The Easy Life

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My college professor wanted me to write a paper on what I could do to simplify my life. In class he asked what I could do and I had no response in that moment. He responded by saying if you can’t think of one way to simplify your life I envy you. This is the paper I gave him on the subject.

The Easy Life
To say my life was a mess is like saying New York gets a little bit of snow in the winter. It’s an understatement of an epic proportion. My life was under 6 feet of snow and unlike a normal person who would shovel away a foot while another two feet landed on them, I wasn’t even trying to get out. I wanted to be buried alive. I used drugs to escape my pain and for a while these were my days and nights. I thought I was doing all I could to escape the pain that was my life. Accept your past no matter how troubling it is, face your issues and try to wrap your mind around any interference in order to approach things with the love and compassion needed to deal with anything.
First you have to understand where I’m coming from. I have been a trouble maker for most my life. I have been in fights, schemed against people, lied to people and stolen from people. Then I got older and the crime got heavier. I have been at the head of a small drug ring, robbed drug dealers and robbed corporations in a big way.
Don’t think these things have gone unchecked. I have been arrested so many times I can’t honestly remember an exact number. I have had knives pulled on me, been jumped and shot at. My daughter died over five years ago when she was ten weeks old and I performed CPR on her lifeless little body. Even writing this now I can remember the way her lips and breath tasted that afternoon.
My life is simplified now. Of course there is more I can do, there is always more to do. What some people see as chaotic in their lives is something I may see as no big deal.
I have been working on myself for a long time now trying to buy my soul back from the devil. I do not lie ever…EVER. Some people think there are some truths too cold to tell. I say the truth has no temperature. I do not drink, do drugs or sell drugs anymore. I try not to break any laws these days but the cards aren’t just stacked against us, we are standing outside the casino trying to get a fair chance at the game of life.
Now that you know a little about me, my past and my present, I’ll tell you what I’m trying to change today…My mind. The truth in life is that we have very little or no control over most things even our minds but with enough patience and practice we can control our minds.
No negative thoughts, no hateful thoughts, no schemes or scams. Keep it honest and loving. We are one with God so we are one with each other. Compassion, patience, understanding and love, these are the things I focus on today in order to make my life simplified. Once a person can understand that love is all that is important, making every decision in life based out of love that can only make your life easier.

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Adolescents Purloined: choice or fate?

Adolescence Purloined: Choice or Fate

We were 15 years old, still living with our parents, troubled youths wanting to be taken seriously. Our whole lives had been spent being talked down to by people older than us, not old enough to have a job, especially not a lucrative one, we moved in the direction available to us. The kids our age couldn’t find weed and that put us in a position to capitalize on the laws of supply and demand. Kids of that age are incapable of understanding the severity that their decisions could have in the destruction of their innocence.
Josh and I lived in South Charlotte. I was growing up in a more privileged part of town than he was. I was in private school, he was in public school. He was my in and I his. I knew a school full of rich kids who had trouble scoring and he knew the seedy type of people that sold drugs to kids. Together we would get the fair treatment and proper deals to the kids I knew.
Business men, two smart kids with a knack for math that knew it was possible to put two and two together and get six. 16 ounces in a pound for $800, $100 an ounce would give us double but 3.5 grams for $25 will give us triple our money and we must know a hundred people at least between the two of us and at $10 a gram we make quadruple what we paid. Supply and demand and when you’re the only supply, you cut the pie however you want. We thought we had it all figured out.
Rico was probably in his late 20’s early 30’s. We couldn’t understand it then, but looking back on it now, in one word, scumbag, an adult that made his living selling drugs to children and always trying to turn them on to the “new thing”.
He would meet us at Josh’s mom’s house. She was a single mom who had been over powered by her children. In 15 years Josh and his brother had taken over the house.
Rico would pull up in the driveway of Josh’s quiet neighborhood where we would be waiting with a team of children that felt destine for greatness. The hood, on his rusty outdated car, would pop open and he would carefully remove a large bag. We knew what it was. We knew where it was and still every time we heard the hood pop was just as exciting as the last time. Each time was also more insulting than the last. “Weeds fo pussies. Y’all need to get some of dis coke or some of dis red rock. What’s up, y’all scarred? Chicken shits, someone’s gonna rob y’all one day cause you weak.” This was just the tip of the iceberg as far as the verbal torment we had to deal with twice a month.
Josh and I would sit together and talk about our world we lived in. The law was no concern to us at the time because we were minors and we knew it. Back then they didn’t put 15 year olds in jail, especially white ones. This gave us more time to contemplate on other things like respect, loyalty and fear. Not just what these words meant but how to obtain these things from the people around us. We couldn’t have known it then, how our understanding of these words was skewed in a way that could only lead to our destruction. This was our time, these were the moments where the seed of our friendship was cultivated and nurtured. This is where I would tell you what all the other kids our age were doing that made them such great friends…But I don’t know what they were doing, all I know is that’s not what we were doing. We were trying to devise a plan to take over the world, our world anyways.
We had found a new connection, so it was time to lose the old one and with that pull the thorn from our infected dignity. The plan was set and the call was made.
“Yo, we need to see you again, we’re ready”,
“You got the Money?”
“What do you think?”
“Watch how you talk to me pussy, I’ll be there in 60 and you better have my apology when I get there!”
CLICK.
We were in the back yard when he pulled up. The sound of the hood popping open didn’t bring the same excitement tonight as it usually did. We were tense and nervous. The time for talking tough was over now it was time to just be.
There were four of us in the backyard. There was an old camera in a book bag next to the chair. There was a giant cassette tape in the camera that recorded any deviant activities kids get into. Tonight it would record a movie that we wouldn’t be allowed see in theaters, but in some vulgar view of the world we wanted to remember this moment. We had on our Timberland boots, a necessity for what was about to take place. The yard was protected from nosey neighbors by a tall wooden fence. A large digital scale was on the glass picnic table waiting to fulfill its destiny. He sat the bag on the scale, 447 grams, short even with the weight of the bag but that’s cost of doing business I guess. The camera came out of the bag and it begins. We start swinging as hard as we can, half our punches landed where we intended. He was outnumbered but not outsized, a grown man getting whaled on by three teenagers that still took the bus to school.
It was over in less than a minute. Josh’s mother had rushed outside to break it up but she was too late. The damage of tonight had been done to our future. I’ll never forget the look of confusion on Rico’s face when we handed him $800. “Watch your mouth when you talk to us from now on and if you ever come around here again…you’re dead. Now get the fuck out!” I looked over at Josh as Rico crawled out of the backyard; he was watching his mom walk inside, a somber moment in an otherwise life altering fork in the road. There was no going back now and as we looked at each other it was like we knew things were destined to get darker. Our innocence was lost forever as we stepped into what we believed to be our definition of manhood.
I was sent to military school shortly after, and we started to lose touch. Not long after I graduated I took Rico’s horrible advice and broadened my understanding and use of drugs. Josh came to see me in Myrtle Beach. I was on my way to the top of the bottom. We were 18 now and I had a new wealth of self-destructive knowledge to share with him. There was so much I had learned and it was time for him to take it back to Charlotte.
Looking back on it now I should have left him alone. How our lives might be if we had never met. We could have been kids or gone to college, instead we had year and years of loneliness, pain and drug abuse. We have seen the insides of jail cells in multiple cities and states and the surreal grandeur of it all grew with each new year.
Josh is still out there somewhere fighting addiction. I check in when I’m able but the boy I once knew… the ambitious, clever, would do anything for his friends…well, he’s gone and life doesn’t take you back. “The world in which you seek to undo the mistakes you have made is different from the world where the mistakes were made. You are now at a crossing and you want to choose but there is no choosing, there is only accepting. The choosing was done a long time ago.” Looking back on it now, I wouldn’t take it back even if I could. Those choices we made took me on a fifteen year run of pain, tragedy, grief, confusion and then absolute suffering and just when I thought my life was over…I was reborn a new, better person, The true definition of a man. That’s another story for another time.

The Counselor. Dir. Riddley Scott. Writ. Cormac McCarthy. Fox 2000 Pictures/Free Bird, 2013. Film

Supernova

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The love of my life wrote this in dedication to my dying mother. Cancer has a grasp on us all in some way.

Without the darkness, could we even witness the light? Could we see it seeking purchase and exploding through like points of diamonds, dismantling the unknown? I have encountered many plagues of darkness in my days. And I have witnessed the measure of me expanding for them all. It takes a star reaching the peak of its glory and imploding, to become a creator of all things. The path of this super nova reminds me of the cancers I’ve encountered, and how they’ve never managed to defeat the light.

What is cancer…? Sometimes cancer can be a pervasive thought that inhabits every tract your mind spins, twisting your perception. Something as simple as “that’s stupid”, every time your specific genius strikes, you inhibit yourself with this phrase. And like a cancer you allow yourself to fail to be fully realized. This is a most common cancer, a cancer perpetuated in the beautiful pages of every Cosmo I pass. And demonstrated in the self-deprecating mimicry I vomit out for your listening pleasure. I am filled with this cancer of self-doubt, and I play at this game I loathe like I’m destined for the crown. Why?

We are so programed by this hologram of reality that we haven’t even glimpsed the truth that abides within us. The raw soul of this girl yearns to accept my flawed self and to wholly accept yours as well. Yet I find myself spewing hatred obligatorily in the corner, just to feel acceptance. I can tear you down with them, and build ourselves up onto a tower of venom and seething jealousy. And atop it we will be until the venom starts to erode, just as its eroding the light within. I am tired of this cancer. The best thing about this strain is the ease with which it can be treated. I can stand in the halls of my dialogue like a wide receiver, (yeah you are wide!) intercepting thoughts like this. I can re-train the patterns and plays of my mind, and re-route my destiny. I will spread light and love, and I will lose the need for your approval. Fuck You. Keep it.

Another type of cancer is a slow killer called grief. It can slip in and take hold in an instant, one minute you are yourself the next you are unrecognizable. This cancer is commonly accepted, regularly untreated and can be fatal. Why do we grieve and why is it so consuming? Is our pain reaching our lost loved one, and do we honor them with our absolute devastation? When grief captured me in the numbness of its gauzy wings I fancied I’d just fade away. I was too broken to exist and too weak to scream for euthanasia. While I was lost to this world, I was reduced to a demoralized hovering mass of self- medicating and hypotheticals. I would sell my soul to a devil I didn’t believe existed a thousand times a night. I would wander the halls of the past like I’d traversed time, slipping through the black hole conveniently residing in the space within.
Within this darkness, chaos was king. I was resistance. I bled recourse, imploring the heavens to take me. Acceptance was an impossibility. I could no sooner move on, than I could bring my daughter back into existence. This cancer held me in its clutch for four years. I was lucky. I hear the beautiful tales of lifetime lovers refusing to live after the passing of their twin souls. I am strangely touched, even though I have treated my cancer with acceptance. I choose to live today for the twin souls I’ve lost. I seek to serve them with every milestone and requited gesture of life. I sing to them in the song of my soul flourishing. I paint elaborate pictures of them to those that struggle to remember their faces. I have traced the outlines of their souls onto the inside of my weeping eyelids. I won’t forget them. I won’t dishonor them with my sadness. I am immune to this cancer, inoculated by an influx of loss and remembrance. I dance today for those of yesterday.

And then there was the blackest of cancers, the cancer that hovers and haunts my world today. This cancer invades the body, robbing you of your years. With black masses that steal in, forcing your body to rebel against you, while quietly leaching you out of existence. This is the cancer I hate the most, it fills me with trepidation and terror. It is unknowable. Everyone you encounter may be teaming with it, just waiting to abandon you. With their eyes roving in hollow sockets, glazed and unfocused, terrified of the eminent end. I live with the absolute knowledge that it is only a matter of time. Even if this wasn’t the intended journey, my trepidation wills it to be so. I try not to loathe, for to loathe is to waste your life energy. I try to find the bravery to accept the body as a temporary vessel. A boomerang hovering in our consciousness for a fleeting moment and then soaring off to another dimension, this is the path of the soul. But it is not so easy to relinquish power and attachments. I am powerless as I watch another incredible soul defiantly battle this disease. I am helpless to fathom, to intercede, to relate. I am desperate for a miracle, yet I am reduced to watch as if I were watching a car wreck, aghast at the injustice and helpless to intercede. Is it all just the whim of the sickle? I am bleeding for your fear, summoning my suffering in solidarity.

As the cancer takes its bounty, I’ve gotten to witness the most amazing evidence of god. I watch your light grow brighter, pushing back the darkness that would consume you. Your struggle rivals the battles I imagine that filled the coliseums of Rome with shrill screams of perverted delight. Your already far-reaching spirit only reaches farther and more. Changing those it touches forever. I see the place in you I long to discover in me, it hovers near the surface. I’ll name it enlightenment and see it for what it is. The endlessness of you, in this moment, opening like a flower in warp speed is breathtaking.
While I haven’t yet found the treatment for this cancer of blackness and fear, I have learned a few things. I’ve learned to stand and fight against all of the injustice I encounter. I’ve learned that it is never too late to turn around and find yourself, realized. And I know now that it is in the darkness of struggle, that your true light can be measured. I don’t know what tomorrow holds and I will fervently believe in the power of the spirit, overcoming the darkness. Thank you for these gifts and miracles witnessed. I am in your debt and in your service. When the end finds you, as it will find us all, if I am still spinning tales, they will include the truths of you. I will paint your portrait for those that seek to remember. You will live on in us. And I trust we will be well met, in the next life as it rises up to sweep us all together… again.

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