Be True To Yourself?

I remember the trigger. I can’t forget. It was such an innocuous thing. Such an honest thing. So well-meant. Just another one of a million inspirational posters. I can’t even remember which one. So, I spent time this morning looking for it. I couldn’t find it. But that doesn’t matter. Because I found its spirit everywhere.

“To thine own self be true.”

“Be true to yourself and to your feelings. Those are the only things in your life that will never lie to you.”

“Always stay true to yourself and never sacrifice who you are for anyone.”

The list is near infinite. The sayings all the same. Be true to yourself. True to your heart, and soul. To your feelings. To what you believe. To who you are, underneath it all.

Yep. That’s what started it. That’s what triggered the endless chain of thoughts I find myself wrestling with for two days now, with no end in sight. For the truth rang clear. These words apply to all. Not to the good. Not to the just. Not to the righteous. To all. Everyone. Good. Bad. Right. Wrong. Light. Dark. Helpful. Hurtful. Loving. Spiteful. And everything in between.

What part of that do people misunderstand?

If the human’s heart and soul react with revulsion to the thought of something, is it wrong for them to act on that? Is it wrong for them to stand up for what they believe?

If the Christian believes the homosexual damned to hell unless he changes his ways, then, is wrong for the Christian to say so, and to live as he believes?

Who are you to judge?

If the business man believes he can create more jobs, so more people can earn a living, if he pays less taxes, and benefits, is it wrong for him to act on that? Is it wrong for them to stand up for what they believe?

Who are you to judge?

If you fear the world filled with scientific knowledge, theories, and concepts like evolution, quantum mechanics, and climate models, is it wrong to express your fears, and your doubts?

Who are you to judge?

If you believe Wal-Mart heralds the end of the middle class, and the birth of a slave class of humans, is it wrong for you to express that, and try to prevent the further growth Wal-Mart?

The list goes on and on. It never ends.

How can you be true to what you believe, what you feel, what your heart speaks, if you force yourself to stop, and question everything? If you force yourself to change? Do you live in the box of what you believe, what you know, what you feel? Is that wrong? Is that right?

And what of the person next to you? Do they live in the same box? Do they believe what you believe? Know what you know? Feel what you feel? Are they wrong? Are they right?

Who are you to judge, when you declare, “To thine own self be true”? Are we all you? Are we all the same? One mind? One heart? One belief? One way? One skin color? One hair color? One eye color? One truth? One life?

Then why judge what the person next to you believes?

To thine own self be true.

These are the words, this is the thought, that triggered everything in the past two days. That forced me to take the next step on the path I walk. And wonder. What does it mean, that no one remembers the words they speak any more.

To thine own self be true.

Who are you to judge?

#ThursThreads Week 89 : Then I Can Help You

Jonathan had not touched the clay he  loved so much in years. Every time he thought of his clays, he saw his beloved Daphne, and their daughter Chelsea, and his hands went cold, and his world turned black.

Everyone lied. “Give it time. You will get over it.” But the magic was gone.

He sat at his table. His tools to his left, a block of clay before him, and wondered if he could ever touch clay again, or if all his dreams had died with them.

He watched his hands shake, then closed his eyes. “Just remember to breathe. Remember to breathe.”

I floated close to him, and whispered in his ear, “Listen to your heart.” Jonathan sat, motionless, as the hands of the clock on the wall moved. “Listen to the words it speaks to you.”

His hands touched the clay, and slowly began tearing chunks away. Then they reached for his tools and began carefully carving fine lines, curves, surfaces. Placing fine detail in. Bringing the clay to life.

For three days, he left the table only for another can of soda, or to answer the call of nature. When he finished, he studied his work.

A Valentine’s heart, torn in half, jagged edges unable to heal. Two tombstones, one on each side of his heart. A river of tears flowing from the heart to the ground.

I whispered in his hear. “When you listen to your heartsong, then I can help you.”

246 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 89. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

Sitting In The Dark

Here I am, again.
In the dark.
Alone.
The cat sleeping
On my lap.

I suspect a normal person
Would give up,
And go to bed.
“Tomorrow’s another day.
I’ll be better.”

Or perhaps they’d
Have a drink.
And watch a movie on TV.
Or something like that.

Perhaps a normal person
Would text message a friend.
And the two of them
Could keep each other company.
Cheer each other up.

I don’t really know,
You know.
What a normal person would do.
On a night like this.
When their depression
Cuts them to the bone.

Sometimes I scream at God.
“Why?
Why me?”
But I know.
It wasn’t God.
It was random chance.
The luck of the draw.
The way the genes
Of Mom and Dad
Mixed.

No sense,
And no use,
Being upset about that.

I never told anyone before.
Why I stopped Prozac
In 2003.
December 6th.
I remember the day.
It was the day I took
The last pill.

I’d taken 20 mg a day
For three years
And two months.
And for the last six months
I felt it.
The depression.
Growing.
Gaining strength.

I knew the Prozac
Wouldn’t work.
Wouldn’t help.
So I stopped taking it.

Now, I’m at that point again.
But I know so much more.
I know how to manage
My biochemical imbalance.
My screwed up neurochemistry.

I walk.
I visit the flowers
In the Botanical Garden.
I watch the ocean
As I walk on the sand.
I stop.
And breathe.
And remember now.
This moment.
This heartbeat.

I used to think
My hands
Were a curse to me.
I’ve learned.
They’re not.
They’re a gift.

I can feel the air I breathe
With them.
I can spread my fingers wide
And feel the air move
In the room.
Feel it pass between
My fingers.
Flow across my palms.

My hands are not a curse.
They’re a gift.
They remind me,
Even in my darkest times,
Even on my darkest nights.

I’m alive.

And I can feel.

I can feel the carpet
With my toes,
And the soles
Of my feet.

I can feel the shirt I wear,
Where it touches me.
If I decide I want to.
All I have to do is stop.
And remember.

I’m alive.

Prozac didn’t teach me that.
I didn’t learn it from a book.
From a friend.
From a doctor.

I learned that
Long ago.
When I was so young.
I had no words
To explain
Anything I’d learned.

And I buried everything.
To be like everyone.

But my heart
And soul.
They knew.
And they found a way
To explain the truth
To me.

I’m not broken.
I’m not evil.
I’m not defective.

I’m Me.

I don’t know
What a normal person
Would do
On a night like this.

Somehow,
I don’t wish to ever know.
Instead,
I wish
The normal people
I have known,
And know now,
Could stop.
And listen.
To their hearts
And souls.

And perhaps they’d know
The drugs,
The medications,
They don’t cure a thing.
All they do
Is help.
Let you catch your breath.
Give you time
To get back on your feet.
And remember how to walk.

No.
The meds don’t kill
My depression.
They don’t remove it
From my life
At all.

Its me that cures
What ails me.
It’s me that remembers
I’m alive.
That learns to live
In each heartbeat.
And each breath.

It’s me that learns to walk.

So I sit here.
Alone.
In the dark.
And I face my self.
My heart.
And soul.
And my depression
That never really goes away.

And I take care of me.
Until I can once more
Smile.

Play It Loud (VIII)

I play my music loud tonight.
I play my music long.
I play my music in the dark.
Sitting all alone.

Sometimes
I must be free.
Sometimes
I must escape.
If only for a little while.
If only for a moment.
If only for a few heartbeats
In the life I’ve been blessed with.

Sometimes
I play my music loud
So I can’t hear anything.
Only my music exists.

Sometimes
I play my music in the dark
So I can’t see
The world in which I live.

Sometimes
I play my music loud
To escape
From this world
I never made.

Sometimes
I wish there was a way
I could show you what I see
In this life
Every day.

Sometimes
I wish there was a way
For you to feel the things
I feel
Each day.

Sometimes
I wish you could know
The pain,
The hurt,
Of facing yet another day
In the grip
Of the depression
That runs my life.

It never goes away.
It’s always there.
I see it in the mirror.
Looking out a me
From my own eyes.

It touches everything.
Like a poison vine run wild.
Choking everything it touches.
Slowly.
Inexorably.
Relentlessly.
Every day.

I try to tell myself
It’s OK.
It’s like the story of Paul.
In the Bible.
Where he says God won’t take away
That thing that curses him.
That thorn in his side.

I wish you could understand.
There is no magic pill
I can take.
There is no medicine
That can take my depression away.
No surgery to perform.

All I can do
Is live with it.
Every day.
And manage it.
With the help of my doctors.
My weekly therapy.
And the medicine
I have to take.

To manage the darkness
That threatens to consume me
With every breath I take.

I play my music loud tonight.
As I sit
In the dark.
Alone.

For I know.
I just need some time.
To escape.
To be free.

From a world I never made.

Before I try once more.
To walk
In the land of gray.

#5SF – Shadows

He has night lights in the corners of every room, closet and hallway in his home. They point into the corners, so the corners never have any shadows. So they are never dark. He says it makes him feel safe. He says no demons can hide in the dark corners of his home.


Here’s my weekly attempt at Lillie McFerrin‘s flash fiction challenge, Five Sentence Fiction. This week, the prompt is Shadows.

Please, go read all the other entries to this week’s Five Sentence Fiction. It’s amazing what creative people can do with just five sentences.

What Else Was He To Do But Wait?

Simon woke up. He remembered the ground had stopped shaking. He opened his eyes. It was still dark. He was still there. Wherever there was. It was the darkest he could remember it ever being. He stared straight ahead, and tried to see anything. Nothing. Just black. He figured there was dust. His mouth tasted like he’d eaten dry cardboard.

He tried to move once more. Found nothing had changed. He could wiggle his left foot, but couldn’t move his left leg at all. He couldn’t even feel his right leg. Couldn’t tell if it moved or not. He could make a fist with his left hand. Wave it up and down at the wrist. But when he tried to bend his left arm at the elbow, all he saw was this brilliant white light. And he got really hot. And sweaty. And, Momma, did it hurt to try to move his arm. His right arm worked. Sort of. He could feel it move around. He could bend it at the elbow. Swing it up over his head. Hold it out in front of himself. He supposed that was actually holding it up, pointing at the ceiling.

He could breathe. Thankfully. But it felt like he was stuck under a sheet of plywood that some football team was sitting on. He couldn’t budge that plywood sheet at all. It was tough to breathe, but at least he could.

OK. Nothing had changed since the last time he’d tried to move. Simon tried to smile about that. “That’s a good thing,” he thought to himself.

“Testing. Testing. 1. 2. 3.” Simple to say. Really simple. He tried to say it several times. To him, it felt like he was saying it. He swore he could hear it. Hear his voice. But he couldn’t be sure. Maybe it was just his mind wanting to believe he could be heard. He could call for help.

Simon took a few minutes, and screamed at the top of his lungs. As loudly, and long as he could. No need to scream something that made sense. “Aaaaaaa!” was perfectly acceptable. He figured “Aaaaaa!” would be something people would be listening for. That they’d be listening for any sound at all.

Hell, for all Simon knew, his screams were silent, and couldn’t be heard by anyone. But, you now. Optimism. His family. His friends. They’d always said that. “Keep your chin up!” and “You need to be more optimistic.” And all that. So, OK. He’d be optimistic, for once. And assume that he was screaming at the top of his lungs, and could be heard for miles.

When he was out of breath, and his lungs ached, and he felt horse, and his throat hurt so bad he couldn’t even whisper, he stopped screaming. It was time to use his right arm. He bent that at the elbow, raising his right fist up, and then he straightened his arm out, slamming his fist into the ground. Or, if it wasn’t the ground, whatever the hell it was.

Simon kept that up as long as he could. Until he couldn’t even close his right hand anymore. Until he couldn’t wiggle the fingers because it hurt so much he screamed. Until all he could do was cry from the pain.

He had no idea what day it was. No idea how long he’d been stuck there. Unable to get up. Unable to move, pretty much. All he remembered was the ground shaking. It was an earthquake. Everyone scattered. Panicked. All the training, all the practice, all the drills. “Climb under your desk.” All that crap went away when the building started moving, and the ground started acting like a trampoline with a football team jumping up and down on it.

He should be hungry, he supposed. At least he should be thirsty. But somehow, he wasn’t. For all he knew, he could have been there for hours. Or days. He had no way to measure time. No way at all.

Simon decided to stick with his routine. A simple one. Make a lot of noise. And when you can’t make noise anymore, take another nap. So, he closed his eyes, and slowly drifted back to sleep. He’d sleep for a little while. And then, when he woke up, he’d make more noise. Someone would find him. He had to believe that. Someone would find him.

In the meantime, what else was he to do but wait?

 

I composed this tale for fun, based on the prompt for the 38th ThursThreads flash fiction challenge. The challenge is hosted weekly by Siobhan Muir. There are always spellbinding entries in the challenge, and some amazing works of fiction. Please explore them all, read them all, and enjoy them.

The Bedtime Story

[Author’s note : I wrote this story on Thursday, 08 April 1999. I share it tonight for someone I know living with monsters that haunt her heart and soul. I wish I could fight them for her.]

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. It’s 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.

[Good night, young one. Sleep tight. And know the monsters are not real. Though sometimes they can be very frightening, I know.

Mark.]