[ From the Archives of 365 ]
“It’s perfectly sane to go mad in order to understand.”
“Lookout! A creepy guy is stalking the neighborhood! Why has he parked his car on the street? And what’s with his sidewalk pacing? Let’s stay away from him, I think he’s a serial killer!”
First impressions are a misleading thing, and the above is far from the truth, or at least I hope. You see, the identity of the stalker is… well… me.
And how do I know the way others are viewing me, I’m told by my stranger-now-friend of today, poet and admitted alcoholic, J.J.
A judgment call, 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 in describing J.J (that being, his admission of being 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.
How many of you saw the documentary “Super Size Me?” In it, Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, committed to living solely off a diet of supersized McDonalds for an extended period of time, and 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 American’s look at fast food and the business model behind it. And per J.J, seems he 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.”
I 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 and he is the edgy looking alcoholic. Plus, his home being starkly protected behind a gate and a snarling dog, has me very aware and 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. Something he tells me before we enter his home. The result of my extending 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 dark secrets. Secrets that I do not pry to know 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 is simply this, we all have phantoms in our closets, and for any one of us to deny each other the opportunity to face them would be a great disservice to that person. If there is one thing this journey is constantly teaching me it would be this, I’m 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 was growing as a person as I received his words. As a result, two more humans are now aware of each other and you are reading JJ’s poetry. But before I give you more of J.J’s writings, I must share with you his words of counsel to us, “Be one with everyone… Energy is never destroyed or created.”
J.J is calm and reserved, almost Zen-like. So much so I can’t help but ask, “Are you always this calm?”
“Not always,” he says. 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 his girlfriend and himself. And 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.
“Be one with everyone.
Energy is never
destroyed or created.”
“I have trust issues,” he shares with me. “Thank you,” he says, and as he is breaking this to me, I feel a little more in tune with J.J. It’s 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… too trusting. After all, we just met on the street, and remember I’m the scary pacing dude.
He turns away from me, leaves me sitting on the hard wooden chair in which he has offered me (by the way, did not tell you he had closed the door to the room we were in). So as I sat very aware of my surroundings (thinking maybe I’ve been naive in my assessments), he goes to his computer, opens it up, and begins to read me his poetry.
Mourning from night to morning.
I toss, turn, feel the burn.
Yearn to learn the truth.
During the day it stays 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.
J.J’s writings are composed in multiple languages: Spanish, Italian, Tagalog, and English. And even though influenced by alcohol, his mind is sharp and his attention is focused. J.J is a fascinating man who is certainly battling a demon. And by the looks of it, it just might likely win the war. A thought that sinks my heart. For he is a human and deserving of a good life as any one of us.
My eyes wander his room. My interest transfixed on the North wall, where a set of three Geisha statues stands. He sees where I’m looking. “They are important to me, they represent peace and serenity,” J.J explains. In his demeanor, it is easy to recognize they are key to his presence, like I said, “J.J is calm and, even though intoxicated, his thoughts are sober.”
It takes huge humility to look eye to eye with alcoholism. And whether real or an excuse to justify drinking, J.J is all so obviously fighting to overcome its clenching talons. Yet, there is a light hidden beneath J.J’s dark façade. A hard to see ray that grabbed me at my first sight of him, and one that casts a thought for all to consider, “What phantoms are we not facing in our lives?”
In expected J.J tone, he speaks of the future. Gives us this, “For the future of humanity, unfortunately, it’s not good. It’s going to be a decrepit disillusion of trials.”
A depressing perspective for sure, but I take it as a call to do what I can to fight the darkness. Even motivation to look toward the good of mankind. For I believe and have witnessed by the words of the many I am meeting, that in the middle of darkness, there is always room for one more lamp. And for each one of us, may we do our part in lighting the path of what’s ahead. In the words of J.J and 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 a word be worth… unworthy if words are worthless.”
“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.