Cross My Heart and Hope to Write


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We Often Cross The Lines We Draw

Short film based on the poem of the same name.
Directed and edited by Andrew DesGaines.
The trials of self-injury can be devastating and difficult to face. The story describes one man’s struggle to overcome his addiction. There is a fine line between control and self-destruction. You can overcome.

25 Things I've Learned In 25 Years

1. Life is filled with irony, dichotomy, and incredulity. 
2. Nothing will ever turn out exactly the way you expect. 
3. Finding yourself, embracing your identity, requires letting go of people’s opinions, normalcy, becoming comfortable with judgement, and not having everyone understand. 
4. Hurt people hurt people. 
5. Learning to forgive, and maintaining an air of detachment and indifference, can save you a lot of time and heartache. In the face of hurt, forgive. Try to understand your transgressors. 
6. Anger, hatred, resentment, envy, and jealousy are self-destructive. If you water their seeds (and they prefer tears over water) their roots will grow strong and deep. It is a weed, once cultivated, that is incredibly difficult to winnow out. Forgive. 
7. It is far easier to be cruel than to be kind. If you choose to be kind, realize that it will mean having to endure more, having to fight more, having to feel more and think harder. It is not easy, but life rewards those who are kind. 
8. There won’t always be a “right thing to do” in every situation. Search within yourself for what you feel is right for you, and do what it best for your heart and mind. 
9. To love someone else, you have to love yourself. It is ok to say, “I love you, but I love myself more.” Sometimes you have to let go. Sometimes being selfless means being selfish. 
10. Empathize with people. Try to see how they see the world. Try to teach them how to love themselves, but know that you can’t be the one to fix them. 
12. It is ok to fear some things, but not to let fear hold you back.
11. Mistakes are wonderful things. Flaws are wonderful things. Regret is the monster that makes them seem terrible. Don’t regret. Reflect, accept, and learn. 
13. We are never perfect.
14. That makes us perfect. 
15. Everyone is a work in progress. Never stagnate - constantly work towards an unachievable ideal. A human being is the only piece of art that is never finished. The art is the artist. The artist is the art. 
16. Beauty is everywhere. Try to see the beauty in things and in people. It will teach you how to appreciate. There is always a silver lining. 
17. Slllllooooooowwww dooooowwwwwwn. Embrace every moment. Make time to do nothing. Spend time with friends, and family, and strangers, and music, and sound, and smiles, and food, and air. Cherish everything. Savor the in between. 
18. Challenge yourself. Push yourself. Experience as much as you can. Take risks. Throw yourself into strange situations. Have faith. Be free. 
19. Actions do speak louder than words, but words can work wonders if they’re used properly.
20. You always have a voice and a choice. 
21. Love is not something you wait for. It’s something you create, employ, and bring to every table you sit it. If you love openly, and passionately, and unabridged, it will confuse people. It will make intimate relationships difficult to manage. But it will also make them more intriguing, dynamic, and passionate. Communicate. Be vulnerable. Leave the heart open. Tear your walls down. 
22. Anything worth dying for is worth living for. And fighting for.
23. Happiness is perspective. With age comes perspective. Even the memories that make you sad, the choices you’ve made that cause you pain, can be transformed into goodness. Your faculties make your reality. Choice is the greatest power you have. There is nothing that can’t be fixed. You are in control. You are never a helpless victim. 
24. Anything and everything that can’t possibly go wrong will. 
25. Never stop learning. There are no new endings, only old beginnings.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Being Vulnerable

Many people know me on the Long Island and NYC poetry and spoken word circuit as a calm, confident, and outgoing performer. I've been described as bubbly, charismatic, and extroverted; I love meeting new people and jumping right into fresh, novel situations. I try to maintain an air of positivity and humbleness... and to smile. Most people would consider me a happy person, which I most certainly am, and a bit of a joker.

This is by no means a farce. In all sincerity, I am a very happy person. I look around me and find that I am surrounded by so many beautiful people, by so many beautiful things. I feel loved and show love to as many people as I can, stranger or friend. I feel so blessed in my day to day life, and it creates such a wonderful space to be creative in. I strive to put forth ideas of good, right, openness, and beneficence - to exemplify the best of humanity.

What most people - friends, acquaintances, family, lovers - probably don't know is that I struggle.

Each and every day.

Although I may give off an air of stoic positivity, unshakable confidence, and childlike joy, I often feel incredibly alone. I feel utterly broken.

Again, the positivity and happiness people perceive in me is not at all synthetic. It is not a mask or a suit I put on when I'm out in the open, when I'm behind a mic. What you see is what you get. I am an open and honest person, and that is one of the reasons why I am writing this.

There is a risk you run when you choose to love people selflessly. (The original title of this blog was "Agápē Bodhisattva." The Greek word for "unconditional love," Agápē is something I take quite seriously.) It can be exhaustive and nonreciprocal. It can be taken advantage of and be misinterpreted. Riskier still, in intimate relationships, it can create friction, misunderstanding, and lead to obsessive behavior. I obsess. I have to resist the urge to stalk. These are some of the things I struggle with.

I do a lot of work in the field of mental illness, particularly in suicide prevention and depression. This may be partly motivated by this looming sense of incompleteness that follows me around, like a shadow of my shadow. There have been times in my life where I have reflected on the thought of ending my life, sometimes for days on end. Just meditating on it. Stewing in it.

Sometimes the anxiety is too much to bear.

Honestly, poetry readings, open mics, and performances help me to manage my endlessly reeling mind, stopping it from thinking of the past and fretting over the future. Being surrounded by people who enjoy what this fucked up brain of mine cooks up amidst fighting with a heart that is growing infinity bigger than it could ever hope to become has probably kept me alive. I feel broken. I feel lonesome. But I don't let that conquer me.

I'm here to tell you that no matter what you feel inside, no matter how broken, useless, hopeless, ugly, lonesome, listless, longing, brokenhearted, damaged, and otherwise undeserving you feel, things do get better. Although the moments of goodness and beauty seem few and far between, live for those moments, look for them, because they will help you to realize that there is so much more than hurt. We're all a little bit selfish - that's ok. We all feel worthless - you're not.

It's not about what we deserve, it's about what we're worth to ourselves.

I'm broken. I'm lonesome. But I'm alive. And being alive is the only excuse you need to say that things get better. Being alive makes you more blessed than you could comprehend. Happiness is possible. There is a moment out there waiting for you, to help you realize what really matters.

Don't let your darkness take your light. Do let it make you see it. They are one.