I don’t know

What is the most powerful affirmation?

“I don’t know.”

This agnosticism may require the most faith, the most courage. It is a scary thing to accept that you don’t know, and yet in accepting this, fear often melts away. You are held together by your ignorance.

Cogito ergo sum? All I pretend to know is that I am here at some level; the rest is dark mystery. I don’t need to define it, yet I have to. I pull and play with it. I cast my thoughts and analysis onto it and see how it feels. My mere being forces me to shape it; like the moon builds castles in the sand.

If I stop to look, I know I cannot fathom it, and I have no need for certainty. I wear my ignorance like a blanket, and it holds me. The warm weight of infinity boxes me in. Anything could be beyond these walls.

Already I’ve built another tower on the shore. Often I feel myself only a tiny part of my own creation. A reflection in a tide pool; so lost in my world that I see no darkness. Other times I know that I’ve only built a fire, casting my light into the dark expanse. I step out into the shadows and its all there, holding everything, yet never full.

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One, two, they dropped both shoes
right down onto me.
Three, four, what there’s more!
How many can there be?

All my life, now I live in fright;
The risk will never end.
I know I’m right, yet still this blight
I wish that I could mend.

Five, six, it’s raining bricks.
I ain’t got no luck.
Seven, eight, it’s not yet safe
to start looking up.

It’s not till ten, yeah that’s when
I finally start to see
that what has been happening
I brought down on to me.

Hey there shoe, how do you do?
Yeah, you stepped on me.
I hold no grudge against your trudge.
You didn’t purposefully.

You get nowhere, unless you dare
to choose who to be.
I put on my shoes, and start to move.
Now no one treads on me.

One, two, buckle my shoes.
I stand up off the ground.
Three, four, so tall I soar
as now I leap and bound!

Five, six, granted my wish.
I made my own luck.
Seven, eight, each step I take
is one I’m glad I took.

Nine, ten, I’ll keep going
as long as I’m aware.
Eleven, and maybe then
I’ll finally get somewhere.

“It’s about perspective and how you checked it. Is it infected, or growing nectar?”

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Love in the Time of Parenting

We’re in it together
through the stormy weather,
and you know what else is true?

It couldn’t be better!
We’ll come to treasure
these times we’re going through.

Bonds of struggle and strife
tend to last for life,
and may just go beyond.

We know that’s the truth;
our kids are the proof.
They will carry on.

It’s hard to remember
that now is forever,
and our choices speak so loud.

But when we can see it
we cease to be just
selfish, small, and proud.

Instead we are many,
and our heart is plenty
big to hold the crowd.

Then the skies will clear,
we’ll see the atmosphere
up beyond the clouds.

We’ve made it together
through the stormy weather,
and you know what else is true?

It couldn’t be better,
the sacred treasure
of learning one plus one is two.

I haven’t posted (or written) anything since the birth of my second child. This piece seems like a fitting first foray back into my writing practice. I think it’s pretty obvious, but it’s about the struggles of parenting, and losing and finding yourself though parenthood, and how romantic love changes when you and your partner raise children together. It also has undertones of apology. It was my personal attempt to process and gain perspective as a parent, and part of that was an explanation to myself and my wife that I am coming to see the impact of my choices on our future and working to make better choices.

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The Towers of Ilium

Four braziers burn on towers high,
each marking a corner.
Yet no light emits from these brazen pits,
their coals’ black heat just smolders.

The cardinal flames have all waned to ash
without their constant tending.
It takes daily strains to maintain the flash
of signal fires unending.

Four directions to travel by,
each guiding sojourners.
With torches lit even a trifling bit,
we’d travel the world all over.


Authors Notes:

The title is a reference to the line in Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe: “Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships/And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?”. I chose this reference because this poem was inspired by a visualization meditation I did some years ago wherein I went to Troy to light four fires on the four corners of the city walls of Troy. Up till now, I hadn’t put together the meaning behind that insight. It came to me as I reflected upon current struggles. I realized the fires symbolized the beneficial habits I needed to maintain to improve myself and my life. The lighting of the fires is the maintenance of these practices, and thus is what guides me.

The poem is about self-control, and the power we have to shape and guide ourselves to get to the states we want to be in.

In terms of form, the poem is symmetrical in the sense that the first and last verses parallel each other in content and have matching rhyme schemes, syllable counts, and rhyme on the same sounds; and the middle verse is split, it’s first two lines rhyming and matching syllable counts with its last two. This was intended not only to balance the piece, but to symbolize the repetition required for effective self discipline, the repetition of daily habits, which is at the heart of this piece.

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Fenix (#tbt)

After your skin sloughs off, does the itching stop, or do your bones scream out yearning to be scratched as the flames lick them clean of sinew and flesh?

Immersed in a roiling sea of fire, at what point do you stop clinging to survival and simply wish the fire would more quickly burn, would fry your nerves and leave you at peace, contented to smolder into a charred heap, crackled and craggy like red mud after a summer shower that’s been blast dried under a desert sun, your limbs skewed at odd angles as bones twist and bend, warped under the hydraulic pressure of escaping vapor.

Does your hope extinguish before your eyes melt? Do you get to see the vitreous gel of your optic orb boil and pop, casting rainbow halos as the firelight passes through the bubbling humor of your eyes? Do you laugh at the irony of childhood admonitions not to stare at the sun?

Can you see anything through the conflagration engulfing you? Perhaps a gust whips the flames up dancing, and you catch a glimpse through the blaze of your own smoke rising up to join the clouds and you are put at ease.

Separated from your body now, can you smell yourself cooking, reducing down to quintessence? Once your senses are burnt out, does your passion for life rekindle? Unattached, free, does the strange beauty of these final moments light up your fervent desire to be? Ardent as a star, your spark rises up with the wisps of smoke into the southern sky.

This post is part of my Throwback Thursday series and originally appeared on May 13th, 2015 as part of #MayBookPrompts. The prompt was “When You Are Engulfed in Flames”. Photo credit: http://annemckinnell.com/

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Surrender (#tbt)

I asked Nina Simone what it means to be free. “Words cannot do justice to the experience of freedom,” she said. She paused a moment, a hushed, contemplative silence, before saying “no fear… That’s freedom. That’s not all of it, but I think that’s the best I can do.”

What’s does it mean to you to be free?

I agree with Nina. Few things holds us back like our fear. In any given instant it may be the most powerful and palpable restraint on us, but fear is not the only thing limiting us. Freedom is unconstrained choice, and fear may not be what constrains us most. Oddly enough, comfort may be more confining.

I want to be happy. I don’t want to suffer. If I’m not careful these basic human desires can imprison me in my own privilege. If I don’t actively contemplate what I truly want, if I don’t mindfully investigate my motivations, relatively mild discomforts that I subconsciously avoid will lead me into a cage of comfort.

True freedom means seeing what I truly want, not just what is most comfortable, and making myself vulnerable to that discomfort, embracing it, shaping it and being shaped by it, and in so doing living realistically in a world of my own making.

This post is part of my Throwback Thursday series and originally appeared on 5/11/16 as part of  #MayBookPrompts. The prompt was “Fifty Shades of Freedom.”

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Tiny whispers in my mind:
"It, he, we, and also mine."
Everything I see I find
is a reflection of my shine.

Everything talks to me, and here I am with my eyes shut and my ears closed; scrunched up like an obstinate toddler willing myself not to know. Despite my best efforts, vague insights trickle through.

Sometimes it feels like that, but really it's the opposite. I don't control it. It's an internal struggle. Consciously, I try as hard as I can to hear, but I can't keep it up. The programming is too strong. It constantly resets to factory settings, wiped.

"Huh? What? Yeah, sure, great, sounds good." And on I go, still grinding the path of the status quo.

In the end, death shakes loose the leaves and we can finally see the bare branches that held it all in place. Or so I'd hope. Yet, maybe this is it, or maybe death is just another step in the same direction. Our whole life just one pace on the path back around. How many rotations till we get dizzy and fall, and, laying there in the saturated void, surrounded by the infinite possibility of nothingness, finally start to hear the echoes bouncing back at us carrying all of the information we need, trying to tell us the shape of the room we are in, but we never learned how to hear it.

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