This Turbulent Riot

"But his heart was in a constant, turbulant riot."- F. Scott Fitzgerald

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On Starting

It’s currently 9:33 pm on a Wednesday night. For many out there it may not feel any different from last Wednesday. And next Wednesday may not feel any different from this current one. But, for me I’m standing on the edge of something. Standing on a razor-thin enough that I’m balancing on the arches of my feet. I know the risks. I know that I may end up cut up a little bit, but I can’t help while sitting here, sipping on tea, and listening to some James Taylor that those little cuts may be a good thing. That they may lead to something better. Something bigger.

I’ve never really pretended to know what bigger is. What better is. My life has never felt like it had a whole lot of direction. Perhaps that’s why I’ve chosen to go back to school. Maybe that’s what I’ve been searching for during these last few years. But, right now, starting seems like one of the most terrifying things in the world. I know that 5:30 pm tomorrow is going to roll around no matter what. No matter how nervous I may get. No matter how much I may want to turn around and run away. I may find that I’m not cut out for this. I may find that I’m not enough, but I’ll never find any of it if I don’t start.

If I don’t attempt this, then I will never know what I’m made of. Never know what I’m capable of.

If I don’t start this, then I’ll never know that this potential that I’ve been storing up for years means anything.

I’m trying not to tie my worth to this, but it’s also what I’ve been working for during the last few years. Maybe I won’t find anything. Maybe we never really find much at all. But, I have found this: without ever starting–without ever attempting anything–we really won’t know our selves. Won’t know the world. Won’t know what the potential we can see even means. Or what we are capable of within the world. 

And quite frankly, I’m not willing to live with that. I want to know. I want to search and discover. I want to start.

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On The Things That Haunt Us

I’ve been spending a lot of time alone since I moved. It’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s part of why I moved here: to be alone. You see, there were things that I needed to clear out of my head. Things that have been weighing on me far longer than I think they should have. The only way I could dream of getting rid of them was to move away for a while. I understand that this may not make sense to some people, but I just wasn’t sure what else to do.

You see, we all have these things. Some call them demons. Some call them baggage. These weights that we carry around from our past. Maybe you’re like me and you keep them hidden from the world. Maybe you keep them tucked away in a pocket that you’ve sown into the back of your mind. It doesn’t matter where you keep, it’s the fact that you keep them at all. We all have these things that haunt us. That keep us tied to something we only pretend we want to leave behind. But the truth is, many of us pull those things out when it’s quiet. Maybe when you’re sitting alone in a dark room. Maybe it happens when you are in a room full of people. The problem is we all keep them because while these things may haunt us, we get some sort of comfort from them. Even demons can keep us company if we let them.

I’ve been thinking about all of this a lot lately. For a lot of reasons, really. But, it hit me last week that if this really was one of the reasons that I moved 2,000 miles away from home, shouldn’t I be doing something about it? Shouldn’t I be doing something about the demons I keep around for myself? And the truth is simple: yes. I should be doing something about it. The bigger truth is much more complex: I have been doing this. I may not have noticed it, but demons have been falling down around me and I haven’t been sensible enough to look on the floor next to me. To recognize that I’m already changing. That I’m already losing parts of me that I wish I could have shed so much longer ago.

I’m not ashamed it’s taken me this long. These demons have shaped me. Have controlled me in some ways. But, more than that, they have led me to where I am. And where I am really isn’t so bad, right now.

And while I may be alone and tempted to bring my demons out, I have to remember that they can’t talk. They can’t think past what they once were. These demons are no longer real, if we choose for them not to be. Maybe you feel more secure with them around. maybe you feel more comfortable knowing you are not alone, so long as you have your demons. But the question isn’t whether they will keep us company or not. Rather, the question is: are they they company you really want to be keeping?

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On Being More Than Slightly Terrified

Do you ever have those moments in which you find yourself just completely freaking out? I don’t mean those moments in which you can visibly see someone freaking out or see yourself freaking out. I mean those moments when you are probably alone, sitting on your couch, sipping on some tea, and there is huge swell in side of your head. An ocean that simple will not be calmed?

I had one of these moments tonight. It was a freak out moment sure, but it was more than that. It was a moment of sheer terror.  It hasn’t scared me as much to move as I thought it would. Am I nervous about the next few months? Sure. Was I slightly terrified to move 2,000 miles away from home to a city in which I know no one? Yes. But that is not what has me more than slightly terrified tonight. No, my fears run deeper than that. That ocean that’s swelling in my head? It rages in my stomach. In my heart. In the big toe on my left foot.

Where is all of this rooted? It’s rooted in the fact that earlier tonight I hit a submit button that pulled me farther into debt. It was a submit button for a student loan, but the more I sat here contemplating, I realized I was submitting to so much. At first, I thought it was just the money issue, but really that submit button is so much bigger than I may ever know. It’s so much more than a price tag that I could slap on it.

And now, my terror is not coming from that debt that will be piling up. Rather, the cause of all those waves crashing throughout my being is the idea that the debt is not worth it. After hitting that button, I was left with questions. So many questions. What if after two years of school I haven’t changes? What if my writing stays stagnant? Will that debt be worth it in the end? What if I find out and my professors find out and my peers find out that there was a mistake along the way and I’m not supposed to be here. Studying writing. Studying poetry.

I have these thoughts from time to time. I used to believe it was just the curse of an artist. I used to believe that to be a great writer, I needed to doubt my ability and skills as a poet. And you know, maybe that’s true. Maybe I do need to question these things. Maybe proving something to myself is not all that bad. But, the insecurity behind these questions isn’t the fact that I’m a writer. An artist. No, it’s the fact that I’m human.

This is one of the things that connects us all. No matter how much confidence the person sitting next to you has, there is a tiny ocean inside of them swelling at this very moment. Oceans can be calm from time to time, but somewhere out there a wave is building.

And you know what, for a little while, I’m going to choose to have comfort in the fact that I’m not alone in these thoughts. In these growing waves. I’m going to accept that I will doubt myself from time to time. And in the end, the thing that pulled me out will be the same thing that pulled me in.

Life’s just funny like that. So, while I may be more than slightly terrified right now, I know that it won’t last. That oceans calm down and waves eventually have to break.

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Have you ever gone on vacation and sat out in the sun a little too long? Maybe you were on the beach and fell asleep with your toes in the sand. Maybe you went to South Dakota and hiked in the Badlands for three hours. Maybe you were just laying out in your pool in the back yard.

Th Sun will burn your face off!

The point is, I’m sure at some point in your life you have had a sunburn. I’m sure that you have felt the heat on your skin slowly rise and at some point you looked down at your knees or your upper arms and realized that they were bright red.

Like this. Bright red.

Recently, I actually did go to South Dakota and I did go for a three-hour hike in the Badlands. And, while I’m sure you know where I am going with this, but I did actually get a little sun on my neck. And by a little I mean it was on fire. I want to rip my skin off, just so it would quick burning. I put aloe on it, and I still wanted to tear my flesh off.

This morning I was rubbing the back of my neck (it no longer burns), and I realized that my skin is starting to flake off. I realized that sometimes we need to be burned, so that our skin can peel.

It’s kinda like a snake. But, not like a snake. You know?

That was a metaphor. If you don’t know what a metaphor is, then just quit reading because I’m not going to explain it. If you really want to know, then google it.

Sometimes we need to shed part of ourselves.

Sometimes we need to know what the second layer is– what lies beneath the surface.

Sometimes we need to peel the layers of our metaphorical skin back and see what else there is.

Maybe we should all sit out in the sun a little too long. Maybe that’s what we have all been missing. We’ve been missing those bright red spots on our knees, on our shoulders and upper arms, on our necks, on our toes.

I’m a big fan of these tan lines.

Wherever. We’ve been missing shedding of skin. The shedding of layers. The realization of what lies below the surface of our own skin. Of our own lives. Of our own flaws. Of our own perceptions and truths.

And maybe none of this makes sense to any of you, but have you been burned lately?

This is an orange. You can peel them.


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