To Kill a Heart (How the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever written gave me strength.)

Lifeis+ 2019 — Day 15

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What’s the fastest way to kill a man?

Pick apart his love and leave it strewn like roadkill on the highway. Find the thing that he loves more than anything else and tear it to pieces. Take those pieces and hold them before him, explain to him that he could’ve kept it close if he had only cherished it more. If he had only believed in it more.

Just a little more, and he could have had everything he ever wanted.

Remind him that his passions are empty. Tell him that his dreams are frail and fragile, that they will never come true. Watch him as he fights against the world who suddenly believes that he is incapable of doing anything he wishes.

Let the creativity inside of him die. The childlike spirit of joy that frills its neck with every new moment of discovery or understanding. Let him be told over and over without end that his life’s work is worth less than he is. Tell him that the things he creates will waste away in secret.

The fastest way to kill a man is to rob him of his joy.

The fastest way to kill a heart, is to take out the shock of exposure. When a heart no longer feels the world around it, it rots inside our chests and spoils so quickly. We lose sight of so many of the things that were once important. Love of family and friends, our career, our dedication. When we stop feeling those pinpricks of anger and sadness and love, when those pinpricks become overwhelming waves, magnetizing us to the affection or aggression we slowly let our hearts die and with a dead heart… the joy is taken from everything else.

When we no longer feel excitement, it is so hard to stand. It is so hard to fight. It is so hard to love.

But it can be done.

 

What is the fastest way to bring a man back to life?

Reintroduce him to the child he used to be. Remind him that the world is not so cut and dried. That there are so many people in the world that there is bound to be another that feels just like he does. Because it’s true. Have you felt lost and without joy?

I have lately.

It’s been hard to get out of bed some days, and others I couldn’t wait to start my day. At times I’ve felt lost, at times I’ve felt alone despite the chorus of encouragement I retain to sing behind me. I’ve been convinced that no one will see the world the way I do, and I have laid in bed all day believing that the world just doesn’t agree with me.

These thoughts were slowly killing me. You see, I had built my life on the monuments of others. I took small pieces of the world around me. Other’s achievements, mentalities, ideas and personalities and shaved off splinters of each to build the wicker man I made myself.

When those realities conflicted, I wanted so badly to make them mesh, to make the everything line up. I listened to the words of man tell me that my chosen path was a waste, but another I looked up to was constantly telling me to be who I wanted to be. I listened to my mother, ever the encouraging force behind my sails and I listened to the world tell me that my path was too wild, too difficult, too sporadic. I would never make my way in a world like this.

To tell the truth, I haven’t yet… but that doesn’t mean those voices are right.

I used to tell the world “I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” A quote I surreptitiously stole from a character in a novel by an author I admire.

I bragged about my chaos and lifted it up to the world as a triumph. This trophy of erratic thoughts and messages, these people I wanted so badly to be…

It makes me reconsider an awful and embarrassing memory from my youth. In 3rd grade we were tasked with an English assignment to describe our ideal teacher. I went home and knew immediately who I wanted to write about. A student teacher that was there in my class, who I had a huge crush on. I’ve told this story before in the blog, and I’ll spare you the details. It was years ago when I was writing on Blogger and I don’t think anyone even saw the post. Perhaps it was for the better. Regardless, when I returned from the weekend and was asked to present what I had written, I marched to the front of the classroom with pride, ready to tell all about this perfect teacher.

I was the first to go in the class, my excitement burgeoning as I launched into a physical description of my student teacher at the time, who I had a huge crush on. I remarked about her smile and her eyes and the way she giggled when she taught. I told the class my ideal teacher wore pencil skirts and kept her hair tied in a bun. I talked about how shiny her hair was and how sweet she had been to me as I struggled with our math work. I talked about how great she was as a teacher, and by the end of the essay I saw the students as well as both of my teachers cringing as I continued, and in an attempt to adjust it I needed to include something about my other teacher, attempting to earn brownie points with both of them by writing about how much I admire them, so at the end, I concluded the essay by saying that my ideal teacher would have the feet and legs of my actual 3rd grade teacher.

There was no applause as I returned to my seat, my hands sweating, realizing quickly that I had done something terribly wrong. The classroom was silent as our teacher called the next student up to read. When they had finished reading about the kindness and willingness to lead that they had expected in an ideal teacher, I realized what I had done as I looked beside me and saw the stitched up mangled beast I had created. She stood beside me, politely watching the students. Her body made up of other teacher’s physical attributes. Each piece from a teacher whom I’d had a crush on. I hadn’t said more than two things about how she taught or what she meant to me as a teacher. I had taken the physical components of someone and stitched her together with a line of fantasy, completely missing the point of the assignment, bombing it in front of everyone and thoroughly embarrassing myself. I didn’t turn in that paper, eventually leading to me failing that assignment and getting a confusing talking to from a teacher about lesson comprehension. She told me that I didn’t understand what was asked of me and I agreed, going to recess with tears in my eyes I sat out in the field the whole time, wondering what I was supposed to say.

It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the assignment, I knew what I needed in a teacher, in a leader, in a hero to look up to. I didn’t want to write about that. I wanted to write about the teacher I had a crush on, because she was so kind to me in the throes of my erratic personality and she took time to sit with me and talk with me and understand what I was thinking, my admiration turned into immature affection. I wanted to express that, and in doing so I mortified myself.

 

But that was the first character description I’d ever written.

 

From then on, I’d realize that I didn’t think the same way as the people around me. When we were tasked with assignments, I would fight to break barriers. If there was an inch, I would take a mile. I regularly frustrated teachers afterward because I pushed their buttons. I wanted to know if they had considered the newfound power that I had discovered through my harrowing embarrassment.

In the meeting with my 3rd grade teacher, she told me that I would fail the assignment if I didn’t repeat it. I chose not to, because I had already done it. I was ready to move on. She told me to describe a teacher, and I described one. Perhaps not to her liking, but as far as I was concerned, I had accomplished what she set me out to do and that was more than enough. She accepted my answer and told me something that stuck around for a while. She told me that it was a good visualization of a character for a story. That I should do that more but talk about it less.

So, I obeyed. She was my teacher, after all.

Here I sit, years later, with another stitched up Amalgam standing beside me, barely a personality in this one some days. Other days he is full of life and brimming with energy. His kindness is far-reaching like I want for myself. His abilities are broad and announced to the world like I want for myself. His stitches aren’t fraying at the ends and coming undone.

Like I want for myself.

He is the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known. He is a trophy that I hold up to the world. The erratic soul I’ve carried with me ever since that day. Stitched and glued, pieces of everyone I’ve met that I’ve shaved from them and found a place to put inside of me. He is not who I thought he would be, and he is hard to control.

But I am learning that those stitched up people are following all of us around. Whether we know it or not. I’m sure that student-teacher let the quilted person I’d created for her follow her around for some time afterward. She left student teaching a few days later and moved on to becoming a fully-fledged teacher, perhaps to ask the same question to another class. I like to think that she held a quiet hope in her mind that none of the students there would misunderstand. I could hardly imagine what it would be like to suffer that kind of embarrassment twice.

I mean, I’ve suffered it for years. But to have to experience it freshly one more time?

My heart goes out to her. And her fabricated companion, if it’s still there.

I know mine is. He’s right beside me all the time, collecting new ideas and memories. Stealing little pieces of other’s realities and sowing them into himself. Somewhere within the mess of memories that make him up, he remembers that moment too. I’m sure a part of him is just as embarrassed as I am.

Those moments are my most fragile ones. The times where I was so certain that I had it all figured out, only for my Amalgamated soul to burst open and pour out a whole new series of feelings and notes into the place before me. Leaving me alone to gather more while I pick up the pieces and put them back where they belong, this time inside my own heart.

I’ve noticed that I’m not as embarrassed about who I am anymore.

I’ve noticed that it takes a lot more pressure to break my heart now.

I’ve noticed that even when I am alone, and I don’t want to get out of bed, I have a constant feeling of joy…

Knowing that I really never know what will come to me next.

My Amalgam is always on the lookout for something new and exciting, and I never know what he will bring me.

 

What will yours bring you?

 


 

I find that the older I’ve been getting the easier it is to tell that story. It still shakes me to my bones, and I’m sure that there are other more embarrassing tales from my youth you’ll hear, but something about that story just makes me sick to my stomach.

Just know, no matter how embarrassing a moment is, you can make it through. It might even give you some level of power. I know it did for me.

Nobody can attack my passion today, because I can always think back to moments like those and remember that I’ve suffered worse. It’s comforting, if not a bit frightening.

 

What about you? Think back on your most embarrassing moment and pull something good from it. Use those feelings as power for your own passions and your own life. It’s rough, but it works wonders, I promise.

 

If you’ve missed anything from the Lifeis+ campaign, you can find it all on the website below! Week Two has been awfully rough, as I’ve been adapting to a new schedule and a new job I’ve fallen a bit behind but it will all be here tomorrow + Sunday. I promise. ❤

Salt + Iron Productions

Lifeis 2019 Schedule Update 3

 

Coronation

TKF: Kings of Ages

 

Life is not Meant to be Awful.

 

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