Life is beautiful

The other morning, to be specific, the morning of Tuesday August 20th, 2013, I woke up with the most incredible sensation. As my eyes opened to greet the day I felt absolutely convinced that life was beautiful and that we lived in a world where everything was exactly as it was meant to be. For that moment in time I was living in the best of all possible worlds.

Then two hours later I woke up for real. I had in fact only been dreaming of this world. But could there be some truth to it? Could it be that life actually is beautiful? Many people have suggested that it is but given that I write a blog titled “Life Sucks, So What?!?” I clearly have my doubts.

Still, for two hours I was living in the best of all possible worlds. I was completely safe, happy and receiving everything I needed or could possibly desire. In that moment what I needed more than anything, to the exclusion of everything else, was sleep and what a beautiful sleep it was.

So this begs the question; does life suck or is it beautiful? I don’t think that I am going too far out on a limb to say that it is both. I realize that this might upset some of my friends who are convinced that life is beautiful but welcome to reality.

Actually, that is the real question. What is reality? I love my happy-go-lucky-life-is-beautiful friends but sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like we are not living in the same reality. Perhaps that is the case. Perhaps there are multiple realities. Or as I like to think of it; reality is just really, really fucking big and no one person can ever see all of it at once. Sometimes we see the parts that suck, sometimes we the parts that are beautiful.  Some people carve out their own vision of reality by only seeing what they want to see. Actually, that might be most people but I don’t have the budget to do the research and frankly, most statistics suck. Feel free to prove me wrong it you want to conduct a study and quantify the beauty of statistics.

My life is as an artist… or philosopher or whatever the fuck I am. I see my job as looking at everything, trying to make some sort of sense out of it, and doing the best job I can at communicating what I see. My job is to connect the dots. My job is to bring the universe back to earth. What I am quickly realizing is that the universe is really fucking big and that there are a lot of dots. I feel like an astrologer looking up at the ancient night sky and thinking, “there has got to be an answer in there somewhere”.

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The truth is that all those dots are connected. They all affect one another. Some connections may be more significant than others, just like some of our personal relationships are more significant than others, but the truth is we are all connected. To be honest, the dots connected by astrologers seem a bit random to me, but so what?!? We all have to make choices in this universe and if it works for you, who am I to judge?

Reality is big enough for everyone. If you want to believe that life is beautiful, go ahead. There is plenty of evidence to support that theory.  If you want to believe that life sucks, it’s pretty easy to do that as well. If you think that there is a supreme order to the universe and that everything happens for a reason, be my guest. If you think we live in completely chaos, I feel ya there too.

On this particular day in late August three young people including a toddler and a pregnant woman were shot in my neighborhood.  While no one was fatally injured there is no denying that this was a tragedy and the outrage exhibited by the community is completely understandable. My heart goes out to all the victims and to everyone affected by this incident. This has got to stop and our communities have got to come together and do a better job.

Still, I feel it’s important to point out that there were 387,750 people in Minneapolis who were NOT shot that day. Our odds of being shot on that day in Minneapolis were less than 1 in 100,000 or 0.0008%. Fortunately I don’t need a big research budget to come up with those statistics but they don’t exactly help much either. Crunching numbers and connecting dots seems pretty stupid when we have bullets connecting with flesh.

On that same day I took my daughter and her dog Toastie for a walk along the Mississippi River, across the Stone Arch Bridge to explore the ruins of the old mill city. It may very well have been one of the best days I have ever spent with my daughter but what I found most profound was that my daughter had a dog. She got this dog just a week before but she had been dreaming of it for two years. She even had the name picked out. So many people tried to dissuade her from her pursuit of getting a dog but she persevered. I encouraged her to keep her dream alive because even if it was unattainable I know that life can only be as good as our dreams.

And her dream did come true.

My dream in which I discovered a world of beauty could come true as well. I doubt that it will but so fucking what?!? Of all the misguided dreams and false hopes out there, believing that we can make the world a better place is one I’m willing to embrace.

Speaking of dreams, given that tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom I want to leave you with these words of another unrealistic dreamer, Martin Luther King Jr:

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Truth is stranger than fiction

What lurks in the deepest recesses of our brain? What hides behind our pleasant out-going demeanor? Not all wounds heal. We can bury the hurt but it can also be exhumed; either by choice or behind our backs when we aren’t looking. These are the places I want to explore. I want to forge head-on into the darkness and shine the bright light of compassion. I want to swing open the closet doors and meet the skeletons stashed within and give them a hug.

I must be honest, to do this scares the hell out of me. I’m going to need courage and I’m going to need protection. I find my courage in a bottle of wine. I find my protection in undying love. But how do I protect those who walk beside me? As I set forth to tear down the wall, who is going to be hit by the falling bricks? Who will stick by me as I journey into the realm of secrets and unleash the demons we have locked away?

—-

Who was that girl that I met last night? I know I have met her before but she usually comes out in twilight. This time she came out of the blackest of nights, beaten and abused, ready to unleash fury on her attacker. But instead she met me, a lonely brokenhearted boy who meant her no harm and was in deep need of comfort. She was a warrior; fearless and strong. Certainly she could defend me. Grateful to no longer be alone I approached her in hopes of being received by her embrace but as I got closer I could tell she was lost. She had run from the terror that had found her earlier, to place of safety and solitude but she knew not where she was. I wanted her to know that she no longer had anything to fear; that I was there to protect her.

Unbeknownst to me, I had been followed. For how long, I don’t know. Perhaps he had been there all along. There in my shadow lurked a monster. I caught his reflection in her eyes but not in time to avoid her attack. I guess she must have thought that we were together, and there is no denying that we were. Her assault with fists, feet and fangs were indiscriminate; half hitting me and half hitting the monster. I didn’t want to fight back. I didn’t want to hurt her but I didn’t want to run away either. I didn’t want to leave her alone with the monster. If I could convince her that we where on the same side perhaps we could defeat this threat that plagued us both.

I grabbed her arms and said, “Please stop! I’m your friend.”

But this just seemed to enrage her more. A friend would never bring a monster into her sanctuary. A friend would never violate her solitude with requests for affection. A friend would never restrain her ability to defend herself.

At this point her aggression was squarely focused on me. The monster stepped back to shout taunts and egg her on. He was enjoying this. For him, seeing two friends fighting was pure joy. As I was trying to calm her down the monster was adding fuel to the fire. I had become the target of her rage and there was nothing I could do. There was no way to find peace and everything I tried only made matters worse. I was helpless. I wanted to resolve this but I was not in control. I don’t know if anyone was in control. Among the three of us there was not a rational brain to be found.

I needed reinforcements. I needed calmer heads to prevail and there were none around. I ran off to find help. My girl retreated to her den of solitude and the monster, bored with the lack of violence, returned into the shadows. Once again, I was alone. I wandered until I ran across a woman who knew of the keepers of law and order.

“Can they help me?” I asked her. “Can they resolve this conflict?”

“The keepers of law and order can only address conflicts between warring nations. This sounds like an internal struggle. You need to speak to the sage.”

I protested but in the end I had to concede that the real struggle was within. The battle had ended yet I still carried the fight. I had no adversary but myself. She pointed me off to the mountain where the sage resides. The walk wasn’t far but the wait in line to see him seemed to go on forever. Apparently there are a lot of internal struggles going on.

When I was finally able to speak to the sage I broke down in tears.

“I know that she knows me but when I look in her eyes all I see is hate.” I explained.

He responded with some mumbo-jumbo about living in the moment and that spirits work in mysterious ways. But for some reason it made me feel better. Maybe it was just the passing of time that calmed me down or the fact that there was another person to talk to and I no longer felt so alone.  In either case I knew what I had to do. I had to return to my girl and make things right. I believed deep in my heart that love would always triumph over hate.

When I finally found her she was held up in a cave guarded by two ferocious lions. Tried as I might I could not penetrate her defenses. Exhausted, I took refuge under a tree. Perhaps she would come out on her own and find me laying there, helpless, and take pity on me. She did in fact come out eventually, but pity was not what I received.

“What the hell are you doing under my tree? Get the fuck out of here!”

I rolled away to a nearby tree and we both sank into slumber.

I woke the next morning to inspect my wounds; flesh torn from my chest, shattered teeth, choke marks around my neck and a bruised ass from where I fell upon a rock. But I was alive. No one had died. Perhaps the monster was right. Perhaps this is fun.

I looked over and saw my sleeping beauty laying there. I walked over and stroked her hair.

“Wake up. We need to talk.”

She had no recollection of what happened the night before and I started to wonder whether it was all a dream. But then I grabbed my chest and realized it wasn’t.

It’s just a dream

Wow, I just crashed hard. I was tired after today and feeling defeated so I went up to bed to watch a movie or something and couldn’t even keep my eyes open. Slept for over two hours. It’s now 10:30 at night but I’m awake so I guess it’s time to write.

I thought that writing would be a lonely profession but I’m actually finding it quite comforting. It’s not simply a matter of being alone with my thoughts. It’s quite different. It’s like giving the thoughts in my head a friend. It’s letting the thoughts in my head play with my fingers. Reading is also like this for me. A book gives my brain someone to play with.

Dreaming is different. I’m not sure exactly what dreams are but I like to think of it as my brain playing with itself when it thinks no one is looking. Kind of like masturbation for the subconscious. I don’t usually remember by dreams but when I do I try to hold on to as much as I can. I feel like they are important, that they can give some insight into what is going on up there in my head.

I did some pretty hardcore dreaming during my little nap. Most of it has already slipped away but I do remember the final scene before I woke up. It took place in a large inner-city high school. Things were pretty out of control, violent and chaotic. This one kid, not that tall, about my height but significantly overweight, was totally losing his shit. He was knocking other kids down, picking them up and throwing them around and generally causing a huge commotion.

I came in and picked this kid up over my head – I’m very strong in my dreams. I’m carrying him away from all the other kids when a school administrator starts yelling at me, “Hey, what the hell are you doing? Put that kid down!” I put him down and tried explaining to the administrator that I wasn’t hurting the kid, I was just trying to prevent him from harming other students.

Then another student gets up in my grill. I put my hand on his shoulder and say “It’s okay, I’m not trying to hurt anyone. I’m just here to help.” At which point he lashes back at me, “Get your hands off of me you faggot! You can’t just go around touching people. Who the fuck do you think you are? You some kind of pervert?!?” I was really taken back. I was trying to show compassion and understanding to these kids but they were incapable of receiving it. I began to imagine what it would be like to never feel love, compassion and acceptance.

I turn to the chubbier kid, the one who had been tossing students around and said to him, “You are clearly very upset about something. What is it that has got you so angry.” To which he replied, “Man, you don’t know what it’s like around here! We don’t even get no fucking popcorn anymore. We suppose to get popcorn on Fridays. That shit only costs like 25 cents a bag and those bastards took it away!”

Yeah… I understand loss. It can feel worse than never having anything to begin with. It can leave you feeling really pissed off – pissed off at the whole world. So I start asking him more questions about the popcorn and before we knew it we had a group put together to make popcorn of Fridays and sell it to the students as a fundraiser.

Okay… it’s just a dream but the feelings are real. Situations involving these feeling happen all the time. It’s very challenging to be a kid, to not feel loved, to not feel in control. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to comfort them and you certainly can’t control them. Sometimes all you can do is find out what they want and work WITH them to get it in a constructive manner.

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