Tune in and tune out. 07/30/09
As I sit here right now, I’m plugged into the music. My inner ear is vibrating with the ebbs and flows of notes and sounds–a cacophony of beauty and pain playing tag inside my brain. Headphones on, real world blocked from entering my consciousness. In the past several years I’ve become a mastermind at ignoring the world around me. I’ve developed many methods and tactics on how to evade each and every obstacle that inches its way into my already unnavigable path. Music is only one of those devices.
But, here it is making a comeback.
It’s typically one song, one gateway drug, that wiggles its way into my heart and soul and intertwines itself with all the little veins and vessels that make up my insides. Their hands clasp with mine and together we walk bravely, heads held proud and upright, unaware of anything other than how high our arms can stretch to reach our dreams. There is no limit to what I can accomplish when I’m in this state of mind. And I have nothing to thank but a little guitar, a melancholic cello, a catchy beat, or a lyric that could cut through the strongest of steel.
I’ve always been attracted to talent. The way people’s brains work and how art can be created out of nothing but a few raw materials and a pair of hands will never cease to intrigue me. Perhaps it’s because I, myself, have so few identifiable skills. In my opinion, if you have nothing to contribute to society you are of no use, evolutionary-wise. And I have yet to find my niche. I have yet to hone in on what makes me special–what makes me worthy of being on this earth. I am so hyper-aware of all the ways I fail that I tend to overlook the pockets of good in me. I know that I have talents. I know I have a basic skill set of some sort. But what? My dad always says that he “knows a little about a lot.” And I feel that I carry that burden upon my feeble shoulders as well. I have inherited the ability to know a few things about a wide assortment of topics. That might be helpful in the game of Jeopardy! or Trivial Pursuit, but in the game of life I think it’s better to have a path pre-set for you. For example, if you are a kid who can build amazing masterpieces with tinker toys or an erector set– you might be best suited for a career in engineering or architecture. I feel that we are presdestined for certain things.
Case in point, when I was kid I was dressing up in a purple unicorn suit, several sizes too small, with a floppy horn, and horseshoes taped to the bottom of my feet. And when I wasn’t a horse, I was a bird–complete with feathers taped to my shirt and a paper beak on my schnoz. Or if I wasn’t feeling up to flight that day, I would be a jockey–content to ride upon the backs of one of the finest Thoroughbred stick horses this side of the Mississippi. This trend continues. Nothing in my childhood prepared me for my adulthood. I had an uncontainable imagination and an endless reservoir of love and compassion. Both are noble traits, mind you. But, as we all know, neither will pay the bills.
My only goal as a child was to make a difference in someone’s life. Well, my first priority was to buy as many Star Wars toys as I could possibly manage on my meager five cent a week salary. But, after that…yes after that was attempting to achieve my self-fulfilling prophecy of being indispensable to someone else. I knew that I had the right tools and qualities to do so. I’ve always been able to intimately get to know another being in short periods of time. I’m able to see behind the face they present to the world, peering deep into their eyes, trying to study their every move and every hesitation. I can read their pain, their fears, their joys, their wants and their desires. I open up my soul and pour out its contents into their hands. I fill their mind with more information about myself than they would ever care to know. I give them my trust, and in return I gain theirs. Granted, connections like this are rare. Good friends don’t come around often. I meet a lot of people who I can instantly reject as incompatible. I am not interested in having mediocre friends. I don’t want casual acquaintances. I don’t want awkward pauses or strained conversations. I’m content being alone if my alternative is uncomfortably shifting in my seat, wiping sweaty palms on my jeans, with eyes furtively shifting to the lone clock on the wall counting down the seconds until I’m free from this self-imposed torture.
Humans are social creatures, no doubt. We need contact. We need people to talk to. We need to feel another person’s touch. We crave it. But, I’m not and will never be desperate enough to surround myself with people who don’t understand me, who don’t need me, who don’t care to know more about me than the smile plastered upon my pale facade. There is so much more to me than what most can see. I might bury bits of myself away–I might hide the biggest mass of who I am beneath the surface, but I do so to protect the only thing I have going for me–my heart.
I know I’m here to help people out. There has never been a period of my life where I did not have a true best friend. Someone who I shared my entire self with… and while the faces and names changed throughout the years, I always had that one person to devote myself to. I would do anything for them and I always felt the feeling was mutual. Why I have never been able to hold on to any of these people remains a mystery. Maybe I was meant to change more than just one life. Maybe all of these lessons of love and loss are just ways to strengthen my resolve, to toughen up my skin, to make the entire process easier to swallow. But, I have learned that losing a best friend will never get easy. No matter how many times the process is repeated, no matter how hard you try to protect yourself, no matter how prepared you think you are—it’s always gut-wrenching when it happens.
True friends are connected in ways too complex and complicated to explain with mere words. It is something that has to be sensed and experienced in order to be fully understood. There comes a point in time where the definition between the two entities becomes blurred. While each person retains their sense of self-identity, there is no denying the shared qualities that make two become one in the eyes of the audience around you. Where two existed only one remains–a messy amalgam of ties, twists and cords lie tangled vine-like around your ankles, roughly sewn stitches hold you together at the seams. Whatever direction one takes the other follows and you hold each others hands throughout it all. You comfort each other in times of duress, you offer your ears when words need to be heard, you offer your arms in an open embrace when we just need to feel that touch of warmth. A true friend makes the world around you irrelevant for as long as it takes for you to heal. They provide us with the respite we crave when we sense an avalanche is coming– let you catch your breath, wipe your eyes, and see that no mountain is insurmountable. Even when you think you have a hit a brick wall that stretches into the galaxies, they talk us out of giving up. They make us laugh when all we want to do is cry. They know us well enough to look past the now and look towards the future. That though the words we say may sting or bruise and hurt deeply, that we are just upset and have no one else to be honest with but you. They know that this too shall pass. They don’t walk the other direction when you come near. They don’t tear themselves away from you when things get a little tough. They push themselves closer to you, flesh to flesh, bones crunching and cracking as they dig deeper and deeper into your skin. They will never leave you.
Not until it’s time to move on.
People do change. Some more than others. And it’s only natural for people to take different directions when two roads diverge in the woods. It’s a somber march into the darkness when this happens. You can see the fork in the paths coming at you quicker than you would like and you fight tooth and nail to run the other way, but the pull of change and time is too strong to ignore. Destiny. Once you take that first step away from your friend, tears stream down the sides of your face, the sights and sounds of the life you’ve ignored come at you from all angles. You are no longer safe. No longer protected from the world around you. When you blindly reach for his hand in the darkness of the night all you come up with is the frigid breeze of his ghost–the one that will haunt your every turn for the rest of your life. The snow crunch is deafening beneath your boot– echoing loudly throughout the world around you. You turn around to retrace your steps, running full speed towards the ghastly faded outline of the person you once knew and cared about so deeply. The streams of white falling from above wiping the slate clean– and no more foot prints pattern the ground below. All you can make out is a shadow of the life you once you knew. But, we turn around and persevere through the elements like we always do.
It’s ok to hurt. It’s ok to mourn over people we have lost. We will always carry a piece of them with us wherever we go. But, we have to move on and go forward. Eventually we have to lay memories of our past to rest, their candle flickers within the deepest and darkest crevices of our chest, but will never extinguish.
And while we walk around blank faced, pale, dragging our feet behind us, staggering and stumbling with half of ourselves ripped away–someone else is experiencing the same tell-tale symptoms. Some other unfortunate person is missing half of their heart and soul. And while we feel battered, bloody and broken– sometimes we are lucky enough to fall into a situation where we find this other person–and we cling to them with every fiber of our being. You know when it’s special. You know when you were meant to find this other entity. Despite life trying to pull you apart, fate somehow always brings you back together. You have to constantly fight away the demons trying to destroy a good thing because it threatens the easier path. But, it’s important enough to fight for, and you will win.
I know when I’ve found my person. There is no telling how long this moment will last. There is no way to know how many hours, months or years this other being will need you in their life. You have to be prepared to let go at a second’s notice. There’s no way to prevent yourself from the hurt that will inevitably follow this relationship. But, it’s a risk worth taking, and you know you will repeat it every time–because it’s your destiny.
I’ve been pushed, betrayed, belittled, scarred and bludgeoned to the point of nonrecognition by those who I believed to be my friends. Each time it happens I pour every minute of every hour into putting together the broken pieces–trying to pinpoint what went wrong and when? All I ever gained from these experiences were more surface wounds from the shards of glass lying at my feet. I now see that there is no use to this torturous exercise. They were ready to move on and I was still clinging to the past.
I’ve blindly collided into a situation where I have had to utilize all of my resources in order to orient myself, block out the distractions around me, and concentrate on how to best handle all the cards I’ve been dealt. It’s taken me months, but I’ve finally discovered what I’ve been missing. I can stop running now. That although life may want to take me in the opposite direction, I know when to hold firm on my instincts. And this is one of those times. So, I’m following my gut and going the way the magnet pulls me. For once I’m throwing myself into the wind and I think I know who will pick up all the pieces.
I know what I’m meant for.
All stemming from musical experimentation. Tuning in and tuning out the world around