It's exhausting, isn't it? Pretending everything is okay when nothing is. Sure, you'll smile again. You'll laugh. Meet new people. Reunite with old friends. See far-flung family. Swim in the ocean. Walk in the fields. Gaze at the stars. Pet your dog. Find a lover and get lost in whatever part of them you can get lost in. But the pain is always there. Waiting. For you to finish distracting yourself. For you to stop pretending. You turn over in the dark so the person laying next to you can't see you cry. At least someone is laying next to you, right? But thanks to things like Tinder, finding people to lay next to you is about as easy as grabbing a jar of peanut butter or jelly or both from the store. You don't have to care. If things get too complicated, just swipe right again. And again. And, again. The only momentum that can build is the pain you hide behind your smile.
Relationships used to have momentum. You met someone you liked, and you gave it a real chance. You kissed. You danced. You watched bad movies. You called each other on the phone. You made out in the car in a parking lot. You searched for an open convenient store to buy condoms but did it anyway, whether you found them or not. You laughed. You cried. You talked about the guy or girl who broke your heart. You looked into a pair of eyes that looked back at you as if you were the best thing on Earth--not just a pretty place holder. Or, the woman a man sleeps with despite already being attached because the person he's attached to isn't as pretty or as sexy or as smart as you. She doesn't suck cock or swallow or make him hard like you either.
No wonder I'm so sad....
But I'm not sad because I'm being used or abused. Not today, anyway. I'm sad because my whole life has been driven by fear. I'm quite brave and take big risks and stay open and do whatever I have to do...but I'm still afraid. And, with good reason--I'm a woman. A formidable woman, yes, but even a formidable woman must still live among men.
Fear doesn't discriminate, only people do. Fear-based decisions leave us all vulnerable. Instead of choosing Mr(s). Right, we see Mr(s). Right Now and think, "Nice tattoos," or "Beautiful eyes." We latch on to something--anything--and imagine that it's enough. But good enough is never enough. You are enough though. I am, too.
My whole life, people have told me I'm not good enough. Can you believe that? Because, I did....
How can we not believe the adults around us as children? You may not want to. But you will. Inside. When you're quiet. When you stop pretending. When you turn away from your partner in the dark to let your pillow catch your tears.
When you are told the sky is red your whole life but you can clearly see it is blue, reality becomes extremely important. Concrete details. Contracts. Cars. And all the stuff that helps define the parameters of our individual world. If you have enough stuff, you'll spend so much time taking care of it (and paying for it) that you can escape the sense that no matter how much you define your reality, it will eventually go retrograde. Get overshadowed. Shaken down. Like believing you're laying in a clean bed in a clean hotel room and seeing a black blur scurry over the white pillow next to you. Slowly, you turn on the light. And, there it is. A cockroach. Not a literary cockroach. No Kafka between your sheets. No, this is a literal cockroach. Brown and shiny and terrified. Just like you.
Cockroaches are not beetles. Beetles are the order of Coleoptera. Roaches have no less than 5,000 varieties and are from the order, Blattodea, from the Latin "blatta" for "roach." Entomology (and, etymology) is a hobby. But I suppose all of the sciences are. Everything that is alive is my hobby.
I just love the natural world, don't you? It's so full of light and life, joy and peace. Then humans stroll into the meadow. Shoot the rabbit. Shoot the fox. Skin both. Burn the flesh. Paint themselves in the blood. And parade around wearing pieces of the animals they carved up and ate.
No wonder I'm so scared....
I know you are, too. I hear you. Feel you. Sometimes I think I can even see you. Praying is good. Keep reaffirming your hopes, dreams and wishes. Keep seeing yourself getting to the top of that mountain. Never, ever give up or give in. You can't. The moment you do, the madness will take over. The same madness that's infected the people who now call the sky red, even though you can see the blue reflected in their eyes as they blankly stare upward.
Those people are just exhausted. The ones who drink the proverbial Kool Aid. The ones who pretend the sky is red even though they know it is blue every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Feel compassion for those poor fools. For, they only fool themselves.
You know the sky is blue. I do, too. It will always be blue, even if your eyes are brown. Or, brown with green in the center. Or, gray--my favorite eye-color of the moment.
I keep promising myself that I'll be happy. "One day!" I say triumphantly to no one. But I am someone. I matter. Even when I don't. Let nothing and no one distract you from your purpose. And, by the way, everything is a distraction.
Not sure what your purpose is? It's not sweating your ass off on roofs for people who pay you too little or people who don't pay you at all. It's not writing copy for whoever, whenever and wherever, editing dots and lines, scribbling stories you don't believe in. It's not sitting in a cubicle. It's not pretending to be happy that you got "the job" when you'd rather swim in the ocean for hours, meet a seal, avoid the shark that lives off the shelf, and watch the waves while sitting on the shore with the fearless gulls.
Purpose comes from your art. Whatever that is, focus on it. Seek out spaces where art can bloom and grow. And, perform your art every single day. I have not written in nearly a month. It's been a rough one. But it's also been beautiful. I got to swim with a seal. She saved me from a great white that claimed the second mile I swim as part of its territory. The seal found me. Or, rather my blood. She swam between my legs. She kept rolling and popping up in front of me, egging me on. Then, she'd show up behind me, pushing me forward. It was a windy day. Big waves were forming out at sea. The tide was coming in but I was going out, further and further. Past the anchored sail boats. Past the buoys. Past the fisherman who always waved but looked worried when he saw me. I don't need a wet suit. It takes hours upon hours for me to feel the cold Atlantic in my bones. I just swim. Because I can. Because I want to. Because there is water. It's the same with our art. Whether a blank canvas or a blank page, wherever there is a space for you to express yourself, you must dive in. You must swim. Because the blankness exists. And, because you do.
Look around you. You may not see the ocean. I can't right now either. But I can see a future. One where I smile because I am happy. Not for a moment. Not for an hour, Or, a day. But happy and satisfied and as grateful and eager as I am right now--yet, fulfilled, too. That's what our art can do. It can lead us to the people and paths and portraits of our lives that we want to create. That we want to live in.
On June 25th, very early in the morning, I smiled. And, I didn't stop. I kept smiling for days and days thereafter. It felt good. Who am I kidding? It felt GREAT. Better than great. That's what I want every day that I breathe...don't you???
Those people who swipe right to avoid momentum? The man who lies about having a partner because he meets a beautiful woman and wants to fuck her, but knows he won't get the chance any other way? The parents and siblings who bullied you and maybe still do? The awful coworkers just waiting for you to screw up so they can report you? The personal trainer with a perfect body who makes fun of people as they work out at the gym? The guy or girl who leads you on--the one who gets you to give them wireless Bose headphones, cash, and countless other gifts, yet never sleeps with you? The committee member who asks the handicapped candidate to go down a flight of stairs? Donald Trump???
None of those people matter. All are distractions. Only you matter. Only your art matters. You are your art and your art is you. When I swim in the ocean, I'm at one with the waves, with the fish, with the seal, and yes, even with the shark. It's the same with our art. Immerse yourself in it. Make the difference between you and your art imperceptible. In the future, I see a man with silver hair saying, "My mother was Rebecca Housel, the writer." I don't recognize him--the silver-haired man--but he's apparently my son. And, I'm his mother. Or rather, I was? Maybe in some possible future, I will be??? A happy thought, to be sure. The summer was impregnated with such happy thoughts. If only I was, too.
At 35,000-feet, I heard the name, "Liam." Even though I have every reason to believe I'll never get to say that name aloud, I know it's part of my Destiny. In the same way I felt Destiny's call when a pair of gray eyes invited me in. And, tattooed arms pulled me forward. A moment in time I wish I could go back to. The only moment during my time on Earth I'd want to repeat. At least, so far.
During a recent visit to the land of Titus Donuts and fast cars, I made a new friend. He was 28. I'm not 28. But when I told him my age, he wanted to see my license. As he repeatedly looked up at me and down at the license, he proclaimed, "You've got some Benjamin Button shit going on!"
Indeed I do....
Art keeps you young. You will be immortal and immortalized. You will still have to leave the world one day, but when you do, you'll leave it better than before you existed. Your cubicle won't do that. Can't do that. Only you can find your art, make your art, and use it to not only help others, but yourself.
Go ahead. Do the thing people will call you "crazy" for doing. It's a mad world anyway....