rage.

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I get so tired of falling asleep with rage in my belly.

I envy those who let things pass so easily and with grace. Sometimes I can, but my patience these days is wearing so thin. I used to be so good at holding things in and during a younger season in my life, learned about the wild things I could no longer contain.

I learned about the airing of memory filled with grief and sorrow, but also a lot of goodness.

The kitchen brought me some rage, as with any high stress job where your margin of error seems almost unforgivable. There is no shortage of things that fill me (and most likely you) with some deep glowing fire.

That kind of rage stays with me. It lingers, mostly into the dark. Sometimes, my only option is to drown it with sleep. I know it’s not good, but sometimes it’s also inescapable.

The last thing I want to do is drag someone else into the things that I feel.

I’ve been learning to navigate some anger — in general I direct it at myself for allowing something to get to me so quickly, but also most of the time, it has something to do with a thing that is not within anyone’s control.

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Being alone can be hard. Self-control is even harder. We’re allowed to let off steam — but never at the cost of hurting another thing. I think this will be a life learned lesson, one that comes at the cost of being hurt by another.

We have a lot to be angry about. Maybe some of that is accepting things were never as they seemed. This feels a lot like being betrayed by someone you love who is never willing to apologize, a toxicity that is being bled out. At some point though, you have to put pressure on the wound.

Maybe that’s what this time is about.

There isn’t much space to hide anymore. In fact, it is maybe one of the best times to dig in deep and work on the next shift of your life. Maybe you’re already doing that and this quarantine has shown you how much you’ve grown into yourself and how you move alongside with the other people in your life.

For me, being alone does not equate to loneliness. Some days are harder, but I’ve been growing in ways I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have this space.

I’ve never been one to stray too far away from a challenge, especially at the cost of my own peace. Surely the older I get, the more comfort I crave but I still recognize the wild things.

The sense to grow and move and challenge my humanity (and maybe yours.)

The rage never lasts. It dies because it has to. (and I continue to lay down weapons I shouldn’t use anymore.)

It will always be in my belly — it is how I’ve come to recognize the most important things in my life and that maybe I need to drop the things I’ve been clinging on to for so long. The heaviness of expectation, the need to please and the wondering if I’ll ever be enough for you.

There are always newer, lighter things to pick up along your way.
I hope you give yourself the time and space to find them.
You’re a gift to the people that love you.
Be sure to love yourself in return.

 

 

 

 

the great unsettling

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What stirs in my heart?

Maybe it’s everything. How does anyone not live a day without wandering in and out of the things they used to believe in and the people they used to be?

I often mourn parts of my life where I had less responsibility. More uncertainty, no doubt, but does getting older ever give you any certainty that you’ll become a better person? Or that the things in this world will ever be enough for you?

This quarantine has given me some perspective on my small space here. I found myself dumping loads of things from my past. A few pictures. Some books. Even the things I have found sacred in the past, I’ve dug up again to be both inspired and challenged.

It is a great unsettling of things.

It’s weird when pieces of your old self reappear and almost with a sense of urgency ask that you remember this piece of you that shifted the way you see everything.

I keep a small shelf with things from my life — things that were given to me by people I love, people who broke my heart and others who give me the most inspiration to push forward regardless of the gravity that pulls me elsewhere.

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I found myself rearranging these heirlooms. These precious bits of a life 34 thus far.

A matchbox with the face of Che Guevera.
A metal cup from my time in India.
A feather from a friend I used to kiss and fall asleep on the grass with long ago.

Some toys from when I was young.
My old pair of glasses, broken.
Fountain pen and some ink.

I keep these things because they help me remember that every good thing shifts in you endlessly.

The bad too, but those things tend to dull over time.

I’m always amazed about how the things that broke our hearts into a million pieces still allow us to feel good about the time we had with them that were beautiful, and that they gave to us what we would have never found without them.

Sometimes you need the person you once were to step up and meet the person you are now. I know I look older by the day, and I often cringe at what I used to call a beard. Now, I still don’t grow the best looking beard, but I see the grey hair that comes with life and its weight.

I have little regret, but deep down in the still waters I know this whole thing is a gift. I embrace the challenge of wandering through this life with the knowledge that it’s not ever easy, and things that matter won’t ever happen quickly.

Sometimes being unsettled is the only way to move forward,

and I will always set my eyes there,
toward both the dying and birth of the new light.

 

shift & settle

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The space next to me is familiar.

Right now, it is filled with the comforts of being alone. A book. A computer. Headphones. Maybe some of yesterday’s clothes.

For me, the idea of jumping back into the state of my singular mind is momentarily easy. The more I think, the sadness finds its way in, reminding me that it’s not that easy, and that finding someone you can really do life with is rare.

I have opened myself — and have poured myself between two glasses, back and forth. Spilling and making a mess and not ever having as much as I started with. That’s kind of what it feels like to care for someone when you are also learning what they need and what you need.

I feel a shred a failure.

More so, a deep crack in the state of my world, one that you build so strong when you’re alone for so long.
But I also think that maybe this crack is good. It allows things to shift and settle.

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Shifting and settling.

Maybe that’s what this is.
It does hurt. But most things that require growth require digging.

Digging and lots-of-tending-to, water and air.

Oh. And light.

So where do I stand now?
My brain immediately tells me to dive into my work. It makes things easier. Put it all aside and go back 100% into what works, and maybe what is easy.

Maybe you do this too.

There is no model or manual for heartache, there is also none for the baby steps of love. It is wobbly and scary and you fall down a lot.

You hit your chin on the coffee table and look at the person who was supposed to be holding you. How dare you let this happen to me…again?

Today, I will do what I can to be good to myself, and try my best to keep my bridges up.

Timing and life are certainly unpredictable, but to know myself is to let both of those things go.

Things take time.

And I’m letting it take me,

wherever,
whenever,

to shift and to settle.

 

 

crawfish.

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it’s starting to feel like spring, here —

warm with dreams of hot crawfish dumped on a table and

I smell it heavy in the air driving home past the big vats of them,

soaking in that spicy water:

garlic, cayenne, celery (and loads and loads of salt)

a hell broth that reminds of the times I learned about Jesus.

 

It is far away, sometimes.

Everything lately has been LOUD.

With the sounds of guns,

with the sadness of losing my uncle to cancer.

But I’ve planted some seeds, didn’t you know?

I’m watching them grow. They are wispy like the hairs

on the tip-top of my head.

 

Every season is renewal.

Of dying and growing.

Of being thankful,

and often times full of sorrow.

You meet us there, in that field.

I read that once in a poem.

I imagine you there always,

some great peace in the midst of all the grinding

and working wheels and decaying dark things.

 

Yep.

I see the seeds I’ve planted starting to burst out of the ground,

because the conditions were just right.

I can’t help but feel so green and raw with them,

hanging on for dear life because it is always so new!

Whatever it is we feel, it’s always something new.

 

But honestly, what I really want right now?

Hmm.

Peace, mostly. In my heart and for everything,

but actually, if I’m being true to this one moment,

I want to rip open a flimsy brown bag full of steamy hot crawfish

and wipe the sweat from my forehead.

 

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you will.

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I think I often straddle the line of what I see as heartbreaking and what is beautiful.

Maybe I can dip my toes into both lakes because I know they always meet somewhere down the line. We are always in that meeting place. Of heaviness and both light that swirls infinitely between all of us.

We are the beautiful and heartbroken things. I see it more so, all of the time. The truth is I’ve been raw to it my whole life. Inflamed and swollen and exposed like a nerve. It’s taken me a lot of time to wrap myself in them good things. I keep them tight against my chest so I can feel them when I breathe; up and down.

Being single, officially, longer than I was in a relationship weighs heavy. Why I often weigh things in time is something I’ve developed over the years. All in all, I am so thankful for what I’ve learned in the chaos and in the calm.

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I think I wanted to write this to one person. It might actually be more than one. But they say to write to one person. So here it goes.

I have this card on my fridge from a friend that says ‘Your heart is the size of an ocean” — which seems like something that you’d get stitched on a pillow from the Hallmark store, but actually is a quote from Rumi. He’s probably one of your favorites, too.

But it is. And it is what I often want to grab you by the face and scream so that it finds its way into your heart so you know and so that you’ll know forever. The world is not always angry and misunderstanding. And that so much is birthed from pain. The world was created by melting rocks and hell and only became something beautiful because of time and pressure.

It’s geology. That’s really how we tell things are ground down with different pressures like winds and rains and the inevitable meeting of two souls who have moved and changed.

Your life is in fact valuable and grows more valuable by the day!

Your wounds won’t heal all the way. Most don’t. But don’t let it stop you from moving forward and living your days with intention and love and the power that rumbles in your belly.

It is the hardest thing you will do.

But like the earth you will moan and heat and cool. You will expand and host a world of thoughts and adventure:

5Ks and stiff drinks. Cheese fries and kids falling asleep sweaty on your lap.

You will wake up and breathe again.

And the knot in your stomach will dissolve.

I know it will.

And I know you will.

You will wake up and breathe again.

 

stuck.

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I have been stuck on this awful and violent week.

I feel as though I owe some sort of apology to my co-workers, who over the past couple of days have had to walk on egg shells around my fragile and angry state. I am not even close to the ones who were affected even more personally by the things that have happened.

It is still something I, and many of you, have felt tremendously this week. I am an overly-sensitive dude and have always been.

Unfortunately, I cannot hide behind the legs of my mother anymore. Instead we are pushed into little rooms full of videos of men being killed and we are supposed to handle it like adults.

I was stuck on the video of the son pulling his shirt over his face to wipe his tears and prayers to God, denying her partner getting shot. Those moans are so haunting that I wonder if it’s even possible to get them out of my head anymore.

Really, all I’ve wanted to do since Tuesday is bury my head in the cool sand, like we used to do with watermelons when we were kids at the creek. Quiet. Mumbled. Cold and tranquil. We aren’t ever promised that space to heal ourselves, though.

Sometimes we have to work through it all. Sometimes that’s having to move through anger non-violently, and non aggressively with a super person’s amount of compassion and grace.

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With so much violence and grief, the smallest amount of love and goodness feels like cold water after recess.

That small relief fills your belly with some peace.

This world and its growing pains. We are all here for it, right now. It is the most messy and heartbreaking thing we will see in our lives, but in all of these things we learn and our hearts grow and mend.

My eyes have been watery on and off the past week. Yours too, probably. Hopefully.

Hopefully we have all felt broken, and put back together with a few pieces missing. Pieces of us that were hanging on to hate and injustice and complacency. And gaining something new, maybe.

Maybe our love is stronger now.
Maybe we our stronger now.

Regardless, we are stuck with carrying each other’s pain, now.

So let’s do that. And let’s be wounded healers and cook food together,
or mow someone’s grass, or just have a little grace on someone who’s having a hard day.

We need you here with us, okay?

Okay.

enough.

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January is just too long.

It’s a recovery month, I think. At least that’s the way I see it.
Everyone is adjusting to a new year, and regaining some composure after the blast of late year holidays.

I, however, am in the midst of some funky stuff.

When I was in counseling and seeing my doctor regularly, I was picking up tools to use. Granted, it would be nice to have that sort of thing here, but Mississippi lacks in what I would consider a more holistic style of healthcare. But the tools I did gain, keep me aware of my body processing the world.

What I ingest, both physically and emotionally, takes a huge toll. I keep that at the forefront.

The sad parts of my being are craving physical touch and connection. I’d say more of a longing than actual sad, sad. Though I think feeling sad is important. I think there’s plenty of poetry there, some marrow, and perhaps a bigger part of our life force.

Restlessness is something I feel.
As a person who is in constant thought of something bigger, I have a hard time adjusting to the slower seasons.

Lately, I’ve been learning to adjust to my own expectations. Of basically every damn thing.

My cooking. My attractions. My belly which has been eating a lot of carbohydrates (read: delicious things) the past week.

More so, my expectations of what falling in love looks like. I’m having a hard time separating the things I know of that kind of love. Granted, I am not in that season and don’t imagine it happening here any time soon, but what I have been noticing is my fear of intimacy.

I feel some fear in my belly. For losing someone again, even though I haven’t much made an effort to pursue. I am influenced heavily by the elements that surround me. I get knocked down a few pegs when I feel a little too confident and remember why it’s so good to be humble. I enjoy who I am. Truly.

I don’t own much. I don’t make much. I don’t need all that much.

I’m in the in-between, as far my spirituality goes. I crave that Great Mystery, but for some reason, I cannot grasp it. Like some pit I’m falling into, trying to grab hold and it’s just too slippery. I feel it may be my undoing some days.

Not God-fearing enough.
Not confident I am tough enough to handle this industry.
Fear of being an asshole, because I have asshole thoughts.

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I am a messy form of a human. I know we all are, at least I know that’s probably what you’re thinking. But I want my beliefs to be a bit more firm. I suppose seeing more of the world, and more of the worlds of people, I am swayed to believe that we are all floating forward towards the same sorta thing.

I float around not really conforming to this or that. I will not judge you for your lifestyle, as I hope you won’t judge me for eating a Christmas tree cake even though they are out of season. (Which, in my book, is never true.)

I can tell you that I love fried catfish, and a nice medium rare steak.

I love eating hash browns on Sunday with poached eggs and hot sauce.
I love being there for people.
I have a hard time taking without the weight of giving back.
When someone orders food when the kitchen closes in 10 minutes. Ugh.
(But really, it’s fine. Really.)

These things are true.

There is nothing I enjoy more than learning how to cook better. Hanging my head over a pot of kombu and dried shitakes, wondering, “Is this right??”

Maybe that’s the idea that I’ve known all along.

A longing of sorts, of tasting and nodding.
Adjusting,
Adding,
Taking away,
asking,

is this right?

I’m not quite sure.
But I’m always asking.
Always tasting.

And today, that is enough.

thick skin

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I jokingly tell people these days that I can’t wait to be in my forties.

I tell them that I think I’m getting better with age, and that I wasn’t very good at being young. At least the parts of me that crave adventure come in different forms.
As a kid, I was not the bravest or loudest or most outgoing.

Knowing what I know now, as an adult, I was so nervous and apprehensive about the outside world. I craved affirmation and I wanted to feel good about the kind of person I was. It always felt right to be kind, and I believe that to this day. I treat people like I want to be treated, as archaic as that rule sounds, it works well for me.

And then came kitchen work.

Intense. Hot and fast with a million moving pieces.
I learn about myself in these moments. I learn about working hard and smart and humbly doing things for people they’ll never be able to repay you for.

Somehow, this works for me.

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I take a break from my keyboard to squeeze my hands open and close. Yesterday was a 14-hour day involving a wedding where I spent most of the night emptying garbage cans full of beer bottles and half eaten pieces of food. The other part of the night was spent scrubbing hotel pans and jamming leftover bits of wedding food in my face so I wouldn’t have to partake in that Whopper Jr that so taunts me on my drive home.

It is always humbling to do this work.

I guess in the states, I struggle with the mentality that this work is for people riddled in confusion and transition and poverty. Granted, we do make up a big part of that work force. But some of us want to do this with our lives because we think it’s important. To me, I see a bride and groom who appreciate empty garbage cans so they can enjoy this moment with their friends and family. (I exclude the drunk bro-crowd who laughingly threw their trash in said garbage cans as I was straining to lift them through winding crowds of beautifully dressed Southerners.)

And so, with the steam rising from the tray of dishes I just pulled through the sanitizer, I think about the shootings in France. The massacres in Nigeria. I think about my friends who have recently lost loved ones. I think about my own heart being pulled in so many directions. I feel a knot in my stomach for some reason, and I also hum along with the sound of my muffled phone playing through its “closing down the kitchen” playlist.

It makes sense that our skin gets thicker with time, and that getting older helps us fit more into that skin.

We somehow make this world work for us even with the knowledge that there will be sadness supped with joy.

Hard times, come again no more, so the song says.

We sing, but we know they will. We still find moments to say we are good and happy and content. In those moments, it is all worth it to be human. To accept the give and take.

The ebb and flow.

The changing of times,

and perhaps a good word or two.

living in death (living in life)

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{It might seem as though I am writing about the death of a loved one. And this piece could very much be about the same thing. I am, however, associating death to the loss of a relationship. More so because it is how I associate at times with love, and love lost. No one close to me has passed away, but what I wanted to portray was the loss of an important presence in my life.}

We go through great depths to mourn those we love.

More specifically, the ones we have lost.

Let me be clear in saying, I have mourned a great loss. More so than I ever thought I would. You know this when someone you loves passes away, or leaves you too soon. The clouds roll in and all you see is dark. You wonder, “How will I ever rise above these dark things…when will the weight of their presence leave and set me free again?”

Right now, I am drained and exhausted. Talking till I can’t keep my eyes open. Angry. Sad. Alone.

But within my depths I see that horizon, and I am drawn to it like a lighthouse welcoming the weary.

I have been thinking of the incredible depths of human beings. I cannot escape the mystery of our redemption. Of our resilience. Of our fight to keep moving in the midst of great storms.

We are all full of such a deep, wonderful and terrifying brilliance. The fact that we are capable of love means we are also aware of the dangers that it brings. There is nothing more brilliant than being in love. It is crazy. It has to be crazy.

I reach down deep into myself and pull out this beautiful and fragile mystery. I examine it to see that it has scars. Residue of pain. Reach in to any heart and you will see this. For we have all loved and have been damaged.

But what I want to say is that we are endlessly human. That means, we have these pieces that make our hearts beat and that shoot millions upon million of electrons through tiny tunnels in our brain that allow me to type or make bread. It allows me to connect memories and to build experience and to learn and accept love.

It allows my soul to be endless.

What a journey it is to fight for this. To build upon it as though you are Noah constructing an Ark, in doubt of what the world is telling you to feel.

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You are endless and full of goodness.

And you can only live in death for so long.

As with everything, there is a time. The great thing about time is that it moves regardless of whether or not you want it to. Sometimes you want it to stop to recognize your pain. Sometimes you want it to go back, but it will not.

The clouds will lift and the fog will clear.

You will be met with life.

It will flow from your depths. You will find a great joy in your healing. Time will be your friend and you will feel so very strong, my loves.

Live in death to mourn.

Live in life to fight and be good and to make things better.

Your cup will run over, and there will be people needing what you have to offer. Give them what you can, but always, always, always, fill yourself.

Live in your depth.

because you

and you

and You,

are endless.

Fare thee well

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I am writing this from my little phone, which isn’t nearly as satisfying as I want it to be, but that’s okay.

I am also writing from Mississippi, as I’ve been here for about a week now, soaking in the love and grace of this place.

I guess love and grace have been what this year has taught me. For one, my departure from a life that is now so unfamiliar. From a person who I thought I knew, into a world I was not ready to be a part of.

People change. As do places and time. I don’t know why I expect things to change so much. Especially when you visit a place that was home for so long. They somehow become shells of their former stature. I suppose we all go through this in our growing process. We outgrow. We move. We change.

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We bid our farewells to the year’s troubles. We give thanks for the good and the bad, as old friends who come and go from time to time.

“Ah, you’re here again…” I will say.

And I will lay down and cry or dance when nobody is around.

Love will come up like an ancient well and quench your thirst.

Sadness will also be there at times, to remind us of the great weight we hold as humans.

Let it be known that I embrace both. And that writing about both sadness and joy allows me to reach deep into the earth and grab hold.

Because people will change. And certainly the places we live will one day be taken over by the unfamiliar.

Like kudzu on a Georgia highway, covering the things men and women worked so hard to build strong.

We will keep going.
Moving.
Fumbling with what to say.
Burning myself on ovens.
Questioning the divine
And embracing the great sadness this year has brought.

I will rise up.
Stick my hands deep in the earth,

and breathe in that sweet Mother love.