Fall Flash Festival : My Fall

I stood on the beach, watching the waves, wondering how long it would be until I struck the ground again. Like I do every year. Every fall. Sometimes, I think they named this time of year perfectly. Fall. And every year, I do.

It was good to stand on the beach and watch the sunrise. The sun always brought color back to the world. The blue-green, grey, and white of the ocean and it’s waves. The pale blue of the sky, with it’s wispy white clouds. The green and gold of the sea oats. The shades of brown and tan in the sand.

Watching the colors come back reminded me, like all things, Fall and Winter eventually ended, yielding to Spring. In roughly 26 weeks. Spring. I always look forward to that. Fall. I never look forward to that.

As I stood in the dark, before the dawn, everything was a shade of black, or gray. I knew, as the leaves changed from their many shades of green, to their painted shades of gold, yellow, red, and brown, those leaves would fall to the ground. And leave bare trees. All of them, shades of gray. All of them the same.

I knew, the roses would bloom one last time. Defiantly painting themselves in oceans of pink, yellow, white, peach, bronze, and red. I knew those brilliant splashes of color would fade, the petals of each bloom would curl, and fall, beneath the ocean of gray fall always brought.

Already I could feel a nip in the wind, a hint of the biting cold that would grow in the days ahead. That little hint of the coming Winter. The playful nip of cold, like a puppy’s playful nip. A nip that grew throughout the fall into the searing bite of a full-grown, predatory wolf. Hunting every last shred of life it could find. Hell-bent on sinking its teeth in, and crushing that life in it’s jaws.

Fall. That time of year where all hope faded. Where the bottom fell out of my world, my life. Where the ground I’d stood on, the hill I’d climbed in Spring and Summer ended. And I walked off a cliff I never saw coming. A cliff that just appeared. Where the solid ground I stood on simply fell away. And I fell too.

Fall. At least it was named accurately.

There had been a time, not so many years ago, when Fall brought despair. When Fall heralded the return of the demon my depression was.

Until I learned to walk along the beach. In the hour before the dawn. And watch the sun climb out of the ocean, into the sky once more. And watch as the shades of black and grey faded away. And the colors of the world came to life again.

Until I learned to Fall heralds the return of the Camellia trees to full bloom. Their shades of white, pink and red, reminding me the Fall and Winter don’t last. They end. As if the Camellia trees catch me as I fall, and gently place me on the ground.

I knew Fall would grow the demon of depression within me. The darkness of my life would grow, just like the length of each night. But I’d learned. The darkness would never win. So long as the Camellias bloomed in the dead of Winter once again. So long as the sun rose every morning, and painted over the darkness of the night, and brought back the colors of life.

588 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for the Fall Flash Festival, hosted by Eric Martell and Daniel Swensen. Please, go read all the other stories written for the festival. They all show the magic of words.

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The Lands Of Gray

Today I’m searching for words that effectively explain something I’ve learned this week. It’s something I’ve spent the past 30 months learning, and I’m realizing what I’ve learned comes with a lot of understanding. And that understanding leaves me wondering if words of explanation even exist, or if this is one of those things you know, and understand, or one of those things that doesn’t even exist. One of those invisible things no one ever looks at.

I wanted to look at “living outside your comfort zone” this morning. But, when I started looking, I found nothing but old clichés, old pep-talk, motivational crap that no longer has any meaning, if it had any meaning to begin with. I could only find homogenized, mass-marketed drivel, that for all intents had become useless. Everything said the same thing, in the same meaningless way, “To grow, live outside your comfort zone.” Everyone knows that saying. Everyone understands that saying. That saying no longer has any meaning.

So, I fall back to old descriptive techniques. And before I start down the path of trying to find the words that effectively explain what I’ve learned, I have a few words I have to share.

I’m a Christian. You can say what you want about how I live, how I’m doing everything wrong, how I’m a profound sinner, how I need to grow up, how I need to learn what a real Christian is, or any list of similar declarations. The reality is, I’m a Christian. What makes people question my faith in God and my belief in Jesus is that I am different. The simple truth is I don’t behave the way “Christians” behave. I don’t go to church. I question the words of the church, of its leaders, and of its organizations. I don’t have a “church family”. I associate with all the wrong people. Let’s be honest here, I actually talk with people on Facebook and Twitter that write explicit erotic romance stories, stories of zombies and the zombie apocalypse, mermaids, and fairies, openly homosexual, bisexual, and trans-sexual people. People the Bible and the church have declared are heathens, and evil, and the source of the world’s problems.

How can someone like me be a Christian… I understand that. I live with that question every day. And I’ve lost count of the people who have left my life when they realized I would never be the same kind of Christian they are. When they realized I would always question everything they believe, everything they never question.

But, you see, the reason I am not a Christian in their views, their way of life, their understanding, is because I’m someone they don’t understand. I’m someone outside the definitions they live by. Hence, I can’t be a Christian.

I could continue on this single point for days, weeks, months, even years, and never reach an end to this topic, this discussion, this idea.  For me, it’s a black and white item, a yes/no item, an either/or item. I’m either a Christian, or I’m not. And I believe I am. You believe what you wish to believe.

So, I pull out my old standby, the Christian. I start with them. The world would not be the same without them, so I’m very glad they exist.

I’ve said before, “I watch people”, and I do. I have to watch people. I have to study the way they behave, the way they think, the actions they take, the facial expressions they make, the environments they live within. People are social. Even I am social. Yes, I live with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and my social skills are severely limited by that disorder. Where social activity comes easily to many people, it doesn’t come easy to me, or to people like me. But I can behave in a social way. I can mimic social behavior, and with enough time I can begin to understand it.

My observations have, in the past thirty months, demonstrated endless rifts, chasms, gorges, oceans, and other divisions between different social groups, different social structures and different people. I don’t target “Christians” in the following, I simple have observed more “Christian” and “non-Christian” interaction than any other kind, so I have more stories of observations available for discussion that are specific to “Christian” and “non-Christian” social groups. As my observations spread to include other social groups, I’m finding similar divisions between them.

What I’m finding in my observations that are absolutely terrifying, and heartbreaking, is how few people within a specific social structure can reach across any of the divisions to any other social structure. I call each social structure, “the land of gray” because of that isolation I see surrounding each of them.

If I look at the non-inclusive “Christian” group, and its ways, and bounce that group against the non-inclusive “liberal” group, I find the two groups fight with each other endlessly. I also find neither side understands the true nature of the conflict any more. The separation between them is so divisive, so engulfing, neither side can speak the same language. They use the same words. They say the same things. But in each group, the words have different, distinct meanings. Using a dictionary to communicate with the two groups, and selecting the same dictionary definitions for each word to use the same language between the two groups is useless, because the words of the definitions have different meanings to each group.

So the two groups fight endlessly with each other. Neither group able to bridge the gap that lies between them. It is, to me, as if people from the planet Venus were trying to explain life to people from the planet Mars. It’s as if people from two different, incompatible worlds, decide to stand across the hall from each other, and scream at each other. There is no common ground. No understanding between the two groups. No communication between the two groups.

What happens when two people don’t understand each other, when they are unable to interpret each other’s actions, ways, words, beliefs and lifestyles? Is this a source of human wars, human conflict and human violence?

It saddens me greatly to see people unable to reach across these separations and divisions. Especially when the people in each social structure declare they believe, and embrace, diversity. Especially when they proclaim diverse views and ways are what make us, as a whole, stronger, healthier, smarter and better. It’s as if they are screaming, “We’re diverse so long as you believe exactly what we believe, and understand the universe just like we do!”

Which isn’t diversity at all, is it. Rather than being diverse, it’s a world filled with islands, each island being monochrome, each island being another shade of grey.

How do I find the words to explain such things to people? How can I show people what I see? When the words I speak are the same words they use, but each word means something different to them, something I never said, but something they heard?

How can words bridge such a divide?

I Can’t Be That Way

At last there is anger.
After 2 years,
I finally can face,
And deal with,
What happened
In 2010.

When I was throw away.
By people I once trusted.
Because I was different.
Because I changed.
Because I didn’t do things
Their way.

I used to say,
“No one’s to blame.”
I don’t say that
Anymore.

Someone I believed was my friend
Became ill.
Cancer.
And I did something
No one there,
Not even her,
Could live with,
Or forgive.

I cared.

I told my job responsibilities
To stuff it.
I picked up pen and paper.
And I wrote.
I lost sleep at night.
Because I cared
For her.

And in the end,
Despite the simple truth
That I never failed,
Not even once,
To do the work
I was tasked to do.

I was removed.
Unloaded.
Purged.
Gotten rid of.

I was told about the anger
Those people expressed
About the words I wrote
In those days.
When I was betrayed.
By a world
I’ll never understand.
A world
I don’t want to understand.
A world
Of gray.
Of ice.
Of stone.

Not even one of them
Understood
All the things I did.
All the things I said.

To me, it was as if
The only thing they cared about
Was the work itself.
And the paycheck they collected
Every 14 days.
If someone became injured.
Someone became sick.
Someone died in an accident.

Who cared?
Every last person
In that awful place
Would have shown up
The next day.
And done their job.
And maybe sang that song.
“Another one bites the dust.”

But there’s more.
So much more.
To the anger I am feeling
On this day.

Did you know
I went to a church
On the first Sunday in May
Of 2011?
I did.
A brand new church.
A place I’d never been.

I was willing
To try to make
A new start again.

In November of 2011,
I walked away.
I left.
Without a single word.
Because I had to.
I had no choice.
If I’d stayed,
I’d have faced
The same gray
Ice and stone
That filled the place
Where I once worked.

I left an old friend
I’d crossed paths with
In that church,
On my friends list
On Facebook.

But I warned her.
I did.
That I’d never be the way
She wanted me to be.
That I’d always do and say
Things that flew in the face
Of her beliefs
And ways.

And I told her
In the end.
She’d walk away.
Like almost everyone
I’ve ever known.

It took a few months.
But she did.
Because she couldn’t accept
How I am.
What I believe.
How I live.

I remember all the times
Someone said to me,
In a shocked,
Or outraged voice.

“But, you can’t live that way!”
“But, you can’t be that way!”

It took me 53 years.
But at last I understand
Why I keep encountering
Those words.

It’s not that I can’t bet the way
I am.
Not that I can’t live the way
I do.
It’s not that I am broken.
Or confused.
Or emotionally
Or mentally ill.

It’s not that at all.
And it never was.

It’s that I don’t see,
Don’t feel,
And just don’t know,
The social code they live by.

I live the way my mind,
My heart,
My soul,
Tell me to live.

And my mind,
My heart,
My soul
Tell me to this day
That everything I did
In 2010,
When someone I called friend
Was ill,
And fighting to survive,
Was absolutely right.

I did what I believed
Back then.
And I’d do it all again
Today.

And I don’t care
That there are people in this world
That are afraid of me.
Because I do things
Differently
From them.

I’ve learned
In the past two years.
I have to be
What my mind,
My heart,
My soul,
Would have me be.

There’s one more thing
I’ll say right now.
About a picture
On Facebook
A week or two ago.

That picture caused me anger.
It struck at my very heart
And soul.
It described
So very accurately
What I saw.
What I learned.
Two years ago.

That picture spoke of friends.
How we’d root for them.
How we’d hug them.
Eat lunch with them.
Do anything we could
To take care of them.

Until…

Taking care of them
Put any risk at all
On our own lives,
Our own jobs,
Our families and friends.

Until…

Caring became
Inconvenient.
And could cause us
Any pain at all.

I bit my tongue.
I took a walk.
I took pictures of flowers.
I spoke to my Doctor
About the words I’d read.

And I told my doctor
They were wrong.
Those words,
To me,
Described
Everything that’s wrong today
In the world
Of stone,
And ice,
And gray.

My doctor knows.
My family too.
I can’t live like that.

I can’t be that way.

Dreams : A Gift From Life

I got up this morning,
And I looked outside.
There were no clouds
In the sky.
And the sky
Was a pale,
Sad
Gray.

You know the color that I mean.
The one that is just there.
That has no meaning.
No life to it.
It’s not even like
A blank painter’s canvas.
Or a blank sheet of paper.

It’s just gray.
Pale.
Lifeless.
And sad.

The kind of color that I swear
Sometimes seems to suck the life
Out of everything.
And the color too.
Turning everything
Some shade of gray.

As I looked out my window
On that pale gray morning,
I could feel that sky
As it sucked the life
Right out of me.

I wanted to curl up
In a little ball
Under a big blanket.
And hide.

“Go away, Day!
Just go away!
And leave me alone!”

But I knew I shouldn’t.
I knew I should get up.
And do the things
My family needed me to do.

Wash the dishes.
And the laundry to.
Vacuum up some of the dirt,
And dust,
And stuff,
That was on the floor
Of my family room.

But I knew too,
That I’d be dragging,
As if pulling several bags
Of concrete mix
Behind me.

I did not look forward
To that day.
And I quickly
Closed my curtains
And put the sky away.
So I couldn’t see it
Any more.

Then I got on
With my dull,
Lifeless,
Gray day.

Nothing that I did
On that pale gray day
Made me feel OK.

I stumbled through the dishes.
And the laundry too.
I picked up stuff
In the family room.
And vacuumed up
What must have been four pounds
Of cat hair.

The cats,
It seemed,
Were shedding their winter coats
Again.

When I was all done,
I knew it was time
For me to do
What I was dreading
Most on that flat gray day.

Get out of the house.
And make the trip
To the grocery store
That my lady had
Asked me to.

So, I got my shoes on,
And pulled on my jacket.
And I opened the front door.

And that was when I smiled.

For that pale flat gray was gone.
Replaced by bright sunshine.
It was even warm enough
I didn’t need to keep my jacket on.
So I took it off.
And tossed it
Back inside.

Then I stood there
On the porch.
And looked around.

As the sun had climbed up high
Into the sky that day,
It had slowly melted
All that gray away.

And as that gray had melted,
It has slowly released
All the colors of the world
It had sucked up.

So that there were not grays
Everywhere I looked.
Instead
Everything had come to life
With colors of all kinds.

Greens,
And browns,
Reds,
And yellows.

Hell,
Even the puddles
In the yard
Had become like little mirrors,
Showing glints of silver
Now and then.

I couldn’t help but smile.

And I knew exactly
What I had to do
While I was out side.
Doing what I’d promised her
I’d do for her.

I got in my car.
And I drove to the ocean.
To a beach I know
So very well.

And I took a walk that day,
Out there on the sand.
Down by the water’s edge.

When I’d been walking
For a while.
I don’t care how long.
I stopped.
And turned to face
The horizon
Of the East.
Where the Ocean was.

And all the things
That worried me.
That made me feel so sad.
That made me wish
I could curl up
In a little ball,
Under a big blanket
In my bed.

Faded away.

Beneath the bright light of the sun.

And I simply stood there,
And I stared
At the sky up above.
Letting my eyes
My heart
And soul
Drink in the life
Of it’s soft crystal blue.

And watching the waves
With their white caps
As they decorated the surface
Of the ocean
That was such a vibrant
Pure deep blue.

And I knew
As I stood there
On the sand.
On that day of life.

That it wasn’t every day
We get such gifts,
As that crystal blue sky,
And the deep blue sea,
From life.

I wished very much
That other people
That I knew
Were there with me.
So they could enjoy them
Too.