, but also from myself. i numb, like i believe we all numb. with good tv, with video games, with a few hours of mindless scrolling through the internet, with cuddles through the night, with kisses that force truths down my throat as her tongue bats them away.
i'm not sure what the stem is of all this pain. i don't know where it came from, i don't know how to get rid of it, i only know that it is here and it hurts and i would much rather stare at the television screen than listen to the pain as it screams the same words over and over and over.
"help me," it screams, "help me, help me, help me!"
but i can't help you, me, we, whoever it is that is in pain. i am useless, helpless, clueless, and my favorite show is on so can we speak about this in another hour or so? please.
i look out at the world--or rather, i look at my telephone screen and see the world as it is presented to me. with filters and hashtags and funny captions and deliberately scripted nonchalant glances from beautiful women. then i look at me. and wonder what i am doing wrong. how can so much happiness and beauty and lightness exist in a world that is so fucking painful to me?
what am i doing wrong?
i see all the vibrant colors and the smiles and the footprints in the sand and the sunsets that fill the sky so majestically then i look at my bedroom walls that are drowning in shadows and i hear the pain screaming once more, "help me, help me, help me!"
what am i doing wrong?
When I was young I knew I was special. I knew I was destined to do amazing things. I knew I was going to change the world someday. I knew I was placed on earth for a reason.
I knew it.
I just knew it.
But so much of what a youth knows to be true turns out to be a lie.
Like Santa Claus. Like fairy tales. Like the nerd always get the girl.
Like I am special.
am i wrong for wanting to run away? am i wrong for daydreaming about cabins so deep in the woods that god himself couldn’t even find me? am i wrong for wanting to leave everything and everyone behind? am i wrong for wanting to take all these books on my shelf—some written by me, others written by men and women long, long, long dead—and run and never look back?
am i wrong?
my mother tells me i am far too young to think the way that i do.
“life is not pointless,” she says, but tears are running down my cheeks nonetheless and i am certain that she is wrong. so very, very wrong.
am i wrong for wanting to shout at her? am i wrong for wanting to tell her to give up on me already? am i wrong for wanting her to forget that i exist? am i wrong for wanting to make her hate me? am i wrong for thinking if i disappear everything would be easier for her?
am i wrong?
my girlfriend tells me she is afraid.
“i don’t know what to do when you get like this,” she says to me as her eyes fill with fear and my eyes fill with discontent.
am i wrong for wanting to tell her she can't save me? am i wrong for wanting to bring her with me? am i wrong for being too afraid to let go? am i wrong for not wanting to walk down this road on my own? am i wrong for wanting to tie her up with guilt and pack her bags full of obligation and drag her to the cabin not even god can find?
am i wrong?
i did it again. i neglected you, my website. my beautiful, beautiful website. i apologize.
you see, i’ve been busy. if i am being honest—with you and with myself—you are just a side thing. something i visit when i am bored, when i am in between ideas. that is all.
you see, i’ve been working on a couple things. a couple books. one about a poetic mind and another about observations. i can’t say much more than that. but i do think they are fairly good.
you see, i’ve been wondering recently about how public i want to be. how much i want my life to exist on this internet thing. and you know what? i don’t think i want much of it to live here at all. maybe the occasional thing—like this random, nonsensical, completely pointless stream of bored consciousness—but not much more than that.
you see, i am extremely confident that one day—maybe in the near future or maybe in several decades —that you, my little website here, will be visited by more people than just me. i think these projects, about minds and observations, could maybe make you a desirable place to be. maybe someone will even read this little thing here and say, “oh, he’s always been an odd one,” to which i reply many years in advance, “yes, i have always been.”
you see, i’m still not sure how serious i should take this life thing. i don’t think i want to take it too serious at all. i like jokes. i may not laugh or smile often, i may spend most of my days in a numbing silence, but i do like jokes. and the occasional laughter when i can find it.
you see, i think everything will make sense in the end. in its totality. this life, this existence, these words, you, my projects, the words in my head, the music in my ear, they are just puzzle pieces to a puzzle so large that it will take an entire lifetime to complete. and only then will it all make sense.
you see, nothing is as it seems.
you see, my words are not really random at all.
you see, nor are these posts that i share with you and only you and, maybe one day, millions more. or maybe on a half-dozen or so.
you see, nor are these projects about minds and observations.
you see, they are all just pieces.
you see,…well maybe you don’t quite yet.
but one day you will.
i see my future on the horizon. it is beautiful. everything i have ever wanted. but it is on the horizon, and i am here, a million miles away. i run as fast as i can towards the horizon, misery weighing down my bones, but the horizon gets no closer.
the earth rotates and the sun becomes a moon and the horizon creeps closer, but only slightly, even though now i am not running, i am beating up my typewriter, forcing it to type words that i am certain i will soon throw away. but the horizon is closer, though only slightly, than it was yesterday, and that makes me happy, only momentarily, because i see the horizon, and on the horizon i am joyous, but i am not on the horizon, i am here, in my dark bedroom, typing words with my typewriter, and i am far from joyous.
tomorrow the horizon will be closer than it is today, but if life continues the way it is continuing now, then i will be less happy tomorrow than i am today, as i am less happy today than i was yesterday, and that pattern is not new, it is old, though i know that one day, the day i finally reach the horizon, i will be happy, but today i am not, and tomorrow i also will not be, but one day i will be.
tomorrow has come and the horizon has inched closer, inched, but i still have a million miles to go.
sometimes my mind is blank. an empty void. filled only with silence.
and other times my mind is chaotic. a stormy night. screams that will never cease.
i search desperately for a place in the middle. a place where my thoughts have the room to grow and the water available to nourish them.
but all i find are droughts and storms. silence and loud screams. words that mean nothing. and words that are far too loud.
i want to find some middle ground. some sanity. some happiness to sprinkle upon this miserable life that i can’t seem to evade.
but the nights are too dark and the days are too hot and my legs are too weak and there are a million more excuses for why i continue to delay my journey to a better place.
i wonder why i fear happiness. why i fear normality. why i fear a calm heart with a smile across my face. why i fear…
but i can’t stop. i am crippled with it.
I build expectations so high into the sky that no reality can ever live up. I build into the stars and wonder why these earthly things can never reach them. I want my dreams to be much more than just dreams, I want my dreams to have dreams and those dreams to have dreams and I want my reality to exceed each and every one of those dream's dream's dreams.
I dream about my arms extending, not only beyond the atmosphere of earth, but outside of this Milky Way Galaxy. But my arms can only reach a couple of feet and my body is immediately filled with disappointment. And grief.
Maybe mountains should be enough. Or simply these rolling hills. But, no. I want a universe in the palm of my hands. And then curse those very palms for not being able to hold it all.
Expectations. One day they will be the death of me. But don't get me started on what I expect in my death. Because I'm sure Heaven will never be enough.
I want more. I demand more. I need more!
But all I have are rolling hills and palms that are far too small and dreams that continue to dream of better dreams.
Do not let the slowness of dreams deter you from pushing through. Let the whispers of expectations fade away in the wind. There is no rush, half the joy is in the journey.
Feel the breeze against your cheeks as you run toward your dreams. See the flowers along the path. Hear the chirps of life by your side.
Dreams are slow, journeys are long, but everything will come into place at exactly the right time.
I am choking. On thoughts and regrets and deaths that have not yet occurred. I see dreams being crushed, families being lost, futures never being fulfilled. A papercut becomes a severed leg and a sandwich with mustard, though I specifically asked for no fucking mustard!, hits my week like a hurricane.
Occasionally, I overreact to the smallest things in life.
I am dramatic. Neurotic. Anxious. Fearful. And regretful for decisions not yet made.
Sometimes I need to stop and just take a deep breath, but my lungs don't seem to be working and this air is far too thin and my past is hitting me like a runaway train. And I am jealous. For I wish I could be like my past--a runaway train.
But I can't. I can't run, because I can't breathe. I am choking.
You are not your past. Nor are you your mistakes. You are your lessons learned. You are the changes you are trying so hard to implement. You are your progress. You are the future you are chasing.
You are always evolving, your past is always with you, but you are not your past. You are so much more than that.
Likewise, you are not the whispers from acquaintances who will never be anything more than that. They know your actions secondhand, but they do not know your intentions. Nor do they know your soul. They only know your past. But you are not that.
No. You are changing. Evolving. Growing. Learning. Maturing.
Do not listen to the whispers. Your future is still on the horizon. Run towards it.
The beautiful thing about life is that you only get one. This forces you to act. To do the things that excite you and reach for the dreams that you know you cannot live without. You can't just simply say, "Eh, I'll do that in my next life."
There is no next life. Only this one.
I have nothing important to say. Nothing that will impact you in even the slightest of ways. No words that will keep you thinking late into the night.
I just don't have the words.
But I will write nonetheless. Why? Because the internet allows me this stage and the spotlight never turns off nor does this microphone and though this auditorium is empty I will scream my meaningless thoughts out into the air for anyone willing to waste their valuable time listening.
That sentence sure did run on for too long, but this stage is mine. And this here is my song. I will sing what I want. Feel free to sing along. But that is not a requirement. In fact, I'd rather you not sing at all. I love the sound of my voice far too much for it to be drowned out by the sound of yours.
I have nothing important to say. But I will write nonetheless.
I am impatient as fuck. I know that I preach patience is key, but I am a horrible preacher. Or maybe I'm just a horrible listener. Or maybe I'm both. I don't know everything that I am, but one thing I know for sure is that I am impatient. As fuck.
You see, my last post was titled Dreams Don't Come True Overnight. Three nights have passed since that post. And here I am, already writing about my impatience. Dreams may not come true overnight, but I thought maybe they would overthreenights. But they didn't. My dreams seem to be just as far as they were on Monday night.
I just realized that it has been four nights since my previous post, not three, but I am far too impatient to erase and retype what has already been written. You see, I am impatient as fuck.
Still don't believe me? That's fine. I don't have the time to explain everything to you.
Dreams don't come true overnight. If they did, I would have had a New York Times Best Seller seven years ago. But dreams aren't that simple.
Dreams require work. And lots of it. They require trial and error. Lots and lots and lots of error. And failures. And trying something new. And watching that fail. And then trying yet something else.
Trust me, I am an expert at this stage. The failing stage, that is. Just ask my parents, they won't even hesitate to tell you how often I fail.
Dreams don't come true overnight.
They are earned. Through years and years of hard work. Sacrifice. Sleepless nights. Trial and error. And lots and lots and lots of failure.
I have been writing seriously for seven years. Poetry. Short films. Screenplays. Novels. Memoirs. Short stories.
But dreams don't come true overnight. So I must keep working. Keep writing.
Because dreams do come true. Just not overnight.
Success is infinite. I don't think most people realize that you can succeed at the same time your friend does. Just because somebody else is succeeding, doesn't mean you are less likely to succeed.
I say this because I feel too many people try to pull others down. They see them climbing the stairs above them, reaching accomplishments they desire. Instead of congratulating them, celebrating them, people try to drag them down.
How dare you walk ahead of me! Those stairs are mine to climb. Not yours.
But the stairwell is so wide. Large enough for all of us to climb. At once. That accomplishment still exists. You can still reach it, despite the fact it has been reached by someone else.
Success is infinite. There is enough to go around. Enough to spread to all.
Think about it like one of those all-you-can-eat pizza parlors. Somebody might take the last slice of pepperoni and bacon, but don't worry, another pizza is in the oven.
Be patient. Pizza doesn't come easy. It needs the proper time in the brick oven to bake. But soon that pepperoni and bacon slice will be in your mouth. The sauce, the crust, the cheese, the meat. I knew I should have eaten lunch before writing this blog.
The point is, your friend may be eating his slice of pizza before you, but don't worry, another pizza is in the oven.
The things I would do for a like.
I'm desperate. I need them. I'd give up nearly every one of my ribs-- besides two, I'll keep them, though I'm not quite sure what I will do with them. But the rest you can have. All I need in exchange is one measly like.
My friends, they get hundreds of likes. But me? Oh, poor little me, you see, I only get three...dozen or so likes. I'm sorry, I really needed the rhyme scheme to continue while I scheme for just one...dozen more likes.
You know what, I do most everything with my right hand, I'll give you my left for a follow. Just promise you won't unfollow me once my left hand is in yours.
The things I would do for a like. Or even a follow.
I promise, I'm not much of an egotist, but it is 2018 and likes are like currency for a person like me. And I feel so poor with my dozens of likes while my friends run around with their pockets bulging...from phones that keep ringing with hundreds of likes. Me? I only get three...dozen or so rings.
But the things I would do for a couple more rings. A couple more likes. A follow. A couple more currencies for my social tendencies.
I'm right-handed, my left doesn't really do much, nor do these ribs, they're yours. Just promise me one measly little like. That's all.
Last night, somebody broke into my car. They stole my work ID, three pairs of Ray-Bans, and a couple coupons to a local restaurant. Now, I know some of y’all may be thinking: Ryan, what are you doing with three pairs of glasses in your car?
But to y’all, I say: Shut up, Mom! No one asked for your gosh darn opinion!
Sorry about that, let’s get back to the crime. The crime. The crime involving my car. My car that once held coupons to a local restaurant but now holds nothing more than old receipts.
I’m not mad. I mean, I am, but I am more disappointed than mad. You see, I am mad that you stole my work ID. I am mad that you stole my Ray-Bans. I am infuriated that you stole my coupons. But I am also disappointed. Very disappointed. Borderline offended. You see, in the backseat of my car was three copies of my new book For Souls Like Mine, and you didn’t even bother to steal one.
Not even one!!?? Like, I get it, you wanted glasses. You wanted some coupons. You, not sure why, wanted my work ID. But you didn’t want my brand new book For Souls Like Mine now available on amazon for free?? You could have broken into my house, gun to my head, and forced me to sign it. I would have.
But you didn’t.
Instead, you just stole my work ID, three pairs of Ray-Bans, and a couple coupons to a local restaurant. Leaving my books completely untouched.
Mr. or Mrs. Thief, I am not mad. I am only disappointed. And borderline offended.
there are an infinite amount of stories flowing through the veins of humanity. stories about hope and stories about devastation. stories about empires expanding and stories about empires crumbling into dust. stories of birth and death and love and lost. there are stories within each of us and the veins of humanity never stop telling stories.
standing over a crib is a mother and a father. they stare in at their three month old daughter. she looks up at them with wonder in eyes. her father covers his eyes and uncovers them with a "peek-a-boo," which sends the baby into a giggle. it is a quiet giggle, yet it still manages to rattle the bars of the crib and the ribcages of the mother and father.
standing over a grave is an eighty-nine year old man. he holds flowers in his hands and looks down at a tombstone that reads the name of his wife. the mother of his four kids. his hands are cold, typically on a cold night like tonight his fingers would be interlocked against her warm skin. but his hands have been cold for nearly three years now. he sets the flowers down.
standing over a desk is an eighteen year old girl. she is refreshing her computer every five seconds. today is the day that her choice college is sending out their acceptance letters. she has worked tirelessly for the last four years for this one moment. her father dropped out of high school at sixteen. her mother dropped out at seventeen. the fact that she is only two months away from earning her high school diploma is a miracle in and of itself. but she has always strived for more than just a simple miracle. she is one who stands at the edge of the universe and asks it for more. she is always striving for more.
standing in the middle of the living room is a twenty-seven year old man. in front of him are two couches filled with loved ones. a couple more stand behind the couches and a couple more lean against the wall in the back of the room. he has asked them all to be here tonight. he figured it would be easier this way. to say it just once and never again. he wipes a tear from his cheek and looks up at the ceiling. he can't look them in the eyes, not tonight. "i, um," he begins. he wipes another tear against his sleeve. "i have cancer."
there are an infinite amount of stories flowing through the veins of humanity.
I sit on top of a hill that happens to be the tallest in my small town. It is only 50 feet or so above the one lane road below, but I can see everything from up here. Quiet homes. An empty gas station with two vacant pumps. A water tower that proudly exclaims the name of my small town. Most kids my age come up here to smoke weed and make out in the backseat.
But not me.
I’m here to get closer to the stars. I watch as they twinkle so brightly. They seem so small, but really it is me that is small. It is the hill and the water tower and this town.
I watch the stars. And wonder if anyone is watching back.
I am on a plane from Austin, Texas to LAX. I was in Texas for a little over four days. I spent the first three days in San Antonio and then a little over one day in Austin. I love to see the places and the people that this earth has to offer. We are minuscule dots on an infinite canvas, but these dots sure can be beautiful. There are smiles and dreams and insecurities tucked into every inch of this world, which can sometimes feel too big for such small creatures. I would love to experience it all, every dot, before my body is left to rot beneath the dirt with just a tombstone to remind you that I existed.
There is so much art to be discovered on this tiny planet that we live upon. Rivers that flow beneath a city street and skyscrapers that inch us closer to the stars. People with smiles that cover up scars. Dreams strummed onto a guitar in an empty Austin bar. Tattoos on building walls that cry out for systematic change. There is beauty and there is pain in the cracked streets that guide us from city to city.
I watched the sun set behind the trees. I wonder who else saw it too. I sat on a bench and watched the river flow gently with the wind. On the dirt path between the river and me were runners. I had my headphones in and so did they. I wonder if any of us were listening to the same song.
We are just dots on an infinite canvas that expands the entirety of this boundless universe, but a painting is nothing more than a collection of dots telling a single story. I wonder what story we will tell.