Audience Of One

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Van-Renselar

Pictures and scenery from years gone by flash before my eyes as I’m laying here on my deathbed. I’m simultaneously smiling and crying, wishing to be back in those memories as a more willing participant rather than just as a casual observer.

Who would have ever thought that desire to experience those times again would creep into my psyche? Weren’t those experiences hard the first time? Now laying here I realize, accepting this unfulfilled life is much harder to endure than all the things I had to go through while I was still young or even middle-aged.

Before withering away to my end, I had only watched the days go by without me really participating in them or enjoying sharing good times with others. Now, it’s an even lonelier existence. A hospital bed and my dreams to give me my only real comfort now; closing my eyes make me an audience of one to my past.

I experience a rare joy when nurses or doctors come to call. I can smile a bit with them, forget the sadness I feel. Then they leave and once again I am by myself, alone with my physical pain and my emotional sorrow. The tears flow silently, streaking my face like tiny little rivers through the cracks of my aged appearance.

Looking up, the ceiling offers no hope for some sort of release. I find the only way to escape this dreary loneliness is to sleep and join those characters that brought me what was, in hindsight, the most joy throughout my life. Experiences that I didn’t really know how to appreciate or even understand at the time. Simple pleasures like just being with someone I cared about and truly enjoying the time spent together. Looking at the sunset and its beautiful shades of color as it dipped down below the tree line. Feeling the wind blowing and licking my skin with its light, feathery touch. The little tingles of love and appreciation I should have felt when my children looked at me adoringly. If only I had taken the time to really let all those good things resonate in me deeply. If only I had been an active participant in my life while I had the chance then maybe the sadness now wouldn’t be so profoundly devastating.

I built a lifetime of feeling alone and preoccupied. Connecting to my existence, fully engulfing my experiences could have – oh, they would have – made for a richer take-away than what I chose to be left with at that time. So now I’ll exit this world with only memories, their impact and meaning only now being revealed; a lesson of life learned much too late.

**Originally published on PhiloSusi 4/16/2014. Reposted with minor revisions.

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Face On

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Confessions of a young woman

Sometimes I look at myself through the eyes of a stranger. Who I see is not the person I am. Merely a representation of all that other people want me to be. I try to make the world around me believe a different reality, the self-deception is excruciating sometimes, and exhausting. The real me is revolting just under the surface, but to the world around me, all is calm. What keeps this façade in place is the fact that no one cares about me. I know that for a fact. Sometimes I don’t even want to know who I am. It’s bad enough having to live with myself every day. Experiencing the joy of discovery and understanding real joy is a momentary feeling. There are hiccups of excitement coming from my stomach up into my throat when I allow myself to have that sensation of everything’s all right, and I’m all good with me. Sadly, it fades quickly. Who is allowed to entitle themselves to a speck of happiness?  Nah, that’s just something you’re not allowed to experience, I say to myself.

Will it always be like this?

Unoriginal

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My thoughts are unique or are they?

Am I an original or just a borrower from the inspirers of my past?

I fear the quality words will all have been spoken.

I wonder when it’ll all have been said.

Will my voice be muted before I die?

Before I leave my mark…

Elusive Freedom

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It starts with being born. There isn’t a choice in the matter. I certainly played no part in being here. Did you?

Had I been asked, I may have said, “No, thank you.”

We come into the world under the control of whatever mechanism which put us here. Just by instinct and choice, we continue to want to experience life. Then we are bound by the rules of those who raise us. Even when we graduate from the family into adulthood, our subsequent years usher us into the next line of restrictions on our freedom.

“These are paths to be taken!” says our society! It tends to dispense authoritative advice to the youth as they are just emerging into their own legally. School, good job, marriage, children – continue the cycle. It’s as if because members of society did it, that is the automatic direction everyone should take. I hope I wasn’t too bossy with my children.

Should individuals choose a different path, their opinion to be unique still won’t shut down those opposing viewpoints. Assimilate! Don’t stand out! Don’t go against our way of how things have always been done! When did we as a society decide that people being or doing life differently meant it was a problem? Probably since forever.

In the work world, we see employers dictate exactly how to fit into the square box called the company. It’s called compliance, and understandably so, one does need to get paid to continue this experience called life. Food, water, and shelter are a requirement to sustain. But oh how it dulls the individual! I’ve heard it said that’s why it’s called work and not fun.

Raising our children (should we decide to have them) provides us with even more ways we must adhere to other’s expectations, whether they be our own family, friends or public opinion. It seems everyone has a view on that. “Do this, don’t do that!”

Of course, compliance with the law of the land to live civilly in our community, state, country, or the world seems a smart choice. It’s being able to live in harmony with the others who also had no say in being born. Does that define being free though – adherence to the expectations of others?

I don’t think so.

If we are to have the right and the power to be exactly who we want to be without any pushback, it will require a world absent of people who disagree with how individuals wish to act, declare, or display themselves to this world.

This world would be empty. And lonely.

No different than so many people feel right now where we have a society filled with people which do disagree with individuals all the time.

Neither world is a pleasant experience for those who yearn to feel unobstructed.

I don’t think we can ever feel 100% free.

Life is a continual series of compromises to achieve some level of comfort in a life which we did not choose.

Lyrical Yin-Yang

 

I love this song for so many reasons. But that one line in the chorus “Everything that kills me makes me feel alive…”, that knocked something over in me internally and got my attention. It hooked me hard, the rest of the lyrics just kept pulling me in deeper.

When you think of the Chinese philosophy, this video captures the two principles distinctly. Yin – negative, dark, and feminine and Yang – positive, bright, and masculine whose interaction influences the destinies of creatures and things.

Throughout the music video, you can see the contrast playing out. Hope, despair. Doing life your way, being led. Determination, defeat. Good, evil. Fighting the establishment, following it. Every bit of being engaged in either spectrum will lead you to the results you experience in your life. Fact.

That one line though is the point – we all need to get to our darkest depths to escape and break through to the other side where there’s light. Crumbling from defeat is where life begins again. We have to experience it all to have it be a whole life, to feel complete throughout the entirety of it.

Every time I listen to this, I imagine the tastiness of living fully engaged.

It feels good and bad.

Manicured Lawns

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Every day I challenge myself to walk two miles. It’s not my favorite part of the day, but moving is a requirement. Otherwise, I feel more like I’m one with the couch rather than this world. Usually, I do it in the gym. When the weather is refreshing, and weight training isn’t also on my plate, I walk in my neighborhood. What I do enjoy about being out and about close to home is seeing all the colors of nature and feeling either the heat light me up or the wind cool me down. I’ve always enjoyed that connection to all that surrounds me.

On my walks, in between all the thoughtful conversations I’m having or written pieces I’m trying to work out in my head, I notice a whole lot of people’s attempts at manipulating their front lawns. Most of them neatly done. I see every square inch of the green strands perfectly in order, complete with lawn ornamentation that on many, compliment either the house or the owner’s personality very nicely. The lawns go from deep luscious green to weather-whipped tan and everything in between. The human-made variations of lawns are as plentiful as nature’s vibrant and colorful display of foliage. But, some go to the extreme of saying a big Fuck You – I own you! to life with their manufactured look, rather than an inviting natural feel to their display.

I’m a big fan of orderliness in my regular day to day life so one would assume that I would be equally thrilled with those lawns that smack of having a paid lawn maintainer or an enthusiastic gardener as its caretaker, but I’m not. Even though the crisp look of those well-maintained lawns do add charm and a sense of ‘all is well in the world’ rightness to the neighborhood, there is something distinctly off about it too.

I believe that some Űber-manicured looking lawns are trying to present the perfect picture, but just like the clothes people wear meant to hide personal inadequacies or as the large houses chosen to impress are covering up massive debt and insecurities; these lawns are also hiding something. The facade of beautifully well-kept greenery could be concealing an ugliness on the interior of the homes that sit on those grassy pictures of perfection. I don’t know that for a fact, but it is indeed something I contemplate. Humans do try to hide their true natures sometimes. Our society, so often, demands obedience to facades otherwise judgments will be harsh. It hasn’t yet successfully come to terms with accepting people as much as they could and, in my opinion, should.

The cliche ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ comes to mind when I think about the pristine lawn. The people go to any lengths to impress other people with their skills at lawn maintenance. It’s a facade implying they are equally as good as their lawns. 5-star quality people is the message. At least, the maintainers of those lawns hope it will lead other people to believe that. They understand what society dictates and they are playing that game of what’s truly important. The appeal may be to present this polished outward appearance to indicate a level of achievement that won’t warrant negative judgment. The fact is, their character, as individuals, should be the barometer of what qualifies for being upstanding, not their damn lawn. I will say that there are probably a few lawn aficionados who are perfectly well-rounded, well-adjusted human beings and their top priority is only to be creative masters in their lawn universes. I’m not speaking about those people.

My thoughts aren’t always accurate but with a lot of the different things this old lady has learned in her life, I’m betting I’m not entirely incorrect in my thought process today. Appearances and fear of judgment are huge in today’s world and something I don’t see changing any time soon.

Or maybe the only reason this even comes across my mind is that I don’t have a manicured lawn. This piece would help to explain it to the neighbors who don’t get why it’s not essential to me.

I hope they are reading it.

My neighbors would finally understand who they are dealing with; a person who frequently doesn’t adhere to the dictates of this society.

 

**Originally published on Susi’s Soap Box 7/25/2011 Re-posted here with revisions

Invested

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Life is not always a canorous version of what you want reality to be. It’s excruciatingly hard at times. Shit happens. And sometimes, when it inevitably does, it’s brutal.

Getting up and moving on to accept your next challenge and even pleasantness means effort. Existence and really living means hard work.

Taking gut punches from life and not vomiting or dying says you’ve got courage.

I applaud you! And I commend you for the endurance you show in the face of it.

May your decisions more often than not lead you to your happy place.

My mission is to be in the audience of lives who choose determination. I’m your cheerleader!

What an honor to be in the front row as a witness to your joy, passion, and rewards.

Carry on, friends.

Well-Intentioned

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Ending an email or a letter with Sincerely always seemed formal and stuffy to me. It never really felt genuine anyway. I choose to use Take care instead. The person’s welfare is important to me. I wonder if they ever really hear that?

Recently I’ve begun to say Be well instead. It still implies that a person’s well-being is important to me; it just shifts the message slightly. Take care says “please watch out for yourself because you never know what could come your way” while Be well says “farewell and feel well.” The tone is a positive directive to just do everything in your power to being or feeling good. I really like that.

It seems so minor, I know. But Take care feels hesitant and Be well is bold and forceful almost. It’s the intention behind the latter ending which makes me want to use it more now. We could all use a little more support, I think.

Coincidentally, I recently learned of the philosophy of eudaimonia. Aristotle states in his Nicomachean Ethics that it means to be doing and living well. What I understand about it is that one can achieve this state of well-being through the pursuit of knowledge, honesty, kindness, and courage. Using a rational approach to life such as gaining scientific knowledge was also considered valuable.

It’s true that when we apply rational and critical thinking to situations, they tend to go a lot smoother. The outcome, even if a disastrous one, will likely lead to an easier adjustment to that situation. Seems like a formula for success.

What I also find interesting is that it helps me to understand my desire to use Be well instead of Take care. The former implies taking charge, doing with intention, achieving goals – proactive (rational); whereas the other is waiting to see what happens to you and then respond – reactive (irrational).

I really prefer to offer words saying I’m interested in their well-being rather than one of only hoping they can make it through in life.

And for that, I think I’ll Be well.

Mystery Blogger Award 2018!

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I was nominated for The Mystery Blogger Award! Considering that I’ve really only been at this for the last 6 months here on WordPress, I’m honored. 🙂 Thank you, Reggie German! Please venture over to his blog; he’s got some great stuff!

I also (rules or not) want to thank, Okoto Enigma, for creating this award. At the moment, I have not read her blog, but I certainly plan on it. She is the creator of this excellent award; an award she describes best:

Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma

Here are the rules:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

Questions posed by Reggie:

  1. Are you in the occupation you planned on being in? If not, what changed your course? Never in a million years did I think I would be a stay-at-home expresser of my thoughts who would publish a book but I did! My journey down the path of writing started rather late in life, and I credit a wonderful inspirational human for that.
  2. What’s one thing that people always misunderstand about you? For those who don’t know me well, I don’t think they realize that I always say what I mean and do as I say. They are surprised when they can count on me.
  3. Do you have a routine when you write? I do, and it’s described here  Read, think, write
  4. How would you describe your writing style? It’s always been very important to me to be honest, heartfelt and relay a sense of my understanding of the world in my writing.
  5. What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever worn? A shiner under my left eye!

Three Random Things About Me:

  1. I was an Army brat born in West Berlin, Germany before the wall came down.
  2. Have been married twice and bore two children even though I frequently said I would do neither when I was younger. Fortunate for me, I changed my mind.
  3. You can easily see I possess the perfect “footprints in the sand” imprint every time my wet feet step on a dry mat.

I Nominate:

Elleguyence

Glover Gardens

Fauxcroft

Yaskhan

Unbolt Me

Dark Anki

Aston Kamunde

The Feathered Sleep

Poetpaspoetry

Paul Lenzi

Here are the questions for my nominees:

  1. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
  2. What prompted you to begin writing consistently?
  3. Name three places you’d like to visit.
  4. How many years is your longest friendship?
  5. If you were forbidden to ever write again, what would you be doing instead?

 

My Favorite Post:

Narrowing it down to one was just too tough! I ended up with three for these reasons:

The Process of Life and Waking Up for they are both daily occurrences.

Carotid Wine The first piece of fiction I imagined. The title was killer too.

Mysterious Life

 

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An unending, voluminous vastness gave us life.

The purpose is anyone’s guess.

Life knows how to adapt when its environment preys on it. Survival is the by-product of encoded genetic material forcing nature to continue but also to thrive and even rise above within their given circumstances.

For what reason does life have a built-in switch to influence continuation of a species though? Where does this desire to continue on and evolve come from?

The reason is a mystery; one that has long been pondered since the beginning of existence. We can consciously think of these things now more than ever. Not that we have any answers yet as to why we exist and for what purpose.

So many smart people can write book after book and provide research to explain all the things we have learned. It’s a never-ending mountain of information that details so much of what was unknown before. It’s beyond comprehension for some, inspiring to others to know even more.

And yet, no answer for what the purpose of existence even is.

But in the end, does it even matter? Animals and insects will be guided somewhat by instinct, vegetation continually seeking to fulfill what has driven them for millennia – to not wither and die. Humans will continue to exist the best way they know how. Influences in life will force them to decide what that life will look like; it’s their choice.

Nature consciously decided to be here, and we’ll probably never know the answer why.