“Lookout! A creepy guy is stalking the neighborhood! Why has he parked his car on my street? And what’s with his sidewalk pacing? Let’s stay away from him, I think he is a serial killer!”
First impressions are a powerful thing, and the first impression above is far from the truth, or at least I hope.
The ID of the stalker… It’s me.
How do I know this, I’m told by my friend today, poet and admitted alcoholic, J.J.
An impression that after ten minutes or so of conversation, quietly dissipates, but for now, and in sensitivity to J.J, I must address the bomb I just dropped… JJ is an alcoholic.
Yes, J.J drinks to excess, and he knows it. Tells me that at the very beginning of our getting to know each other. Why?
How many of you saw the documentary “Super Size Me?” In it, Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, committed to live solely off a diet of supersized McDonalds for an extended period of time… It almost killed him. Not in a figurative sense, literally… it almost put him in the grave.
The results of his sacrifice? A documentary that changed the way America looks at fast food and the business model behind it. Well, at least for a while.
J.J has modeled a similar project, focusing on the effects of alcoholism. He quotes, “It’s very difficult, I’ve been writing every day as to the effects of my drinking, my goal is to write a book.”
A have to ask, “How far are you into this?”
Now… I’m not sure how long J.J has been drinking, but per the project he tells me, “I’m three weeks in, and am now weaning myself off the alcohol. It hurts, every morning I wake up with the shakes, (he holds his hand out… steady) and (reaching for a bottle) I have to drink something to settle them.”
J.J does not want to be featured with a photograph, yet he has invited me into his home for an interview. A little sketchy for each of us at first. After all, I am the creepy guy from the street.
J.J’s home is starkly protected behind a gate and a snarling dog. We are both a little leery at first, yet there seems to be a united purpose in our meeting and I feel it is not by chance.
Earlier I mentioned that J.J is a poet. Prior to entering his home, I extend an offer to publish his poetry. He is flattered, and before we enter his room, he shares a few of his memorized writings with me.
Whichever way you may live
From beginning to the end, end to the beginning, or from the middle to the ends;
I’ve been hemmed in by your fine silk.
Prey to the black widow.
The more I struggle to be released;
I’m consumed and cease to exist.
Right off the bat, I see J.J is a deep character, a man of contrast and of dark secrets. Secrets that I do not pry for in respecting his boundaries. But still, we find common ground in opening up in sharing personal perspectives. We entrust each other with life stories, and as we do our trust deepens.
The point, we all have phantoms in the closet. For any of one of us to deny each other the opportunity to face them would be a great disservice to humanity. I’m constantly blown away by the healing power of simply reaching out.
Even though both J.J and I are very cautious at first, we feel we are supposed to be talking.
He was brave in allowing me into his life and I receptive to his words. As a result, two more humans are aware of each other and you are reading JJ’s poetry.
Before I give you more of J.J’s writings, I must share with you his words of council to us, “Be one with everyone… Energy is never destroyed or created.”
J.J is calm and reserved, almost Zen like. At one point I can’t help but to ask, “Are you always this calm?”
“Not always,” yet in his delivery there is peace and intent.
He tells me of his troubles sleeping, his active mind and the pains of a recent break-up between he and his girlfriend. In the middle of it all J.J challenges me, “Why am I telling you this, tell me something about yourself?”
I do as he asks, and the level of our trust expands.
“I have trust issues,” he shares with me. “Thank you,” he says.
Yet as he is breaking this to me, I feel in tune with J.J. Its been a relatively short time, but somehow the two of us are able to drop our walls to a comfortable and mutual level of openness. Perhaps we could dig further in sharing more of our characters, but rightfully so, we both refrain from pushing too far… too fast. After all, we just met on the street and I’m the scary pacing dude. Best to keep our meeting brief.
J.J does open up his computer to give us a broader glimpse into his poetry.
Mourning from night to morning.
I toss, turn, feel the burn.
Yearn to learn the truth.
During the day it stay away.
Once the black is back I see.
The lack of you has made the sky lack hue.
Only darkness to reside.
I wish we could only pull through.
This is for you and only you.
As I am reading J.J’s late night writings, they are composed in multiple languages. J.J is highly educated and is fluent in four languages: Spanish, Italian, Tagalic and English. And even though influenced by alcohol, his mind is sharp and his attention focused. J.J is a fascinating man who is battling a demon. And by the looks of it , it’s likely he will win the war.
Against the North wall of his room are a set of three Geisha statues, “They are important to me, they represent peace and serenity.” J.J explains.
I recognize them as a key to his presence, like I said, “J.J is calm and his thought are sober.”
It takes huge humility to look eye to eye with alcoholism, and as it seems, even being in the depths of it’s grasp, J.J is re-framing his fight to overcome it’s clenching talons in a way that will inform others as to the evil strength of it’s grip.
Like he states, “It’s hard, I have the shakes, but I am weaning myself of it.”
There is light hidden behind J.J’s dark façade. A light that in the beginning grabbed me to approach him.
A light that casts this thought for us all to consider, “What phantoms are we not facing in our lives?”
In speaking of the future, in perfect J.J tense, he gives us this, “For the future of humanity, unfortunately it’s not good. It’s going to be a decrepid disillusion of trials.”
I take it as a call to do what I can to fight the darkness. A permission to look towards the good of mankind. For in the middle of darkness, there is always room for one more lamp.
My we somehow light the way.
J.J concludes his time with me in offering a final set of wisdom’s and words.
In no particular order:
“Shall we all do our part in lighting the path to a better place.”
“What your definition of perfection won’t be defined until you die.”
“The ability to stay still is a rarity in this world.”
“What would be a world worth, unworthy if words are worthless.”
“Many good times have had and will be…that’s it for me at three.”
“There are two kinds of people: sure pass & surpass.”
“I Miss You
I miss you when you’re not with me
Miss you with the thought of you not being with me
While I miss you.”
“It’s perfectly sane to go mad in order to understand.”
“Give me a good night love before you sleep…or a course with a kiss.
The view of you from above, below in between the seams is not what it seems.
You are heaven-sent; slightly bent.
The love you give”
J.J thanks for the trust. Stay moving forward my friend.