Expressive 2010 1st Place
All that I’ve ever wanted is a life that does not so closely resemble hell. Perhaps, I thought, moving clear across the country to Utah would change everything. Mother Nature definitely has the power to do this for me, right? I mean, that’s how it’s worked out my whole life. I grant control and responsibility to my environment (which is the easiest way to change) thus doing none of the work. This manipulative tendency masked my insipid portrayal of a codependent victim of circumstance. Interestingly enough, this parallels what I feel the infamous and rebellious Beat writer Jack Kerouac experienced in his acclaimed novel Big Sur. Running for practically his entire life, Kerouac was hit with a superfluity of reality shocks. These shocks are like subjects in school. We have to take them, but we each understand them at special times in our lives or sometimes not at all. Fear, love and passion are those primary focuses with which I graciously identify. Bob Dylan, the poetic and passionate folk singer expresses these sentiments with lyrics and Jackson Pollack, the artist, through his neoimpressionist works. But like any surreal life concept, it is a double-edged sword, a cycle. My life has been a cycle of realistically challenging, beautifully magical, hopeless repetition.
The cycle began the first time I ran away from home. Home was the easiest place to leave yet the hardest place to return. Manipulatively, I provoked situations that provided me with the justification I needed to leave the beautiful home that was so generously provided by my parents. There was a majestic sensation in my body that radiated from each step I took every time I ran away from home. No longer trapped in a prison I’d created out of insecurities and ignorant fears, the world was mine for the taking. Pristine is the perfect word to describe how I felt the first time. The second, third and fourth built strength and were perceived as courageous. Then slowly, the habitual cycle became an ironic reminder of everything I had been running from that I never realized was an endless cycle of repetitive hopelessness. This seems to be the theme throughout Kerouac’s adventure to Big Sur. He describes how he “realized gone the last three years of drunken hopelessness which is a physical and spiritual and metaphysical hopelessness you can’t learn in school” (7). This hopelessness he meticulously describes is the exact feeling I will forever empathize with, as it surfaced each time I would return home stripped of pride, incoherent and disturbed. The manipulation burned out, the sentiment diminished and basically the entire routine got old not just to me, but to everyone I hurt when I ran away inevitably to return. Kerouac and I shared a similar understanding:
I HAVE to get out of there—But I have no right to STAY AWAY—So I keep coming back but its all an insane revolving automatic directionless circle of anxiety, back and forth, around and around, till they’re really by now so perturbed by my increasing silent departures and creepy returns. (199)
Realizing how dangerously lost I was in such a self-defeating cycle, my parents made a desperate decision to rescue me. They became facilitators in my life-long marathon. This time I would not only be running away from my home, but from my entire life in Texas. It was in Utah that for eight months I was given the opportunity to segregate myself from the gratuitous influences in Texas and initiate a self-transformation. Through intense introspection and the guidance and help of fervent individuals, I was able to halt the unpromising, repetitive cycle of despondency. Utah was my Big Sur, but unlike Kerouac, I chose to see it for what it really was- a beautiful rebirth, not a hideaway from a life I would always hate.
The once toxic hatred I felt for Texas had disappeared. Upon returning home, I felt ready to re-enter my society with a new and intelligent perception on life. I felt ready to interact with adults, the working class and the successful. My girlfriend of five years, Melissa, had waited for me to come back home and essentially, I felt I had everything I’d ever needed. In other words, I was ready to run away from my past and this time it was acceptable. With the love of my life at the time, my family, trust and self-confidence I finally felt like I escaped the immaturity of adolescence. Life was good. However, that was not good enough for me. Love was the only thing good enough, because without love, life was meaningless. For five wonderful years I thought I knew what love was. That all changed very fast. And by fast I mean like picking up sand at the beach and watching it pour from the cracks in your grasp. With every attempt to save each swiftly falling particle, you inadvertently accelerate the process until the wind steals its escape and carries it away forever. Forever meant deprivation of love, the one fragment of my life that kept me together.
Beginning my new life with my girlfriend on what I thought was a parallel path proved to be nothing more than just an imaginary illusion that I fostered as a false sense of security. Our love had slipped right through our hands and died in what I feel was the most hurtful, destructive and depressing way possible. Literally twenty two days after I broke up with Melissa for submersing herself in the drug world, I was shocked to find out that she had married a 23 year old she had met on ravematch.com, a drug addict’s My Space. On her eighteenth birthday, she went into a courthouse, rolling on ecstasy, and married him. It wasn’t a month later that she got in a car accident that paralyzed her from the waist down. On top of that, she had a miscarriage and her parents found out at the scene of the accident that she had married the man, thus taking her off their insurance. I’ll never forget our last words when she was in the hospital.
“You’re pregnant? You were trying to trap him (her husband) weren’t you?” I asked.
“I’d have done the same to you,” she retorted.
“That’s twisted,” I said as I felt a sick feeling swell up like a flock of birds in a tree fleeing from the sound of a shotgun.
“No, that’s security,” she said like the bitch that she is.
There aren’t enough words to describe the animosity that ran through my entire body like an electroconvulsive shock after I heard her, so distant, gone and disheveled. It felt like a thousand knives stabbing me over my entire body. My best friend, my love, alive, yet not even a telephone call could reach her. I lost her forever. And to this day I still feel the pain of that loss of a relationship that was not eternal.
Now, I look at relationships like the artist Jackson Pollack perceives his relationship to his paintings:
When I am in a painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc, because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.
This semi-optimistic perception on love humored my thoughts that this breakup would be just like the other times we drifted away from each other and quickly found ourselves back together. She goes away for a little bit, gets messed up, and then with the aid of my nonchalant evasiveness, she realizes that I won’t baby her and that being a crack head is not the route she wants to take. Our bond was stronger than any of that stuff combined. But this time there was no hopefulness in the separation. This loss of contact to me, like Pollack, was like experiencing death; a fever pitched pandemonium that contaminated my daily dosages of contentment and stability with fear and acrimony.
Again, right when I thought the hopeless cycle that had lead me absolutely nowhere was finally beginning to branch off, I realized it was just a mirage. I wanted to die. Not to escape to the ease of death, but to rid myself of the innocuous disappointment of living. Really this sounds pessimistic, and it is. But, after playing a victim of circumstance yet again, it was to be expected. This became the outlook on life I clung to for almost a year. Happiness came in cycles and created almost what I see as a manufactured, bipolar twisted head. I began to wonder if happiness was real. During this stage of grief I began the memoir Chronicles, by Bob Dylan. I was intrigued by his grandmother’s statement that “happiness isn’t on the road to anything. That happiness is the road” (20 Dylan). I completely and compellingly agreed with the first part. Happiness leads one nowhere. Inevitably, if one is happy, it plays no part in economic or psychological success. And if happiness is the road, then how/why do we as humans deviate from what was simply and pragmatically laid out for us. It’s almost as if life really is fantastically easy, but we willingly manipulate our predetermined path to give us conflict that’s irresolute as a daily fuel. It was driving in that straight line with all the essentials to live a moral and ethical life but, because one thing disturbed my mock stability, it became not good enough. Do you see the circle?
Happiness was not good enough for me. The brat in me wanted something higher than happiness. I think others would call that freedom, independence, even heaven. Irresponsibly naive, I gave that rare achievement the title, Love. Love was no longer an emotion to me. It was a feat to be conquered. It was an adventure to the end of that imaginary rainbow. The pot of Gold that never existed to begin with but, over the years, gave false hopes of attainment. Love was something I could not find. To search for love was to search forever. To find love was to find death. This mindset gave me that excuse I needed to screw up. I could now regress back to my old ways and get high to escape my fears of hopelessness. And, to tell you the truth, it’s all a part of the circle. Bob Dylan says it perfectly, “They’ll stone you and say that it’s the end. Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again. Yes, but I would not feel so all alone, everybody must get stoned.” I was surrounding myself with the same idiots that could all revel in the same pit of apathy, drugs, and fraudulent happiness. I was living by that old Latin colloquialism, that the seductive rebel Angelina Jolie has tattooed below her belly button, what nourishes me also destroys me. Ironically Latin, it personifies a dead language. Languages are just fuddled words that have provided us with the ability to destroy human existence as we know it, the centrifugal force holding together that cycle of bleak repetition. Dylan’s son Jakob sings it exactly how I felt it, “I know I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same. And somewhere here in between these city walls of dying dreams I think of death it must be killing me.”
I couldn’t handle this blasé, self-destructive path that led to nothingness. This was my revelation. For almost a year I had thrown away everything important to me at the expense of running in the same circle of loss and escape. Relating to Kerouac:
I [saw] myself as just doomed, pitiful—an awful realization that I have been fooling myself all my life thinking there was a next thing to o to keep the show going and actually I’m just a sick clown and so is everybody else—All of it, pitiful as it is, not even really any kind of commonsense animate effort to ease the soul in horrible sinister condition (of mortal hopelessness). (41)
I knew exactly what I was doing and was having a lot of synthetic fun in the process, but I knew it was leading me nowhere. That’s where I had a problem. When I could think about something before I did it, know that it was wrong but lack the strength to follow my heart, I knew I had a huge problem. I always tell people, drugs, sex, violence, religion, whatever it may be that one uses to escape from reality, are symptoms of the problem. Why is the individual doing it? That answer will lead him to sanity! It is here that I found the key to my heart.
I’ll never forget the day I realized that passion was the meaning of life. Luckily, I began to embrace, love, and explore this idea. Passion, I found, is the one thing each and every human lives for. It’s the escape tactics and any other form of negative energy that serves as inhibitors engendered by hatred that distracts us from this passion. I can now look around and see what was visible my entire life, the magnitude and clarity of passion. It’s once one discovers who they are and what they want (passion) that they can create (like the artists including myself that I have mentioned) a personal path to success. Dylan will tell you that “sometimes that’s all it takes, the kind of recognition that comes when you’re doing the thing for the thing’s sake and you’re on to something…” (Dylan 44). This recognition is beautiful. Dylan describes its onset so vividly and perfectly that I have to divulge its entirety:
Little things foreshadow what’s coming, but you may not recognize them. But them something immediate happens and you’re in another world, you jump into the unknown, have an instinctive understanding of it—you’re set free. You don’t need to ask questions and you already know the score. (62)
Sitting here I perspicaciously write of the life I’m creating for myself. College, marriage, death, whatever is now, or is to come comprise my existence. I am unique, just like everybody else, like Bob Dylan, like Jack Kerouac, like Pollack, like many other masters of passion climbing the same eclectic ladder of life. And this is true, life is a ladder. This metaphor resonates a simplistic understanding of life that, surprisingly, has been obvious since the beginning of time. It’s what life is all about, discovering meaning from having passion. Passion is an omnibus of future tense adjectives that leave no room for comfort in immobility. Passion is comfort in constant change and the stability that results from its relentless pursuit. Move forward fearlessly into a newfound comfort of passion. Reframe thought patterns that fear the unknown, to the inspirational embrace of change, “It dawned on me that I might have to change my inner thought patterns… that things had become to familiar and I might have to disorientate myself.” (Dylan 71)
It is time for new journeys, thought patterns, and dreams. It is time to try something new and take risks. Where my old memories symbolize the enlightenment of true friendships that were created, my experiences and knowledge personified the end of hopelessness. Running away from my past is like being a child all over again. Naïvely, I can tell myself that the past didn’t matter, delightfully push it aside to deal with later, and hopefully forget about it. Kerouac says it best: “[‘] Infancy conforms to nobody’-- the infancy of the simplicity of just being happy,” (30). This simplicity, despite the run, is helping me to engender a clear mind and an ability to function on terms of maturity, rationality, and reality. The simple acceptance of true happiness, self-betterment, and longevity of knowledge is my new emphasis. It is only up hill from here.
It is now. Now, ironically enough is Utah. Yes, I ran back to my saving grace that for months in Texas I knew would be my home once again. However, I am no longer running from my Texas home or my past, I am running into my future. To be able to actually embrace this potential, I learned to forgive myself. Forgiving me is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But, it was the final chapter in destroying the cycle of hopeless repetition. My life is no longer a monotonous and juvenile escape. My life is mine; a new cycle of self-awareness and accomplishment. I have gained control over what I relinquished to the arms of laziness, insecurity and quick fixes. Surprisingly, (to me especially) I did it in Utah. They say running away from your problems never solves anything, but I feel that nothing in life is ever really solved. In the cyclic abrasiveness of life, running enables you to enjoy that hopeless feeling of inconclusiveness. What it really depends on is the direction in which you’re running.