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?

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#FiveSentenceFiction : Vision

Dream sat on the grass by the lake, in the middle of the night, watching the surface of the lake reflect the image of the star filled sky. Whisper, as always, sat on her shoulder where he watched tears fall from her eyes, “Dear friend, I am not young, I am not new, and I can’t help but see how your heart aches, and your soul longs for someone you have not yet met, to hold you in the darkness of the night, and fill your dreams with light.”

Dream said nothing, not one word, but Whisper knew, as he looked into her eyes of blue, why those tears fell from her eyes, and why her heart ached on that night. He whispered in her ear, “Follow the vision of your heart, dear one, for it knows what to do, and it won’t lie to you,” then he spread his wings, and lifted from her shoulder.

With those words, Dream spread her wings and took to the sky, to follow the vision of her heart, to find the one to fill her dreams with light, and chase away the nightmares she dreamed on so many nights.


I’m trying something different. Each week, Lillie McFerrin hosts a Flash Fiction Challenge called Five Sentence Fiction. This is my first attempt at the challenge. There are some great five sentence works out there, from some great writing souls. Please, go read them all.

The Brilliant Light On The Far Side Of The Darkness

[Author’s note : I wrote this on 02/04/2011, while I was still working through the darkest part of my life. I am putting this one back up, because I know someone I wish to share it with.

Things change, my friend. Things change. All it takes is time.

Mark.]

I just got out
Of the sauna.
A little toy
My lady bought
Back in 2009.

It’s a two person sauna.
Sits in the corner
Of the master bedroom.
And given that our central heat
Has been dead
For the past 11 months,
It’s turned into
A really nice little room
To sit down in
And read.

And that’s just what I did.
Turned that sucker on.
Set the temp
To 96 degrees
(Fahrenheit or course,
‘Cause that I understand).
Set the time
To 60 minutes.
Pulled off my socks.
Put on my shorts.
Grabbed my book,
My Kobo e-reader,
My Tank of a cell phone,
And MP3 player.
Turned my music on.
And got right into that room.

Oh, but that felt good.
And why wouldn’t it?
Sitting here at my desk,
The thermometer says
It’s a whopping 57.
It’s not that bad,
Really.
You get used to it
After a couple of weeks.

I read another chapter
In the book I’m reading
By Pema Chodron.
“When Things Fall Apart”.
Another book I find
That I like a whole lot.

When I spoke this morning
With my doctor,
He and I agreed
That I’m going to be OK.
That I’ve found the path for me.
The path that leads
To where I want to be.

We spoke of how very
Self-destructive I’d become
In October, November, and December.
And I shared this story
With my doctor.

The first time that it snowed.
In December, that is.
When I was out there
Walking in that snow.
That’s when I realized
How very close I was
To the end of me.
And everything
I might have ever been.

I was just one step away.
For as I walked along
In the snow that day,
I could see all the reasons why
I would bring things
To an end.
And I could understand
So very clearly
Why some people do.

I don’t mean
To upset anyone of you.
I really don’t.
So please let me
Finish writing down
The words I have to say.

As I walked outside that day,
Out there in the snow,
I came to a point in life
Where I could go left,
Or I could go right.

If I was too afraid
To continue on.
I could go left.
And that would be
The end of me.
Suicide, was to the left,
You see.

I went to the right.
Because I decided,
More than 30 years ago,
That suicide
Was not my way.
Was not me.
That I would never run.
That I would not take
That easy way.
That my fear
Would never
Destroy me.

The path that led
To the right,
Lead me into pain.
Pain that I have never felt
In all my days.

I told my doctor of
All the injuries I’ve had.
Damaged ligaments,
Separated joints,
And broken bones.
And that I’d rather have
All those injuries
At once,
That walk through that kind of pain
Again.

But walk through that pain
I did.
And I’m here today.
That proves I did.
And I know this simple truth.
If I can live through that.
I can live
Through anything.

And having walked
Through such agony.
I’ve begun to catch a glimpse
Of the life I’ll have
When I get through
All of this.

And the little bit I’ve seen
Is more than worth
Every bit of pain,
Every ache that my heart had,
And every tear
That my soul cried.

For I have glimpsed
The light that lives
On the other side
Of the darkness
I’ve been in
For so very long.

And it’s a light
That I can always reach
Every single day
If I just take the time,
And use what I have learned,
To find my smile
Again.

For when I find my smile,
I find that I am walking
Once again,
In that brilliant light I’ve found
On the far side of
The darkest days
I’ve ever had to face.

And I really hope that you
Can find your smile.
For if you truly can
I believe that you
Will find your way
To the brilliant light
On the far side
Of your darkest days.

36th #Motivation Mondays Challenge Entry

Wakefield Mahon hosts #MotivationMondays each Monday. This week, Alissa Leonard was the judge. Alissa was gracious enough to grant my work of fiction an Honorable Mention. Please go visit the Motivation Mondays site, and read the wonderful entries from all the other writers. This week, the prompt was “I never thought I’d see you again.” Here’s what I wrote.

———-

“I never thought I’d see you again.” She held a 9mm Glock. Pointed right at me. “Why didn’t you die?”

I remembered the flash of light, so brilliant it blinded me. It was followed by intense heat. My clothing had simply caught fire in that heat. My hair. Then my skin. Then, the shock wave struck. Blew out the fire. Hell, blew me clean out of the car. Through the steering wheel, then the windshield. Across the hood, onto the pavement. Parts of the interior flew out with me. Landing on the pavement.

One of the most painful experiences of my very, very long life.

I’d loved her once. She’d been there when I needed someone to love. Like each of the others. My marriages and relationships usually ended in mutually beneficial separation of some kind. In the worst case, I’d had to pay support for a couple of decades. That had ended soon enough. She’d grown old. Died. End of support requirements.

But this time? A bomb? In my car?

“What did you use?”

“C4. Why aren’t you dead?”

C4. Well. That explained how the car had been destroyed. With me in it, of course. It had been a bitch to stand up and walk away from that one. But then, I couldn’t exactly lie there on the pavement, and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Have you ever had to explain to someone why you’re alive when you should be dead? Why your body was healing right before their eyes? So, yeah. I got up and walked away.

I laughed. Looked at her gun. “You blew the hell out of my car with C4. While I was in it. And I’m not dead. You really think you can kill me if you shoot me?”

The gun wavered. Then steadied once more. “No one’s bullet proof.”

I sighed. “Yeah. That C4 hurt. Stung like a bitch.”

“Why aren’t you dead?” There was that question again. “No one could have survived that!”

I laughed again. “No one human could have survived that.” The gun lowered a bit. She was confused. Understandable. But the gun returned to pointing right at me. She was tough. I’ll grant her that.

“Why aren’t you dead?” she asked again.

I shook my head. “I’m not human, dear” I knew she’d never leave the room alive. I wondered how many humans I’d had to kill over the centuries to keep my secret. One more wouldn’t matter. Quickly, my body shape shifted. Clothing, hair, shoes, arms, legs. And I separated into my constituent parts. Several million parts.

I imagine my disembodied voice was quite disturbing to her. “I am Legion, dear. Legion the machine.” My body parts spread. Like a cloud. Filling the air of the room. Enveloping her. Then consuming her, as I used her as raw material to repair myself.

Depression’s Just A Feeling

I’ve noticed something today.
An old friend in my life.
A feeling that I’ve had.
Many times before.
A feeling
With a name.

Depression.

And I find myself surprised
To find it today.
To know it’s there.
At this time of year.
Well into the spring.

I’ve always thought
It was a winter thing.
That as the days grew shorter,
And darker.
My depression
Gained strength.

But I’ve come to realize
That my depression also grows
In Spring.
Something I’ve never known
Before.

It was this time of year
In 2010,
When my depression
Exploded.
It became more
Than I could control.
More than I could handle.

And I came apart.

It was this time of year
In 2011,
When my depression
Surfaced
Once again.

It was visible.
In the things I did.
In the things I wrote.
In the way I behaved.

Everyone could see it.
It was plain as day.
To everyone.
But me.

And today.
When I was on my way
To work.
I saw it myself.
Felt it.
And the darkness
That it brings.
Right there.
In my car.

But this time,
I’m different.
I’ve changed.
For I no longer am afraid
Of the depression
That I feel.

It’s a part of me.
A feeling that I have.
Like laughter.
And like fear.
Like smiles.
And like tears.

Like holding one whose heart aches.
And whose soul cries tears of pain.
And like those days
When all you know
Is rage.

Like everything I feel.

I’ve learned.
I understand.
And I accept.
Everything I feel.

And that’s what my depression is.
A feeling.
Nothing more.

My feelings are a part
Of who I am.
And I no longer
Deny that they exist.

I am good and evil.
Darkness and light.
Both.

Just like each day
Here on Earth.
Where the sun rises,
And it sets.
Every day.

What if the sun
Should never set?
Would life be the same?

So I’m not afraid
Of my depression
Anymore.
It’s just something
That I feel.
And nothing more.

And like everything I feel,
I know
That in a little while.
With a little bit of time.
What I feel
Will change.

And my depression
That I’m feeling now,
Will fade with time.

That’s what feelings do,
I’ve learned.
They change.

And in the meantime
I’ll acknowledge
What I feel.
And I’ll accept it.
And keep enjoying life.

For every feeling
That I have
Is another part
Of the life
I’ve been blessed with.

And I find I wish
That everyone I know
Understood that
Like I do.

Memories : This Heartbeat

It started in December.
Of 2010.
When I read a book.
And the author of that book
Wrote such simple words.

“Breathing in,
I am breathing in.
Breathing out,
I am breathing out.”

And slowly.
Day-by-day.
Things began
To fall into place.
To make sense.
For the first time
In many months.

And I started
To understand
What those words meant.
“Breathing in,
I am breathing in.
Breathing out,
I am breathing out.”

I began to realize
That when I felt down.
When I felt blue.
When I felt tense.
When I felt that stress
Across my chest.

It was time
For me to breathe.
Time for me to stop
Whatever I was doing.
And just breathe.

And that gave me
Time.
Time to think.
Time to clear my head.
Time to look
At what was going on.

I learned
To be here.
And now.
In this moment.
Not in the past.
Not in the future.
Not in anger.
Not in fear.
Not in depression.

I learned
To be here.

I learned
To smile.
To remember.
That I’m still alive.
That my heart still beats.
That my hands
Still feel everything.

I learned
That panic
Was not permanent.
It was only fear.

And anger
Was just a feeling.
Nothing more.

As I took the time
To breathe.
I learned the things  I felt
Were transient.
That over time
They change.

That everything changes.
And no matter where I was
In life in that moment.
The next moment
Could bring change.

That everything
That had happened
Up until that moment.
Was gone.
It could not hurt me.
Could not heal me.
Could not help me.
Could not scare me.
Any more.

For like a wave
On the ocean.
Once it comes ashore.
It’s gone.
And will return
Never more.

So today,
When I feel that fear.
That anger.
Or that emptiness.
I know.
Just to breathe.

And remind myself.
That it;s only transient.
And then it’s gone.
A part of my past.

And I am free
To face the moment
I am in.
Free to live
In this breathe.
In this heartbeat.

And that changed everything
For me.

One day at a time.

I write the words
Of this memory tonight.
For a friend of mine.
Whose heart aches these days.
Almost all the time.

I know what it is
When your heart aches.
And your soul
Cries tears of pain.

But maybe.
If you close your eyes.
And just take the time
To breathe.
And remember.

All any of us has
Is this heartbeat.
And nothing else.
Nothing more.

Perhaps that will help you
Like it has helped me.
To walk through your darkest days.
One step at a time.
One day at a time.
While the darkness
Fades away.

And once more
You find yourself
In the light
Of day.