Departed Cameras and Dimmed Lights*

Attention spans are short to say the least! I must admit that mine definitely is. We remember people and things, until we forget. And sometimes we forget that just because we have forgotten, does not mean that they have seized to be. Sensationalism sells! Any successful newspaper can tell you that, yet after the sensationalism has sizzled down the problems still remain.

Haiti is still Haiti – rubble, ruins and all; Hurricane Katrina’s shadow still looms large; Pakistan is still awash with sorrow even though the flood waters no longer occupy the news; and Darfur still suffers damnation.

Cultivating a culture of excellence is the only way to overcome our short memory spans. Internalizing the pain of others, and pushing ourselves when our adrenaline over issues has flat lined, will keep unfortunate circumstances in mind. There is something for everyone to do – everywhere! Donate old clothes and shoes, give a percentage of a paycheck, volunteer to tutor, teach, paint, or simply participate in the life of another.

Life happens every single day, and for some life is less than satisfactory. Often times I sink into a pit of self pity – tests coming up, lack of sleep, balance work and school – its easy to do. After all our worlds feel the biggest to us and small problems are magnified by the proximity to which they personally relate –  but then I flip the grey pages of the newspaper open and the real doom and despair bleeds out of the black ink. There are simply bigger problems!

Poverty, sickness, deep-seated sadness, mental torment, physical disabilities, and the list goes on. It’s not enough to simply be thankful that that could have been us. It always could have been us, but most times it’s not. And just because it is not us, does not mean we do not have a responsibility to help where we can. Why do I think much more was given to me? Surely not to satisfy my handbag fetish and desire for pretty pumps, it must be much more.

Somewhere in my core I feel the cries of those less fortunate, and the older I get the more I promise myself that I will be less quick to forget. Less quick to forget that it coulda easily have been us, and one day it may be. – with a problem so big that existence is simply a chore.

A few days ago someone killed themselves in the Engineering building of my University. This person had recently lost their job, and I cannot speculate about the motivations or the depth of feelings coursing through this person’s veins, I can only say that the sorrow is not exclusive to that individual – (R)est (I)n (P)eace. There remains a sadness in the eyes of many, an anchor in the hearts of adjacent individuals, and the unwavering truth that we have been put here to aid one another.

Man is not an island. From an economic standpoint trade and interaction benefit everyone. Individuals have tasks at which they have absolute advantage and are thus most resourceful at performing that task. This truth is not exclusive to textbook examples of wheat and corn, it goes on. Some people are better at lending their comic relief, some their warm hugs, some their encouraging notes, and some their cash. Let all who can lend of themselves do so, for investing in a life and a smile is worth much much more than any less impactful more materialistic alternative.

Give, give, and give and what you receive shall be multiplied exponentially beyond your wildest dreams. The more I do, the better I feel. The more I see life for what it should be. Money, time, prayers, these are all invaluable additions to the lives of those who need them – and being a part of that cannot simply be quantified, for race, religion, colour or creed we all share the bond of being *mankind. Rewards shall surely be given – of that you may fear not.

So that when the lights dim and the cameras depart,

The fire in your heart shall ever burn bright,

And someone somewhere stumbling in the dark,

Shall find their way home, by following your light.

You shall be the map through the maze,

That was once their plight,

And once blind and burdened,

Now regained their own sight.

Their own passionate resolution to fight the good fight.

*Meet the Parents*

I was nervous when I brought him home!

I had never brought anyone home to meet the parents before! Never mind the friends, family, co-workers, crushes, exes, and strangers all in one go. Yet here I was, exposing my true love to everyone – all at once.

I wondered what people would say when they truly got a look at him! Would they think him brave, stuck up, too opinionated? Would they think he was too young? I feared they might call him uppity, simplistic, jobless, inconsistent and worst of all – untalented!

Yet I was tired. Tired of keeping him locked up in my bedroom. Tired of being the only one who was allowed to interact with him. Tired of exploring the depths of his mind, thoughts, and intentions through the tattered and torn pages of journal entries. I don’t want my covert operation to be under wraps anymore, I’m ready for the expose’.

I don’t know when I fell in love with him. He started as a figment of my imagination, and the reality of him just escalated as my obsession grew. I find traces of him in blue and black and purple ink.

I had used him many times, truth be told. Trusted him countless others. He was the one I told tales that consisted of my real truths and he’d never let me down, yet here I was about to share him with the world with mixed signals regarding his consent.

But it had been decided. I was ready to put the thoughts in my head to bed – piece by piece. So I found him a cover – www.piecesofme89.wordpress.com – and rolled out the red carpet.

It was time to move my love out – from the recesses of my mind into the arena where the critics and commentators might reach him. Open to the eyes and ideas of all. Friend and foe. Yet I was ready. For as my fingers stroked the keyboard, thoughts of him flowed through me, and each and every day from HP Pavillions, to borrowed Mac books, to computer lab keyboards, to black berry notes he was oozing out bit by bit. I could not supress him if I dared, and as my opinions got stronger, so his hold of me tightened.. For he was I, and I am him – inseperable!

He is my thoughts, my feelings, the very expression of myself. “Once Upon A Blogspot” is his alias, but his true name might as be the same query as my name – “what have you brought to the world?”

He brings inconsistencies, the various faces of all my identities, the thoughts I have neither time nor inclination to speak out loud. He is the discussions I barely explore with others, the truths I tell myself and then forget, he is me without punctuation and I regard this his official presentation.

He may speak on issues, on crushes and cares, on fears and fortunes,on future amibtions. He may have subtle suggestions or strong convictions, yet each and everytime I respect his honesty. Bold enough to bring down the barriers of my mind and to keep typing when I long to backspace.

Who deserves to meet the parents? He does! He is my circle of trust, for he knows and interprets each and every truth. AND whether he is right or wrong, he still comes forth, and for that my deepest respect. Whether he is misunderstood or related to, supported or scorned, here’s my fiance y’all. 🙂

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce myself – inside out.

I swear to *hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the *truth.

Don’t convince people out of confessions! And don’t kiss them out of confessions either. When someone (especially someone important to you) says they have something important to tell you, by all means let them tell you.

Watching “Maid in Manhattan” last weekend I was reminded of that fact. Marissa (J-Lo) is getting ready to confess to Chris that she’s actually just a maid. Instead he locks eyes and swoops in for the kiss. Its clear from her introduction that her heart is heavy, her mind is burdened, and it has taken a lot for her to say what she’s about to, but instead he fairytales it away with a kiss claiming nothing she has to say matters.

One cannot predict what diversions of truth telling sessions may lead to, but even in this seemingly perfect fairytale it led to the loss of Marissa’s job and that of her co-worker, a deeper rift in her relationship with her mother, and months apart for the infatuated couple. It’s an “ever after” movie, so in the end all wrongs were righted and all ribbons wrapped around the pretty package that sells us chick-flick romance, but we all know such is not the case in the reality by which we common folk abide.

Tragedy tends to beget tragedy, and even our *ever afters* are becoming harder and harder to recognize.

Today *ever after* might be a single 22 year old mother who has the courage and confidence to keep her beautiful baby boy when the father chickens out. Today it might be a retired chief of police taking on the job of a chartered bus driver who drops pearls of wisdom as he drives from Indiana to Montreal – with no airs or self-consciousness whatsoever.

“Ever After” is what we make it. The brothers Grimm never warned that a time would come when their blueprint for a fairytale ending would not meet the contemporary construction codes, the time is nigh. It would take less permits to legalize controlled substances than to construct the fairytale castles.

No one expects you to let your hair (or your weave) down, while they climb up it via sky scraper to save you. Likewise, ladies don’t expect a white horse and a fully armored knight to ride to their rescue.

So many things have changed and the shapes no longer fit snugly into the schemas, but one thing remains the same – truth is truth. The famous adage says “and the truth shall set you free.” Indeed it shall – if you allow it to be told!

When someone says they have something important to tell you – they usually do! Yet movie after movie, and real life and real life, you see people fairytale-ing away the facts with kisses and equally passionate declarations of “whatever you has to say doesn’t matter.”

While it may not matter in that exact instance, it will matter later! When the individual who promised “nothing will ever change us” finds out second hand information you attempted to volunteer yourself, usually it changes everything.

So let us all do ourselves a favor and listen! Listen when someone says they have something to tell you. Be persistent when you are the one who knows you have some telling to do. Honesty is the best policy, because the truth is proud, and it will always find its way to center stage, whether you conduct the symphony that it seeps out of, or allow it to materialize of its own accord.

I’ve stopped buying into those fairytale frivolities of the past being the past, and “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If the individual involved deems it important to the current state of things, it is important to the current state of things. Even judges hear cases that the press and others already deem obviously innocent or guilty one way or another, so who are we to hand out pardons before we’ve even received the facts?

 If it doesn’t matter at all, then hear the person out, and then your pardon will mean that much more to the both of you. Either way, each party can enter into said endeavor with their eyes open, their hearts registering the reality check, and truth taking the center stage it craves.

So swear to *hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and save yourselves some drama and time by listening rather than kissing and fairytale’ing away confessions before they are made.

x

Once upon a fortune cookie

My fortune cookie a few nights ago said, “Don’t pursue happiness – create it.”

Usually my fortune cookies from the Great Taste Chinese restaurant across the street are absolutely senseless. My high school teacher might have a coronary @ the word combinations they attempt to use which make no sense either grammatically or otherwise.

In fact I usually roll my eyes, as the fortune cookie usually make a lame attempt at drug store psychology meets underpaid translator. Fortunes are supposed to be predictors of the future no? Apparently not!

But who needs a fortune cookie prediction anyway! A good soul searching session could tell you twice as much and yet nothing @ all. We can propose, but a higher power disposes – therefore these predictors are hardly worthy of the cellophane wrappers they come in.

This once, I must admit – my fortune cookie was right. Happiness is not something that can be caught up to or attained after a certain amount of time; it is something we must seize in every magical moment. It is something we must create and sustain. It is more of an attitude than any sort of destination.

One of my best days came from sitting in an abandoned yard filled with grease and car parts at a makeshift mechanic yard for 10 hours. Waiting and wondering when the hell the car would be fixed. Yet as I sat there and boredom turned into heat, and heat turned into hunger, it became painfully aware that it’s not at all about where you are – but absolutely about who you are with and the attitude you choose to adopt.

Happiness to me is a conviction! A conscious decision not to let the negatives get me down. Not to the let the disappointment I feel when others don’t come through consume me. It is a choice to appreciate what I have, where I am going, and most importantly who I am and revel in that, rather than count my curses and feed my depression.

Happiness is seeing the rainbow after the storm, playing in the puddles rather than grumbling about wet feet. And happiness is not easy! Sometimes we must force it. Faking a smile eventually gets tiring, and sometimes your emotions just might give in and grant you a real one.

It is harder to be happy than to mope around, and harder to let joy come from within than give in to the feelings evoked by what we are without. I am well aware of the power of anger, blame, frustration and fear; yet I choose to create my happiness rather than attempt to pursue it.

Happiness is a great athlete, it can and will outrun most of us many a time if we choose to chase after it. Everyone has their notion of what it is, and it is ever changing. Rather than attempting to grasp on to this effervescent and shape-shifting definition of this much sought after concept, it would behoove us all to create our own concept, nurture it, and allow it to encompass us; as we determine what matters and what we allow to make our hearts smile or sad.

Great taste was right on this one – “Don’t pursue happiness, *create it!”

If My Daydreams Could Manifest Into Realities – Lives Would Thus Be Ruined

I am oddly aware of the mixed blessing it is for my daydreams to be conjured into realities. If we had the power to manipulate the minds and emotions of others to the extent that we sometimes desire, lives would undoubtedly be ruined. Sometimes when things do not go my way, when people are not who I wish them to be, or when circumstances seemingly conspire against my happiness I kick and complain, yet somewhere deep down my conscience reminds me that it is as it should be. I do not wish to have puppets and puppies @ my beck and call, therefore free will is indeed a blessing.

We must grow strong in that we can unclench our fists easily. As much as I want to grasp onto someone’s coat tails or collar, I must grow strong in that I can unclench my fists easily – and let go! Let go!

Let go of the ex boyfriend who moved on to the next one two weeks after professing undying love, let go of the father who sends mixed messages about love and then loathing, let go of the landlady who gives you sour looks and more than the usual number of threats in her late payment notices, let go of those who are quick to borrow but never repay.. Just let go.. Clenched fists are the easy part!

Imagine if our minds were powerful and devious enough to do as our hearts willed. Many a relationship would be ruined among friends, lovers, spouses, etc. The order of things is as it is for a reason, and we cannot hope to exert control beyond that which we are responsible for – ourselves! In fact, when we are honest with ourselves we do not want that responsibility.

Take a common scenario: If you want Mr. X to be with you, but he is with Ms. J and you could but will him away by the power of your love and the promise of you lifelong faithfulness would you desire to? The obvious answer might be – YES! For you lay pining for him night after night, and you see his shadow in the being of every man who skips through downtown holding hands, kissing, or even just hailing a cab for his girlfriend. But when you look deeper you might find that in all honesty – you do not want that power.

You want him to *choose you*. Not to be love potion-ed into it. For if his affections occur only after the latter, then you know it is not true love. You also know that the domino effect of every other event will undoubtedly lead a trail of incriminating breadcrumbs to your door! If he stays with you instead of moving to Michigan with Ms. J to start a family, it may be your fault when he gets laid off at work, your fault when Ms. J marries another who ends up beating both her body and her mind mercilessly, your fault when you miscarry his child and he becomes a bitter alcoholic.

Circumstances may never become as grim as described above, on the other hand they may be worse. The point it, one will never know. One will never know how much a single action of a butterfly flapping its wings at one exact moment could have such a domino effect as to impact the lives of others. No one wants that responsibility. To be responsible for one person (yourself), is one thing, but to be responsible for the futures and fortitude of a chain of people based on your heart’s selfishness stealing the free will of another and forcing them into the role you feel they should play is a different matter entirely.

So when next you stumble upon disappointment caused by the selfishness or myopic nature of another – do not let your heart be troubled. Do not let your heart strings be tugged mercilessly out of your chest as you imagine the “what ifs” and strain your mind attempting to magically make things go your way. Of course one cannot expect that you will rejoice in your sorrow, but all I ask is don’t let the light dim in your eyes or your joy diminish – but also realize that you cannot force him/her/them/it into that role you wish they would play. You can only do your part, and hold on to your self worth, all the rest is beyond your control.

Unclench your fist and release that person. So too might the ill feelings and weakness flow from your being, leaving you open to grasp onto other things.. Free to lock fingers with one whose looking to hold you. Free to grasp the opportunities that await you in places your mind might have never imagined..

I’ve unclenched my fists and let go of any and everything I sought to hold onto. Below is my official declaration, and the end of the tension.. Below is the beginning of my possibilities.. x

I would not dare to pronounce
The thoughts in my head
The feelings in my chest
The dreams in my bed.

I would not wish to change but a thing
But fear that *one thing*
Would alter – every other
thing.

So therefore I resign
To a fate worse than “what if”
Shutting the window of possibility
Against the raging storm.

My window pane’s already shattered
And as I finger the shards
I know the time is nigh
Before it becomes too hard.

A culmination of storm clouds
Rising and forming
Darkening and gathering
Preparing for the storm

A force of nature
Few can withstand
Drawn to its might
Yet paralyzed by *fright

The storm is the decoy
The clouds are the curtain
Backstage is the truth
Of this I am ever certain

Therein lies a calm
On the brink of calamity
A sane pause
Before the *insanity.

I step away from the window
I draw shut the blinds
Possibility washed away
By the rain and its tide.

Painfully aware that wants
Are in direct opposition to needs
I slowly pull away
As my heart begs and pleads.

Yet, it is not to be
And hence: I no longer resist
Alas it is not so
And I shall not be so egotistic
To transform every other piece (person) to a pawn
In a game so thoroughly *hedonistic.

And as thus I retreat
Chastised by my conscience
Waking up from the dream
To a reality of nonsense…
* alone.

Alone, but aware that better things are to come. x
-zcsj-

Prince Charming Is Away Right Now. Fend for Yourself.

Passion is the oddest of *emotions. While everything appears yet calm and unchanged on the surface, wars rage within – swaying one first one way and then another. That one can be equally passionate and moved about opposite sides of an issue never once occurred to me until I experienced it within my own being.

On the one hand I was desperately convinced that “early marriage” was definitely in the cards for me. My “settled nature,” my skill @ being an excellent girlfriend, and my desire to remain respectably chaste outside the confines of any relationship drove me to believe marriage was the way forward. Of course it would not be a marriage where I was resigned to being the shadow of a greater man, hardly! It was to be a marriage of two young equally ambitious and potential filled individuals coming together to conquer parts of the world individually aided by the strength and stability the other provides.

Unfortunately my pessimistic nature and memories of instances I’ve witnessed led me to cross-examine and overanlyze every potential individual until it occurred to me – none was what I wanted. I questioned the reasons they wanted me, the depth of the relationship, the images and daydreams my head conjured up that no reality was able to match. Problems abounded: distance, dissatisfaction, lack of adequate intellect, lack of the determination to succeed I felt burning within my chest, and the greatest of these – my unfailing belief that 10 out of 10 men @ any point in their life will sacrifice me on the altar of *mishap when the fork in the road dictates they either advance themselves or sacrifice a part of their dream for that of their significant other.

I have no misconceptions about Prince Charming riding through. If he has need for his horse to ride out and attain new lands, or if his sword is being polished so that he might appear mighty, noble, and regal on the day of the feast – I know he will not come. I know that he will instead go where fame and money and his selfish nature will lead him.

I am not deluded. I am not bitter. I am yet realistic. Therefore, I chose to subdue my romantic and giving side, and cater more to my own desire to succeed and conquer my piece of the world and rule my own kingdom. I refuse to cast blame or feel anger that others first consider themselves and then those surrounding them, for it is simply the way of the world. My eyes are opened and my heart is closed.

I will not become harsh or hardened, I simply refrain from my usual *softness and overly *giving nature and plant my eyes on the prize. With my heart attuned to the Most High, my mind fixed on the constellations, and my intellect and competitive nature racing towards every opportunity I step off the unknown and “natural” path that will lead to a life of mediocrity, and pursue my latest passion doggedly.

The passion that beats in my heart, and drowns out the doubts of those whispering wicked words is no longer for a man to cuddle with and share in my every celebration and success. The passion that moves me now is one that recognizes my gifts and talents, recognizes what a key year this last year @ university is, and recognizes that a year from now I could be – anyone, doing anything my heart so desires. The only confines that exist are those placed by myself and the mediocrity I choose to settle for. Therefore I smash the glass ceilings and look everly upwards as the shards fall around my feet. I may be cut and hurt a few times on this journey up, but I am more than ready for the dizzying heights and the new experiences. All else will come… As will my prince charming.

If he is reading this memo I warn him that the more accomplishments I acquire, the more of him I shall desire. I am learning to groom and ride my own horse, to wield my own sword, so that if he is called away – I shall alone before, during, and after survive; and as thus I set forth to create my *ever after*.

x