Being true

I am not interested in being original. I am interested in being trueAgostinho da Silva

I don’t know if I’m interested in being original, but I am interested in trying to be me. And I think being yourself ultimately leads you to being original. However, I believe originality can only be achieved when you are true to yourself, when you know who you are and are completely unapologetic about it.

Sometimes, it’s not so easy to be yourself. Actually, I think we all grow up having to conform to a framework that distinguishes a person as either good, bad or problematic. That can be stifling and suffocating. The only way to break free is to be your own person and that usually doesn’t happen until you become an adult. Even that is not a guarantee of self-awareness and agency. You figure that out through whatever life throws at you. Experience, in other words.

I’ve always been defined as a good person. It’s a very simplistic way of looking at a person. It’s easy to label or categorize a person. It makes it easier to approach a person a particular way if you know what kind of person you’re dealing with.

On a number of levels, yes, I am a good person. I know I am, at heart, a good person. But I am also complicated as fuck. And a lot of people make the mistake of assuming I’m a good person and only a good person. People close to me know I have a temper. And some of those folks (specifically, relatives) think that me being angry will only shorten my life. Quite honestly, I think one of the only times being angry could possibly shorten my life is if I’m yelling at someone who’s holding a gun. Just saying. Personally, I think it’s better to express your temper rather than internalize it. Yes? No? The seeming insistence to look at the world with blinders on or through rose-coloured glasses drives me up the fucking wall.

This is the problem of being considered a good person. If you are a good person, you are not allowed to express the negative emotions that all human beings possess. Show too many negative emotions and people will start thinking you’re a bad person or you need to see a shrink. Yes, the person with the negative emotions needs to be fixed.

That’s all fine and dandy but those pointing their fingers should ask themselves if there is a reason or cause for the manifestation of the negative/undesirable emotions/behaviour. Might I suggest taking a look in the mirror. But nobody wants to look at the truth because, sometimes, the truth is ugly. Point the finger at everybody else but themselves.

So, this person, the one who has told me that being angry will only shorten my life, needs to ask herself why am I angry. I wasn’t born angry. I’m pretty sure about that. Negative emotions don’t pop up on a whim unless there’s a medical reason for it. Usually there is something or someone who sparks that fire. I am resentful of the idea that if I’m angry, it’s my fault that I’m angry. The person who made me angry is not at fault. Why? Because that person see herself as a good person, a fucking martyr, in fact. Good equals right. Negative emotions equals bad which in turn, means bad is wrong. Every. Fucking. Time.

So, let’s go with the premise that my habit of expressing every negative emotion — in the larger compendium of emotions — I have makes me a bad person, in the most simplistic, asinine terms. Let’s say I ‘fix’ my temper and never show anger again (which you all damn well know, is next to impossible). That doesn’t necessarily stop the source that sparked the fire in the first place from lighting it up again. Me fixing my temper serves as only a bandage. It really doesn’t fix anything. The person who has made me mad in the first place, has not understood that they are very much the reason for the negative behaviour. That person doesn’t understand because they cannot conceive the idea that they are capable of making somebody mad at them because they believe they’re a good person.

I could go on forever about how people have tried to manipulate me, tried to shame me, guilt me into being someone I’m not.

And this where I go back to the idea of having a clear understanding of who you are as a person and being true to that person, true to yourself.

Sometimes being true to who you are will make some people or a lot of people around you uncomfortable as fuck. At some point you have to be okay with the idea that you cannot make everybody happy, that you are not responsible for their happiness. I’m at that point. And yeah, I get pushback. I could try to explain myself, but when you’re faced with individuals who cannot accept how imperfect you are, you’re better off not wasting your breath and let them live with the idea that you’ve bitterly disappointed them.

I have to be true to who I am. If I’m not, it will be the most painful regret I will ever have. I can’t live with that. I will always choose to disappoint others before I disappoint myself.

Lemons and lifejackets

The first six months of 2013 has gone by in a blink of an eye. How did the first half of 2013 go? Not bad. There was the good, the bad and the stressful. Typical shit.

I suppose I should be grateful because I’m still alive and wanting to kick some ass. Anybody reading this should be grateful that they’re still alive and wanting to kick some ass, too.

But I have a problem of not counting my blessings or the good things I have in my life. Maybe if I did that more often, the desire to swing a baseball bat or crowbar at the head of some sorry excuse for a human being wouldn’t rear its ugly little head so often.

Don’t worry, this desire comes and goes. For the first part of the year, it rarely made an appearance. I was in a good place… except for the last month. Lingers like a rotting corpse. As the saying goes, what goes up… must come down. The funny thing is that while I may not be emotionally on my game, it hasn’t stopped me from working on my writing and photographic projects.

Some say creativity can come out of a place of disappointment and pain. I suppose that’s why there is some expectation for an artistically-inclined person to be emotionally-tortured and angst-ridden in order to create a piece of visual art, music, literature, choreography, etc.

Does creativity come out of a place of pain and disappointment? If you must simplify it, then, for some people, yes. I guess you could include me in that group. However, creating something inspired by pain doesn’t mean the creator is masochistically wallowing in the pain. Well… that may be true for some, but not for me. I believe it’s more a case of exorcising the pain and turning it into something beautiful. Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or in my case, you slice up the lemons and garnish a tall tumbler of gin and tonic with it. No gin and tonic? Throw the juice of the lemons in with garlic, chickpeas, tahini and olive oil, and make hummus.

So yeah, I’m sorting out some shit while trying to avoid wallowing in self-doubt. I could drink my troubles away but my liver refuses to be pickled. Hard drugs are and were never an option. But I’ll smoke the odd joint — nothing stronger than that. I know I’ll end up in the hospital if I do.

Creating something beautiful out of something I never thought would go sour and die so quickly without a fight, is life-affirming to me. It means my coping mechanisms worked. It means I’ve turned the negative energy that threatened to swallow me whole into a positive energy that became my life jacket. It means I’m a survivor.

Right now, I’m busy making that life jacket. I’m getting better at making them. I have a small pile of tattered life jackets sitting in the figurative boathouse. I’d use one of them if I could, but each one of them was created for a specific problem and situation. None of them are suitable for the current problem.

Come hell or high water, I’ll survive. I’ll thrive, grow and glow in the love given to me by my friends and family who love and protect me. They know I would do the same for them.

Note: I’ll be taking a two-week break from blogging to take on an artistic and educational endeavour that could very well keep me from regularly posting a blog for the next two Mondays. Given that I will be in a different part of the world, wi-fi signals have proven to be notoriously weak. What I hope will happen, assuming the wi-fi signals are stronger than I remember two years ago, I might be able post very short blogs whenever I can. If that doesn’t come to fruition, then I’ll share my adventures with you when I return. See you three Mondays from today.