Aquarium

Sadness. A seven letter word with a feeling that is so palpable. It’s a feeling that if left unchecked can drive someone to death. If I had to describe the feeling, I would say it’s like having the pressure of the ocean looming over your entire body. It feels unshakable, crippling even. It’s strange, I love swimming. It gave me this odd sense of empowerment at one point. The feeling of conquering some sort of terrain that we clearly aren’t “built” to do. I relished in the idea of being better than what was expected of me. I knew I shouldn’t have come here. I’ve had moments where I’ve stared at the ocean just wondering what it’s really like beneath the depths. Beneath that aquatic hell, beneath all the negativity really. My mind was in a constant loop of catastrophic thoughts while staring at the ocean. I couldn’t quite understand why but I wanted to envelop myself in its mysteriousness and see how bad it really was. I took off both of my shoes and left them at the shoreline and swam into the darkest depths of the water. I swam until I felt like my lungs were giving out. As my vision slowly started to obscure I found a tiny cavern and swam up to it in the hopes that my efforts weren’t for naught. I swam up and reached a tiny ledge and propped myself up to it. I sat near the edge staring at the water, simply staring at my grotesque reflection. It showed me all of the things I hated about myself. My physical scars, my odd mental habits, my twisted desires. It showed it all. I turned away and just stared at the dripping stalactites of this small cave and simply cried.

I wasn’t sure how much time had passed but I had felt even worse coming to this tiny cavern. I had prayed that experiencing the darkness of the ocean would have made me grateful for something positive, anything really. I wanted to believe that tackling it head on was the answer, but it only made things worse. I am isolated in this cavern, away from the hell’s of the outside, but I am faced with my own personal hell, being by myself. I shivered so intensely in that brief moment and I could feel tears fall down my eyes. As I shivered I felt the water slowly envelop me. I could feel the pressure start to get to me as I noticed the cave in entrance slowly fade away from my eyesight.

That same pressure submerged me into the inky black depths of the water. It is so, painfully, blurry. Opening my eyes felt like a chore. Come to think of it, trying to stay afloat itself felt like the most strenuous activity known to man. Something as simple as breathing felt like gasping for air. What’s worse is that under this ocean nobody can hear you. Sure fish can glance at you, possibly even viewing you as a meal but they can’t provide you the oxygen and life that you so desperately deserve. Why does this feeling permeate my entire body? Maybe I deserve this. I start to gasp as the lack of oxygen starts affecting me. What have I done to deserve this? Am I simply doomed to this cursed existence? I want out of this miserable existence. I want to breathe. I am living in a human aquarium, and my owner will not let me breathe.

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My Paradise

Fresh air, birds chirping, sky shining down. This is paradise at it’s finest. It’s interesting to think about the difference between isolation and solitude. Isolation implies a form of being alone in a negative connotation, something that doesn’t quite seem like someone chose it out of their own volition. Solitude is what I prefer. I consider it a voluntary sojourn that is needed to help revive the individual. Sometimes I take the time to escape from my room and the digital world to simply find a nice quiet area to just admire nature around me. There’s a park I like going to, a park where I spent most of my youth simply enjoying the playground and going down the slide. I’m older now and I can only reflect upon my past memories which is fine with me. I prefer to use the past simply as a learning tool and not have to lean back on it to determine the person who I am. When I was young I used to only focus on what was in front of me, like the swings, the slide and even the little bridge that would rock back and forth as I jumped on it. Perhaps I was more in the moment then. Now I have a much broader perspective and I’m noticing all the little things in the park that I didn’t see before. I can hear the cars of the town drive by in the distance faintly reminding me that I am part of the world. The squirrels are playfully gathering their food for the upcoming cold season and making the occasional rodent noises. The birds chirp in an oh so lovingly tune akin to a musical. The butterflies dance and twirl around my head as I sit in quiet contemplation. The trees silently exist as their leaves fall to the ground to signify the passage of time. It all feels so soothing.

I used to come to the park out of a sort of obligation to isolate myself from others and the world after things felt like too much. Now I just come here out of a desire to appreciate this tiny piece of paradise, my paradise.

A Mindful Walk

Walking, an activity that many of us do on a daily basis. It’s something that has become an almost autonomous action at this point. Have you ever paused while walking and asked yourself “How are my steps affecting the earth? Am I affecting the world in a positive way?” I used to consider these things while sitting down for a break during walks. I would find a cozy stone, a thinking stone if you will and I would just sit for a second. Sometimes I would nervously pull out my phone when passersby would come my way in an effort to look busy. It’s so easy to forget that not acting busy can actually be good for you as it opens up more avenues for interaction. It’s easy to just look at a phone and not acknowledge the world around you, the real world not the digital one. I’ll let you guys in on a secret, recently I’ve been leaving my phone at home while I walk to try and focus on my surroundings. It’s been pretty liberating if I’m being completely honest. In this day and age, it’s expected to always be connected so to speak regarding communication. What if we’re engaging too much in only one kind of communication? What about the need to immerse ourselves in nature?

“Wow, this rock really does have a powerful effect, hard to believe it’s only been a couple of minutes.” I stood up from the rock and put my shoes back on. As I tied the lace to my shoe I looked up toward the sky. What was once a dark maelstrom looming above my humble neighborhood became a clear sky with the sun beaming down in a ray of light on the road ahead of me. I took a deep breath and walked along the road back to my home with a trail of flowers being created behind my every step.

Waterfall

Wash away all the anxiety, make it vanish in a manner that is respectful to its original owner. It’s funny that I refer to it as an owner. As if it has its own sort of space that it takes up in someone’s heart. It’s kind of true though. We have a bad habit of internalizing all the pain and stress we absorb into our body on a daily basis and truth be told, I express it quite a bit in my writing. Sometimes it’s good because it lets me get it all out, but sometimes I feel guilty expressing so much negativity all the time. It’s times like these where we need a reprieve from life and to focus on the good and wonderful things. Like a plant, we take in that which we are given and it shapes who we are. I believe that we can choose to take in these experiences as nutrients and allow us to flourish.

When I feel anxious I like to picture myself under a waterfall and imagine that my soul is being purified under the gentle stream trickling over my shoulders. I focus on my breathing and emphasize a slow and deliberate rhythm with my inhales… and exhales. I open my eyes slightly and look at the pool of water below me and take delight with all the aquatic life beneath me. I can see fish dancing around in various patterns like hearts and stars. I never imagined that nature could be so beautiful with its almost divine qualities. With my legs cross and my posture aligned in a manner that allows for proper form, I take another inhale… and hold it… for a long time… so long that I wonder how many more ellipses I can fit into one inhale… and exhale realizing how long of a sentence I just wrote… and tell myself… “Right here in this moment, I am at peace knowing that the waterfall is within me”.

Pink Ocean

On the rare occasion, I have pleasant dreams. That’s not to say that my mind is constantly polluted with nightmares, heavens no. Although sometimes it does need to cleanse itself of all the daily stresses we face. But now isn’t the time for nightmares, now is the time for all the wonderful things in the world like water, the purest of substances and the color pink the purest of colors. Water, the most beneficial of all the drinkable fluids on this bright planet. Much better than the harsh chemicals found in soda which is the equivalent of liquid arsenic. I keep getting ahead of myself with the negativity, my apologies, it just comes and goes you know? Where was I…. right! Water like the ocean cleanses all the evil and refreshes the troubled spirit from the corruption that harms it. It’s important to remember to bathe in the healing salt crystals found in the ocean more than anything else in life. But what if you don’t live near this well-spring of rejuvenation you might ask? Physically you may not be able to take the ocean with you wherever you want to but I know a technique that can help. Close your eyes for a moment, well not while reading this of course but you get the gist of it. Now focus on your breathing. Imagine the calm ocean breeze passing you by with the occasional seagull chirping its own tune in harmony with the tides rolling in. That same seagull also glides down in front to display a brief dance with his friends to remind you that you are not alone in this abode of comfort. The tides have this sense of lulling you into a trance where you and the ocean become one synchronous being. It relaxes you and you seem to drift along the shore with it as well. Tiny fish swim alongside you making sure as not to intervene in your personal space which you hold so dear. Why do you hold it so dear? Because others can ruin it? Or is it more personal? The ocean reminds you that it’s always okay to feel and be one with your feelings, and without shame either. Now one thing I didn’t mention is the color of the ocean. This ocean isn’t blue, far from it. This ocean is pink! While this may seem insignificant, to me color is everything. This same pink ocean also has some magical qualities too. For instance look at the ground below you. The sand has formed a small floating island beneath you with a single palm tree and a fishing rod beside it. The ocean knows that you crave a blissful retreat from the harshness of daily life, and it is happy to accommodate. You grab the fishing rod with your back against the palm tree. You cast it into the pink ocean below with the most peaceful smile on your face as the sun sets over the horizon. In this moment right here, right now you are truly happy.

Darkness

Darkness had its own way of transcending within my tiny room, and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it looked like a cell from the outside. I can still hear the sweet succulent sound of suffering from the room next door. I hear the breathing come and go and I smirk when it goes silent because I know that they’re one step closer for their soul to be snuffed out of existence. To some, I may sound vengeful but there’s a bit more than that. The person in the room next to me is the embodiment of my anger and hatred. She took her own form much before my own and I wanted to believe that I was just being delusional. She is a human being after all right? At least that was the general consensus on the surface, but to me this person forsook their humanity long ago. She was once a kind soul who welcomed me into her abode but looking at us now seems to paint a different tale altogether. When I look at this creature my once calm and poetic demeanor immediately shifts into the untamed beast ready to explode from anxiety and pressure. This same beast that is silently caged within my very being just waiting to erupt. “Charles, your dinner is here.” “Leave it at the door Nick. I’m contemplating.” “You won’t have to keep doing that much longer buddy. The way the warden puts it he’s thinking about letting one of you free.” “You put in a good word for me I assume right man?” “Of course, your behavior has been mostly good, aside from when you leave your cell.” He was right, in my room, I could be here and express myself fully within my thoughts but out there with her I could feel this silent nagging sensation crawling under my skin telling me that my existence is flawed. The air out there is tainted and I can feel myself choking on the very molecules that have come to provide me with life. “It’s not my fault she has the defect man. You guys don’t want to let me use a mask so what else can I do? My brain just isn’t functioning like myself out there.” “Look we took you in so you wouldn’t have to be alone out there, do you really want to brave the infection out there as well?” I didn’t and I couldn’t stand that this woman was the cause of this god-forsaken situation to begin with. I thought dementia was supposed to corrupt the mind not the body? “You’re right I don’t but it’s a local thing man. Only area that’s warped is my house.” “Yeah, and we don’t want anyone near it. It may be dormant but that mutation in her is still being researched. Nobodies ever seen this chemical come from a person before.” He’s right, even the bubonic plague pales to the severity she’s experiencing. She kept complaining about eyesight and headaches that I just assumed that was a by-product of old age, but when her demands kept becoming so unreasonable I just had to mention it to her. Unsurprisingly she didn’t take it well and next thing I knew she was convulsing on the floor and a noxious gas emitted from her mouth that filled the entire place with the smell of bleach and chlorine. I ran out as fast as I could but it wasn’t long before the neighbors called for an ambulance when I had passed out at the door. Several weeks later and some phone calls from my mother asking what the hell happened drove me nearly to my breaking point by being stuck in here. It was kind of like my room at first, quiet meditative and appallingly isolating but I tried to make the best of it despite the constant boredom. I heard some coughing on the off occasion but I was so indifferent to the thing in the room next to me that I wound up treating it as white-noise after enough time. Coughing turned to heaving and the gas she once emitted turned into sludge. I can still see it in the hallway occasionally through the filter that they installed, but no matter how easy it was to ignore the coughing, the sludge itself penetrated the last bit of stability left in my rational mind. How could someone just spit that out of them? Science taught me otherwise but fiction kept endorsing the idea that there is always the possibility for the strange and wondrous. Before the incident, I kept her at an arm’s length both out of pity and necessity that I couldn’t help her and that I needed her to live. With no money, I anxiously pondered what would happen if she left. Would I starve? Would I not have a roof over my head? When your only hope is to desperately cling to something you despise you can’t help but wonder if your existence even matters in the first place. Was I destined to be miserable? I asked myself. Or was this the cruel plan of some sadist god? That house was more torture than the cell, with every waking moment an exercise in futility. At least here they gave me a typewriter to let me be myself. “I’ll be back tomorrow morning to tell you the news Charley. And please stay positive my friend. I hate to see someone in your position.” Then just get me out of here if you want to help me out. “Yeah, I’ll do my best Nick but no promises.”

Mirror

I felt helpless, I just couldn’t bring myself to move. My eyes were a steadily trickling river that soon became the largest waterfall ever known to man. My drawing, like my heart, was torn. To anyone else they would laugh at what I was crying about. You’re acting like a baby, own up and act like the grown man you are. I wish I could tell you its not age that defines us, but you wouldn’t believe me. I want to tell you that, god do I ever. Our capacity to care has diminished and I admit that personally. There isn’t much that really makes me excited anymore so when it does happen, when you anticipate that joy and it just doesn’t live up to your impossible expectations, how else would you feel? Completely and utterly crushed. Crushed like the insignificant ant that we are in the grand scheme of the universe. You’d feel so small, so irrelevant to anybody, especially yourself. You want that feeling when you were a child and everything was full of whimsy and spectacle, but now you’re old and not allowed to cry or show your true emotions without being ridiculed. You want to be surrounded by others but also want to be alone, but you can’t have both at the same time. You want to be alive and dead but you’re caught in the middle of a tornado. You want to be carefree but you aren’t allowed to. You want to express, but you will die. You always project, I always reject. I miss you so much but I realize I’ll never be the same human being. I hate being cynical, it feels like a disease. Just cut It right out of me. I miss my innocence. I miss it so much. So go on you can keep mocking me for crying over something as small as a piece of art, but that art was me, and it was real at some point.

The memories fade away only to come flooding back like an existential nightmare. Droplets of sorrow emerge from the nothingness that has become my body. Atom by atom, they all slowly dissipate and I am left in a void of my own creation. Some would call it a prison, to me, that’s my room. This tiny room where I try to lead a normal life, working, and doing recreational activities to remind myself I’m not a miserable human being with no self-worth. The air is colder than usual. I have everything to keep me comfortable, and yet its still not enough, when is it ever enough? I can’t have the things I really want. Companionship, a steady job, my chronic physical pain to stop. I hate what I’ve become. A greedy monstrosity. My mirror looks more warped by my progressively changing grotesque appearance. I still look normal, but that mirror shows the true me. I want to break it, but it never worked. I’ve tried hammers and even a cinder block but it only serves as a painful reminder of my anger. The thing won’t break. Maybe that’s just a sign of my own stubbornness but hell, I’ll never know. At night when I go to brush my teeth the thing shows me a premonition of my dreams, well nightmares. There’s something about losing that purity within yourself that slowly poisons a man. Your waking life comes back to haunt you when you’re most vulnerable. You ever felt your nightmares? I mean like really felt them? Like seizure level? Yeah well, that’s my normal now, it used to happen to me when I was homeless and that kind of thing changes a man. Imagine acutely feeling your brain strapped to a dentists chair with your eyes pulled open by hooks and being forced to watch mass genocide 24-7? A nightmare yes but when you have these seizures it’s like you’re really there, stuck in that chair. Some watch this voluntarily but not me. Truth be told, I hate the news. Nothing about seeing murderers ever appealed to me. I tried to stay away from that stuff but there was always at least one person in my life who would tell me about this stuff even though I never asked for it, and after hearing it all the time like clockwork I just couldn’t take it anymore. I lashed out at the mirror in a rage and it finally shattered.

The mirror showed all of my desires because it knew what I wanted. Smug little bastard. It was definitely alive, there’s no way around that. No ordinary piece of glass can do that but it seems so normal after how long I’ve been having this crap happen to me. Ever since I threw my phone at it after I got held up it had started acting like this. I know I’m jumping around a lot but isn’t that just how the brain is? A jumbled mess where if you keep thinking you might get one coherent thought? I’ve said too much. Between you and me I’m going to bed and putting this self-reflection nonsense behind me. Hopefully, I can get a good nights sleep now, and thanks for listening. John prepped his pillow and took several capsules of sleep aids before falling asleep.