Reflections

I Listened… No more.

I took my own advice for once. I shut up. I stopped whining about my own life and opened myself up. I listened. Really listened. Wondering what to expect next from this seemingly endless and pointless existence…

I heard waves lapping at shorelines, and creatures moving in the seas…

I heard birds singing loudly, as breezes rustled through the trees.

I heard all sorts of animals creeping through the grasses, and insects buzzing around my head.

And the trees…. The trees reaching deeper with their roots as if trying to hang on.

All life around me, in exaggerated style, doing what they do as if they wouldn’t in a while.

I felt an edge, an urgency to everything they did. Moving so deliberately…

and then.

As one, almost, a collective sigh.

A deep breath, followed by a moment of silence.

***

And the silence remained. Perfect. Unbroken.

Connections shattered without sound.

Tears slid silently down my cheeks,

and then…

And then “we” were no more.

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Reflections

“Shut up! Shut up, shut up…”

“Shut up!!! I’ve had enough!! And I don’t give a flying *#@&!”…

“What you believe, what you want, whatever frickin’ thing you think you NEED…?!”

“DOES. NOT. MATTER. TO. ME!”

Are we clear now?

Good! Then shut up and listen for once. Because you might not get another chance.

***

I’m sorry, everyone. That outburst was not personally directed at any of you! But it was meant for all of us to hear. And yes, I am well aware my hypocrisy is showing. In neon flashing strobe lights, no less!

But I can’t take much more of this noise! This constant shouting. The screaming! The outrage and pain and suffering! The endless griping and tantrums, the acting out to get noticed…. Everyone trying to be “heard,” all at once, tripping over one another, stampeding over each other. And there is no one listening! Because nobody cares anymore!

And even if they did care, they couldn’t do a damn thing to help you! Why? Because any real “help” requires some basic communication, and communication is a two way street. You have to listen at least as much as you speak! And we, as a society, have long since given up any pretense of listening! Because what we have to say is so much more important…

And we all know we’re running out of time.

The 2020 lockdowns were hard on a lot of people. I know that. And I know how lucky I was that I wasn’t one of them. I had been begging for a “break” for so long…. “Just a couple months out of the rat race, without giving up my pay…”. And that’s exactly what I got!

My employer paid me full wages to stay home for ten weeks. And do absolutely nothing work related! My daughter works in a field that allowed her to work from home. I home-schooled the kids while she worked. It was precious bonding family time…

Our community already had a well-established infrastructure for both home delivery and curbside pick-up, and whatever businesses hadn’t already hopped on that bandwagon soon did. Groceries, hardware, gardening supplies, restaurants… whatever you wanted could be either delivered to your home or brought out to you in your car. If you had a credit card and internet, there was little (aside from maybe toilet paper and hand sanitizer) that you couldn’t get. It might take a day or two to get it done, but with just a little planning, pretty much anything could be accomplished. It was, in many ways, the lazy person’s paradise.

It was the isolation that eventually wreaked havoc in my soul. I loved the short term disconnect, the chance to step away from the constant noise. I dreaded going back out in the world again. Being an empath meant never truly silencing the voices, but knowing I could not go out into the midst of it helped mute the noise a bit. I built a little bubble around my family and I, and let my people-ing skills fade away… Days rolled into weeks that tumbled into months, but for me it was an endless, timeless now. And I knew peace…

So when called to leave my safe cocoon, I walked out shakily, full of social anxiety. I was shocked to discover how much I’d actually lost during the shutdown. Things like empathy, sympathy, compassion… and patience. Every thing, every body irritated me. I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with most of these people! Once the initial wave of “oh my God, real people to talk to!,” passed, there was only a vague sense of annoyance about how “needy” everyone was!

I made excuses, justifications, for myself and everyone else. I explained away both their need for attention and my reluctance to give it. I played the game. Slowly I regained the ability to talk with and interact quite harmlessly, but there remained between us a social distance I still haven’t managed to bridge. I told my friends how eager I was to reconnect, and yet…. It’s August 2021, and I still haven’t seen most of them! And if I am honest, I’m not sure I even want to anymore. People-ing takes energy and motivation, and I have too little of both.

And I know I’m not the only one to feel this way…

I know this because of the noise. I know this because the distress within that din grows louder every day. I know this because panic rides on the leading edge of every sound wave reaching me these days. I sense this in the sudden desperation so many of us feel to reach out and touch someone! Anyone!

“Can you hear me now?”

“Is there anybody out there?”

Snippets and phrases from ads, books or shows. Lyrics from long-forgotten songs. Replays of my life cast with new characters following old, and trite, story lines. Dead mingling with the living. And all of it tinged with a hint of great import, offered up in a vessel corrupted and vile…

And the “why… why… why…?!” Like a bass drum in my mind!

Like a single heartbeat echoing through Time…

And the words that return are simple and pure…

“Shut up! And breathe! Just breathe…

“… while you still can!”

Tough love or cruelty? You be the judge…

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Flashback..., Reflections

Recalled…

Today the past came calling in a dreadfully (yet exciting) day, when I found myself, quite literally, a few decades astray. For a time (pun intended) it was so real that “surreal” meant something other than the exotic rush such words are meant to convey; it became an apt descriptor of the times I found my Way!

I saw myself, I felt myself exactly as I was then. And just as suddenly I knew my self exactly as I am. There was no awakening accompanying this moment, no reflection…. No epiphany at all. Just a lifetime of remembering in an instant of total recall!

There was joy and sorrow, grief and regret, a happiness I still haven’t experienced yet. There was laughter tainted with madness, and tears diluted with grins. And a sense of belonging so deep in my be-ing, it choked on my definition of One.

I heard Her voice, I claimed her rage; I understood it as my own. I passed it on to others because I sensed it could be done. And when the terror rushed in, seeking its attention, I tossed it aside quite easily; a flick of the wrist, a tiny twist, and… poof… instantaneously gone!

But wait! No no no no no no… Back up! Rewind! Slo mo! Before I forget, I must admit… I must admit….

What?! Or when? Or why (always why)?!

Who is She and how… am I?

Too late! Too late… It echoes… Reverberates.

Now. What was it I was trying to say? Hmm…. Sorry. So sorry. I think…

I forget.

And far away… in distance? In time? An emotionless voice in a vacuum, a void…

“Sorry. So sorry. But this model’s been recalled.”

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Uncategorized

Sooo…

Yesterday I was almost late to work because I got caught behind a huge funeral procession on the highway. This morning I forgot to turn the house alarm off before going outside, thus scaring my daughter half to death…

Think maybe my intuition and imagination are a tad bit entangled without a proper outlet?

Lol! 😉

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Reflections, Stories...

“In case of emergency…”

The sound of shattering glass brought him to full consciousness at last, feeling like a punch to the guts. In the confusion that followed such breathlessness, Thomas noticed his own hand hovering above the red handle, so recently shielded. Without further hesitation he closed the gap, bloodied knuckles capturing his complete attention as he pulled the red lever down…

Glancing anxiously about, he steeled himself to the decibels of repeating alert he had sounded. “Where is the fire?,” he asked himself. “I should be smelling smoke by now!”

Doors began opening down the empty hall; people began pouring out. Like worker drones abandoning the hive, they moved with one will to get outside. Caught up in the crowd, Thomas followed along; not thinking he might have another choice right now. Until he was free of the building and thought to turn back, expecting to see flames or a column of smoke…

But there was none…

Nothing…

Not a light in the sky, nor a cloud on the horizon. Just placid non-expressions standing all around him. “But what?…. But why?…,” he tried hard to remember. But there was nothing there to ignite recognition.

Not a spark, nor a flash. Not a boom, nor a whisper. Not a single clue presented itself to bear witness. “Why would I set off the fire alarm?,” he desperately questioned. But no answer came, other than the incessant din…

That urgent rhythm, that repeating ring… Like a heartbeat on steroids, or anxiety without treatment. Panic settled in as delusions often do, in a misplaced attempt to make sense where sense isn’t. “There must be a reason! I wouldn’t just… react?” No certainty, either, in this place without facts…

“In case of emergencies,…” he remembered reading the words.

“Ahh…. No fire, then,” he breathed his relief through his horror, surrounded by death and deafness in this world. And settling in to the mindlessness around him, Thomas surrendered his consciousness once more…

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Reflections

“I see dead people…”

I am surrounded by dead people, both consciously and adrift in the dream world. I keep trying to avoid them, but they are everywhere and every when. I close my eyes and am assaulted in every setting I devise, even when aware enough to change venues and times. I open my eyes to discover the dead are not far behind…

Why???

And then I hear that tiny voice echoing through my mind…

“I see dead people…”

And I remember the twist that rhymes…

(“Are you sure you’re still alive??!”)

“Good question,” I reply…

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Poetry, Reflections

“You’re Alive?!”

“You’re alive?!” are the words most often spoken when the silence first breaks in my shadowed nook.

“So it would seem…,” my auto-response, offered with less certainty and sincerity than it looks.

“Where have you been?,” is always the next logical question.

But if we’re being rational, you might better ask, “when?”

“When have I been spending my time?”

“Why I’ve been searching the timelines, every now and then.

“Looking for… Some… thing, I guess, I can’t even define.”

“Are you well?,” they inquire with all good intent.

“I am coping,” I respond; of this much I am certain.

“Coping?… Just coping? Is that the best you can say?”

“Coping…. Yes, coping. I think that’s enough for today.”

Were you expecting some wisdom? Some enlightenment? Some hope?

Of those I have little, so it’s best just to “cope.“

Too many voices screaming in outrage…

Too many hearts bleeding in pain…

Too many slaves trying to escape all at once…

Too many Masters clamping down in response!

The world is trembling and tilting too much

Routine is my goal despite wrenching my guts!

Do you suppose there is some sort of cosmic Dramamine?

To help ease this motion sickness of universal upheaval…

Not that I’ve found yet, and I’ve been every-when

Searching for… some…. thing beyond my limited perception.

For Truth? Or escape? More likely Relief…

Something to ease this perpetual grief.

But, alas, it eludes me, this means to end suffering.

And my Master is calling my name once again.

Best get up and go while the going is still possible

Let delusion be my guide in this sea of impass-ibles.

“See you later,” I toss over my shoulder when leaving.

“Or not…,” I whisper to myself, expecting nothing

“You’re alive?!,” echoes softly as the silence creeps in

“Am I really?,” I have to ask my Self once again.

“Is this reality…? This existence… all that there is?

Or is Life itself just a ghost in a mirror?

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Reflections

Empathy Breeds Sympathy? Not Necessarily…

So… I have a friend. She’s very much like I was when I was young. Full of life, seeking adventure, incredibly empathetic, and bat shit crazy! She does things that make sane people absolutely nuts. And then backs it up with acts of kindness so generous, you’re almost willing to forgive her. Almost…

To be fair, she’s had a rough year. Which kind of followed on the heels of another rough year. I mean last year she had a prolonged and erratic break-up to process, which had forced her to go home and live with her parents as an adult. And that was a storm of its own; needing them but resenting them every single day. So none of that can be discounted, especially when considering she already had a laundry list of mental illness diagnoses, with their associated treatment regiments that she might, or might not, follow at any given time…

Then this year her mother died of the Covid, early on, during the first lockdown. Middle aged and usually healthy, no one even suspected the infection, believing her dizzy spells had more to do with the concussion she’d suffered during a fall while cleaning the bathtub. And even though an ambulance had eventually been called, mom refused to go in it; she locked herself in the bathroom insisting she’d get sick at the hospital if they took her. Two days later she died. At home. Covid was confirmed. She couldn’t breathe…

Now my friend is locked down in her family home, quarantined with her grieving father, unable to make funeral arrangements, seek counsel, or properly grieve herself, while trying to figure out the family finances, etc., as her father clearly couldn’t. Her father eventually had to be hospitalized himself. Suicide attempt. Completely unhinged from reality. Unable to care for himself, much less anything else. And so began her journey of parent care, during a pandemic lockdown, with a recalcitrant patient. And her own issues unaddressed…

So she coped. Alcohol, a return to smoking, drugs if she could come across them (I suspect her mother had a stash). Then the hospital booted her father home, the lockdown ended, and she was expected to return to work. She tried. And failed. Apparently work was that one more thing, that final straw that broke this poor camel’s back. Tragic, really! And understandable that she couldn’t quite pull herself together. She had family leave available to help when the regular paychecks ended, and the freedom now to get out amongst others. Including drug users and dealers, and mental health practitioners (on virtual visits for safety, of course) only too willing to help her manage her anxiety.

Eventually the family leave ended, resources began to dry up, and the sheer necessity of returning to work took center stage. So now, she’s back in my world…

Enter the post-lockdown cast of characters she must now deal with 5 days a week. There’s the supervisor (and best friend outside work) who lost her father during the quarantine; she’s dealing with the loss of a parent while helping her mom process through it, all while catering to her mom’s near paranoid anxiety about the virus. And the co-worker (sometimes outside work social friend) whose partner had a massive manic, paranoid meltdown during or following the shutdown; she’s trying to manage the resultant financial crisis while barely holding on to the man who is actively and brutally trying to push her away, all while managing her own (previously diagnosed) anxiety issues. And there’s me; I know this young lady almost as well as I know myself, watching her through eyes blinded by my own history. She doesn’t have much to say to me, though we were friends once, but then, she doesn’t really like what I have to say to her…

And work is simply too much to expect from this child-adult. All she wants to do is throw in the towel, give up, escape (responsibility in all shapes and forms). Completely understandable. But “wrong” nonetheless. And she is torturing these other women – demanding “help” while refusing to accept it, crying wolf when it’s easier than dealing with what’s in front of her, expecting everyone to indulge her instability in the name of sympathy (or empathy), while allowing them to pick up her slack. And they do. Until they can’t anymore…

And management finally catches up to her, and calls her out. The late arrivals (hours, usually, and every day). The emotional meltdowns in a retail environment. The physical uselessness that comes with being over-medicated on the job. They ask how they can help her through this while minimizing the harm to their business. She starts screaming bloody murder. And quits…

Now she wants unemployment. She wants independent contractor covid assistance. She wants medicaid. She wants…

But she’s not entitled to any of it… She’s alone in her head, refusing to acknowledge the consequences of her own actions. It sounds incredibly familiar. In so many ways…

I want to feel sorry for her. Better yet, I’d like to find some compassion in my heart. But I have none. I have only my memories of being her, and an understanding (based solely on my own experience) of how it must play out. I choose to step away from such toxicity, understanding that nothing I do will fix her, or her situation; that she can only do herself. I refuse to be manipulated…

And these are the confessions of a late 2020 empath – inglorious, unkind, uncompassionate. Living in a much smaller world of my own choosing. I have nothing left to offer the outside world; life has mostly become a spectator sport.

Entertainment in the current age. Sad, isn’t it?

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Reflections

Opinions are like assholes…

Everybody has one. And everybody is one, especially if you disagree with me or mine. Including me, of course. I am an asshole, too. More so these days than ever before…

You know, I’ve spent these last few months trying to write my resignation letter for work. Not that I’m in a position financially where I can actually quit (of course not!). But I like to think about it, to fantasize about it, to plan for it… just in case, you know? But the letter gets larger and longer in my mind, every day, expanding with each new “injustice” I face. It’s so long, in fact, that I wouldn’t even read it all now. And I wrote it!

“Just say, ‘I quit!’,” I tell myself. “That’s all they truly need to know…”

“Yes, but…,” I answer myself. “… I have so much more to say!”

“I have feelings and thoughts. I have opinions! And if I don’t speak them now, I will never get another chance! I don’t need that kind of regret in my life today!“

“Nobody cares, Lisa. Nobody is listening. Nobody wants to be enlightened here. Not even you!”

And that much is true, I know. Nothing will change as a result of my sharing. Not even me. Because, in spite of everything I’ve learned and done in my life, it is still all about me, me, me, me… It has always been about me. All of it! Every choice I’ve ever made. Every goal I’ve ever sought. Every “gift” I’ve ever given or received. Every debt I’ve ever owned. Every mistake I’ve ever made. Every sorrow I’ve ever claimed. Every regret ever expressed…(deep breath)…me, me, me! I, I, I…

I am al-one in my world. I am, quite simply put, me. As I have always, eternally, been. Alone. And every reflection I see “out there” only reinforces my point of view.

And that viewing angle narrows every day…

I used to applaud myself for my ability to embrace multiple points of view. To get into an’other’s perspective. To walk a while in their shoes… But I can’t really do that anymore. People have gone so far off the deep end that I can’t reach them anymore. It’s like everyone around me is speaking an entirely made up language of their own, and without the verbal and facial clues (I live in a mask mandated state, you know), I don’t stand a chance of interpreting what they’re saying! I just stare at them blankly and let them speak, until, in their frustration at not being heard, they turn ugly and intimidating. And then I walk away. Because what else can I do? Listening while not hearing them is not helping either of us; nor is it improving any of our moods…

I’ve given up… There is no “saving” any of us. But that’s just my opinion, of course…

And I’m an asshole these days. Just like everyone else!

I’m watching my physical body deteriorate, day by day, while I’m still trapped within it. I’m watching my society crumble around me, so corrupted that it cannot be salvaged, while I’m still trapped within it. I’m watching the very planet that gave me life suffer and die slowly (suffer so greatly and for so long!), and I’m still trapped upon it. And there is nothing I can do about any of it! No-thing! But watch. And withdraw. Into my own little point of view…

And everyone I know, whom I still respect, are slowly coming to that same conclusion…

Yes, opinions are like assholes, restricting my point of view. And if I can clench my butt cheeks any tighter in the tension of this moment, maybe I will no longer be able to even see any of you. And then maybe, just maybe, I can finish writing this damn letter…

So I can finally say, “I quit!” And well and truly mean it. So there is no lingering regret…

… when I turn and walk away.

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