I’m good. You?

I passed by my Dentist, walking opposite directions in the grocery store isle. It took each of us a second to recognize each other, for I was not on my back with a paper towel around my neck; and He was not in his scrubs, or wearing those spy goggles he rocks on a daily basis. We did notice each other however, and in passing, a simple:¬†“Hey!.. How are you?.. Good!” was all we exchanged.

He had slowed down more than I, and he would have no doubt stopped and had a conversation with me, if I slowed down as well. I kinda regret now, not stopping to say more, but he read my body language properly. It’s past dark, on a thursday, at a¬†grocery¬†store . I’m here to shop, not to socialize.¬†

I’ll see him in a couple of months.

As I got into my car however, my mind grew sporadic. ¬†What if he really wanted to talk? It seems so unlikely (I’m a twenty-some year old bachelor. A patient of his; but only because my mom provides family dental insurance, etc.) but honestly, what if he wanted to say more than “Good” ?

Beyond my dentist, in the grocery store..

“good”.

What does that even mean?

I’ve heard it said before, by pastors and comedians, but what does it mean when you say “I’m good”.?.

…”I’m not comfortable telling you how my life is right now, and even if i was,

you’re probably not interested anyways.. so.. ‘good’.. I’m ‘good’…”

?

Oh, how callused we have become.

Are we all too self absorbed? Too self conscious?

We approach each other with a fear of the expression of how we feel,  simultaneously apathetic of the fears and feelings of those we have approached.

Or is it simply a waste of our time..  (?)

 

With all this (and more) on my mind, I begged the question of myself. Was I honest?

“I’m good”.

I have been doing a lot of self reflection lately. I tend to flip one of two ways.

I am incredibly blessed, life is good, God is faithful, the people around me are supportive and loving.

¬†– or –

I’m not good enough, ever.

Allow me to analyze, and explain.

For the most part, both are true. The change in my mood is dependent on which of these two near-facts I choose to dwell on.

I cannot even decide, in this moment, which of these to explain first..

I am incredibly blessed. There is no denying that. My parents are still together, they are loving and supportive. All my siblings are responsible, and kind; well put-together individuals. I have a tight knit crew of very close friends, many of which are off on their own life ventures, ¬†growing fluent in adulthood. I have a steady, respectable job, with good hours and a very appreciative boss. I do not go hungry, and I have a place to sleep every night. I’m good.

The flip-side however. I have to include this, because despite these being terrible reasons to get depressed, I often overthink my own circumstances, and grow tired.

I’m a college dropout. I live in an old house, in which I split rent¬†with roommates. I am not married, or even close. My savings account is almost entirely made up of tax returns. I still owe money, to my parents, for my car. I don’t know where I see myself in five years. I am in my early twenties, but I feel like I was seventeen just yesterday. I have been out of high-school for nearly as long as I was in, and I have nothing to show for it. I’m ‘good’.

If you have read this far, understand, I am not looking for a pat on the back, or your pity. And please don’t scold me either.

 

I take everything for granted.

I sit here at my desk, writing this blog, observing the metaphorical Pros & Cons list of my life, and I am good.

*Let me google that for you.. 
good
…°oÕĚod/
adjective
  1. To be desired or approved of.
    “we live at peace with each other, which is good”
  2. Having the qualities required for a particular role.

 

I’m good. I mean that.¬†To anyone remotely interested, or myself, reading this from the future.¬†

I’m good.

I often struggle with anxiety, and depression, like the future is some mystical journey in which I am tried and tested, for weakness and flaws. Like life is some kind of game for which I have never trained, or been told the rules.

And while in a sense, it is.. I’m prepared.

When I look back on where I was just two or three years ago, having just dropped out of college, and moved out. Living with roommates I did not get along with. Working a minimum wage job with higher-ups who did not appreciate me. Eating ramen noodles and frozen pizza rolls day and night… When I look back…

..I’m good!

Since the last week of december, I have Ran, every weekday before work for 10-20 minutes, and 45 minutes on Saturdays.

The only thing on my debit card over the past two weeks has been coffee and gas, not because money is tight, but because I have everything I want, and I regularly cook myself full meals at home.

I also make a 16 oz smoothie almost every day. They’re delicious. Yogurt, Berries, Milk, Orange Juice, Oatmeal, and Kale or Spinach, the occasional Kiwi.

I even started using mouth wash (or whatever you call it) after I brush and floss, which is something I have not done consistently, since my dentist made me, as a kid.

In the 8 months of my books existence, in 2014, I wrote 4 chapters. In all of 2015 I wrote 7. In these short 2 months of 2016, I have written 3. At this rate, I may finish writing it before 2017. Which would be amazing!

..and the list goes on and on.

At this point, the conclusion I would like to make, at risk of being too repetitious..

is I’m good. Ha!

When we push aside our fear of the future, the present becomes so much more clear. Wake up in the morning, breathe in the sunrise, and let the daylight put to sleep your nightmares.

I can look back at every moment of my life, including the most grand of them all, and think.. I’m better off.

Just because I am not moving as fast as I might like,¬†and¬†I have no idea how I got here,¬†and I have no idea where I’m going.. does not mean¬†I have any excuse to panic.

My mind is an endless game of tug-o-war, and here I pour water, on the solid ground, of the side I wish to lose.

My life is going by a plan, divine, and I have not one reason to be discontent.

I’m Good.

So, next time I ask someone how they’re doing, they’re going to respond: ¬†“I’m good” .. and¬†I’m going to pull them aside, look them in the eyes, and ask again..

“How are¬†You?..”

I want to be the first stranger, in their entire life, to really care.

..How are you?

Summer of the Bees

It took them three days to infiltrate my bedroom. Or at least thats how long it took me to notice.

One day I came home and there were four. The next day I came home to find roughly a dozen. The day after that, nearly fifty.

Honey Bees.

My room was filling up with honey bees. They were all dying in my room, buzzing at my window sill trying to escape. They had found their way in, and had no way out.

Bees?! 

I fought them for a week.

I found the hole by which they were coming through the wall. It was crawling with bees, but it was small. I couldn’t patch a hole with bees present. I had heard you could smoke them out. I cleared the area of everything flammable, except the wall itself, and set out a candle. Just a few inches from the base of the hole, the bees didn’t leave. Though I’m not surprised, they burned. The hole cleared, as some crawled back into the wall. Most of them fell, sizzling into the hot wax of the candle.

Leaving the candle lit near by, I patched the hole.

Masking Tape and Tin Foil.

Bees?!

From outside my house, they had two holes. Second story roof eaves, swarmed with hundreds of tiny honey bees, clinging to the outer wall of my one hundred and thirty year old house.

Brilliant. 

Thus began the battle of research and questionnaires.

The internet tells me they migrated in from somewhere else, and might migrate again next year, though it’s unlikely.

The internet tells me you can control an entire bee hive, by capturing its queen, though you need professional help.

The professional says, from in a house, you take apart the wall. hunt for the queen, one board at a time. The queen does not want to be found. She burrows into the wall further and further, to avoid being caught. Surprise! Your house is one hundred and thirty years old. There is no “hunt for the queen one board at a time”.

I would no longer have a house.

My Father did his part.

He brought me a can of bee killing spray.

Like I’m supposed to stand outside my house, on the roof of my front porch, and shoot bees with a poisonous squirt gun, until i think i have killed them all. And then go outside and do it again the next day.

First off,

No.

Secondly,

I don’t even like killing things, insects or not.

so Thirdly,

No.

::Parallel Story::

I arrive at my parents country home and park in the dirt alongside their steep driveway. Running up the retired railway tie staircase toward their front door, I realize I left something in my car.

Turning around I run back down. I get into my car, find what i was missing, and return over the stairs a third time.

Bees?!

From the ground beneath the old shaky wooden staircase, swarm a large number of bees.

Yellow Jackets, to be precise.

Quickly realizing:¬†I’m being assaulted!¬†I run. Luckily, I make it inside the front door, having only been stung three times.

A welt the size of my open hand begins to form instantly on my inner thigh, as i am dismayed to find two yellow jackets still buzzing in my obnoxiously thick dark hair.

Twice more.

My mother, bless her heart, laughed.

They were dance moves she had never seen before.

I am not allergic, and I have a high pain tolerance. So the next week was nothing more than strenuous itching, and a massive headache. A swollen leg, and four large knots on the two sides of my aching skull.

Yellow Jackets.

I got home that day in extreme pain, looking up at the second story eave of my own home.

Honey Bees.

::Back to the Bees::

Weeks went by with no more bees inside my room. On the outside however, they were numerous. My neighbor, a very polite, middle-aged man, whom i have nothing in common with, made a point to knock on my door and tell me, in short:

“Hey, umm. Bees”.

Bees?!

Yes. A very astute observation, Tony, thank you.

I grew attached to these bees, as I made no effort to get rid of them.

Like, maybe by some miracle, they will just leave; or somehow cease to exist.

My only thought and prayer was as follows:

I don’t want to kill these bees. I believe You have given me the spirit within me, to not want to kill these bees. However, I cannot have them here. They cannot stay. Please, do something about them, for I myself, will not make any effort at harming them.

Sometimes,

the craziest things happen,

when you just Ask.

Three days later. Bees. In the room down the hall. My roommate tried to tell me, like I didn’t already know.

“Yes. I know. They were in my room too. They’re honey bees, they’re in the wall. They have been there for weeks.”

“No, I know about the honey bees. These are wasps, I promise you”.

Two days later, they were in my room too.

Wasps.

Or hornets? Yellow jackets? Large, scary, evil-looking, yellow striped, flying insects that like to sting you? I don’t know the technical term, but now my house has two bee problems. Honey bees in the wall, and somewhere in the ceiling (I suppose) a large group of wasps have decided to set up camp.

Or so I thought.

Yellow Jackets.

Yellow Jackets are carnivorous. They do not create honey, they eat meat. They are technically speaking, not bees. They are wasps.

Yellow Jackets are those annoying little buggers, that like to eat the chicken off your plate at the park, when you gather for your friends barbecue.

Yellow Jackets swarm the dead animal in the field, as its prepared for the worms, and eventually the soil.

Yellow Jackets get stuck in your hair, after you run across their nest, and leave their mark, for weeks to come, as you fight off the migraine that never ends.

Yellow Jackets… eat¬†Honey Bees.

Yes, it’s true.

Summer turns to fall, and animals go dormant. Humans pack up their family picnics, and the neighbors’ cat is kept inside for much longer periods of time.

Yellow Jackets eat Honey Bees!

Bees finish up their farming for the summer, and begin to pack up. Wasps run out of meat and scraps to scavenge, so they steal. They invade a hive, kill the bees, kidnap the larvae, and eat the nest.

They leave nothing behind.

The Yellow Jackets were in my house for a week, before leaving, and they have not returned since. The Honey Bees have not shown their face since the Wasps came through, and I don’t think winter has anything to do with their silence.

Yellow Jackets eat Honey Bees.

I had no logical way of dealing with the bees. I had no desire to kill the bees.

I made my request known, I had faith, and the problem was dealt with.

Now, months later, I am left with nothing more than a gaping hole in the wall, behind the boards that make up my bedroom.

But luckily for me, it was already there..

Seeing how my house, is one hundred and thirty years old.

Day, After Day… After Day.

I love, love, love, what the Above Love does,

Upon us, ever longing of Above Love’s Love.

 

I panic on a regular basis.

Take my hand. I don’t want to fall. Can I even trust one more step?

Are there any guarantees the ground before me won’t just crumble?

Life is a terrible dream. You’re half asleep, so all your surroundings are faded. Nothing more than ten feet away from you has any real shape or form. You have no real grasp of what is outside of your direct reach. You stand on flat ground, but the sensation of being off balance is tearing apart your insides, like the slightest nudge will send you collapsing to the ground. You have one hand reaching behind you, holding onto all that is stable. Yet, because it is your dream, they too are invisible, for you cannot turn around. You look at your feet, they are all you can see. The ground beneath them appears distant. Your knees are shaking, you’re sweating, everything is dark. Voices around you plead.¬†One step. Just take one more step. Like every other day in your chaotic life, you feel like a child in their first attempt at something new.

Take my hand. I don’t want to fall. Can even I trust one more step?

Blood stops short of your hand, as you clench what rests behind you. Raising one foot, trembling off the ground, you extend a leg in front of you. For just an instant the ground disappears, your eyes roll back, consciousness subsides. The foot plummets a short distance below you, onto solid ground. You regain momentary strength, but it’s short lived. Everything is still black before you, and your heart still throbs within. Your back foot unknowingly catches up to your newly found location, and the battle continues once again,¬†never looking back.

Take my hand. I never want to fall. How can I trust even one more step?

The ground you stand on quakes. Bits and pieces of the stone you rest on fall through the surface around you. A gaping black hole appears beneath you, as all you’ve known to exist, falls away. Your arms and legs go numb, as the ground disappears. The darkness engulfs everything around you, until nothing remains but your feet themselves, standing on thing air. Complete fear and agony overtake you, as the nothingness you have known for all this time, breaks your heart.

Emptiness.

For a moment.

Emptiness.

Gravity pulls you through the dark. Your arm still reaching behind you. You’re falling. Nothing can slow you down. Nothing can be seen. Your heart, your soul, your entire being, cries out at the dark.

Let me Go!

 

Behind you, from where you cannot see, you hear voices.

Take my hand. You will not fall. Take just ONE more step. 

 

 

Watch, with me, the birds. Can they see the air? The very ground they walk on. Can they see it? A flap of the wings, lift off.

Emptiness.

Keep going.

Emptiness.

 

What if we could fly?

Would you believe me if I told you; we are already flying..?

Each day is a flap of our wings, showing off to the world around us, and those in it. We look to the air beneath us and smile, as if to say:

Are you seeing what I am capable of?! 

I can fly. Each day, if I choose to, I soar.

We cannot see what gives us lift, and it may be a lifetime before we do.

Regardless, As a bird does not see the empty space beneath its wings.

We cannot see tomorrow.

But a bird takes off through thin air..

Can we, together, feel the wind?

Layers

I awoke again today, with that feeling. Why am I here?

Today it was less of a depressing feeling, and more of an unproductive feeling. Friday and Saturday night I was housesitting for my brother’s in-laws. I spent two nights, and one day there.

I went to sleep early friday, and woke up in good time on Saturday. After taking care of the pets, I made a run for donuts and coffee. I played videogames most the morning, was messing around on the piano for part of the afternoon. I ordered a large pizza, and watched a two hour movie on Netflix. I played more videogames again in the evening, in a Skype call with my friends. I fed and let out the animals again in the evening, and then laid in bed on Youtube until i went to sleep again, early.

Nobody robbed the house, It’s clean, and the animals are all fed and happy.

But other than that, I did nothing productive. I sat around by myself, enjoying not having much of anything to do. I slept a lot, and it was refreshing.

Today..

My back has hurt since I woke up. I had no plans. I did not make it to church. I had spent all Saturday in a pair of sweats. I did not have a change of clothes, and though I could have; I did not feel like going to church in what are essentially, my pajamas. I tidy’d up the house, packed up my computer, and went home. Made myself coffee, and played more videogames.

But why am I here?

Saturday was my day off. Saturday was relaxing, and easy. Saturday was an excuse to not do anything. But it’s sunday. I could literally be out saving lives, and instead i’m sitting in my pajamas, playing videogames.

Why am I here?

This is not a cry for help. This is not me, telling you I’m depressed. I am actually in a pretty good mood. It snowed last night, I’ve been listening to Christmas music off and on all week. I have all next week off work. I might roadtrip to the coast, just to get out of town. Life is good.

But today..?

I changed clothes. I packed my computer. I’m at the Library.

I need to write. I need to move along in my book. I need to vent. I would eat myself alive, if I sat at home all day.

When..

I could change lives.

 

Friday evening.

I stopped by Staples, the office supply store, to pick up some documents I had ordered to be printed. They were ready to be picked up, and it was a good time for me, because I was on my way to go house sit. After leaving Staples, I got in my car to grab some food. A KFC around the corner was a quick and easy option, so I got in my car and began heading over. I didn’t make it out of the parking lot.

She sat in the light of the entryway, outside the grocery store. One door down from Staples. Hands in her lap, back against the wall, legs straight out in front.

Her eyes were the only inch of skin to be seen, as they stared off into the nothingness before her, that was the entire world.

As I rolled by in my car she seemed to stare right through me.

I pulled over. I didn’t hesitate. From inside my chest, my heart made an executive decision. My mind knows not to argue with my heart, when my heart sets its own eyes before me.

“Excuse me, do you need something to eat?”

I asked her, self conscious about my appearance, to her, and anyone else looking on. She did, in fact, want something to eat. She agreed KFC was an ok option. She asked if we were walking, or driving, and wanted to know if I could bring her right back to her current spot. I told her we were driving, and yes, I could bring her back. She picked up her sleeping bag, and followed me to my car.

I told her she could get anything off the menu.

Five Dollars. That was it.

I went and took a seat before her and told her we could sit in the restaurant and eat, but that I would take her back as soon as she wanted.

She sat one table away from mine. There was space at my table, but she sat away from me. She did not want to annoy me. She did not want Me, to have to be seen eating with her. I allowed her the space she gave herself, while we ate, but I finished my meal and moved to her table. We sat there in silence.

Even inside the building, she did not take off any layers of clothing. Not even a hood. Which, at first does not sound weird. But I was wearing a t-shirt, and a jacket. I was comfortable.

She however, had on: A wool turtle neck, under a cotton hooded sweatshirt, under a fleece jacket, under a zip up hoodie, under another fleece jacket. With a beanie, and both hoods over her head. Beside her, was her sleeping bag, stuffed into a small canvas bag.

I caught her name, and found out she was Fifty Eight years old. I tried striking small conversation but she did not seem interested in talking.

I would have liked to know..

Are you actually homeless? Do you have family? How long have you been in this area? Is this all you own? Is there anything you need?

She didn’t talk.

I asked her what kind of music she liked, to which she responded:

“Oh you know.. I like just about anything. Whatever they play.”

Which I took as a generic response for:

I never really have the chance to listen to music enough to know what i like.

While we sat in the restaurant in silence, another older lady came in. She wore a cute cold weather sweater. She had a man and another woman with her. They all looked like they were in their Fifties and Sixties. They were all smiles.

I thought to myself, comparing and contrasting the two women around me.

These could very well be the same two women, under two different realities.

The thin, Grey, 58 year old homeless woman, wearing a dozen layers of clothing, with nothing to carry but a sleeping bag.

The thin, Grey, 58 year old wealthy woman, wearing a cute little wool sweater, and too much at home, to carry into town for dinner.

Where in their lives, did they make the different choices they did, to get where they are today?

Was it even a matter of mistakes? Was one born into a well connected family with happy jobs and healthy genes?

Was the other born alone?

Where was this poor woman’s family?

I don’t know what would be worse..

Finding out she has family, and they do nothing to care for her(?)

or Finding out she has no family to even attempt carrying for her at all..

 

When I dropped her back off at the grocery store, she returned to the spot i found her, and leaned up against the wall. She dropped the sleeping bag to her side, and was motionless. I wished her a Merry Christmas, and lifted a prayer.

But I left her there. longing.

Her and I both.

There was nothing I could have done to fix her. I could not change her past. I could not clear her mind. I could not extend warmth. I could not extend joy. I could not line out her future.

All I could do was provide a meal, and show her: at least on person cares.

To me.. That did not feel like enough. Though, I am told, that is all I needed to do.

When I picked her up she was sitting, and when I left her there again, she was standing. Maybe that’s all that matters.

If if could raid the world, and raise to their feet, everyone sitting down.. I would do it.

Life is too short to sit at home, and melt away.

Perhaps, one day; I will be at a place in my own life, where I can do more in others.

 

 

Forever strive.

Change lives.

 

 

Tears of Glowing Red

I’m writing, right now, just to write.

Because writing, right now, feels right. 

Imagine, with me, a world where no one ever struggled with purpose. Where no one ever wondered, what am i supposed to do today? Where no one ever wondered what they were going to do tomorrow.

Imagine, no confusion. No loss for words. No pain at loss of worth.

Imagine… Imagine.¬†

Imagine that world, was already here among us.

Imagine we just fail to see it.

Would we struggle with depression, would we struggle with anxiety, would we struggle with the pain of ‘no¬†purpose’… If we knew, the depression, anxiety, and pain, were in fact our very purpose?

A tree does not struggle with losing its leaves. Losing its leaves is part of its very purpose. A tree cries, tears of blood, glowing red on the way to the ground. Over time its’¬†tears become exactly what the tree was needing¬†all along. In doing so, the tree provides for everything around it, simultaneously saving its own life, and yours.

Imagine.

Nobody ever notices a tree, until it changes colors.

Nobody appreciates a tree, until it has learned to cry.