The Mountain Of…

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I’ll tell you something. I hate repeated information. When someone tells me the same story forty-eight times it drives me crazy. My desire to hear you go on about the “super cute thing” your dog did last January for the third time this week isn’t actually at the top of my list of things to listen to.

I would much rather do any of the following.

Write

Stand in the rain.

Burn my house down.

Burn your house down.

Burn your doghouse down. (I wouldn’t let the dog be hurt, don’t worry.)

I would staple my own calf before willingly listening to the sound of your baby crying and then “ooh wait look what she does next” for what can only be a record breaking time. Somewhere in the millions that I’ve heard that child hiccup in the middle of a crying fit and begin laughing and to be honest with you it sounds about as warming and cheerful as a glass of kombucha I left in the sun yesterday would feel sliding down my throat.

Still, as much as I hate this thing. This incessant need to tell the same story to our loved ones sixteen million times, I also realize I do this same thing. It permeates everything, too. My blog, my day to day life, I write poetry on the same topics I’ve used the same concepts in personal writing, professional writing and recreational writing because I just like them so much.

If I were a greater man I wouldn’t go on about how they are “different” scenarios and so the pet peeve doesn’t matter for me, but it does. It really, really does.

It’s like, have you ever gone on a hike? I mean a real hike, not necessarily a nature trail. Although, you may see nature trails like I see hikes. Regardless, at the base of the hike you just see the beginning of the trail. One that springs to memory (not that I’m an avid hiker, or anything.) is this trail out in a canyon near my home. It’s not long, by the standards of a man who doesn’t drink six cans of soda and who won’t shamelessly down a pint of cheese dip covering anything he can get his delicate yet greasy fingers on. It’s only a mile or so, there are lots of switchbacks and the bottom of the path is ultimately deceiving. I ascended this path one day with my friends, assuming it would be a short hike and it would be over quickly. I didn’t consider that the path would climb into the canyon and suddenly become a sharp incline that I didn’t prepare for. I was in slip on Vans and skinny jeans when we set off. My pasty white ass burns in four and a half seconds flat and I didn’t have sunscreen, water, or appropriate willpower to tackle the path as it grew from meandering to downright threatening for a chubster like myself.

But I climbed it.

By the end I had to rest beneath a tree for something like an hour, hoping that my heart wouldn’t burst from how excited it was that I finally did something physical besides moving my fingers across a keyboard or flicking my mouse.

I thought the journey would be simple, that I could tackle it like I tackled everything before me. With nothing in my pockets and a heart full of confidence and an ego that just won’t quit.

Then it got hard and I wanted to turn back, so bad.

It became the same pattern over and over of climbing and resting and climbing and rubbing my calves. Wiping sweat from my brow and making sure I didn’t slip and fall down the cliff, because as I was about ¾ of the way through I decided something.

I was not going to let that mountain beat me. I was not going to give up, no matter what I did.

In that moment I would have rather:

Written.

Stood in the rain.

Burned my house down.

Burned the forest down.

Knocked down a beehive and let them take me prisoner to their terrible stings while I cried and asked random passersby if they had kombucha to spare.

When I reached the peak of that mountain though, It was freeing.

I still have the photo my friends and I had taken together. Arms folded across one another, and though you couldn’t see our faces we were all smiling.

I wanted to quit smoking that day.

I didn’t.

I threw away that pack I had though, didn’t change the fact that I bought a new one later that week.

As soon as I had made it home, I’m sure.

After I had overcome the path and shown it I was serious about reaching the top, I realized that it wasn’t that far of a climb, to be honest. It seemed so long because we stopped so much and because we had to backtrack and climb the switchbacks on the way up.

Each morning I look at that path again, whether I want to or not.

I’ve found that I pay special attention to it when I don’t think about it. I understand that the sentiment doesn’t make sense, but hear me out. More often than not, when we are ill prepared for something it takes that much more of a toll on us. It’s why it hurts so much more when children die as opposed to adults. We come to expect death with each year we age. Eventually, those of us lucky enough reach a moment where death will take us at any time. We are just waiting for him to catch his bus that’ll take him to our home. Children don’t have that. We expect kids to live long and full lives. We put our hopes and dreams into them and when they are taken by disease or ill fate, it hurts that much worse. We weren’t ready for that. It isn’t fair.

It’s the same with everything we can anticipate. I set money aside every time I get paid in case something happens. My car breaks, my appliances break. My clothing is stolen, whatever you want to assume, I try to be ready for it with extra fluff in my bank account.

I know that I don’t do this with relationships. Or, anymore, much of anything. I think it comes from not thinking about what I have in my life.

I’m pretty good at a few things. Writing, Vulgarity, exaggerating stories, making mountains out of mole hills and I consider myself to be excellent at doing nothing at all. I mean that. Nothing.

I can be content to lay in bed for six more hours than I should have been in bed just sleeping and rolling over, until my back hurts and my bones hurt because I have been horizontal for so long.

That practice bleeds over into so many things anymore, and that’s what I’m here for today.

The mountains I’ve made of nothing.

A few days ago, something around two weeks I had a pretty bad day regarding my time. I feel as if I don’t have time to complete everything. I want to write and game and spend time with my girlfriend. I want to see my parents and I want to go to work. I want to relax, and I want to spend time building my future. I want to learn, and I want to sleep and I need to eat and clean myself yet, it’s damn hard to do all of those things at once. Have you ever eaten a tuna melt in the shower? Beer is one thing but getting water on your bread is akin to blasphemy.

Consider your morning routine. How many of us spend it on our cell phone? Not that I’m disparaging the use of our black box brains but think about it. I spend roughly a half an hour on my phone before I roll out of bed. Sleepily liking things, I don’t want to like. Opening up comments on tweets and typing “qwefyhsssssssss” to a random internet personality for them to look at and question later, if they ever see it.

When I finally wake up I decide to do one of two things. Work, or Play. Each day I set aside time for both, and each day I make it a point to focus more on one than the other. When I play, I spend time with friends and family, gaming, what have you. When I work, I work. I sit down at my computer and go as hard as I can for as long as my eyes will allow, taking breaks to get dinner or to go do something useful.

I separate things in my mind to make them easier to process, but the fact is, not everything can be so cleanly separated from everything else. I need things to be linked together. Hang out with friends, play video games. Spend time with my girlfriend, clean the house. Whatever the case may be. I need to couple activities to get all of this stuff done at once.

Do you remember how mountains are formed?

It happens in a couple different ways, both of them equally important.

When two tectonic plates collide, the force smashes them together until one of them slides beneath the other and a mountain is the result, on the other hand, volcanoes that are formed end up warping rock layers above them and those mountains bend and become “small” mounds on the surface of the Earth.

Smashing activities together, trying to blend everything into one big mess is a lot llike folding mountains. We try and multi-task and end up cheapening the experience of both activities in most cases. Of course, Video Games were designed with multiplayer in mind, so that isn’t a great example but on the other hand, what kind of date consists of cleaning an apartment?

To most people I’d venture to guess that it doesn’t. Usually dates don’t involve cleaning grime off the kitchen tile. I don’t necessarily see it that way, but that’s another conversation for another blog. Regardless of the facets that we utilize to make the most of our time, generally we should consider cutting some things out. It’s healthy to say no. If you don’t want to go. Don’t go. If you don’t want to stay, don’t stay. I have a problem with saying no, one that I seem to have adopted overnight. I don’t like disappointing my friends and family and especially my girlfriend and yet it seems as though I do all of those things regularly. I am the master at breaking apart my time into easily manageable chunks and wasting all of it.

Of course, there is the other type of mountain, when the problems you deal with bubble up below the surface and despite how hard you try to hold it in, eventually, it will crack and when that pressure escapes there isn’t much anyone else can do but get away.

I’m guilty of both, frequently.

I regularly make simple tasks out to be these huge deals and act like I don’t have time for them when in reality, I have all the time in the world.

Which brings me back to repeating things.

I see myself often saying the same things to the same questions on the same days.

“Want to hang out?”

“Nah, gotta work.”

“Want to finish this novel?”

“I think I’ll go watch YouTube.”

“What are you watching?”

“I don’t’ know, want to get dinner?”

“What are you doing after?”

“Probably gaming.”

“Wanna raid?”

“Nah, Gotta work.”

“Want to finish this novel?”

You see the cycle?

Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap that we each so easily create for ourselves.

I give myself a few hours in a day to perform certain tasks and if they go unfinished I panic, as if I don’t have time for them later. I consider that this world spins around me, after all, so it should bend to my will.

Shouldn’t it?

No. It shouldn’t.

I am fantastic at making problems bigger than they need to be by repeating the same taglines I use to describe them. I use the same excuses to worm my way out of things. I use the same tactics to stall until the last moment to commit to anything. Hell, even when I pray I ask for the same things. Guidance, grace, hope, love, patience and so on. I’m not saying that any of those things are bad, but the fact that I find myself begging for them every single night should be a sign.

Instead of begging for an end to anxiety I should be asking and looking for ways to deal with it.

Rather than asking for hope, I should find the things that will make me hopeful.

Instead of asking to be loving, I should practice being loving, which, I’ll tell you, has been difficult for me for a while now.

If you saw the things I’ve said or the way I’ve said them, you would be surprised.

I am not me, tonight and I am not sure when I went away.

I think, I went to go climb a mountain.

If you see me out there, tell me to slow down. I have a mole hill to climb and get myself re-organized.

Don’t spin those small hills into giants that you don’t want to overcome.

You can beat them.

You will beat them.

Let yourself be tricked by the first few feet of your path. Let yourself believe it is easy, and when it gets hard, remember to take breaks.

Hang out with your girlfriend.

Game with your friends.

Read a book.

Call your mother.

Whatever you do, don’t ever let yourself forget that this mountain you are facing is colored with everything that you could imagine. This mountain is a million worlds wrapped into one, decorated with the souls of everyone you love and everyone you can’t seem to understand. It’s even home to those who can’t stand you. It doesn’t have to be a monolith, because I promise you, it is not the only thing in life. It is a mountain. Just like every mountain elsewhere. Painted to look like everything you fear and everything you hope. Some are tall, some are fat. Some are steep but all of them, every mountain…

Is the mountain of regret, hope, joy, luck, pain, sorrow, anxiety…

Life.

Don’t give up.

Thank you for May.

The Unkindness of Ravens

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This blog post took me a minute to write, I worked on it for a few hours, not sure how i should finish this year. Noose Ends has been a ride, so many highs and so many more lows, but I am here for the long term and I am not dead. I will not die. These things I write will last much longer than my heart will. I hope you carry them with the beat as it echoes into our future.

Snap your rope.

Snap your fishing wires.

Climb down from the chair and join us.

Live.

Have you ever had that feeling in your chest like someone tied a bunch of fishing line around your lungs and just kept pulling? You know, like there were no fish in the lake and they needed something to do with their free time?

It comes in waves of tension that wrap around your chest and tighten all of your muscles. It can get hard to breathe in these moments, it can be difficult to think. The world around us still spins and we are hit with a tight gripped kind of shellshock, centralized around our hearts.

This man and his fishing line can crawl out of any crack we aren’t watching, the things we forgot to do, the things we know that we shouldn’t. The things we haven’t thought of in years, he comes like a shadow and wraps his wire around us to squeeze unrelenting, robbing our lungs from air.

I’m talking, of course, about anxiety.

I generally don’t pinpoint specific feelings or ideas in this blog like anxiety specifically. I think we are more complex than a handful of medical terms that doctors use to describe our lives. I’ve been anxious about a million things lately. Peoples opinion of me, how things are going at a job I don’t work at any longer, I’ve been anxious about the things I’ve said like you wouldn’t believe. I want every word to come from my lips gilded and shining with some kind of wisdom beyond my own years and I don’t know how to produce it. I’ve struggled with it tirelessly for the last few weeks.

Which, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that I am not an anxious person. I’ve been nervous for upcoming projects and the like, but I’ve generally kept my shit together.

I realized that it’s been so bad because I’ve been thinking of the sick man with his fishing wire. I’ve been so focused on my anxiety that I am actively provoking it. Like I am summoning the wrinkly demon from the fissures of the jokes I’ve cracked. Like he will pull up next to me after sunset and climb out of his Cadillac with long legs, his fingers twisting wire and climb my stairs, to sit in my room and wait for me to find him crouched behind my bed.

I worry about things. How my relationships will unfold, how my books will sell, how my blog performs, how I will find my next paycheck and so on. I’ve come to realize something from all of this however, I don’t need to worry.

I might be followed daily by this tall monster, his fingers might threaten to wrap around my neck and strangle the love out of me, but he is not the only thing that has followed me to this place.

I have been graced by the presence of hundreds of ravens, carrying with them all manner of gifts for me. The broken brush I use to comb my hair, the little notes of love left to me in a sunflower field. They lift my clothes onto my shoulders, they drag my ankles to the floor and the pull the sun up from behind the mountains every morning. These ravens have followed my since the day I was born and they have not chosen to leave because of this man, this monster that thinks he can haunt me.

My head is filled with things more horrifying than he could ever place there, and when I realized that the monsters I created for my books and my stories are much more dangerous and devastating than he could ever be, that fishing line suddenly snapped. He still follows me, threatening me with his gangly presence and his sick, shriveled promises that my future will fall apart, that flowers will die and my house will be stolen from me, but I am no longer afraid of that.

I will build a new house out of the bones of broken ravens that have served me since I was born. I will create a new place to live from their thin ribs and I will shelter myself there. I will adorn the fear of love lost with their midnight feathers and remember that they were the things that brought that love to me in the first place, that the ravens were sent by something much more powerful than I am, and I will rest my eyes, knowing that this man can try to steal my house, my possessions, my happiness and my future, but he will not have these things. I am blessed beyond measure by these eternal ravens, I will revel in the glory that they show to me in small gifts every day.

This man may take everything he thinks possible, but he will never steal my home, which rests within my heart. He may take my things but he will never take my memories of them. He may steal my happiness, but he will never have my contentment. He may think he can steal my future, but he will find nothing there, because my future doesn’t exist yet. I am still building it, paving a road towards a new home, sunflowers in the front yard, a tall door that will greet me every evening, and an unkindness of ravens circling the world I have managed to build through all of the fear, doubt and worry. This man will not take me, and he will not take you either.

You may be surrounded by black ravens too, but they are your friends. They are your gift givers, all you need is to find them and focus on them. They will bring people, they will bring jobs and opportunities, they will bring the passion needed to build talents and they are sent from Something that knows much more than you or I ever will. So I will trust them.

They may be an unkindness, but they are filled with kindness and love, and I will rest within the nest they have gifted to me for as long as I live, keeping it wrapped up and secured with broken fishing wire as they laugh at the tall man below us on the ground, unable to steal the things that mean the most to us.

Check the website for news on Year Five! The official announcement will come on Tuesday Oct. 31st!