There Is A Dream I Have

There is a question
That’s haunted me
For years.
One Bruce Springsteen asked.
In a song of his.

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse”

That question is still there.
In my dreams at night.
I see it in the mirror
Even in broad daylight.

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse”

I find myself,
At last,
Reaching for a dream.
And wondering
If it’s too late.
And wondering
How many people will get hurt
If I reach for that dream.
If I try
To make a dream
Come true.

At least partially.

But that question,
Asked so very long ago
Remains a question
I have no answer for.

Robert Brown,
Of Abney Park
Sings words that echo
In my heart.
Words I understand
So very well.
About dreams.
And life.

“I’ve packed my bags
Brought back my pride
I’d rather live in rags
Than throw my dreams aside!”

I understand those words
Better than you know.
They haunt me every night.
They ring true
In my changing life.

And I ask myself
Endlessly.
Can I reach for a dream I have,
No matter what it costs,
Or who it hurts?

I have this dream of one day
Writing.
Even though I know
I’d never make a living
Doing that.

I’ll always have to do things
To pay the bills.
To get by
In this life.

And in pursuing that dream
Of writing.
What will happen to the dreams
Of My Lady?
Of my princess bride?

Already,
In the past two years,
All that I’ve been through
Has pushed her dreams aside.

And I just don’t know
If I can find a way
To balance it all out.
So that I can reach
For this dream I have.
And help her
Reach for hers.

But as I search
For answers to the questions
That I have.
Search to find a way
To reach for both my dreams
And hers.

I hear other words
That echo in my heart,
And reach my soul.

“Fear is a natural reaction
To moving closer
To the truth.”

Words from Pema Chõdrõn wrote.
Words I know so well.
Words that always remind me
When I am afraid.

As I am now.

I know that change takes time.
Sometimes,
Lots of it.
And that change
When done well,
And done right,
Doesn’t happen
Overnight.

I know I’m on a journey.
That I have
A rebuilt life.
Built from the ashes,
And the ruins,
Of a life that’s dead and gone.

I’m in a painful transition.
This much I know
Without a doubt.
One that’s nearly
Two years old.
And’s still going on.
Without any end in sight.

And there are things I face
In life.
Of which I am afraid.

What if I never make it.
What if I should fail.
What if my failure
Leads to my lady
Asking the same question
I first heard
So many years ago.
That question I still hear
Even now.

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse”

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Understanding Holidays

Thank you, God.
For letting me survive
Another holiday.

Holidays are hard for me,
You know.
I’ve never really understood
The holidays at all.
And the way people behave
On holidays.

Memorial day is especially hard
For me.
Because I am not able
To limit my feelings
Toward service personnel
That have been casualties
Of war.

It is because of them
That we are free.
I try to remember this
Every day I am alive.

So I fail to see the purpose
Of a Memorial Day.
The reason it exists.
To me it’s all just wrong.
To set aside one day a year
Just to honor them.

At the same time,
I do understand
That if there wasn’t a
Memorial Day,
There would be a lot less people
That truly honored
Service Personnel
At all.

People confuse me.
Can you tell?

I’ve been thinking about
The holidays
For several months now.
Trying to find the words
To express how they make me feel.,
So far, I haven’t found a way.

I spent time last night
Talking with some friends on-line.
Reading carefully the words
They shared with me.
As they tried to explain
Why people go insane
On the holidays.

They described how holidays
Are so important.
Because on a holiday
You don’t go to work.
You get to stay at home.
With Family and Friends.

And take off the facades
They wear at work
Ever day.
And do something different
For a change.

It gives them a break
From work.
From schedules.
From plans.
And all the rest.

Which leaves me wondering
If anything I see at work
Is real.
Or  if everything,
And everyone,
In the working world
Is fake.

And if that’s the case,
When did that happen?
And why?
Is this another case
Of  people living
In a lie?

My friends told me
Social activities,
Like holidays,
Let people take a break
From the monotony
Of the work they hate.
The work they do
Every day.

And today,
After I’ve had time to think
About the words of my friend,
I feel as if I have an answer
For the first time in my life.

These events are how people
Escape from the trap
Their work lives have become.
So they can relax,
And have some fun.

I’ve always had this feeling
About the holidays.
That everyone around me
Was talking silently
In that social way
That I can’t see
Or hear,
Or sense.

That they were all winking,
And nodding.
And laughing
Among themselves.
But I couldn’t understand
Why people would do that.
Or what such behavior
Could possibly mean.

And today, I have an answer.

People use holidays
To escape from their daily lives,
Yes.
But there’s more to it
Than that.

It’s a social behavior
That people just have.
That’s been developed over time
So that as a group,
Or a society,
They all understand
That it’s just a holiday.
And nothing more.

A time where they can
Just let go
Of how they have to be,
Socially,
In the land of the workplace.

It’s a difficult thing
For me to grasp,
And understand,
How people feel
About the holidays.

But as my understanding grows,
I’m finding that at last
I have some clues.

And the feelings that I have
About how people behave
As if how they are
On a holiday
Is the part of them they hide
In the land of the workplace.

I really hope with time
My understanding grows.
And someday I will
At long last,
Understand the holidays.

Even if I don’t agree with them.

Living Crippled Lives

There are times I wonder,
Does the hurting ever end?
Of is it like my other injuries?
The damaged ligaments.
The damaged joints.
That hurt every day.
And have for so long
I can’t remember
When they didn’t.

There are times I understand
Why people are afraid
Of the pain
Of life.
Why they do almost anything
To escape that pain.
Why they turn their hearts
To ice.
Frozen harder
Than any stone.

Why they bury their souls.
So they don’t ever
Have to feel them cry
Again.

Why the say they care.
And everyone agrees they do.
But they behave
As if they don’t.
Because to really care
Is to risk getting hurt.

But if you say you care.
And you follow the rules.
Saying that you care
But never really showing it.
You won’t ever hurt
Too much.

Because no one
Will be close to you.
No one at all.

And there are times
I wish I’d never
Come to understand
How things really are.
How you can work
Side-by-side with someone
For 10 years,
And maybe more.

And if you become ill.
Or injured in a wreck.
That’s just how life is.
And everyone
Just carries on.
As if nothing was wrong.

And their souls
Never shed a tear.
Their hearts never shed
A single drop of blood.
Because they’re safe
From the pain of life.

And they care.
Just like everyone.

There are times I wonder,
Does the hurting ever end?
Of is it like my other injuries?
The damaged ligaments.
The damaged joints.
That hurt every day.
And have for so long
I can’t remember
When they didn’t.

But I know this truth.
It’s OK to hurt.
Hurting’s another part of life.
Just like laughter and smiles.
And without it
Life just isn’t whole.

It’s crippled.

I been told
As I wake up.
As I come alive.
That my heart will ache
More than it ever has.
And my soul will cry
Oceans full of tears.

But not for me.
Instead.
For those I see
Who have done everything
To avoid the risk of pain.
Whose hearts have frozen
Into stone.
And whose souls
Are safely wrapped
In linen
In their graves.

My soul’s tears
Are for those
Living crippled lives.

Memories : The Story

[Author’s Note : This is an old one. I wrote it on 08 April 1999. But, events of this day have lead me to pull it out, and share it. If you know of any children afraid of monsters in the dark, perhaps you can share this one too.]

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. I do not recall her name. I only know she was young, about four years old. She was a pretty little girl, with curly strawberry-blond hair, and ice blue eyes. But she didn’t really look like Shirley Temple…

This little girl didn’t like to go to bed at night. She would scream at her Father, “But, Daddy! The monsters in the dark! They’ll get me! They’ll eat me up!”

And she wouldn’t go to bed. Her father would sit in his big rocking chair, and she would climb into her Father’s lap, and he would rock her to sleep. When she was asleep, he would carry her to her bed, and carefully tuck her in. “Good night, precious. Sleep tight,”
he would say. Then, he would kiss her cheek, and go do the things that Father’s do after everyone else is asleep.

Eventually, the Father became tired of having to rock his daughter to sleep every night. After hundreds of nights in a row, wouldn’t you? So, the Father decided it was time for his daughter to learn to go to sleep in her own bed.

But the little girl refused. “Daddy, the monsters! The monsters in the dark! They scare me! I can’t sleep knowing they are there!” So, the Father had to tell his daughter about the monsters in the dark. What they were, and where they came from. And how to not be
afraid of them.

So, he got his little girl into her bed, and tucked under her covers. And he sat down on the side of her bed, and held her hand, and told her this story…

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was afraid of the monsters in the dark. And she would not sleep at night, because they scared her so. So, her Father, who was not a wise man, but who knew all about monsters, told her, “You don’t have to be afraid of the
monsters, and tonight, I’ll stay up with you, and I’ll show you why.”

So, that night, when it was time for the little girl to go to bed, her Father tucked her in, and then sat down on the edge of her bed. “Let’s just wait here, and we’ll wait for the monsters to show up.”

And the little girl lay in her bed, and waited. And she watched the shadows on her bedroom walls. And on her bedroom ceiling. And she listened to all the noises in the dark.

And she sat up in her bed, and pointed, “There, Daddy! There’s a monster!” And her Daddy looked at the monster in the dark, resting on her bedroom wall. “Oh, precious,” he said. “That’s just a shadow. And it’s certainly not a shadow to be afraid of. Why, look.” And he stood up, and walked across the room. And he picked up her little, pink Teddy bear. And when he did, the monster on the wall moved, and went away.

“See, precious. It’s not a monster at all. Its just a shadow from your Teddy bear. It’s just Teddy, standing on your dresser, keeping watch over your room. Making sure the monsters of the dark don’t come in. Making sure you’re safe while you sleep.”

And the little girl looked at the wall, where the monster had been. And she looked at her Teddy bear. “Oh, Daddy! I didn’t know it was Teddy. Please put him back, so he can watch me while I sleep!”

And from that night on, the little girl knew that the monsters in the dark were just shadows on the walls. And that they weren’t anything to be afraid of.

 

Demons : Grocery Shopping

I never sleep, you know. Never. I sleep, I miss all the good stuff. And humans provide such good stuff. All the good stuff I could ever want. More than enough for me, and my entire family.

Today, I went to the grocery store. I believe that’s what they call it. Where they sell their food supplies. Lots of them gather there. All different kinds. Once there, I waited. And I knew I would not have to wait long before the humans started providing all kinds of good stuff. Nourishment. Yum.

This girl walked in. She was a tiny thing. Maybe five feet tall. Perhaps a touch more. She had blue hair! Yes! And wore a spiked dog collar. Black short pants, with a chain draped across each hip. And a shirt that had silver buttons on it. And another chain that connected the pockets. She had on black lace fingerless gloves. And black platform wedge boots that came nearly to her knees, with buckles all the way up the sides.

“Gothic. Perfect,” I thought. And I commenced collecting good stuff. I followed her through the store. Everywhere she went, I caused other humans to turn their heads. To notice her. It was beautiful! The way they all reacted!

There was this woman there. A few years older than Goth Girl. Goth Girl’s presence just tore her all up. The woman kept looking at Goth Girl. The confusion! Oh, the confusion!

“Why would anyone dress like that? It’s so… So… Wrong. She looks like she’d sleep with anyone.” And yet, she kept watching. With me, relishing ever moment, as she thought, “She’s actually interesting to look at.” And I could feel her urges. The urge to abuse. The urge to say something. “Go home! Get out of here! Why can’t people like you leave us alone!” And the urge to say, “Where can I find clothes like that? I wonder what I’d look like?”

It’s so grand, when humans see someone different. the way it brings out the wishes they have to look different. To be different. To stand apart. “Notice me! Notice me!” And the way it brings out their terror. “Everyone would notice me! I can’t. No. It’s just wrong.”

And then the woman’s deeper thoughts came through. “I bet she sleeps with other women, too.” Oh, the beauty! The sheer ecstasy! You should have seen the images that flashed through her mind when she thought of that! Oh, my! Naked bodies. Oral ecstasy. Exploring fingers.

Then, there was the shame. “Stop it! You know that’s wrong. To think that way. What’s wrong with you today?” And the blame. “It’s all her fault. That bitch. Dressing that way. There ought to be a law, so people like her can’t upset good, honest people like me!”

There was this man. Shopping with his wife. The child in the basket seat. He kept staring at Goth Girl. Watching every move. Especially when she turned away from him. The way his eyes locked on her ass. Oh, my. Delicious. “My wife would never dress like that.” The disappointment. The longing. The urge to explore something different. Someone different.

You would have loved the images that lingered in his mind. Being tied up, with Goth Girl doing anything she wanted to. She’d even brought a girlfriend. And the two of them had fun. Right in front of him. Wet fingers everywhere. Exploring tongues. And when they finished with each other, they explored him.

Fantasy. Such a marvelous invention of the mind. And all the while, the fear. That his wife would find out. Would see the way he looked at Goth Girl. Would see the thoughts in his head. Of getting naked with a stranger. “No, it’s wrong to have such thoughts. It’s all that bitch’s fault. Dressing that way. So disturbing. So sexually disruptive. As if she’s begging to be raped. There ought to be a law.”

Then there we the people who just avoided Goth Girl. They saw her coming, and it was like Moses. Parting the waters of the sea. People just scattered. Cleared a path for her. Left the aisle when she entered. The hatred. The mistrust. The fear. So yummy. Oh, the thoughts! “Avoid that slut!” Oh, the thoughts! “I bet she’s into drugs too. And even takes money for sex.” Oh, the thoughts! The thoughts! “Her kind should just be shot. So we can all be safe from them. From people like her.”

It was beautiful! Gorgeous! Like mining a rich vein of gold! The bounty just went on, and on, and on! Not one single person in that grocery store failed to provide good stuff that day. Oh, what a haul!

When I got home, I invited over everyone. And we celebrated. We got drunk on the emotions, the fears, the fantasies, the hatred I’d collected that day. On that grocery store trip.

The best part? The best part is how humans don’t believe we’re real. Don’t believe in demons. Don’t believe that we hide, in the shadows, in the dark, in the corners, watching. Waiting. For them to lie to themselves. For them to pretend they don’t have dark thoughts. For them to deny their nature. Their fantasies. Their dreams.

Oh, the havoc they wreck upon themselves! Oh, the beauty of their ways!

Not one of us has ever starved. And so long as humans behave the way they behave. None of us ever will.

The Diverse And Tolerant Workplace

People speak to me of tolerance.
And of diversity.
They tell me
Where I used to work
Was a diverse place.
A tolerant place.
And they have the paperwork,
And all the records that they need
To prove that.
After all,
They’re in compliance,
Completely,
With the government’s rules,
And requirements
For diversity,
And tolerance both.

But, they don’t know.
They don’t see
What I see.
They only see a set of rules.
A set of requirements
That they have to follow.

That’s anything but
True diversity.

No one seems to notice
The things that happen
In the halls.
In the rooms.
Where people talk.
Like people talk.
When they don’t have to behave.
When they don’t have to worry.
When they can let down
The guard they keep in place
Day after day.

When the lie they live
Is set aside.
For perhaps one moment.
Perhaps two.
And say the things
They can’t say
In public.

“I’m never going to use that restroom
Again.
Not after it’s been in there.”

“That arrogant prima donna will get
What he deserves.
You just wait.”

“I get so tired
Of having to be nice
To that fagot.”

The list goes on and on.
Things people say
Every day
When they think
Everyone understands.
They’re just being normal.
In every way.

That the lies they perpetuate.
Of civility in the workplace.
Of respecting diversity.
And tolerating other people’s differences
From them.

Are the way things are.
The way they’re meant to be.
And everyone around them knows.
And understands.
And life goes on.
With a wink.
And a nod.

So that everyone believes
The workplace is OK.

Except for those
That are different.
We know.
For we see the lies
For what they really are.
We see the truth
Of what’s going on.
And know
That no one in the workplace
Would bat an eye.
If one day
We wound up dead.

For that’s just the way life is.
People die all the time.
And the show of work,
In a diverse,
And tolerant workplace.

Will just carry on.

And as everybody knows.
A lie perpetuated long enough
Becomes the truth.
It disappears.
And the lie becomes
What is.
And everything’s OK.
‘Cause everybody knows.
The workplace is a diverse,
Tolerant
Place.

As I’ve asked
Many times before.
If the intolerance is woven
Into the fabric of existence.
Does anyone notice
That it’s there?

Answer that one
For yourself.

Memories : Lunch At ODU

It was 1980. And I was trying to be normal. Do things like other people did them. Like being more formal. Dressing more professionally. Carrying my stuff in a case, not in my hands. I’d been trying this for several weeks. And I thought I was getting used to it. Adjusting to the way it felt.

I was so terribly wrong. I found that out one day at lunch. When I made the simple mistake of going to lunch alone. In a place I’d never gone. The cafeteria at Webb Center. I did OK getting there. I did OK getting in line. But then, the line lead to where the food was. It was like this giant buffet place. And there were hundreds of people stuffed in there. Picking what they wanted to eat for lunch.

And there was me. With my case. Waiting through the line. Trying to figure out what to eat. And feeling all my coping abilities crumble. One-by-one. As my ability to think coherently slowly failed. As my ability to process my environment failed. As I become overloaded with information.

I have no idea what I ate that day. I know I ate something. And I know I had something to drink. Most likely a can of Coke. I know I sat at a table. And ate. Alone. Surrounded by an ocean of people. So many people. Too many people.

I remember standing there. In the line, with a tray. Waiting for my turn to pick out food to eat. I remember thinking to myself. I remember very clearly what I thought. “Marcus. No. It would not be a good idea to stand in the middle of the room. Spinning around in a circle, like a top. Rapidly. So your case acts like some kind of giant wrecking ball. And bashing anyone that comes near you. As you scream, LEAVE ME ALONE! Nope. Marcus. That would not be good.”

I never really understood that memory. Until 14 February 2011. When I was clinically diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. That’s when so many things began to make sense to me. My inability to cope with certain environments. Big crowds. The way they overwhelmed me. Left me totally confused. No knowing what to do, or how to cope. And just clinging desperately to a list of instructions in my head. As I tried, desperately, to not panic. To not run. To not scream. To just remain inconspicuous. Invisible. A nobody.

That’s another sign of my disorder, you know. My memory. That I can remember things like that instance when I went to the cafeteria at Webb Center. More than 30 years ago. And I can remember every detail of how I felt. And what I thought.

Don’t tell me I can’t be this way. Don’t tell me no one can be this way. I am. And I know that other people with Autism Spectrum Disorders are this way too. Where a simple walk through the local shopping center on Valentine’s Day, or Christmas Eve is a terrifying experience, and pushes me to the limit of my ability to cope.

In a world I never made.