Poetry Friday: Then and Now

Then and Now

I travel in my mind
from that memory—
foamy ocean wave creeping
up my toes, feet, ankles,
slow as a weary sigh,
as I blink my eyes
once, that blue landscape
of water and sky darkening
behind tired eyelids,
losing my surroundings as the
wave eases up to my calves,
and my eyes inch open again,
my body exhaling—
to this one, this flurry of movement,
of feet splashing in smooth,
sandy rolls of seascape,
a laugh in my mouth
and my arms stretched out,
sprinting after a dream
that today, I suppose,
my heart is not too burdened
to entertain.

I breathe in salt air
in normal amounts of seconds,
and know I am free.

The Run and Go

Sometimes life is beautiful and we capture a piece of it to share.

The girl in the video is my friend. I call her Phil. We made this together.

(“The Run and Go” by Twenty One Pilots)

I Miss Crying

Over a year ago I was diagnosed with depression and I started seeing a counselor. I don’t even know how to describe those months preceding my first appointment. Have you ever wanted to die? I’m sorry. I get it. There are no words.

This counselor recommended I take antidepressants, so I got on and off the pills in just over a year. I have the experience documented here. After I worked off the meds, I thought I had moved on. But it happened again recently–the onslaught of depression, the inability to care about life anymore. So I’m taking them. Again.

It’s only been a week or so but already I miss crying. I miss feeling pain. I miss feeling hopeless because at least then I was feeling something. Now, although my emotions have lifted to a more normal human level, they don’t fluctuate as much as I would like. I would love to laugh until I cry. I would love to cry until I laugh.

I’m never satisfied with what I have.

I fear I’ve lost the ability to be content with where I am in life. Content with the school I’m going to, content with the people I love, content with where I am financially. Of course it’s good to be ambitious and set goals, but there’s a point at which ambition becomes greed; when what you have is never enough, and you can’t be satisfied with life for more than a few moments each day.

Lately I’ve been learning how to breathe in a way that decreases stress. The method is breathing slowly in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth, making sure that the diaphragm (belly area) is expanding and not the chest. My best breathing frequency so far is six breaths per minute. I breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds, concentrating on the action for about twenty minutes.

The slow breathing helps me focus. It reminds me that I am more than just a head moving around on tense shoulders and a hunched spine; I am a whole body, one that can feel light and airy and at peace. I can connect to all the cells in my body through healthy breathing. I can be aware of everything around and inside me. I can be content in this one moment.

Matt wrote an amazing piece on meditation on his blog Must Be This Tall To Ride. I loved his closing words:

“It wasn’t that long ago: not attractive enough, not smart enough, not rich enough, not strong enough, not tall enough, not good enough.

We cannot change the things that happen to us.

We can’t.

But we can change how we experience them.

Just breathe. In, then out.

I’m tall enough.”

Readers, here’s a video of chirping birds. Take two minutes out of your day and see if a little meditation makes you feel better. I care that you be happy. I hope you care, too.

Hats Off to DFW

My AP English teacher first introduced me to David Foster Wallace’s speech “This is Water.” Few literary passages have changed my life so profoundly as this one did. I hope that everyone within earshot of my cyber voice will read it and try to understand it and do something because of it. Read it–go on! It gives me chills.

He posits that we are innately selfish beings. Everything we think and know and experience revolves around us, and the default setting of our state of consciousness is to perpetually focus on ourselves. In his speech, Wallace presents a life-changing choice. He words it best:

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” – the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

It is one of most beautiful feelings I have ever experienced–the realization that I am not the center of the universe. I can choose–choose, people–to care about things outside of my intimate circle of consciousness. It is so wonderful. I have the power within me to think about you, and care about my earth footprint, and try to make this world better, because it will live on after I’m gone. Of what worth is money, power, beauty, intellect? Every day we are surrounded by other people who are just as important and needed and loved by our creator as we are. That is true beauty.

“It is about simple awareness – awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: ‘This is water, this is water.'” -David Foster Wallace