Tag Archives: motivational

My Privilege

A friend of mine recently accused me of being privileged for my being white. Here is a list of things I am privileged for:

  • I am privileged for being forgiven in the eyes of Christ, because I do not deserve to be.
  • I am privileged for being born in the greatest country in history, because some are not.
  • I am privileged for being able to look beyond the color of skin, because some cannot.
  • I am privileged to have been raised in a family that loves, because some are raised hating.
  • I am privileged to have been an alcoholic, so I may appreciate sobriety.
  • I am privileged to have been homeless, so I may appreciate shelter.
  • I am privileged to have gone bankrupt, so I may appreciate money.
  • I am privileged to have known loneliness, so I may appreciate friendship.
  • I am privileged to have known heartache, so I may appreciate healing.
  • I am privileged to have been incarcerated, so I may appreciate freedom.
  • I am privileged to be single, so I may appreciate relationships.
  • I am privileged to know failure, so I may appreciate success.
  • I am privileged to have traveled the country, so I may appreciate liberty.
  • I am privileged to have been a dishwasher, so I may appreciate good jobs.
  • I am privileged to have been kicked out of school, so I may appreciate learning.
  • I am privileged to know how to read, so I may appreciate history.
  • I am privileged to know how to write, so I may appreciate the written word.
  • I am privileged to have health, so I may appreciate my body.
  • I am privileged to ride my bicycle, so I may appreciate my driver’s license.
  • I am privileged to know hard work, so I may appreciate a paycheck.
  • I am privileged to have gone hungry, so I may appreciate food.
  • I am privileged to have gone thirsty, so I may appreciate cold water.
  • I am privileged to have slept in subways, so I may appreciate warm beds.
  • I am privileged to have known mercy, so I may appreciate compassion.
  • I am privileged to have prayed with the hurting, so I may appreciate peace.
  • I am privileged to have known destitution, so I may appreciate my blessings.
  • I am privileged to have understood death, so I may appreciate life.
  • I am privileged to ride the public bus, so I may appreciate cars.
  • I am privileged for my meager possessions, so I may appreciate the less fortunate.
  • I am privileged for my talents, so I may appreciate my weaknesses.
  • I am privileged for being born, so I may appreciate the world around me.
  • I am privileged for understanding hard times, so I may appreciate victory.
  • I am privileged to have known brokenness, so I may appreciate wholeness.
  • I am privileged to be able to read my bible, so I may appreciate religious freedom.
  • I am privileged to be able to speak my mind, so I may appreciate free speech.
  • I am privileged to be mental, so I may appreciate sanity.
  • I am privileged to stop writing this post, so I may appreciate free will.
  • I am privileged after all.

Does the fork in your road have seven lanes or is it just me?

Photography by Gabriel circa 2012.

Photography by Gabriel circa 2012.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on my blog. Five months to be exact. I know it’s been too long because the creative blood in my veins have begun to clot along the interior walls of my heart. I wish I could give you semi-decent excuses for my absence. You know the usual balderdash. This happened, that occurred, I was too busy with work, I got married and the wife popped out a litter of pups, went on a walk-about in Australia so I could seize manhood by growing a scraggly beard and skinning rattlesnakes, or that I was building a sailboat in order to ride the high seas like some rich kid who has nothing better to do with their time. (Just for the record I don’t know how long it would take to build a boat, considering I have no idea how to use tools or even the basic concept of woodworking. I would have to interrogate my friend Jacob on that one.)

Excuses like that seem legit and some would even consider them noble undertakings. But alas, I don’t have any room for them in my excuse folder. Although I did manage to grow a beard towards the end of 2013. I was very proud of my beard. But it’s too hot in Florida, even in the dead of winter so I shaved it off.

In a one of my previous posts I had mentioned that I moved down south to get away from life up north. That kept me busy for a while. You know, settling in, finding employment, etc. But then (unfortunately) I was called back to New York for several weeks in order to take care of some personal business. After those shenanigans were dealt with and after it was apparent (yet again might I add) that my New York Jets would not make the playoffs, I flew back down mid-December in order to find work and wait out the rest of the horror that was last year. I am not complaining, unloading, or even giving you a list of things that in all probability you don’t really care about (wait, that last one might be true), I am simply trying to explain where I’ve been.

I think mindsets have a huge say in when a self-entitled writer decides to pick up their pencils (or laptops) and squeeze out a few coherent sentences. For instance, I take Instagram photos and write silly little fiction tales to go along with them just to keep sharp. But I don’t think many people appreciate my doing so (with a few exceptions of course). I mean come on, who has time to read fifteen sentences these days (he says with the roll of his eyes)? People probably think I am being snooty, or showing off, or just plain bats. I don’t care. Like I said, it keeps me sharp and it’s nice to think it could invoke emotions out of the crowd. Who doesn’t like a little commentary to go along with a pretty picture?

But it’s that whole mindset problem . I’ll tell you a secret, the wires in my brain have managed to get tangled up over the past few years. So much so, that if you took an x-ray of my noggin I bet it would look like a ball of yarn someone left under their recliner. If your mindset is dragging you down and you find yourself trapped in the dreaded doldrums, fear not. It makes great fodder for the weary writer looking to muse something poetic and original. I know this to be true in my own journey through life, especially the past six months. I think one of our problems (the unpublished) is seeded in the fact that we are hopelessly emotional and we sometimes forget how to channel the positive/negative energy emanating from our own deceitful nature. Now I know I run the risk of being mocked, condemned and even tarred and feathered for such a blatant statement, but it’s true. I think of it like this: painters paint by what they wish to see, musicians create music by what their ears want to hear, and writers scribe from what they feel deep inside their bellies, where things churn and swell and eventually come out in a flurry of ingenuity, hoping someone will take notice. Don’t get me wrong, every facet of artistic ability stems from the deep longing in our souls to make beauty out of nothing, to inspire someone, to change the world from their own perspectives, and since I can’t paint nor play an instrument, I have to rely on words and sentences to convey what is going on inside the ball of yarn I call a brain.

What do you like to read when things go sour? What section of Barnes and Noble do you peruse when all is well and the world is your oyster? What corner of the library do you find yourself in when things aren’t going right and when every door slams shut on your face? What’s your favorite Starbucks to visit when you are in love and you want to journal some sappy nonsense about your better half?

Maybe you’re like me. Straddling the fence between every place and no place, reading everything or reading nothing, loving all or feeling nothing but that silent emptiness of loneliness. I’ve been trying to pray more these days. I took a long hiatus from the practice because I felt the Lord wasn’t hearing me, or that I wasn’t asking hard enough. I think King David must have been feeling the same type of emotions when he wrote the Psalms. It’s a wonderful biography of a person that God called “a man after His own heart”.  Meanwhile he was one of the biggest basket-cases in the Old Testament.

But the Psalms are different. David takes the reader on a journey to the top of the mountain with songs of love, faithfulness, joy and peace with his maker. On the other side of the token, the not-so-bright side, he brings us into the valley of his lamenting. He is scared and lonely and doesn’t know where to run and hide. He begs for help and sheds tears because there’s no one to comfort him. If I close my eyes I can see him sitting on a hill, faithfully tending his flock while all of these emotions are running through his spirit. This was the man who slew a giant with a stone! A shepherd boy who was to be king of Israel. When he wasn’t writing, he was running from Saul, when he wasn’t running from Saul, he was trying to figure out which road God wanted him to take.

Doesn’t this sound like us at times?

So, my fellow unpublished friends, cheer up. Use your emotions as a tool to write wonderful things. Use it as a compass to change the world because people need directions. There’s too many forks in the road.


Life as a fictional character.


I don’t know which is harder to endure, sitting still and watching life fly by in a haphazard whirlwind of confusion or getting on your blistered, war ravaged feet day after day and traversing towards that mysterious goal you set out to accomplish. I don’t know which is more heartbreaking, remaining stagnant where you stand, hoping for something to come your way to lift your spirits or leaving what is familiar, what is safe and what you know will be there when you open your eyes the next morning. I cannot bear to stand these quandaries.

Sometimes I wonder if every human is confronted with perpetual crossroads, if the decisions we have to make are merely a cosmic joke told by the Grand Jokester to keep things interesting, or they actually mean something important and are not to be taken lightly. I always felt that my life is akin to a never-ending maze of sharp corners and wicked speed bumps followed by tumultuous alleyways and finally rounded off by a series of burning rings that I must jump through. I don’t mean to be dramatic. I don’t mean to sound as if my life is harder than anyone here in the audience and to be honest I am not even voicing a trivial complaint. I think it’s alright to question the cosmos once or twice. Hell, the only bad question is the one that’s never asked.

I guess it would be nice to saunter down that smooth, cobble-stoned walkway once every few months or so, just to be reminded that life doesn’t always have to be a sharp kick in the ass. The first twenty-nine years of my life I convinced myself that hard times make you tough, make you strong and that it will put hair on your chest. I usually welcome those moments when I go face-to-face with the gods and clash my sword against their shields and listen to the metallic ring of victory. But there are times I don’t wish to do battle because I do not want to put up a fight.

I am thirty now and I am tough. On a good day I am strong, and there is too much hair on my chest, I shave it once and awhile but it grows back thicker and will itch like something else so I let it grow ginzo style because I know women love hairy men.

Please do not misunderstand where I am trying to come from. I don’t want an easy life. I never wanted the path of least resistance because without some of the trials and tribulations I would not be the man I am today. Personally I don’t envy those boys and girls who never know what it’s like to have hardships. It certainly gives you a much better perspective on adulthood and you’re more apt to appreciate the things you do have in this world.

They say it’s about choices. It’s all about choices and nothing else. What about circumstances? What about luck? What about all that bullshit I hear about parents abandoning their children? What about poverty? Disease? Handicaps? Addictions? Are not all these factors somewhat involved with the so-called choices we make? I can’t sit here and write to you people and tell you I have stood my ground and avoided stupidity like one avoiding an avalanche. Because it would be untruthful and it would contradict the mission that has been ingrained in my heart to help those suffering.

I make dumb decisio’s every day.

My point is I want to be at peace with myself. Even for one week. For one week I want to roll out of bed with gusto and smell the flowers and all that malarkey. I want to throw open the bedroom door and inhale deeply and whistle my ass into the shower. I want to have breakfast with a beautiful woman who thinks I am the greatest creature in the universe. I need the life that Lyle Lovett was singing about when he croaked over cream in his coffee and flour tortillas and Sunday mornings and how his chick knew him better than anyone else. That’s the life I secretly wish for.

But I am a fictional character. There is a curse to those of us who sit down and scribe our thoughts and musings and tell tales of grandeur. When you spend most of your time inventing worlds of make-believe and the entire goings on involved with said world, you can accept your talent and bask in the god-like glory of being the mastermind behind every masterpiece your nimble fingers create…or you can become depressed because the lives you invent are not reality. They are figments of another place and another time, and if you dwell on them too long, you may wind up sitting in a padded room while brutish nurses feed you horse tranquilizers and your hair grows old and grey. By that time no self-respecting American women will have you.

Yet there is a certain glory to it all. There is a sense of accomplishment and peacefulness. There is a part of me that loves to create and to fantasize and to make pretend. I guess this is what helps me stay young and sane and in-tune with my Zen-like nature. As someone who fabricates stories I have many characters running around the confines of my skull and they are all pushing and shoving and vying for position. Each one serves a purpose, each one was created at a certain low point in my life, and sometimes they cannot be found when I am in dire straits to help assuage those hard choices I mentioned earlier.

I think this is where most of us writers go awry and become unfulfilled. We spend hours upon hours pretending to live in the stories we write. We daydream about living out the lives we give our protagonists and all the while neglect our own realities. I won’t speak for all of you, but I know that when I come to a proverbial fork in the road, I will shut my eyes and seek advice from someone I created, yes I am fully aware of how it sounds, but I don’t care, because I know some of you will understand where I am coming from. I think most people do this type of meditation but are too afraid to admit it.

I travel often. I am what they call a drifter, a hopeless wanderer, a man who searches when his heart cries out for something new. I drove across America last year and spent three months on the road. I loved it dearly and managed to come up with several wonderful ideas for novels. Adventure makes me feel whole. When I feel my feet sinking into the sands of monotony I pack my meager belongings into boxes and move on. I will be leaving my residence shortly to regain something I had lost over the past several months. I will take those characters with me and they shall comfort me when darkness creeps over the vastness of earth and eclipses the sun.

Forks and crossroads.

They can be friend and they could be foe. But it’s just a matter of perspective. Isn’t it?    


Trifecta Challenge: Beautiful disaster

Trifecta: Week sixty-three: Write a 33-333 word response using the word path as your prompt word. Music to read by: “Below my feet” performed by Mumford and Sons. This story is 333 words. 

The man with something to prove cursed under his breath as the six o’clock train pulled away from Grand Central without him.  A boy with bright red hair watched with impartiality from inside one of the cars and gave the unlucky ticket holder a sarcastic wave goodbye. With a weary smile, he returned the wave and flipped the goofy looking teenager the dirty bird. Upon seeing this treacherous act of war the child turned to the person sitting next to him and began to tattle, but the mechanical beast made of metal and all things nightmarish, roared down the track and the tiny spat between the two strangers ended forever.

The next train heading south into Savannah wasn’t scheduled to leave for another eight hours. Mickey closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose and waited for the small, yet debilitating pain, to form in the back of his skull. He took a seat near a family of pay phones and wished he had chosen another path. His way of life, conduct and thought process were affected by whatever drink was placed before him.

“Breathe buddy. Just breathe. You’re going to be OK. ” He chanted to himself in a sing-song way. Jenna had taught him mantras and breathing exercises to help relieve some of his tension. On instinct, he reached into his breast pocket for the flask of vodka. It was not there.

“You’re a beautiful disaster Mickey. I love you, but I can’t tolerate this behavior anymore. The children are growing up without their father, you need to get help.”

Tears formed around the corners of his swollen eyes as he remembered the way she looked when she told him to leave. Dark hair covered her soft cheeks, eyes full of empathy, her heart full of undying love.

The world knew him as a successful author, his children knew him as a successful drunk, and his wife knew him as a beautiful disaster. A spark ignited his desperate heart.

                 


Trifecta Challenge: Santa doesn’t do salads

                Trifextra: Week forty-six: This weekend we’re asking you to write 33 words that will make us laugh or smile.  Even a chuckle will do.

                  Santa Claus stuffed his large, dumpy ass down the magical chimney and groaned loudly. He couldn’t believe after years of negotiating with the elves, they still refused to build him an expensive gym.

                 


Dancing in dress pants.

Photography by Gabriel

I watched cigarette smoke ascend above the people sitting at the grass skirted tiki bar. Their mellow chit-chattering floated alongside the visible cloud of death swirling about. When the smoke crossed paths with the neon bar signs, it became even more ominous looking. Violent reds and deep blues gave life to the straw carpet holding up the roof. I sipped my beer and headed for safer territory, you never know when some fool will toss a smoke and boom.

Classic rock poured forth from massive speakers standing erect on a platform about a hundred feet from where I stood. The humidity had dissipated before I arrived leaving the atmosphere ripe with shenanigans and revelry. People danced and stumbled, laughed and whistled. Fake palm trees vibrated due the entire environment around them and swayed in the warm July night.

It was a pleasant evening chock full of really loud conversations with friends and random beautiful women on the prowl. Luckily for them I’m a decent conversationalist. Even if I managed to bore them, I would just ask them to wait a tick while I jotted down something witty on paper. Hopefully keeping their attention long enough before they started looking around, and making up fictitious stories in order to walk away, leaving your heart in a puddle of old beer on the floor.

Actually to tell you the truth, I managed to do what I always do when I go to clubs. Stand around looking cool with my slicked back hair and dress pants, not really knowing what the heck else to do. I suck in my gut and stand there like an idiot in front of beautiful women, bobbing my head back and forth and maneuvering around everyone else. All the while trying not to lose my buddies and offend someone by stepping on their toes in the process.

I very rarely go to clubs (give me a little pub, or a nice restaurant any day of the week. Good food and normal speaking levels.) so please don’t judge. Anyway, it was good times and worth it, even if I felt older than I should have.

On we go.

For those of you who haven’t been following my blog (shame to you!) I am packing up my meager belongings and moving in a few weeks. My destination is far-away and full of mysteries to great for my mind to fully comprehend. Oh, I know where I would like to end up, where I think I am supposed to go, and in all probability will live.

But like many instances in my short life, I will walk with one eye on the pavement and the other looking towards heaven. Hoping the Big Man upstairs really has a plan, because quite frankly, I haven’t the slightest idea of what I am doing.

Le Ninja
mhdezign.com

Please don’t be alarmed. I am prepared for this journey and have been for several weeks now. It wasn’t until I started packing tonight when it hit me full force though. I felt like a ninja threw his fist into my rib cage and then round-housed my face with his tiny foot, sending me into a wild somersault over books and balled up Christmas lights, at which point I cry out like a walrus giving birth. Yes, this is what it will feel like when East meets West in a showdown for the ages.

This is why I had to deal with so much growing up as a kid I think. The war I’ve waged and the battles I’ve fought these past few years have helped me understand the meaning of endurance and the reason for tribulations. One must learn how to serve before they can lead. Who knows? This is all too wonderful for my mind to understand, for my imagination to concoct.

I don’t have much to say tonight. Except this, sometimes God will put His hands together and reach out to split the proverbial storm, to touch us on the shoulder and leave us with moments of pure happiness. This is how my evening ended. This is how I will end this ridiculous post. Until next time my friends, peace.


Trifecta Challenge: Always and forever.

Authors note: the Trifecta week thirty-five challenge is to write anything we want as long as it is between 333 to 3,333 words. I wrote exactly 1,000. Please enjoy and remember this is a complete work of fiction  which I concocted in my imagination.

Young as he was, the deaf child understood the look on his father’s face when his mother was pacing the room. He felt the vibrations on the wooden floor when the exhausted old man stomped up the stairs to fetch his cigars. They smelled, and left yellow stains on the curtains, but this didn’t stop him from collecting the old man’s stumps and hiding them behind his outdoor toy chest. The boy had no inclination to inhale the blue tinted smoke which permeated every fabric of their quaint little home, but rather chose to stow them away, as if preparing for some apocalyptic event to unfold. He had over sixteen and was very proud of his little cache.

He was a good boy, thin and tall and very shy and unconcerned with his inability to hear echoes in empty hallways and laughter of other little children. The boys and girls in his classroom taunted and branded him an outcast. They mocked and jeered and excluded him. He tried to communicate with his hands but this brought on more demeaning looks and self-righteous snobbery from the popular kids. He ate alone on a picnic table near the Jungle Gym and no one minded his presence. He cared little for the attention of others.

Nature is where he spent most of his time when the fighting at home began to wear on his nerves. The week before his father had come home in a drunken fury and slapped his mother. The lad attempted to step in and was thrown against the wall for his efforts. Tears flooded his cheeks as he opened his mouth and croaked a silent scream. He remembered covering his useless ears with his palms as the fighting continued. There was nothing he could do to help his mother. Her pleas for help soared in the air and the kid heard none of them. He had managed to dial 911, but after a series of grunts and moans the dispatcher waved him off as a prankster and hung up. It was the first time he put his fist through a glass window.

His mother rolled her eyes and watched her husband of twenty years ascend the steps. She turned towards her tiny kitchen but stopped abruptly. She glanced towards her deaf son and signed with a smile.

“Baby, be a simple kind of man.”

Her son spoke with innocent fingers,

“Always and forever.”

After she returned to the dishes, he opened the front door and walked along the dirt pathway leading to his backyard. Raspberry bushes grew haphazardly alongside gigantic weeds. He always wanted to try the plump berries but the Boy Scout manual he kept underneath his bed warned him of poison ivy and the fruit bush was surrounded by shiny, three leafed plants. He kicked a rock and it skidded off the side of his house. He tried to imagine what kind of noise it made when it bounced off the plastic siding but quickly gave up the thought. He had learned to squash any daydreams. The small ice cube in his heart froze harder when he pretended to listen to the sound of trees rustling and streams gurgling. Besides, the doctor told his parents it was silly to entertain any illusions of the boy regaining his hearing.

As young as he was, he learned to put this obstacle behind him and enjoy the surrounding landscape. He hiked the lush forests and collected pine cones, he brought along action figures and fishing line. He watched summers turn to fall, and marveled at the variety of color etched into the mountainside in the background. He captured the soul of it all and bottled it up inside his heart to use on a rainy day, when thunder crackled and his mother shed tears on the couch. He prayed silently when rain swept in from the west, he cried when snow blew in from the north. He pretended to hear the sounds of Santa climbing down his chimney on Christmas Eve, and the laughter of a certain young woman he secretly adored in math class. The sun reflected off a metal banister and made him squint in a childlike way. He waved it off and headed straight towards Fort Dixie.

When he looked upon the ferocious oak tree it reminded him of some ancient nightmare. It held its position with the utmost pride. Large branches birthed gigantic leaves which spread out to provide shade for the rest of the yard. The center trunk held the most important structure in all the land. Fort Dixie. His mother had explained how it had survived decades of storms and hundreds of wars. She concocted stories of courageous warriors fighting to the death for their beloved princesses. She spoke of epic battles and ferocious love. She proudly bragged about climbing the ladder blindfolded as a child at the behest of her brothers beckoning. She made a great effort to break his shell and he loved her for it.

The deaf child stared at the imposing fortress with complete awe and wondered what it would be like to hear cannons blast and guards shouting for more ammo. He walked up to the base of the tree and touched the weathered plank that made for a step, which lead to a second and then a third. He paid no attention to the height as he reached the balcony. He looked at the horizon and pretended to be a king from a distant land who had overtaken an empire.

He swung his weak legs from the edge and looked upon his tiny home with an emotion he had yet to fully understand. The silence in his ears echoed into every aspect of his life and he could do nothing but hope for a miracle. He watched his mother wash dishes through the dirty kitchen window below.

She felt a stirring in her spirit and looked up at Fort Dixie.

“Be a simple man.”

“Always and forever mother.”