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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Over the years...


When I first saw this picture, I remember taking a second glance; connecting with what I thought to be something deeper, far beyond the ordinary. It was a long time ago, and growing up was still a mystery, necessary evil though it may have been. And, it was still early to fathom concepts like "forever." How wonderful it is for a picture to thread together the years, so seamlessly.

A little over a decade ago, I found that the thoughts in my head formed little islands of being and I discovered myself in the midst of an archipelago of "me." Every new sun brought with it a different identity, one that most unfortunately, was quickly swallowed up by the miasma of gloom that I seemed to be very comfortable surrounding myself with back then. And life really wasn't all that much of a drag if I think about it now. It was just, I don't know, like I enjoyed wrapping a large, black shawl of perennial guilt and unending shame around me. I sought out paraiah status among my fellow man and wore it proudly, like a battle scar. And in the midst of all this self-indulgent wallowing, I found myself afflicted by a sense of undying affection.

Inexplicable are the things that we often find ourselves dealing with, and it was no different having to deal with rollercoaster emotions, and raging hormones. This veritable cocktail was frightening at first, but it soon gave way to finding love -- still very raw and much misunderstood -- in all the places I didn't consider looking for it. Where I thought I had succeeded, I failed. And where I gave up hope, I was triumphant. Strange this up and down that seemed to go against the grain, but was up and down nonetheless. And so it was with the pursuits that I decided to pursue; the most pursued maintained the greatest distance.

In time, this lad was able to make some sense of his situation. By this time, however, it was the age old case of having taken too long to come up with an act, let alone trying to put it together. And, when I looked at the picture again, I knew in my heart of hearts that it was time to let go. Foolish teenage fantasies of letting things go and awaiting their return were the only things that seemed to keep me going. But I don't remember that I truly believed in this. No, I seemed to have bound my destiny to the picture; our fates, I thought, were the same.

Years passed, and the picture, once more than just a memory, seemed to fade, gathering dust-laden cobwebs in the cold, damp attic of my mind. But every now and then, a hand would reach back, way back, and begin to brush away the years giving the picture a new life. When it was good, it was really, really good! And when it wasn't, it was lonely.

The best way to describe this period would be to refer to it as growing up in absentia. Sure there were lessons learned and of course the rose-colored spectacles with which I saw the world gave way to black sunglasses of misguided cynicism, but it was almost like I distanced myself from this process and was watching myself change from outside of myself. It was an awesome vantage point, one from where I could almost reach out and touch the nebulous mass of what I was becoming. And at this time, it was almost as if I saw myself becoming another person, someone I wasn't sure I wanted to be. Someone, who was the antithesis of all that I had ever held dear and holy. And now, the picture took on an ominous hue, and every time that same hand reached back to dust the picture off and restore it to its former glory, it was unsure. Unsure of what? No answer.

And then, in spite of all I did to brush aside foolish insecurity and needless self-worthlessness, my picture disappeared without a trace. Leaving me in the lurch. Leaving me wondering why. Leaving me...

When all is said and done, the state of our lives is always the sum total of all the experiences that we invite upon ourselves. Or maybe, it's a collection of circumstances and situations that we find ourselves confronted by, the moving beyond which we are forced to own and label "life." In this existence, "my life" as I now call it, I saw a picture that held within it a world of possibilities. As the years have passed me by, however, I've been burdened with a certain realization of pictures: I should be grateful and appreciate them, never touching them and marring their timeless beauty with my hideous machinations.

The images that are etched into our memories are the stuff of legend. And the timeless beauty of dreams evoke a sense of existing on many parallel planes. But the cold, hard truth is that which reminds us of our vulnerability, every single time we open our eyes to see, and reach out our hands to grab fistfuls of tangible reality. When I first saw this picture, I was dumbfounded in its presence. Now, looking back to then, and seeing where I am now, I realize that I have to let the picture go, as much as I may want it to always remain with me.

Goodbye dear picture. And thank you, for staying a while.
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