Category Archives: Tragedy

Make the World (America) Small Again

I was equally torn between not wanting to fall asleep, and going to sleep but not waking up.

My son isn’t to an age where he has much understanding outside of his family, and his immediate surroundings. So last night as my wife and I were nervously watching the election results pour in, he came into the living room with his tiger and his penguin, rubbing his eyes, with his back to the TV, looking at us. As exhausted as I was, I wanted to get him back to sleep so I could return to nervously flipping between news channels.

And while I was aware that I was facing a choice which extended beyond meeting his needs, it didn’t stop me from still being anxious.

Nevertheless, I fell asleep on the floor next to his bed, stroking his little hand.

My wife woke me up around 1 (without calling Ice Cube the top gun), and as I stirred awake, so did my son. As she took over, I went to bed, now wide awake. I looked at my phone, and discovered Donald Trump is going to be our next president.

And I could not fall back asleep.

I was equally torn between not wanting to fall asleep, and going to sleep but not waking up.

Now, I didn’t vote. And you can feel free to tear me apart for it in the comments, but it’s my choice and I accept all consequences. I didn’t want Donald Trump to be president, not because I wanted Hillary Clinton, but because I felt I had a pretty good idea of just what America would become under his “leadership.”

And between California Proposition 60 and the Presidential Election itself, it’s clear that what America wants to get off to is an unprotected dick.

Hillary Clinton didn’t seem like a great alternative either, and I didn’t want her as acting Chief. But I could at least see a silver lining in a Hillary Clinton Presidency – even if she does a shitty job, I can tell my unborn daughter that she can be President, because that role has finally been pioneered. That’s how I made sense of the country choosing Hillary Clinton. And all I could think about with a Presidency under Donald Trump was that it was going to be just like when in high school, and my soccer coach became Vice Principal.

He was a real dick.

That’s how I made sense of this terrible election, and the state of our country.
That’s what I thought it was going to be.

And then America chose.

And between California Proposition 60 and the Presidential Election itself, it’s clear that what America wants to get off to is an unprotected dick.

I finally fell asleep.

And woke up this morning to my son quietly at the side of my bed.

I feel soft. With a gentle spirit. In the dark.

I got up, started a pot of coffee, kissed my wife (I can’t remember which order), and resigned myself to face just what the world had and will become.

It was as if the lights had suddenly been turned off and I was faced with what seems like overwhelming darkness. As a friend of mine posted on Facebook, the only way I can describe feeling is “soft.” I felt and continue to feel incredibly soft today. Gentle. And it’s a strange place to be. And a strange feeling to have in such a place. To have a gentled spirit while in the dark can only seemingly be described by just saying, “I feel soft, with a gentle spirit, in the dark.”

And my interactions with my son today have been an expression of that. Throughout the morning things have been calm, quiet, and…well, soft. My wife and I both struggled with a desire to avoid the inevitable array of news and coverage and social media. It’s easier for me because I simply have to make the choice to not look at my phone all day.

But even with that simplest of tasks, I still found myself looking at Facebook. And more than looking, I wanted to see people I knew voted for Trump gloating. But I’m tired of being angry, and I’m tired of getting angry. And I wanted to see those that also wished against Trump express their heartache. But I’m tired of feeling shock, and I’m tired of feeling sadness, and I really REALLY don’t feel optimistic.

I feel soft. With a gentle spirit. In the dark.

And it was while I was sitting at the table, finishing my food and the pot of coffee, that my son tugs on my arm again and again, telling me he wants me down. Normally I get frustrated with this, and this morning was no different. I just wanted him to let me be, to go play, and let me absorb myself in the reality that is. I want to make sense of it all. I want to plan out and prepare for all those unknowns that are yet to come. I want to orient myself to this surreal sate of being.

And he wanted me down on the floor, on his level, to play, read books, to color, to sing, and snuggle his animals with him.

Chesterton said, “…if a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small.

It was a form of this statement that came to mind and my son was whining and pulling at my arm and saying, “down.” There’s a scene in Man of Steel that always gets me to cry (and still succeeded in doing so when I looked up a clip for this post) where a young Clark Kent is overwhelmed by his manifesting abilities and in talking to his mom, tells her, “the world’s too big, Mom!” And lovingly, calmly, and quietly, she tells him, “then make it small. Just focus on my voice.”

 

I don’t have superhuman abilities. But since becoming (not by choice, necessarily) a full time stay at home parent, I’ve discovered that I can be present with my son day in and day out.

I can enter his world.

Which is huge and exciting and unexplored.

A world with countless possibilities, and also dangers. But a world where he knows that whenever he’s afraid, I’m there in his world to hold him and tell him he’s safe. For as long as he needs it.

Chesterton said, “…if a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small.

My trouble is that I desire to make my world—the world—small. Because if the world is small, then it’s knowable. And if it’s knowable, then there’s a sense that it’s controllable.
I can’t see that when I make the world small, I miss out on adventures, and unknown experiences that can surprise me. I miss out on SO MUCH when I make the world small.

Which is why when things happen that completely deconstruct the world that I’ve made small—that turn out the lights—that make me feel like I’ve lost my small little world and I’m floating in the emptiness of space, I’m faced with some difficulties.

But when I make myself small…
When I enter my son’s world and see it through his eyes…
When I let go of trying to know, and trying to control…

When I focus on one voice and one voice alone…

That big world isn’t so frightening anymore.

One of the most quoted parts of the second Batman film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight, is the speech about darkness and light. Harvey Dent says, “The night is always darkest just before the dawn.”
When I actually think about this, based on experience, it’s a bullshit statement. The night is darkest when you go from bright light to no light. It makes you feel as if all truly is darkness; as if light has abandoned you. But give yourself enough time to adjust, and you begin to see light—wherever it may be, however dim it may be.
…if you’re looking for it.

There’s a tendency to close your eyes when you get scared. And what’s scarier than darkness?
But if you keep your eyes open long enough, you see light in the most unexpected places, interacting and doing things in the most unexpected ways.

When I focus on one voice and one voice alone…
That big world isn’t so frightening anymore.

I wish I could give answers.

I wish I could say what all of this is for.
I wish I could give something tangible that helps make the world smaller again, more manageable, comfortable.
But I’m realizing that I don’t really want to.

I just want to hang out with my infant son.

I want my eyes to soon adjust to the dark.

And I want to seek the light.

I want to be small. And enjoy the world, for all the good it has.

And it sure does have a lot of good.

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Filed under Political (as such), Tragedy

What Do You Say When No One Has Ears to Hear?

It’s been the span of just one month (at the time of writing this), and the amount of horrific tragedies having occurred all over the world have been nothing short of countless (while nothing compared to the amount that this entire year has wrought).
I say countless, not because these events have been innumerable, but because even just ONE of them is ONE TOO MANY.

It’s felt as if the whole world has just been soaked—steeped, like a bag of tea—in chaos; in darkness; utterly in a void.

And it didn’t take long for the Internet…well, social media, to follow suit. What I’ve witnessed it become, I can only describe to be some sort of collective madhouse serving to accomplish nothing but an overwhelming—damn near deafeningcacophony.

i don't know what we're yelling about.gif

Articles and blog posts after articles and blog posts after articles and blog posts.
Politicians and speeches.
Articles and blog posts about politicians and their speeches.
Tweets.
Facebook posts.
Facebook profile picture changes.
And all theLikes.” Ohhh, all the “Thumbs Ups” Facebook “Likes” and “Shares” and “Repostings” and “Thoughts and prayers,” after, “thoughts and prayers,” after, “thoughts and prayers.”

loud noises

And for reasons I’ll elaborate further on in time, through it all I’ve remained…uncomfortably silent. Not because I have nothing to say (quite the contrary, in fact), but rather, for motivations I’ve felt to be considerably significant.

I’ve remained silent because it’s been abundantly clear that EVERYONE has something to say…and NO ONE really seems to be doing any listening.

It’s as if whenever our world is steeped into the VOID, the only thing we ever find ourselves doing is nothing; nothing but stand at its precipice, and scream, and shout, and cuss, and cry out, all of it, into that VOID.
And it just feels like it accomplishes NOTHING.
I have seen so so much of people’s hearts hurting, aching, breaking, for all the suffering and tragedy and loss that has repeatedly occurred within this span of just one short month. Now whether these emotions are genuine or just for show is not for me to say; though I will state with certainty that I believe there is an unmistakeable distinction between having a big heart, and having a heart in the right place. And please don’t misunderstand me here, I am by no means criticizing (nor calling into question) anyone’s sentiment, anyone’s heart, and anyone who has found themselves on that precipice screaming and shouting and cursing and crying. Nor am I just cynically ranting about the pointlessness of social media and all that it entails (the fact is not lost on me that this very piece represents exactly what I’m eluding to…).
But rather, I am sincerely expressing the personal struggle I’m having with a question as difficult for me to find an answer to, as it is for me to just simply find the correct words in the correct order to correctly word the question itself. And it is a question I long to have answered both for my own selfish reasons, but also in hopes of righting all this wrong I’ve seen in response to the world unavoidably spewed and spewed and spewed all over the internet.

And I’m as much asking myself these questions (if not genuinely so much more), as I am positing them to you.

When you stand at the precipice—filled with emotion that you’re just longing to express—and you scream and shout and spit and cuss and cry into the VOID, just WHAT IS THE POINT.

What do you do when it seems as if NOTHING you say or do seems to make ANY difference?

What do you say when all you see is no one listening?

I mentioned before that through everything that has occurred recently, I’ve found myself in a place of tense silence. And to be fair, much of it had to do with timing, and a preoccupation with caring for my infant son. But the fact remains that these questions have plagued me long before thematically outlining this piece. As I said, I’ve personally had many thoughts about so much of what has transpired these past weeks, coupled with a desire to write them all out (I even had a clever, kitschy title summarizing what I wrote, “Teething, Terrorists, Trump, and Troubles.”).
What stopped me? Well initially I’d like to say that because no one asked my opinion or thoughts, I really didn’t give a damn about sharing anything.

And I know that there is at least a part of that remaining.

But the bulk of what’s been holding me back are those very questions I listed above.

When it feels as if all I’m doing is shouting into the VOID—when all I am doing is nothing more than adding to that VOID, WHAT IS THE POINT.

When I struggle with believing that NOTHING I do seems to make ANY difference, what is there for me to do?

And ultimately, regardless of anything I might have to say…about anything, when the response appears to be as if NO ONE has “ears to hear,” WHAT IS THE POINT of saying anything?

… … …

I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard the phrase “ears to hear,” anywhere other than in a Biblical context; “for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” Though it’s a phrase that I’ve easily glossed over time and time again when reading Scripture, I’ve become enamored with it, because it truly captures both the simplicity and sincerity that lay at the heart of genuine Christianity like magic from fairytales being both the same and different, hard enough to build a foundation, but fluid enough that you never can quite think you’ve got them all figured out.

For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Simple and straightforward.
A phrase I’ve always (or, at least until recently) taken at face value.

Jesus is recorded frequently finishing whatever he was speaking with that phrase: “for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” And THE closest I think I come to understanding it is essentially saying, “for those of you that are truly actually paying attentionfor those of you that are truly actually listeningYOU’LL get what I’m saying.

I quite often find myself easily bombarded by a mess of bright and spastic, overwhelming visuals that…I fail to really see.

And even more frequently do I find myself comfortably consumed by the cacophony of long winded explanations and pompous justifications that…I fail to really listen.
When I find myself staring at the VOID too long? That’s all I start to believe.

And voids are anything BUT simple, and anything BUT sincere.

For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

What is the simplicity promised within these words?
What is the sincerity promised within them?

What are the words?

Echō ous akouō akouō(!)

Echō (G2192: to have, hold)
ous (G3775: the ear, ears)
akouō (G0191: hearing, to hear, listen)

Echō ous akouō, akouō(!)
Whenever Jesus finished with these four words, it was never a conditional statement.

It was a PROMISE!* (*Yes, exclamation point included.)

Jesus wasn’t concluding by saying, “for those of you actually listening, you’ll get it.”
No, Jesus was making a promise:

Oh listening ears, listen!*”

(*rf. Greek grammatical notes on Matt. 11:15)

Were there those ears that didn’t listen? Of course there were.
And neither is it any different today. There are those that just DO NOT LISTEN.

There are those who—for whatever reason—cannot hear the “Word(s) of God,” instead hearing only thunder*, and there may very well continue to be so.

(*rf. John 12:28-30)

There have been—and may always be—“children” in loud, busy marketplaces, willfully and firmly placing their fingers in their ears and making whatever cacophony possible in order to drown out the music that would compel them to dance; who preoccupy themselves with countless distractions of their own design so as to never hear the “dirge” and mourn; simply and sincerely, mourn*.

(*rf. Matt. 11:16,17)

The reality of the world we live in seems far too clear:

EVERYONE has something to say, and yet NO ONE is listening.

EVERYONE has enormous hearts, but enormous hearts that have become hardened and calloused.

There have been, and always will be, people who make so much noise—who make the most noise—not out of a desire for themselves to be heard. No. We all have that desire, and not all of us struggle with it that way. There have been and always will be people who make as much noise as they can solely (dare I say spitefully?) to KEEP TRUTH OUT. Whether it’s truth in the form of thunder, or truth much less in the form of a whisper, even a whisper sharp enough to cut through prideful, arrogant, opinionated, cacophony.
There have been, always will, and may even currently be, people you know, people you’re related to, people on Facebook, and people staring at you every time you look in the mirror, who boisterously spout off their views and opinions not because they long to have them heard—not because THEY long to be heard—but because in doing so, they effectively deafen themselves, drowning out anything and everything else…especially truth.
Because truth isn’t safe.
Because truth can (and quite often times does) hurt.
Because truth quite literally forces us to face an end of ourselves, the end of ourselves.

But at the end of ourselves is something so much bigger, and—trulyso much better.

The truth of the matter…the truth of ALL matterthe truth of everything THAT matters is this:

We ALL have ears to hear, and those ears were MADE TO HEAR.

And whether you’re unable to hear due to impairment, or due to affliction, out of violence, or out of fear; or whether you’re unable to hear because you’ve spitefully crammed your fingers in your ears and are screaming at the top of your lungsJesus made a promise that ALL WILL HEAR.
And I may not be able to convey in detail and with certainty just HOW that promise will be kept, I do know He’s pretty good at keeping His promises…at keeping His Word.

Oh, and when He does make due on His promise?

That moment ALWAYS tends to be enough to melt hearts and get EVERYONE listening:


What else is there to leave you with but this:

Echō ous akouō, akouō(!)
“OH, You listening ears, LISTEN!”

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It’s Times Like These You’ve Just Gotta Say, When In “Post Concussive SyndROME”

…still don’t quite understand what that phrase means…

Where to start…

While I can be very good at playing my cards close to the chest (well, to not give myself that much credit, I’ll say that it’s certain cards I’m very good at playing close to the chest)—to keep things hidden, private—it just seems to be an unshakeable, unchangeable part of my nature to be completely open and vulnerable with damn near anyone one I have the pleasure of interacting with. To bare me. Good, bad, and ugly. And another part of my nature that I just can’t seem to alter? It comes incredibly easier to bare the bad and the ugly of and in me—to convey and share all my faults—than it does for me to share what’s quote unquote, good (yes, I wrote out quote unquote rather than simply putting quotation marks. It was a stylistic choice to emphasize my point, and I have the freedom as a writer to use it, godammit.).

That being said, for whatever reason that it’s so easy for me to share the bad and the ugly and all my faults and eccentricities—and beyond that, to share what I’ve learned from them, by them, and everything associated with them—I cannot for the life of me convey just what it’s like to be me. That is, to think how I think, feel how I feel, and struggle with what just what struggle life is like for me on a day in and day out basis.

Perhaps that’s why I get so emotional when I come across any form of media on the internet where someone who shares in my…afflictions…my…struggles…my…daily challenges I constantly face with what feels like no sense of relief. My emotional reaction has nothing to do with a sense of camaraderie that I feel with these individuals. When I’m faced with an article, or a video, or some such piece of media that makes me bawl up and ball up, it doesn’t stem from a heartfelt thought that I’m “not alone in what I feel and struggle with,” (though I both don’t see anything wrong with that, and am truly encouraged that there are other individuals out there that share struggles with my own) no, I break down emotionally because I’m finally facing and hearing my struggles and my difficulties through words and conveyances with a clarity and articulation that I could never have expressed myself.

Like some “out-of-body experience,” I’m witnessing everything I wish for people to know—no, to understand—about my struggles, expressed in such a way that makes such sense; in a way that I believe everyone, in whatever way they are related to me, can understand.
In a way that just…clicks.
In a way that I hope translates to a better, more rounded, and honestly—cards on the table, here—more sympathetic understanding of me as a whole.

Which is why after seeing this latest video, I feel so inclined to share it.

Lemmie back up a bit and give some background here first.
If you weren’t aware, I was involved in an auto accident on 13.August. My infant son and I were rear-ended by an F-150 going between 30-45mph while we were at a complete stop.
On the surface, with both damage to the car, and injuries sustained, everything appeared rather minimal. We were able to drive ourselves to the ER to get checked out, and thankfully my son checked out just fine at the ER and has been since, suffering only a pretty good scare. And I, looked to have just sustained some whiplash, sprained wrist, hurt shoulder, and general other discomforts.

Then came a couple days later. The car—drivable to this point, though the backside body was evidently damaged—suddenly ceased to start. Come to find out that the impact completely damaged the fuel pump (amongst other technical parts I don’t know or care to explain).

I myself went for a followup appointment with Primary Care, where it was deduced that the force of the impact no doubt caused my shoulder to dislocate, and—more than that, the impact was great enough that the dislocation could (and did) possibly damaged the ligaments in my arm. Further, I had (have) sciatica in both legs, and back pain that just won’t quit.

This was the initial diagnosis. All physical. Because I didn’t hit my head, nor did I ever lose consciousness during the accident.

I was put on leave from work for three weeks so as to give my body time to heal.

Flash forward to when I start work again. (And, I cannot emphasize this enough, this begins the heart of all of what I’m getting at.) I’m noticing all sorts of symptoms that I did not anticipate to be the case upon returning.
And they don’t go away.
In a desperate act to find out what’s going on, I post the following question to Facebook:

facebook

And then I begin noticing more and more stuff that started to worry me. I forgot my wife’s phone number…consistently. I had trouble remembering a lot of things, in fact.  And attempting to do so cause that pulsating pressure headache to flare up. I couldn’t do puzzles or math correctly, and if I focused too hard, that pulsating pressure headache would flare up again.
Soooo…I schedule another appointment with Primary Care. This time addressing everything I’m feeling neurologically—which is affecting the rest of me physically.

And then came the exams…
And after that, the diagnosis.

Not only did I sustain a concussion from the accident, but I fall into a small category of concussive victims who get (or have) what’s called Post Concussive Syndrome. It’s convoluted, and I still don’t fully get it, but from what I was told, those with this diagnosis maintain the symptoms of a concussion for any given time-frame…indefinitely.
If you’re confused as I was, my doc explained it this way: with the impact of the accident, the force was so strong that it not only caused my shoulder to dislocate, but in the process of dislocating, that force on my arm and shoulder damaged ligaments. It wasn’t as if my shoulder just popped out. It popped out with enough force to damage all the ligaments that attach it together.
With that in mind, he then explained how that same force impacted my noggin. I may not have hit my head, but my head did fly forward with the same force that threw my shoulder out (hence the whiplash). And because I told the ER that I didn’t hit my head, nor lose consciousness, they didn’t check for any neurological damage.

So that’s where I’m at.
No…that’s the start of where I’m at. And that’s where I come back around to certain parts of the internet explaining things far better than I can. Because just where am I at? Well just tonight—at work—after a particularly difficult day physically, mentally, but especially emotionally, I came across this video. And after watching it, crying, wiping away tears so I could help customers, I came to the conclusion that this was the best any only way to share what’s going on. If you only watch through her description of Post Concussive Syndrome, and what it’s like, that’s good enough. I’m not looking for how best to “deal with” me in this condition.
My goal is what I stated in the beginning of this post.

And so we begin with VIDEO #1 showcasing my neuroses:

Here’s the problem, I don’t just have Post Concussive Syndrome. That’s not the only neurological diagnoses that I’ve been given.
I’ve been diagnosed with adult ADD—Attention Deficit Disorder.

I’ve also been diagnosed with OCD—Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or, as I joke, CDO…because that’s the letters alphabetized, AS THEY SHOULD BE…). And if you think you understand what OCD is, I encourage you to go check out the following article:
http://themighty.com/2015/02/i-have-ocd-this-is-what-its-like-to-be-in-my-mind-for-3-minutes2/

Buuuut…if you don’t want to read, on to VIDEO #2 of my neuroses showcase:

Lastly, I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. Now this is one of those things that I tend to be able to hide pretty well…this is a set of cards I’m very good at playing close to the chest. But just because I don’t show it, does not mean that the emotional state is not there raging inside of me. For the most part, I think you can tell when my anxiety kicks up and I’m suffering a panic attack because certain “ticks” of my OCD go full throttle.

But in case you’re wondering what I’m feeling on the inside—regardless of what my exterior may present, VIDEO #3 should give a very clear image of what someone goes through:

So that’s where I’m at.

Here it is almost two weeks after being diagnosed with Post Concussive Syndrome;
here it is almost three weeks of being back to work—almost two since being diagnosed with Post Concussive Syndrome;
here it is, two weeks of toughing it out working in an environment that is completely and utterly not conducive to my condition.
Here I am—being told that the only remedy is rest, both physically and mentally—struggling to follow through with doctor’s orders.

Because honestly, how can I.

And I mean to genuinely ask: how can I?
And I’m not just talking about an inability to not work due to financial reasons. I’m talking about with a mind like mine,
How.
Can.
I.
Rest?
My mind is constantly racing from one thing and thought to another thanks to my ADD.
There’s a lack of order EVERYWHERE which flares up my OCD.
I’ve realized that not having things in the sense of order that I need makes my head ache and I get dizzy and feel light headed and nauseous now thanks to the Concussion symptoms.
So now my OCD is in overdrive simply to keep my PCS symptoms at bay.
All of this—the thoughts, the questions, the struggling with order and my own physical well being and people depending on me and needing to get better which means needing to rest but I can’t rest because I have so much that needs to get done and only I can do it and there’s no way out so there is no rest which means there won’t be recovery which means I’m stuck where I’m at indefinitely with no way out and no help out and all this pressure pressure pressure on me—all of it then flares up my anxiety and causes panic to kick in which then flares up my OCD more so then I need organization all while my ADD won’t let go of the thought that I need to just stop and get some rest but I can’t just go to sleep and I don’t know why which keeps me up even more which only exacerbates the lack of getting rest bit which then exacerbates the anxiety because I’m scared shitless about not being able to take care of myself and does anybody care? why would they? they have no reason to. and so is this why I’m writing this in hopes of giving reason to care, to look at me differently, to know, to understand, to sympathize with all of this struggle that’s bringing me to a Jack Kerouac style rant as tears fill my eyes and cause my glasses to fog up staring at a screen after 1am while my wife and son are asleep and all I want to do is go to bed but I can’t because I’m not sure if that’s at all what I really want or if all I really want is to be held and to know that it’s okay and I’m okay and all this pressure pressure pressure that I feel from EVERYONE whether they intend to or not is literally mixing me up so much inside that I can’t even convey what I feel besides sharing the videos and saying that now I’m thinking of the Eve 6 song, “Inside Out,” and all I want is to just be free to rest…truly rest…even if rest comes from oblivion, at least it would be rest, but I can’t rest.
I can’t do anything right now but try to finish this post. Because every part of me feels like it is a necessity, every part of me feels like I have to.


But I don’t have to.

Maybe now…here, now, in this sentence, in this line, after everything that just came before, THIS is where I’m truly at.
I don’t really know where that is…
And I don’t really know what my goal in writing this is anymore. I know what I initially sought. I said it in the beginning: understanding…perhaps compassion…sympathy. But right now? Now I don’t know.
Perhaps you can tell me. What was the point.

For now, now I have finally come to the end (of this at least).
And it’s time to lay down in my bed and hope and see—just hope and see—if I can truly get some rest.

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