Temple of: Flesh)) (Poem)

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This is the penultimate poem from the “Pollyanna” set I’ve been doing this month. Any questions you might have will likely be answered next week. until then, the latest installment of this person’s trial, meeting three sisters who destroyed him.

2017.6.21- Temple of Flesh.jpg

My latest book came out today!! The Darling Bones is for sale on my website right now, go snag a copy. ❤

www.linmtba.com

Shorter Vision (Poem)

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This was meant for 5.17, but I was caught up with some real life shit and had to take a break which you’ve likely noticed.

YouTube goodies up soon, ,another poem out tomorrow. (The next one is a pretty rad setup.)

I miss you, I’ll be home soon. I promise.

Boner Salad.

2017.5.17- Shorter Vision

www.linmtba.com

The Darling Bones releases June 21st!

Small Things

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So as you likely have noticed, I’ve been absent for a few days. I apologize for that. I needed to get my shit together, I needed to have a talk with the gentleman in this blog post, evidently.

As for the business front, some things will be changing and most things will be staying the same. I’ll be putting up the first official Vlog next weekend, as well as beginning Spoooky Saturday and Dyzygy + Friends.

Oh yeah, I HAVE A NOVEL COMING OUT THE 21ST.

There is this guy that comes into my work all the time, he and his mother order the same thing each day and they show up early, his mom pays for it and he waits around to pick it up from us. While he waits he will walk around the restaurant, speaking to random customers and telling them stories.

The way he busts into stories astounds even me, and I can Segway into just about anything. He just walks up to you and starts talking like you weren’t doing anything else just before he showed up. It’s like a phantom confidence that surrounds the dude that he just knows you’ll pay attention to him when he walks up to you, and if you decide not to pay any attention to him he doesn’t care he will just walk off and find someone who will.

He was shot in the head when he was younger.

I don’t have all of the details despite hearing the story a couple times a week, and it isn’t any of my business to repeat to you. But that is why he is the way he is, he lost sight in one eye and his mind doesn’t seem to function like the rest of our minds do. So he tells stories, it’s usually one of three. A kid he knew back when he was still in school, the bumper sticker on his mom’s car and how he got shot. Some of the people I work with are really bothered by how he is, that he has no social graces and doesn’t care about what we are doing when he wants to talk to us. A couple of the employees make it a point to speak to him every time he is in, because they know that he probably just wants to talk to us cause he wants to talk to us. I don’t know why he tells the same stories every single time he sees us, but it’s been a nice wake up call.

You know when you start behaving one way and you eventually get into a routine even though it’s a poisonous routine and should just not be that way ever but still are? I’ve been there. I have been having a back and forth battle with myself between letting my jaded and cynical side prevail or continuing the toothache fight that is being sweet and gentle all the time. (Spoiler alert: Cynicism is winning.)

Then the other day when I was working, just before going out of Elko for a friend’s birthday camping trip he came in and wandered around just like he always does. He spoke to a handful of tables, one older woman in particular looked especially incensed that he bothered her meal, to that I hope she knows she can get bent. Then after a while he came up to me at the bar and told me about his injury once more. I nodded along at the perfect cues and said “Wow, that’s crazy.” Like I do every other time.

There was nothing especially different about that day, I woke up late after spending time with my friends the previous day. I finished the edit for another book, I went to work and I set my sights on making it through another day without a cigarette and hopefully without a meltdown, but I realized how shitty I treated the guy.

Not so much that he knows I treat him shitty either, it is in how I react to him entering the building. I see him and know that he will tell me one of three stories that I’ve heard a million times and I have memorized how he tells them so that I can nod when he gets to a specific place and the nod is timed so well that it urges him on. Then after he finishes showing me a scar I’ll say “Oh my goodness. That’s crazy.” Then if his food isn’t finished he will go on to tell me about his mom’s bumper sticker and how much he loves her sense of humor. At first I would truly laugh when he spoke and anymore I just force a fake chuckle and say “Boy that really is funny!”

A week or so ago a new girl started, on her third day she said something to me that stuck with me. I was giving someone shit behind the bar and making a joke about how the restaurant was a prison and we would all die there. (You know, cause I’m light-hearted.) and she looked at me to say:

“I thought I was the most cynical person in this town and I’m surprised I’ve been proven wrong.”

I wanted to argue, but she was right. I knew she was right when our friend came into the restaurant and told me his story again and I replied again just like every other time I have. I made it a point to repeat myself and make sure that I didn’t give any possibility for expanding conversation.

What?

I felt like one of the guards in Skyrim with limited options for conversation. The adventurer came up to me and all I just repeated the same shit a million times.

“I took an arrow to the knee.”

“Oh my goodness that’s crazy!”

It likely wouldn’t bother me so much if the girl who called me out for my cynicism wasn’t such good friends with an old co-worker who used to praise me and marvel at my genuine kindness.  I wonder if it disappeared when I failed one too many of my own tests. Maybe I lost it in the grandiose plans I make. Maybe I lost it with my free time. I think the most likely problem that I’ve begun facing is that I am constantly eye to eye with drama and power hungry dragons that I’ve given up on fighting. It isn’t like I lost the sword, it is like the sword isn’t there anymore.

What I’m saying through eighty million veils is that our regular lasagna guy came in the other day and helped me find the handle. I realized how important it was that I would always tell myself that each day I wake up was a gift. It had been so long since I really heard that, that it shocked me to hear it once again. He always mumbles something under his breath in between his stories when he is wandering around the restaurant. Like most people, I tuned it out. I stopped listening after he exited his story because my life is just “too busy” for him. I don’t have forty seconds to take out of my day and humor a man whose life was changed dramatically. He came in again and was speaking with one of my other coworkers, a girl who found her passion in working with the disabled and handicapped. I was half listening to their conversation when the magic hit me again. He was mumbling to her and as always I was ignoring it, then, unlike myself she truly responded to him.

“Yeah, it is a great thing to wake up every day.”

She said it and for a second everything stopped. The people stopped moving, glasses stopped clinking, the clock stopped ticking for five seconds. I needed that five seconds to remember that.

Holy shit. I woke up today.

What am I being such a grumpy bitch for? I’m still alive. I have a job that I enjoy. I get to do my passion every day. I don’t want for any single thing in this world and I’m still trying to justify being a mean little bastard all the time?

Life is a lot of big things. Job changes that make you relocate, marriage, divorce, childbirth, the passing of our loved ones, the birthday celebrations that mean a lot, the advent of beginning your career. There are so many big moments that we focus on to make our lives. I had been waiting for six months to win a competition that as it turns out, I didn’t even get an honorable mention in. I was furious at first, because I thought I deserved it. It would have been one of those big, life changing moments, but I failed. I spent a day or so moping about my house frustrated by how unfair the world is. Then I went to work and saw the guy again.

All this time I was ignoring the thing I needed to be reminded of the most.

“Every day I wake up is a blessing.”

Even if I’m not where I want to be, even if I don’t have a handle on things like I thought I would at this point, even if I come home sometimes absolutely furious about my work life, even if I bicker with my friends, even if most of my meals are crammed into my jaws in the midst of a busy shift, even if I have to curl up in the fetal position to lie in my bed and not hang off… I am here still. I can still do what I love. I still have a job. I have friends who care about me enough to tell me I’m wrong. I can still eat whenever I want to. I still have a bed to lie down to sleep in and tell myself that “everything is just so unfair.” And in the morning I can wake up and remind myself for the millionth time (because I need to often.) that yes, the world is unfair. Unfairness means that probability is slighted against us, and in that, it is absolutely unfair, but it is not unfair to us, not like we think. It is unfair to the universe. The chance of us even existing at all is so tiny we couldn’t comprehend it. I can’t claim to hate anything, because I was created, I was gifted life in the massive galactic mess and I can never one time take that for granted. Our lives are built up because of the small things we encounter day to day, not the big things that can change us forever.

I woke up today, and it is a good day.

One Among the Fence

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I’ve written about musicians and artists that have inspired me and pushed me to create in the past, Mod Sun, Watsky, G-Eazy before he was a total knob, He is Legend + a handful of others but none of them stand out or have been more influential than Coheed & Cambria. They have propelled my creativity since I first found them back in the early 2000’s. I remember the day clearly. Back in 2003 I was ambling around my house cleaning or playing video games or something and I had a playlist running on YouTube, where I heard this crazy band that was doing shit I couldn’t comprehend musically. Their guitars felt out of sync with the vocals and it was all so technical and intricate. I fell in love immediately. They had fed me something that I would crave for the rest of my life.

Only problem was, shortly after this in a turn of events you’d think I would write into a novel, our computer powered down and I panicked because I thought it was my fault. When I finally got it up and running again I couldn’t remember the name of the band, or the song that was playing. I could only remember portions of the lyrics and a chanting sequence at the end of the song that was stuck in my head for months, I don’t actually think it ever left..

“Man your battlestations. We’ll have you dead pretty soon.”

I googled them over and over for the next couple of years, trying desperately to find the band again. It wasn’t until one year, 2005 I believe, that I found them once more and all of my dreams had come about. That first taste of Coheed had actually made me the music encyclopedia that I am today, because I ripped through hundreds of thousands of songs in an attempt to find them but was just never quite in the right place. Still, I found a ton of bands along the way that I still love to this day.

Then my parents gave me a PSP one year, it came with a couple demo games and a multimedia disk with music videos and clips from television shows on it. There was something by Nelly, a song that had Beyoncé in it, a damn good Nickelback jam and “Blood Red Summer” by Coheed and Cambria. I listened through the videos until I got to them and thought to myself.

“Damn, that is a cool name for a band.”

As soon as it started playing I was suddenly two years in the past jamming out to the song on my computer again. It had the same vibe as before, the same feelings and the vocalist was so unique he couldn’t be mistaken for someone else. I scrambled to tell my mom and dad and they just nodded at me. They might have understood my love of music and my passion, but they didn’t understand what Coheed & Cambria was doing to me. I didn’t even understand the feeling myself. I listened to that song on repeat until I drained the battery in my PSP.

It was a few months later that we were wandering around in Salt Lake City that we stopped into a Best Buy, I was thumbing around the albums and found the first piece of their music I had ever purchased. “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” I ran up to my mom begging her to get it for me. Pleading with her, promising any manner of chores or work or repayment so that she would gift me the album. She agreed and there it was. I watched the clerk pick it up from my hands and he looked at me.

“Coheed and Cambria? I’ve never heard of them.”

I looked up at him and nodded, opening my mouth to speak, to enlighten him.

“They are everything. They are the best band in the world. Their music hits me in a way I can’t explain to anyone. They will change your life.”

But I didn’t say anything. No one yet had understood what that band had meant to me. Why would this random college kid care? He was just trying to make a paycheck.

So I walked out with my parents, my fingers twitching, begging to wrap themselves around the case and dig open the plastic. To feel the CD and read the lyric booklet.

Once we got on the road home I finally had the chance to do just that. I jammed the CD into my Walkman and closed my eyes listening to it on the drive home.

It was… incredible.

I was taken to a world I couldn’t describe as I listened. Within my mind stories and dreams were playing out because of the lyrics, all set to the sounds of the band. It was one of the times in my life I recognized immediately as pure, unbridled joy. I could not have been happier. Their music felt like coming home after a long day, before I even knew what leaving home in the first place would be like.

Years passed and I picked up all of their albums as they released. By the time I graduated high school I had all of their albums and memorized the lyrics to every one up to date, and had still never gone to one of their concerts despite how much I loved the band.

“Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV Volume One, From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness” Was a gift from my parents one year for Christmas.

“Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV Volume Two, No World For Tomorrow” was given to me by a friend’s girlfriend for Christmas.

“Year of the Black Rainbow” I had pre-ordered and waited for expectantly. When the album started with “One” I shivered. I can still feel the way my spine tingled in anticipation. When Claudio started singing “The Broken” I teared up.

“Second Stage Turbine Blade” was the final one I purchased, shortly after YotBR came out. Which was their first album. I had been a fan for so long and didn’t listen to their roots, not to mention Shabutie (save for the accent over the u cause lazy.) Which was a trip in and of itself.

I continued this way, listening to Coheed became one of my favorite things to do. I played through “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” to the tune of “No World For Tomorrow” and when I see either of them today, I think about the other and those memories of that winter in high school. Coheed & Cambria does something magical to me, I still can barely describe it. Their music inspires me in a way that no other can. It pushes my mind and gets me thinking. It is somehow horrifying, awe inspiring and hopeful all at the same time. A decade after I first heard them, they released the second part of their dual album “The Afterman” titled “Descension” which was the mood music for much of my first edition of The Darling Bones.

Coheed and Cambria had crafted so much of the way my creative mind thinks. They have been my number one inspiration for fourteen years now. I have a profound love for that band and those men that I cannot articulate to you in the way I feel that I need to. It is a strange love too, apparently, as all through my life I have met exactly one person out of the hundreds I know who can understand and appreciate Coheed on the same level that I do. (Not trying to gatekeep here, I’m just saying that I sort of live and die by this band and if you don’t that’s cool but they’re better than whatever lame shit you listen to.) (Just kidding. I hope you know that.)

So there I was, in January or something of 2017 + I was checking my email out of desperation because I was tired of having a notification for 2,437 emails on my phone and I came across a Coheed fan message announcing their Neverender tour for GAIBSIV Vol. One.

I promptly shit my pants.

Then, before cleaning that up I ordered tickets.

There was no way I was going to miss this show. It was my favorite band who I had never gotten to see because of dumb shit. No matter the scenario, I told myself, I WILL go see Coheed in 2017. Especially that tour in specific. I was so bitter about missing the Neverender for IKSSE:3 because I was sick that I promised nothing would stop me. If I broke both my legs on the way, I was still going to go and I was just going to grind the joints to dust in the crowd because that band helped shape me in so many ways.

Luckily, I did not break my legs and I did go see Coheed live for the first time since I found them so many years ago.

A lot of fans of artists like to give the “I’ve seen them XX times, if you haven’t you aren’t a real fan” talk, and that’s never been how I felt about music, but when it comes to Coheed, after seeing their show this year, I promise if it is within a day’s drive I will never miss another show of theirs again.

I cried. I actually cried.

I had been listening to them and following and supporting them for so long that Coheed had become as much a part of me as any of my personal inspirations.

I had come to the realization as they played their encore that the title track from “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” was the song I had heard over a decade ago that I searched frantically for. Something about the show and how they ended their set clicked with me and I was ripped back to 2003, sitting in my living room with my jaw hanging open just listening to the computer play this crazy amazing band that inspired me so much.

Years later, in The Complex in SLC I looked at the people around me and saw that in some small way, many of them likely felt the same way that I did. Maybe not.

But either way, I screamed even louder than before.

I screamed along with them until I was sure that Heaven’s Fence could feel the vibrations.

I hope that one day, I can create something like what Coheed has, where people like myself are willing to dedicate their lives in support of it.

Coheed is the greatest band in the world, to me. But when it’s my world, that’s fine.

I am happy to be one among the fence.

Thank you, Coheed & Cambria. Your music and story inspired me to do so many things and here I am, doing them today. I blame you for that. I would not be writing if it weren’t for your influence. I wouldn’t have learned music. My life would not be the same today if not for you.

The Laughing Children

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I was planning on doing this blog post like the rest of them from this month, as a median between storytelling and talking to you all but as I sat down to write it I changed my mind, see I just read back through a few of my previous blog posts from the first two years of GME and I’m feeling reminiscent.

I entered into this world with a wide eyed glassy sensibility and I would easily crumble at the slightest stress that was placed upon me. I grew bitter and frustrated as the years passed and I seemed to only grow increasingly lost and confused. I didn’t know my place, I didn’t know my purpose and I sure as shit didn’t know what would happen next.

I expressed that through my writing and was made fun of a great deal in high school for being a poet. I wrote this one poem when I was a Sophomore about Christianity and the crucifixion and how it related to me. In the poem I spoke about Christ as a friend to me. It didn’t take long for this kid who sat behind me to snag the notebook and read it aloud, asking me how I felt about my “friend Jesus” and I hung my head, ignoring him and the mass laughter that came from the other kids in the class that though poetry was silly.

I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I stopped writing after that.

It wasn’t worth it to me, to share my work in class because it all came from a deeply personal place and I was horrified of the possibility that I would be chastised or made fun of because of it. Another time, when I was much younger, I was tasked with writing an essay about “your perfect teacher” in fourth grade. While the majority of my class simply wrote that our fourth grade teacher was their idea of the perfect teacher, I took it an alternate route. I remember vividly because of the embarrassment it caused. I described this perfect teacher physically, noting down scars and figure, and left much of the personality aspect out of the piece. The kids didn’t necessarily laugh at me that time. Most of them were so weirded out by it that they didn’t speak to me for years.

I get it, I was a weird kid. I didn’t understand the question and I had a crush on our student teacher.

@ me.

The following year, because I was so horrified of my own writing and I think because of my own imagination, when the class was offered a choice in assignment I spoke out against it. We were offered to write a 5 page essay on a political topic we had been studying in the quarter, or create a presentation for it. I stood up with my friends and looked at Travis, who I told aloud that “There is no way I would write the essay.” My teacher plucked me from the group and told me that I no longer had a choice. I was going to write the essay or take a failing grade. A while later in that class after the essay had been finished and I turned it in with a sheepish look about me, we were tasked to create a story. Travis wrote this enlightening piece about animals who were injected with this molecule that made them hyper destructive fighting machines, like ninja turtles except way more badass. I liked the idea, so I took it and ran in a different direction. (I say that, but I plagiarized the shit out of him.) I had written and illustrated this story in all of the graphic detail it contained. This snake man who was the cause of all of the problems faced off against the heroes, a wolf, a tiger and a lion on a mountaintop laboratory. Seeing that they could not end the dispute peacefully, they coiled the snake upon the spire and impaled him as his blood drained down the summit of the mountain. I showed this to my parents and they told me immediately that I “couldn’t show that to anyone.” I was confused. I had been brought up all my life to be creative and to explore the parts of my mind so many people keep hidden. I had been taught by my mother every day to write and work and create something that no one else has before and then when I did (well, I didn’t, not really, not the point.) they told me to change the ending. It was my first and last experience to date with a true editor. I remember taking the last panel of the book up to my bedroom and tearing it to tiny pieces after I had spent so much time creating it. I didn’t want to feel that way again. I hated destroying my work, but my parents were right. I couldn’t show that to someone. They would think I’m crazy. If destroying my work was like death, the laughter of my classmates and the insults I would hear afterwards would have been eternal damnation. I would never feel that way, I couldn’t bear to.

Then I entered high school. I wrote and sketched every day. I began to blossom into a creative machine who could not be stopped. Until I wrote that poem my sophomore year and I once again felt that laughter that burned my heart. I couldn’t bear the insults and the jokes made at my expense so I stopped writing for a long time. I turned to music because it was the “cooler” creative hobby. Of course, what no one tells you is that it’s only “cooler” if you’re making money or are attractive while doing it. I was neither of those things. Playing guitar only gave me relief in that I was good at it and I used it as a tool to overcome stress from my day to day life. I had finally found a place to fit in. I was playing guitar and working with two of my best friends every day sharpening my abilities and I even joined choir. Music really did save me, but before I get into that chain of events, I had to feel the blistering pain of failing at that too once before I could understand what I was really on this earth for. It was my junior or senior year and I had been practicing for a New Year’s Eve talent show at my church, I was going to play “Dear God” by Avenged Sevenfold for these people who loved me and supported me for years. Hours every day I had spent practicing and before I knew it the night had arrived. My parents and I showed up to the church and I sat down to tinker with my guitar before the show started. I was feeling confident and capable, nothing could stop me. Then, as you have probably guessed by now, something shook me to my nerves. There was this kid that I went to high school with who absolutely hated me. I had no idea why, I still don’t. He was the kind of kid who was cool in high school because he didn’t care about anything, not really. He skirted classes and dates and treated his girlfriends like shit, you know the type of guy I’m talking about. I saw him come in and suddenly my nerves broke. I began sweating and shaking and on the verge of tears I stumbled up to the front of the church at the provocation of my parents and a family friend. I sat down to play the song and made it through the first verse well enough, but I couldn’t get my fingers to land where they needed to land. I couldn’t get my mouth to make the right noises and my lungs couldn’t hit the notes like they needed to. I let my fear get the better of me and stumbled through the rest of the song like an idiot, rather than giving up in the middle of the performance and stepping down I was determined to keep going so I took a break and started again, finishing out a 6 minute song in 9 minutes and doing it more poorly than when I had first begun to learn the song.

I left the New Years Celebration shortly after he stepped up to play a song and wooed the crowd. His voice was beautiful, even if he was rotten to me I can’t deny him that. He was a fantastic guitarist, still is as a matter of fact, I see him every once and a while playing a show at the Rodeo or in one of the bars.

I couldn’t bear the laughter and the stifled laughter that I had heard like viscious echoes all through my life every time I put myself out there and then immediately failed. I have grown paranoid of it. I still have nightmares to this day, that I will release a book and the kid in my Sophomore English class will rip it out of my hands and ask if I really think Chaim is real. Or I will be at a book meeting and the kid from the NYE Talent show will step out and begin playing guitar while lying naked across my signing table so everyone stops paying attention to me. I’m horrified that these things will still happen but this sad and embarrassing truth comes hand in hand to you with another;

Just like high school doesn’t last forever, neither will your uncertainty.

I have put out so much content over the last four years that I barely know what to do with myself. I have over 400 blog posts in total that I have been writing since 2013. That’s nuts, isn’t it? I have (as of now) five published books, with a sixth coming out later this year. I work every day to better myself and make something more important and more powerful because I learned a long time ago in the middle of the night, as I listened to the echoes of the other children laughing at me…

I was a child too. Each child is given a purpose. More often than not we must fight to carve that purpose out for ourselves and we cannot give up. I have done my best carving during those late nights, wondering why people don’t understand my mind and feeling like I am viewing a party from the outside. “I think so differently” I would tell myself. “Why can’t I be more like them?” On the nights when the laughter was increasingly hard to hear, I would put my headphones on and write something for them. Something I will never show another living being as long as I live and something that will hopefully be lost before I pass away. I would turn the music up when I was done and I would cry myself to sleep. I withdrew into a shell and wouldn’t let anyone have that kind of power again. I wouldn’t let anyone destroy me with their jokes about my art or my music or my writing. I couldn’t stand it. In the throes of those endlessly painful and harrowing nights I was given two things, one that I had to claw away from the deepest parts of me, wrapped in bad memories and calcified tears, it was that I had always been different. I had been created to be different. I see things in a way that not many others do. I take things from a new perspective, like so many artists before me, but I use words as the catalyst for change and dissection. I found this through the muddy water inside of me as I ran each night from the voices of the other children laughing at me. I learned quickly that the fastest way to tune them our was with music, mind or otherwise, so I would strap headphones to my skull and turn the music up as loud as possible as the voices tried to distract me. After years of doing this, I found that I have developed a minor case of tinnitus.

It’s okay, however. The ringing in my ears only serves one purpose. It is quiet still, but just loud enough to drown out the voices of the children still echoing around in my skull. When I go to submit a manuscript or propose an idea to my friends and family, I am blessed by the eternal ringing within my ears. Because it keeps the laughter at bay so I can remember…

I have a purpose, and it is this.

I will never give in to the laughter. I am not a child, and even when I was they never controlled me.

The laughing children don’t control you either, so keep writing, keep fighting and pushing and painting your future. Embrace your differences and rejoice within them. We are all designed with our strengths and weaknesses, don’t let them take yours away.

Thank you for reading, remember that life is not meant to be awful.

www.linmtba.com 

Weak Arms

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This is the last month I will let this late blog post business fly. I apologize for the tardiness. I have been finishing up some things and slimming down many projects, so I can focus more time on the things that are most important to me and in turn most important to all of you.

A while back, a friend of mine posted this picture to Facebook that hit on something I wanted to talk about at length. It was a screen shot of a text message saying (in short) that love isn’t supposed to be a by chance arrangement. That we are supposed to work for the love that we want to give. It is in the same vein as those posts about the older generation saying “when something was broken we fixed it, not threw it away.” The mentality comes from the same place.

I’m not saying that love is something that can be achieved by nothing but dedication and hard work, because there are tons of aspects to it that are rarely seen as a whole picture. There is the one side that believes everything in their life comes down to fate, because they allowed themselves to believe in destiny the way it was fabricated. I don’t fault them, it’s hard to accept life the way it is. It’s a struggle to understand that the things that happen are all accidents with a greater purpose behind them. I’d go more in depth but I would overstay my welcome on this post, so I’ll save it for one in the future.

On the other hand, you have a group of people who believe that relationships and love are not worth it because of the work that they require. Which, I have felt before. There have been times in everyone’s lives I think where we felt scared by how attracted we were to someone. We worry about the fear of rejection, the possibility that they will ruin us in the long run. So many other things, so they will walk away from it.

Then a third party who understands love on a higher level than everyone else it seems, because their love lives are perfected on the outside. To the world they show this happy picture when the truth of their relationship is generally much uglier because they fell into the attraction, but forgot to sustain the feelings that come along.

I don’t claim to be a part of any of these groups, but that doesn’t mean I don’t fit in. Still, I’m not here to talk about me today. I’m here to talk about all of us.

There is a growing trend in the world around us, where people seem to think that love happens on accident. That it is the kind of thing we see in movies, we will walk into a library or a coffee shop (or a bar) and they will see this super attractive hallmark looking person who will steal their heart and sweep them out the front door so that they can live off this perfect world inside their own minds. This scenario might seem attractive from the outside but there is one thing that has been overlooked. What about the bad days? The nights where your wife got too drunk at a party and puked all over the place. When you have pissed her off to the point where she storms away from you in order to keep from hitting you. When one of you loses your job. When family members pass away. When life starts to shed its happy days and things get real, where will you find yourself?

That’s when love really matters. Not in the moments of happiness and comfort. When we find ourselves in those difficult times and we don’t remember that we love the other person, we find ourselves in a trap of our own design. Love is work. It is always work. Sure, it starts out easily, you think they’re cute, then nice, then you realize you are attracted to them, then they are dating and you both get married and the world suddenly becomes a real thing. Bills, children, fights, attachment and separation rear their heads and suddenly you can’t live in an imaginary world anymore.

It sucks, because that imaginary world is special. We want so badly to hold onto it and to keep it near us but life will not allow that.

So here, when your relationships becomes more than memes and transparent feelings is when you both are put to the true test.

I believe that love starts with attraction. You meet a cute girl and get her number and begin talking, then suddenly you realize how much you enjoy her company and succumb to that attraction. Beyond that, it only becomes love if you understand that at one point you will have to get off your ass and do something about that love.

I feel as if I have been writing in circles through this blog post, so I want to simplify what I’m saying to you.

A long time ago, my parents both told me something independently that has guided my way through relationships and through life. When I was a boy, my mom told me that I shouldn’t date a girl who can’t pee on a sagebrush. It’s crude, sure, but it means something. That girl would be willing to go camping, to rough it, and what she really meant by that I think, is that I shouldn’t date a girl who is afraid of getting dirty or who is afraid of being in a place where amenities aren’t right there. For a while my parents lived out of their motorhome. You can imagine that it wasn’t easy for them, but they had one another. They loved each other and they continued loving each other, because they chose to do so. The motorhome wasn’t that bad then. It was work, but then again, everything is work.

A while afterwards, I was talking to my dad about a girl and about love, and he said something that was a bit cruder than peeing on a sagebrush, but it cemented in my memory and has since become something I remind myself of always. He told me that when I am looking at a relationship partner, I should ask myself if I would be able to wipe their ass and bathe them if they couldn’t do it themselves. Another straightforward comment that carried a double meaning. (As I’ve grown, I’ve come to realize that my parents have done this to me a lot.) Which basically says that when I’m pursuing someone, I need to remember that things won’t be great. She will get sick, she will one day, not be able to take care of herself. If I can do that still, then it is my job to take care of her too. He told me this, I think at the time to sway me away from the girl I was interested in, but he did so much more than that because now when I look to date a woman, I see her and I place myself in a different pair of shoes. The shoes I would wear if she was crippled. If she was incapable of caring for herself, would I care for her? It shows me how I truly feel about someone, because if I hesitate and decline, then I know I don’t love them, because I am not willing to put up with the disgusting and the uncomfortable, for beauty and comfort.

It speaks volumes to me when I hear of couples who stay together after one of them suffers some kind of tragedy. Getting paralyzed especially. I think that it would do all of us well to look at these people, it would do all of us well to consider these two thoughts about our possible partners. Would we be willing to clean them and care for them if something were to happen? Would we be willing to rough it with them if we were at a loss? If either of those questions were a no, then I think you should reconsider your decision.

People today have a real big problem in life, even myself. I don’t want to let you think I am somehow above it just because I am the one writing it out. We care so much about appearances and how we look that we forget to address how we feel and think. I see it so often. Friends in terrible relationships but they want the world to think that everything is swell. People getting involved and trying to sustain that involvement just because they think the other party is attractive. I think it all comes back to one thing, really. Selfishness. Perhaps pride, too. I know I’ve experienced them both in my journey.

It is as if we can’t bear the weight of loving anything more than we love ourselves. We exist to serve only our selfish desires and mindset, seeking fulfillment. When the harsh reality of it is that love is not always beautiful and romantic. It is bloody. It is difficult. It is painful. But through all of the awful, we can still harness and thrive in the goodness that it produces. If we were to look past the guise that we set up for ourselves, to really inspect the fragile windows that we constructed to view the outside world with our own shallow minds, then we would see and truly understand that the love we think we so desperately crave is not truly love at all. It is selfishness, and greed, pinned and wrapped in linen reserved for romantics. We could all use a lesson, from our older generation, I think. Those who taught us to work and to stay committed, instead of breaking our arms under the weight of our own pride and running as soon as things begin to look unfavorable. No one knows how this life is supposed to work, so why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to have all of the answers? Is it because we are afraid of being vulnerable, or is it something deeper than that?

Expose yourself. Begin to understand who you really are, and I will too. Though it is a lot of work, there is nothing like loving someone with everything you have, through the good, the bad, and through everything. It is magical.

Thank you for reading “The Movement, Noose Ends” on Gravity My Enemy. I am honored to have your attention if only for a few minutes every week. Remember, new blog posts every Wednesday and Friday from here on out!

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Mean Shadows, my latest book, comes out Dec. 24th! Don’t miss this, it’s arguably the most important thing I have written to date. You can pre-order here. (Pre-orders in before the 18th will arrive before Christmas Day!)