Choices, Choices

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

I open the door, and I see the lake. All my lives ripple along the water.

What could have been. What could still be.

I do not know what to choose. I do not know how to make what I choose real.

Sometimes it’s just nice to look. To daydream, see what makes my heart sing most. (And ignore the voice that says, Anything, anywhere, but here.)

I am trying to listen to my instincts. I am trying to listen for the signs. Are there signs?

I am trying to manage. Between desire, between expectation, between the facts of reality, between the burden of responsibility.

All my lives ripple along the water and I don’t know how to choose. I don’t know that I have a choice. But the longer I stay, the longer and deeper I am rooted here, in the one life I know I do not want.

The stone is in my hand. I feel its weight. The smoothness, the flatness. I grip it tighter, take aim, take aim again, arm swaying from side to side, my body no better able to make a decision, commit to a path, than I am. It just gets heavier. The stone, my arm, my heart, everything.

I drop the stone. I walk back through the door, back to my life. I know one day I might no longer be able to open it, and the choice will have been made for me, then. So I walk through it a lot more often now.

But what is the point, if I don’t know how to choose?

Finding Catharsis


thunder storm
Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

All is dark, except for the neon spider silk that streaks across the sky.

All is silent, except the roars that reverberate through the trees, through the earth. Through your bones, through your heartbeat.

Still you run.

The clouds burst and weep, soaking. Cleansing.

Almost there. Almost there. A little further.

You make it. The world spans out before you.

You see nothing. Then everything.

Hear only the rush of water. Then the blasts that nearly pierce your eardrums.

Breathe, breathe, breathe.

Wait. There, the flash of lightning. The thunder that follows.

You scream, your voice joining the sky’s.

Again. Again. Again.

Your pain bursts and weeps, soaking. Cleansing.

Your joy reverberates through your bones, through your heartbeat.

Almost there. Almost there.

Almost purged. Almost free.

The Exhale

April 9, 2020

I can almost imagine what it would feel like. The wood panels, dusty but strong, under my hands. The light, streaming in from wide windows. The rustle of leaves, the chatter of birds, the sounds of life equal parts isolating and welcoming.

To my mind, it would feel… like an exhale. A breath long held finally sighing out your lungs, the stagnant air dissipating in the breeze. Muscles tight from years of grit teeth, hunched shoulders, curled fists… simply giving way.

It would feel like peace.

There is a joy in simplicity. An over-stated, tired cliche, yet so often and so easily forgotten. There is a joy in the work of hands, in a day that ends with the setting of the sun, in solitude with companionship only when you choose.

It doesn’t sound like too much to ask for— peace, simplicity.

An artlessness that I have spent my whole life seeking.

I may not know, truly, what I want in the physical sense. In the “dreams” sense, the “ambitions” sense, the “capitalist-striving,” “career” sense.

But I know I want a life of easy breaths. Of days with work that will not shatter the earth in order to recreate it, but that will gently heal. Bring comfort and life anew. To a soul, any soul. It would be enough, I think. For me.

Disjointed thoughts seem to be the theme of late. Fragments of images and sensations and wishes, plucked from my mind in near stream-of-consciousness. I do not know how to make sense of it all yet. How to tie it all together into a coherent prose.

So I leave you with this last fragment, perhaps the clearest one so far:

If asked what I am working towards, I can only say: the exhale.

For Keeps

June 13, 2019

This is yours to keep.

This moment, soon-to-be memory, soon-to-be faded dream. This caress of words, so soft you might break. This whisper of touch, so loud your voice shakes. This weight. Not burden, just the knowing: you’re safe.

It cannot last. Fear will creep. Reality seeps. Present gently wars with future and past.

But for now, there is this.

And this is yours to keep.

Life is a hypocrite.
A liar, a cheat.
A tease, a bully.
A carrot-dangler.
A lover of never-ending cycles.


To see who is brave enough to call it out.
To see who is smart enough to catch it in its lies.
To see who is strong enough to stand up to it.
To see who is wants it enough to get that carrot.
To see who is determined enough to break the cycle.

And if you’re not?

Then it teaches you how to be.
Only, it’s up to you to learn the lesson.

Isn’t it beautiful?

(I don’t seem to be taking this very well.)

It must not agree with me. Maybe I’m allergic. Or intolerant. There is a difference, you know. Maybe I should just surrender to it and let it swallow me whole. The best way out is through, as the mysterious “they” say.

(Who are “they”? Hey! Can you give me the answers? Where can I find you?)

Really, though? Who has the energy for it? How are we supposed to get through over and over and over and over and… Well. You get the idea. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Or is it just me? Maybe. Maybe it is and I’m just weak. No surprise there, but I seemed to get on fine so far. I made it so far. So why now?

(Can’t I just lay here among the pillars holding me up?)

They’re cracking. I can see that, yes. There, and there, and there, too. Hmmm. Seem to be growing bigger. I can hear things inside them. They’re… No. I can’t tell. It’s too tumultuous. Muffled, but no less chaotic, no less… loud. I can see thin hands no less fierce for their look of frailty reaching out. Biding their time.

(I don’t want to look. They scare me.They’re waiting. Waiting to escape. Can’t I just lay here and not move? If I don’t move, they won’t be able to get out… Can I, please?)

Oh no. I can’t breathe again. It’s happening again. It’s been happening a lot. My lungs will contract again. I’ll choke in my effort to get oxygen into them again. My heart will beat unpleasantly faster again. My throat.. Oh god, what’s in there? Knives? Must be. In my core, too. Somewhere that’s not my gut, but not my heart, but everywhere at once. Knives. Daggers, sabers, scythes, short swords, long swords.

(Inhale. Exhale. Come on now, it’ll pass soon. Focus. Breathe. No. Don’t sob. Tears go back. BACK. There we go. It’s over.)

I know. I know you’re waiting inside me. I know you want to explode. I know you’re getting impatient. I don’t care. You won’t. I won’t let you. I won’t let you, you hear? You can destroy me if you want. But until you make very clear what will happen if I set you free, I will not. I will not risk you destroying everything dear to me. Because I know that’s what you may well do. Tear everything apart without a care. Go on a rampage.

(Then who will be left to clean up the mess? Make amends? Pick up the shattered pieces of not just myself, but everyone caught in the blast? No. You will never be free.)

Growl all you want. Make your threats. I will not break. I may be wavering now, may be growing a bit tired, but I will not break. You can’t make me. I won’t let you. I won’t let me.

(I’ll get my strength back. You’ll see… I won’t let you hurt them. They’ve done nothing to you. They don’t deserve it. I just need a little time… That’s all. Just a little time…)

You’re rattling your chains. I can hear them. You’re trying to set yourself and your minions free. I see them. I see you. Don’t you see? You can’t. Never. Ever.

(You’ll never be free. Even if it means that nor will I.)

She lays in bed, an arm by her side, the other lightly draped over her stomach. Her eyes stare without seeing at the ceiling, until it all goes dark and she remembers to blink. Thoughts drift through her head, but nothing of substance, of meaning. Random insignificant memories, snippets of songs, images that hold no importance whatsoever and so simply float along as she watches, waiting for something to grab onto and allow her mind to explore fully. But nothing comes.

She wonders wryly whether she has run out of anything meaningful to think. To say. To feel.

Movements are slow. It takes her ages to get up so she can do what she has to do. Longer still to get them done. The marrow of her bones drawn out and replaced with molten lead, it seems. She fears staying still too long; she can feel roots right at the nerve-endings of her skin, waiting for her to forget so they can grow and embed her.. where?

Anywhere, anywhere, just let her keep still. A shrub with leaden core, what a specimen she’d make.

The haze caused by the heated weather seems to be reflected within— a mist covering her emotions. She knows they’re there, but a dim outline is all she can see. She can’t feel properly because of it, either. Her emotions are reaching out a hand through the haze yet she can only feel the slightest brush of fingertips.

Everything is so… Nothing. Only those who’ve felt this before know what it means. Everything feels so nothing.

She lays on her back in bed, an arm by her side, the other lightly draped over her stomach. Her eyes stare without seeing at the ceiling, until it all goes dark and she remembers to blink. Her hair grows rapidly, forming bark, growing leaves, wrapping around the headboard. Her fingertips extend as branches and run down to the floor, taking root. Her spinal cord grows shoots from between her vertebrae and punctures through the mattress, entwining with the bed frame. She was still too long.

Her eyes stare without seeing at the ceiling, until it all goes dark. This time… she doesn’t blink.

Let the wind attack your face and tear at your hair, its high-pitched screams whistling in your ears.

Watch the world rush past you, on your sides, simultaneously rising up to meet you as you move towards it down below.

Don’t worry about hitting the ground. For now, you’re flying.

Feel the adrenaline rush through every blood vessel in your body, heading straight for your brain till you’re heady, drunk from it.

Remember to breathe between each scream of excitement and exhilaration. Gulp in the air, testing the nectar of each particle.


Dancing around the elephant in the room

Your eyes do not lie. Nor do your lips or fingers, really, but they aren’t exactly telling the truth either. Minute twisting of everyday words. “I’m fine” in every variation yet none of them quite touching upon the sadness and lost look in your eyes.

They meet mine as well as they can. They know what I see and they know I know that, too. Pleadings to please just let it go till you’re ready to reveal… What? Whatever it is. And so I blink once, slow, to let you know I understand. And so you change subjects, blatantly ignore questions you don’t want to answer and we play the game till you’re ready to speak.
Ahh. That game. How well I know it. How much I loathe it and how easily I can slip back into it now, despite having been on both sides and hating each. I never thought I’d have to play it with you.
But like it or not, here it is. The only thing to do at this point is ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach the longer this lasts. The pain at you shutting me out. Yet I’ve done it often enough, to you, to other people. Why shouldn’t you bear that right?

…Patience always has been my hardest virtue, but I know you too well to push. I know you too well to deny you this.
So we dance. And all I know is you’re the one leading.