Six Alarms

(I love writing Punk lyrics for a band that doesn’t exist.)

I set Six Alarms on your phone

For the nights I sleep alone.

You’ll say “the hell?” at 1:00 AM.

And wake up pissed at 2 again.

Something’s wrong for sure at 3

By 4 you’ll start to know its me.

That 5th alarms the last? its not.

6 is on your Echo Dot.

If I can’t sleep you won’t either.

I hope you catch a gnarly fever.

One Week

I’m indecisive about wether I want to write about this, or not. Theres a fine blurry line between staying humble, and inspiring others to follow after you, in your generous endeavors.

I have decided to write about it anyways (at risk of appearing boastful) as a means of documentation. Later I can look back on this post, and this day, and remember both where I came from, and what type of person I was. May my future self be proud.

I’ll open with some background on me, I do not make a lot of money. I make enough to get by, plus maybe a little extra. Since I don’t have debt from school or anything else, any extra money from the paycheck (or tax returns more likely) goes into my small savings account I set up a few years ago. Assuming its not eaten alive by bills and life itself.

Today I felt led, as I often do, to reach out to someone in need. I was extremely hesitant, as I always am. Not that money is an issue for me, or that I am afraid to help people. But seeing someone on a street corner, I can only wonder, by giving them money am I enabling them? This can seem like a cruel thought, but consider with me the possibilities.

This man or woman, might have been offered real work they turned down, or they have a full time job, but make more money on the street corner. Perhaps they’re not exactly homeless, they just struggle paying the bills with their alcohol addiction, or other substance abuse. I look at a full grown man, and can’t help but think: If he has a job, he might make just as much money as I do.. in which case, giving him twenty dollars is just enabling his tobacco addiction..  Then I just want to walk up and tell them, we all have difficult lives! Own up to your mistakes and fix them! Stop begging for handouts!

While I am sure there are probably people on street corners begging for really bad reasons, it is never up to me to judge them.

Regardless, I don’t like just handing out money to someone, for them to potentially spend it on another pack of cigarettes.

I am a God fearing man however, and when that tiny little voice, dominates my thoughts and asks: Are you really going to argue about this with me?.. As I sit in my warm car in the pouring rain, watching other people drive by this (no doubt, confused) soul on the sidewalk…

I must listen.

“What do you need”?

Is what I was told to ask them, with no promise of any return.

“I’m just curious”.

I backed up my statement with a cover phrase of innocence. I awaited a shady response, a skeptical stare. The inquiry of: Why do you care what I need money for? 

None of which I received.

The back of their cardboard sign, upside down, read: Smile.

Clearly these people had done this before.

You know, when you’re nervous for something?

And then as soon as it starts, the nerves go away?

Your adrenaline suddenly does what it’s supposed to?

Everything sorta falls into place.. and it just feels right?

Yes.

“Food for the week, and oil.”

She responded.

I was so happy with the straight honest answer she gave me. No scent of alcohol on her tongue. I went on to ask if they had jobs, Her and the man, who I later learned was her husband. He did, sorta. Small jobs whenever he could get them. She was trying to collect disability again, for the scoliosis she had been born with, along with other illnesses I do not remember. She had held jobs before, just not recently. They live in a tent, in the field behind the store. The store that owned the parking by which they sat.

I offered to take them to the store. Told them I would buy them whatever they needed.

They obliged.

I found it beautiful, almost poetic, the first thing they went for, in all the store, was oil.

Not car oil, like I first assumed. Lamp Oil. They have an oil lamp. It heats their tent, and provides light when needed. Next to the oil was a broad selection of candles. Upon Her request, He grabbed two of those tall skinny ‘Jesus Candles’.. The Catholic looking ones, with angels and the virgin Mary printed on the side. They grabbed two matching ones with, the Son of God himself printed thereon, and put Jesus in the cart next to the oil.

After Jesus and Oil, they took me to the food section, and filled my cart with a weeks worth of the cheapest TV dinners in the store. I had told them I would buy them whatever they needed, and they gathered the bare minimum, spare the pack of almond joys, for which she apologized. I told her not to worry, if anyone understands the need for candy, it’s me.

Seriously though, the cheapest food items.

TV dinners.. dehydrated noodles.. off-brand soda..

Granted, what else do you eat when you don’t have a place to cook a full meal, and you don’t own a fridge, but still.. I offered to buy them whatever they needed.

Whatever.. they needed.

Dehydrated noodles.

They were ready to check out, but it was just after noon. I told them to get something hot and fresh for that moment. We went to the deli, and they got a Tub of diced vegetables, roast chicken, and potato wedges. While they stood there, deciding what they wanted to eat, the lady behind the counter asked if she could help me, instead.

“I’m with them”.

I said with a smile.

She was a little bit shocked, but the look on her face showed: she knew what was going on, with me and them, but was done making assumptions.

I was standing there in a cotton Owl City v-neck, crisp dark blue skinny jeans, a clean black snapback, and a timbuk2 man-purse.

They were both very clearly off the street corner. Torn pants, old shoes, faded winter coats, and hats, completely soaked through.

In line to check out, The man asked if he could put batteries in the cart.

I said, “Absolutely.”

They were so joyful.

“We have flashlights with no batteries”.

She said.

I believer her. They light their tent with an oil lamp.

The roast chicken from the deli, had not been properly tagged. The clerk gave it to us for free.

“Maybe God is with us”.

She said.

They were honestly two of the most polite people I have met. They thanked everyone they spoke too. They were extremely grateful. They were kind.

Thirty Six dollars.

I spend more than that, on a weeks worth of food, for myself..

..and that doesn’t include batteries, or lamp oil, or Jesus Candles.

Before I left them, after checking out, they went to eat their fresh food at the indoor seating area next to the deli.

I approached her with a twenty dollar bill.

I told her life is temporary.

I told her, when you believe in God, an eternity awaits us.

I told her I would pray for them.

I told her to stay out of the cold, have a great rest of the week, and I hope Jesus Blesses you.

She said: “He already has”.

She wiped tears from her eyes, and just stared, with nothing more to say than Thank you.

I told her, “God bless you”.

As I started to leave, He waved at me and said:

“God bless you too”.

I turned around and pointed at them both, to confirm I knew their names.

“Crystal.. and Jesse?.. Excellent.”

I said with a smile as I walked away.

Several strangers looked on, completely and utterly dumbfounded.

It was fantastic.

If you made it this far, Reader, welcome to the closing.

If all it takes is fifty six dollars, to change someones life forever, even if the initial joy only lasts for that day; it’s worth it.

It’s fifty six dollars I would have spent on sour patch kids, or an extra coffee, or something pointless on amazon.

But having someone brought to tears..

Showing them, at the lowest point in their life, that someone cares…

…Nothing is more beautiful.

I told her:

“I have never been in your shoes;

but, I would like to think if I was,

someone else would do the same”

So I ask you.. Reader..

If you lost, everything..

Could you survive a week, with nothing more, than what you’ve given this past year?

I would like to think I could. 

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
ɡo͝od/
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?

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.