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steal a star

November 20, 2018 1 comment

I used to hate the quiet. Not all the time, but enough of the time. The silence tended to fill up with anxiety or worries or moments that repeated, like a bad movie. Stupid thing I said in seventh grade? Sure. Awkward business meeting? Yeah, why not. Things I left unsaid? Heaps. Piles. A universe of those. A small universe, but still.

Unsaid things are strange creatures. There are a host of reasons we don’t speak up, and they all cast their own inexplicable shadow. Sometimes, we just lack courage, because words are scary. And words are always attached to feelings. And feelings, they can be terrifying. I say that as a person who feels more deeply than is reasonable. Then again, no feeling is reasonable. They’re the opposite.

I went to a family reunion over the weekend. It was the first one I’d been to since my mom died. Every time I thought about going to the previous ones, I couldn’t do it. It hurt too much in a way that I can’t pin down. No, in a way I don’t want to pin down. But I will: it’s hard being there without her. That emptiness where she used to sit, the space she used to take up. I didn’t quite know how to occupy it without her. So, I held myself back, because it was safer. Or it felt safer.

It wasn’t safer. The truth is, when you hold back, that’s the most unsafe you can be. You build things up in your head, all the what-ifs turn into mountains or monsters. It feels insurmountable, so hanging back gives the illusion of safety. A harder truth: safety is often an illusion. It’s something we cling to the idea of, because the alternative is alarming. I could cross the street and have a heart attack. I could trip over my insanely giant, but somehow always underfoot, dog and break my neck. I could choke on the damn taco I’m planning to have for dinner tonight. (Betrayal!)

Sometimes, in life, we hold our breath instead of breathe. There’s no magic in it. Nothing happens, because it can’t. And we lose that time, those moments, the things uncountable and unknown. Time, once it passes, is gone for good. It’s why poets write about seizing the day, the wreck of things we’ve lost or let slip, all the heartbreaks and heartbeats, the kisses, the adventures, the glorious moments we surprise ourselves.

Anais Nin once wrote that we “write to taste life twice,” and it’s true in a lot of ways. It won’t taste the same as the moment, but it’s like a familiar smell triggering a memory. For a moment, you’re back in a car with someone kissing your forehead, walking down an alleyway, or holding out your hand to someone. For a second, you’ve taken time and feelings and put them in a bottle. That’s a kind of magic right there.

All my best decisions, all my best moments—they haven’t been neat or orderly. They have not be silent or withheld. They’ve been noise and mess, calamity and laughter, inexplicable yeses and full of brave. The other day, I was reminded that the best things often emerge from the instances in which we surprise ourselves. The pulse-jarring moments in which we truly, for better or worse, grow.

The life we get is often shaped by outside factors—people, circumstances, choices. But the life we dream about should not be limited by anything. Often, it seems like there’s no way to grasp the hopes we’ve glimpses. The rare moments of bright, unruly madness that shine like stars: far away and breathtaking. But what if you could reach up and steal a star out of the night sky? What if you could rearrange the world—your world—by daring to?

Sometimes, in life, we start on a path and assume we can’t change it. That’s remarkable, decidedly not true. The only time you cannot change something is when you’re dead—or, if it involves someone else, the other person is. If you’re alive and reading this right now, congratulations, you have this moment—what are you going to do with it? (And if you’re dead and reading this, my apologies—and stop stealing all of my left socks.)

When my mother died, I promised myself I wouldn’t hold back when it mattered (for the most part, I have succeeded). I gave myself permission to do the scary things, the unexpected things, the kind of stuff that leaves you smiling at the memory. And the truth is, the more you reach for life, the more it offers you. You owe it to yourself to show up to this chaos circus of a life. To open every door or break every window. To dream big and wide and go after what might seem impossible.

I used to hate silence. I used to hate waiting. I used to hate the unknown. Now, I speak when it matters. I exercise patience when it’s needed (that is still a work in progress). I look at the unknown as an opportunity. Because, man, life can be surprising. What if the surprise, what if the adventure just around the corner is good?

It’s not time to chase after it. No, it’s time to meet it halfway. Pull the stars out of the sky and embrace the whirl of the unexpected. The best things in life are almost always found in the madness.

when desire is an ocean

November 3, 2018 1 comment

The world is a secret, a deep sea,
brined to the brim,
and this slick curve of want
howled itself into existence,
bright as a reborn moon,
swayed by the tide of a kiss,
and then another
until breath is nearly forgotten.

A trail of hands, indelicate,
a sharp shiver,
a hurricane so delirious
it leaves fingerprints of bruises,
little marks
of longing, offered up,
a constellation
of sighs, the shuddering way
one
meets another,
a welcomed downing.

Here, a body becomes wine,
and we are drunk,
then drunker still,
until everything is spinning,
tongues like magic,
turning want
into mess, extraordinary
and honest, no promises,
just the miracle
of the way you dissolve
into me.

Categories: poem, Poetry, Uncategorized