Thursday, February 11, 2010

“At every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.”
~Paulo Coelho, from Eleven Minutes

I began my writing career some thirteen years ago, which is to say I began the work of learning and mastering (if there is such a thing) this craft around 1997 after my return home from the Marine Corps—a place that contributed to some of the most powerful aspects and characteristics of my life to this day. It was a time in my life when I gave way to a darker force, surrendering all of myself for a chance to learn how to truly master the power of the tongue. In a foreign land across the ocean, somewhere around 1995 in a dark piece of South Korea (where I will not further divulge) I met a stranger and in casual conversation I made an exchange of my soul for ideals and philosophies that today I struggle to peel away, one piece at a time, one day at a time. I became so acclimated with the darkness that it became part of my mind, my body and my soul, so thoroughly engrained, that to remove myself from that life has been similar to trying to erase memories of my existence. It has taken me many years to get to a place where people see a greater light where a shadow once loomed. When the time came for me to remove myself from that certain walk of life, I struggled dearly to save my own life. I experienced aspects of a spiritual world so frightening that I can’t help but laugh at someone who says there is no such world, for I have witnessed things that would scare a non-believer onto their knees if not for anything but to beg for a means to pray. These experiences would forever play important roles in my life as a writer. The more in touch I became with my abilities as a writer, the greater the complexity of pull from both sides. The whispers which have become my muse started almost to the very moment I surrendered my life to God, and at the same time, my gift of discernment flourished and transformed into a life of its own within a gift of written words. Today I better understand what I had stirring in my soul as a child. Today I better understand how to provide an outlet for the darker side of my soul, whereas the shadow thinks I am giving it life, but in reality I am masking the truth behind the power of fiction.

Dreams have always been a part of who I am, visions and premonitions tormented me as a child, leaving me awake many nights to cry under the covers, on sheets that would be soiled before the morning sunrise. I thought perhaps it was only a phase, but not long after going overseas that same shadow, the one that haunted my early childhood, reappeared in the orient and I knew it wasn’t a coincidence but a revelation of who I was or what I might become. I fought it which is to say I ignored it and shared this with no one, and when I got tired of feeling abnormal, I surrendered to it—to him. This lasted for approximately five years before another powerful force entered my life, dictated and determined by signs that were unavoidable. My desires to write exploded when I converted my life in service to the Lord God. All I learned from my days in the shadow were not erased or replaced, but enhanced, with a heightened sense of purpose now replacing a desire for the self. It was not long after making this choice [that] I began this quest as an author, writer, artist and contributor to the soul of humanity. I set off on the road less traveled—the street of dreams—thinking I was doing it for myself, but realizing, now many years later, that it was for you.

Since setting sail on this journey, beginning this quest to fulfill a literary dream, I have learned more and discovered more of my true self. My patterns of work, the principles and virtues that have bound me to my decisions and my fate and the philosophies of life as an artist are a direct reflection of the journey I set out to participate within and become consumed by. I have surrendered much and lost much more along the way. If one were to evaluate my life on paper, then I believe they might say I don’t have much of a life at all. If you instead measured my life by what I have acquired in terms of self-discovery, then for as hard as it has been to obtain, I have acquired much. But for every ounce of wisdom, there were pounds of pressure I had to endure on this struggle to see my dream become a reality. For every grain of knowledge I acquired in experience, I spent hours becoming the fool.

I have lost the faith and confidence of family members, time with my children I will never get back, a place to live or a consistency in anything called home, clothing, material items, a steady diet, sleep, money, bank accounts, credit and friendships in pursuit of this dream. Yes, there was a time when I would light up with excitement at the very idea of sampling a taste of this dream. Today, that is gone, replaced now by the reality of truth that anything worth having will be hard to come by and patience is acquired when you are forced to sit still, with nothing in your possession to occupy that space of mind called desire. I have discovered that the realm of desire and fantasy or the world of dreams isn’t far from the abyss, but actually rather close to it. Because the closer you get to see your dream become a reality, the darker the clouds, the heavier the rain and the less shelter there is to shield your body from the elements that are purposed only to destroy you. There is light at the end of the tunnel, that is for sure, but you must remember you are in a tunnel, a tunnel that oftentimes does not have light and a tunnel that has many holes, cracks and alternate pathways.

I have in my favor the memories of the shadow and my darker days, which ironically have given strength to my ability to represent the light. I have traveled far enough on this road that I cannot go back, for I have lost everything I started with and I have nothing but the road ahead. Some days there is sunshine but on most days it will rain. The difference I think is having the ability to look past the storm clouds and use the wisdom obtained to know it is only water—and water is symbolic of the life force that comprises who we are, where we come from and how we survive.

Yes, the traveler who ventures out to pursue a dream does so with a youthful naivety, excited and encouraged by what they may become, but upon arrival, wherever and whenever that moment may be, they are different, weathered by a storm not familiar to most, as most of us will only know the simple rain, but never witness the storm whose archetypical function is to destroy you before you reach the roads end. How long you participate within the travels of such a road will be determined by what you set out to achieve and how much you can emotionally, physically, and spiritually endure. Just when you think you left with nothing, you realize what nothing truly means. Just when you think you understand humility, you are humbled on the side of the road. Just when you think you are appreciative, you learn the value of the smallest things. And just when you think you knew yourself, you come face to face with who and what you really are.

It is my life now to live and maintain my youthful spirit, a spirit who wants to do well with the opportunity it has been given, and it is my mind and my wits that will help me survive the abyss, which is always on the other side of this road less traveled. 

I will forever have one foot in the fairy tale and one foot in the abyss, for they are one and the same, and they are me.

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