Will J. J.

Day-to-day musings and occasional short stories for your delight.


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Car Window

Car Window

 

Hey guys,

 

Today I wanted to share a poem I’ve been working on. I had a thought recently about the very essence of riding in a car, and how much that has changed for me since I was a little boy. This poem is a translation of that thought’s conclusion. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

 

Car Window

 

Gazing through to the world beyond,

The glass window, ever beside you,

Cruising down the winding asphalt,

Hills and plains rolling gently past.

 

Shifting focus to sights nearby,

A patch of grass, by the roadside,

A branching tree, atop the green.

At last, you draw them into view,

Out of the constant blur of speed,

Reaching out to them with your eyes,

A lone moment of clarity,

Before they’re gone, swept behind you.

 

Your gaze drifts into the distance,

Houses clustered, etching the bluffs,

Faraway mountains, standing tall,

Massive cities, sprawling and bright.

Passing slowly, distant landmarks,

As if you were barely moving.

 

Riding up familiar roadways,

Fingers tracing along the glass,

On the cold, wintry weather days.

Every bump and turn, routine,

The daily trip you know so well.

New, unknown routes still excite you,

Concrete webbed for thousands of miles,

Skirting peaks and dodging water.

 

Years pass, your position changes,

Passenger to watchful driver,

Your gaze forward, the road ahead,

Fewer moments to peer aside,

Allowing your mind to wander,

And take in the beautiful view.

 

But when you do, so seldom now,

You recall that soothing feeling,

The world passing, both fast and slow.

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Remembering Me

remember-who-you-are-simba

For the past month and a half, I’ve been feeling revived, through and through, as if I’ve awakened from a stupor I wasn’t aware of until now. Early last month, one of my closest friends, Leah, surprised me with a visit. It was wonderful to see her, and during her visit, we had a profound and honest discussion about certain events of several years ago that changed the courses of both our lives. These were memories I had not explored in years, and ones she and I had never discussed in such depth. That conversation may have been the most meaningful talk I’ve ever had, and it reawakened me to my dreams.

The following day, I pulled out one of my old journals and read through my entries from the years Leah and I had discussed the night before. I’m a diligent journaler, and my thoughts and feelings from those days were detailed across the pages in crystal clarity. Between our conversation and my journey through old journal entries, I relived the entirety of a several year span in the course of a few hours.

Every joy and every despair came rushing back to me in full force. Quite frankly, it was overwhelming, experiencing that many conflicting emotions and memories simultaneously. It felt as if I had been thrust back into the mind of my old self, except I could see both forward and backward in time from that point. I could trace the path my life would take for years to come, knowing every twist and turn in that span. Most of all, I remembered my dreams for my self and what I cared about most at that point in my life, and that’s what shook me so deeply.

For the past several years, I’ve allowed a haze to fall over my life. It’s been so gradual that I didn’t notice it happening. I’ve felt trapped within myself, slowly buried beneath a perpetual wave of monotony and routine. Day after day, week after week, month after month. It wore on me, and no matter how hard I resisted, I couldn’t fight it, because the change was too slow for me to pinpoint.

When Leah and I revisited those olden days, I realized just how much I had changed, just how much I had deviated from the person I had wanted to become. In fact, I had forgotten who I wanted to be, and that surprised me most. It felt very much like visiting a friend or relative for the first time in years, and realizing how drastically they’ve changed over the course of your absence, except that person was me.

Earlier this very week, Timehop reminded me of a thought I posted on Facebook three years ago, and it was eerily prophetic and relevant to the feelings I had been grappling with since Leah’s visit.

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Seeing that post made me realize that I knew, even then, what could happen, I just didn’t think it would happen to me. I underestimated the mind-numbing effects of time and relentless tedium. The constant grind can erode your dreams to nothing. I kept telling myself that who I really was and what I really cared about lay in my passions: Writing. Bringing to life new and interesting creations. Exploring the beauty of the universe. Expanding my mind and challenging others to do the same. Creating a better world, with whatever tools available to me. We are what we repeatedly do, and if you do not devote time to your passions, you may lose those passions. That is precisely what happened to me.

A perfect example is my writing. I told myself that I was going to write more. I kept saying it, for weeks and months, never quite taking that leap into action. I had put my head down and dedicated myself to my career, because I had so much to learn and I needed to succeed, but at the end of each day, I had no spirit left for the creative goals that kept me excited about life. Gradually, that voice reminding me to write more spoke less and less, and eventually, it left my mind completely. The one passion I held above all else, reduced to a distant memory of a forgotten goal that I stumbled upon from time to time, simply because of inaction. I didn’t work hard enough to make those passions into habits. What you make a habit becomes part of your routine, but it’s that act of finding the time on a regular basis and integrating something into your routine, that’s the hard part.

Time creeps up on you. It is both deceptively stagnant and impossibly swift. Ever since Leah came to visit, I’ve felt awake for the first time in a long time. I don’t want to go back to sleep. I want to fight for the part of myself that really means something, my passion and my excitement. It’s so easy to get comfortable, settle in, and coast. I don’t want that. Life is too short for coasting.

I want to be the man I always saw in myself, and I’m fighting to make him real. I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that I’ve become a mindless drone, that I’ve spent my life scrolling through my newsfeed instead of living. I demanded more from myself then, and it’s time I did so again. I need to be the best combination of dreamer and doer, the person who bursts with ideas and makes them reality, because I know that’s what I’m capable of. Time will pass no matter what I do, so I’m fighting for the future I dreamed of.

Thank you for this gift, Leah, for reminding me of my dreams and giving me the opportunity to change course before it’s too late. Second chances don’t come often, and I won’t waste this one. 🙂

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Friday

friday-celebration

Hey everybody! I know it’s been a while. This is a little something I’ve been working on this week, a poem about the wonder of Friday. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

Friday

You spend your week, slaving away,
Fighting and driving and toiling, all day,
Waiting for the moment when you can rest,
Free of the work that’s had you so stressed.

The week passes slowly, each moment a grind,
Every minute dragging, exhaustion combined.
You claw toward the weekend, so eager to send
Those troubles away, replaced with your friends,
And become that person you are on the weekend.

At long last it comes, the wondrous Friday,
One day of work, all that stands in your way.
Your eyes light up, giddy with joy,
Flooding your mind with the times you’ll enjoy.

Remember how it was when you were a child,
Waiting for the bell so you could run wild,
Dashing away, your face a bright smile,
Knowing the teachers couldn’t catch you for a while.
All the effort and stress of five long days,
Releasing it all, that’s the magic of Friday.

So pick up a brew, go out with the crew,
Open a book, settle in your nook,
Run through the grass, catch a prize bass,
Start a game, bring glory to your screen name,
Go for a hike, break out your bike,
Catch up on tv, steep yourself some tea,
Whatever your choice, dive in and rejoice.

Embrace the cheer you seek,
For you’ve survived another week.
You’ve lived through many, with many to come,
But the struggles of life aren’t easily overcome.
Don’t lightly forget them. No, celebrate, and praise!
For we measure life in years, but live it in days.


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The Honest Truth

Day 3429

photo (34)

Hello my friends. It’s been quite some time, and for that I apologize. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to post, I’ve just had some pressing issues taking priority as of late, and the longer you go without doing something, the more difficult it becomes to start up again.

In the past, I’ve shared stories and thoughts from my personal life along with short writings. Today, I want to share both, and I’m going to clue you in on what’s been up with me recently. FAIR WARNING, from this point forward, this post will be far more personal than anything I’ve posted in the past. Writing about this topic helps clear my mind, but voicing it openly is something I’ve never done, mainly because I’ve always been very private about certain portions of my life. With that said, if there’s even one person out there who can draw support from the knowledge that they’re not alone, I want to share.

This will probably surprise most people who know me, but I suffer from depression. I’m peppy, active, and I love to laugh. I’m sure that, to most, I must come across as excessively, perhaps annoyingly, energetic and optimistic. Inside my mind, it’s a different story. It’s not that I’m constantly, or even usually, melancholy. It’s that when I’m down, I feel severely, oppressively, inescapably, suffocatingly sad, to the point of desperation. I’ve dealt with depression since I was a little boy and my parents fought regularly. It got worse when they went through a protracted and excruciating divorce with an accompanying custody battle. From those early days onward, I’ve had bouts with the darkness intermittently. It can attack at any time, whether something particularly sad occurred to trigger it or not. I’ve recognized the sinking feeling of its onset even when having the most exciting, fun experience on the outside. For me, it’s especially pronounced when I’m alone for long periods of time, because I find it more difficult to distract myself.

For the longest time, I thought it was normal, that everyone dealt with the same sadness as me, and I was simply weak for being unable to control or contain it. Even when I realized that wasn’t the case, I was reluctant to share. I didn’t want people to think of me as a sad person, because that’s not how I see myself. I’m not a sad person. I’m a happy person fighting a monster from within. Even some of my closest friends and family never knew I was grappling with this beast until recently. Some still don’t know. Over the years, I got so good at hiding my sadness and just smiling through it all that I thought I would continue that way for the rest of my life. I wanted my mask to become my face, and I hoped that the original one bearing all my pain would simply fade away.

The thing is, it didn’t go away. Throughout the years, I continued to have intense periods of sadness, and, without realizing it, I coped with this by keeping myself busy and constantly focusing on one goal after another. I would fill my hours so completely that I didn’t have any time to think about the sadness lurking just beneath the surface. It’s odd to say, but having free time actually stressed me out, because it meant that I didn’t have something to occupy my mind.

Midway through last year, my life underwent some vast changes. Nearly my entire group of close, college friends moved away. I moved into an apartment on my own. My position at my company evolved, and people I had grown close to left the company. Suddenly, I had a lot of free time, and I didn’t know what to do with it or who to spend it with. Ironically, the freedom I had fought so hard for became unbearable at times, and yet, I still held it in, because that’s what I had always done. In late September, I started suffering from anxiety, an outgrowth from my depression that I had never felt before. In December, I had a panic attack so severe that I went to the hospital, thinking I was having a heart attack. It lasted nearly an entire day, a whole day of constant tension and fear. These anxiety attacks steadily grew worse and more frequent in their intensity, because I wasn’t doing anything to attack their source.

My entire life, I had always distracted myself and focused all my energy on just holding on until I felt better, but I started feeling so bleak and fearful for so long that I couldn’t outlast it anymore. I would sit at work, completely paralyzed and unable to do anything, because I was so afraid, of what I’m not sure. I’d try to outthink the panic attack, rationalizing the irrational, when the source of the attack was the very same mind doing the thinking. It’s a bit like trying to dodge raindrops in a heavy pour, you evade some, but ultimately, it’s exhausting and futile. Eventually, my thoughts grew so dark that I began to contemplate hurting myself, and that was when I knew that I had to reach out. This was no longer something I could handle on my own.

I had a couple of days so desolate and hopeless that I called a hotline and eventually went to a clinic for support. Since then, I’ve gotten help from various sources, and while some days are definitely still bad, I’m confident that things are getting better, and that I’m going to get better, because I’m finally doing something about it. What I want to share with you now is a short piece of writing I did while waiting in the clinic to see a counselor. I was several hours into a day-long anxiety attack, and I was afraid for my life. It’s non-fictional. In fact, it’s probably the realest thing I’ve ever written.

Waiting Room

 

Fragmented souls, assembled here, not by force but not by choice. Vacant stares through glassy eyes, screams for help from behind blank faces. Broken minds, struggling to stay afloat. How did I get here? No one here wants to admit they have a problem, yet they’re all here, where people come when they have a problem. Averting each other’s gazes, sleeping, waiting. The waiting room is a holding cell for an indefinite sentence. In and out of consciousness, hours passing, others coming and going, yet nothing truly changing. A man in a weathered jacket whispers to himself, clutching his notebook for dear life. The talker, who never stops talking, presses his winding, convoluted stories and thoughts on all around, prying them from their trances for validation. Shifting in my seat, struggling for comfort, nothing drives insanity like time. Why are you here, man across the room, with a tired and beaten face? I am scared. My mind is slipping, and I’m losing control. Fighting against something inside, trying to rationalize the irrational, a dwindling bevy of resistant thoughts drowning in the undertow of darkness. A suffocating, sly blanket, slowly slipping over me. A paralyzing force that poisons your spirit and takes you as its host. That’s why I’m here. That’s what depression is. Like everyone here, I need help, because I don’t want this to be my reality anymore. I’ve fought this war on my own until I can no more. I either call in reinforcements or there will be no more me to fight for, and I refuse to acknowledge the latter. I have to hope, even when my strength is gone, because I’m not alone. I have to hope that someday the door will open and they’ll call my name, and they’ll help me find the light again.

One of the hardest things about depression is how alone you feel. It’s an abyss, and when you’re in that darkness, it seems like there’s no one else in it with you, but that’s a lie. The moment I started opening up to people was the moment I realized that I’m not alone, and that gave me strength. There are others out there dealing with the same affliction as you, and you don’t have to handle it on your own. That can really be the hardest part, reaching out to those around you, or perhaps even admitting it to yourself, but once you make that step, it does get easier. The important thing is to take that step, because grinning and bearing through constant misery is no way to go through life. I only realized that recently, but it has made a world of difference.